Thursday, February 5, 2015

Laser Focus 2-3-15 - ISIS, some fellow Liberals and War

Hear this as delivered on my radio show on Feb 3 2015 by clicking 

Some of the things that help human beings and other intelligent organisms to understand the world and survive are the ability we have to categorize individual events and correlate multiple events to ascertain causality.

Why am I talking about this? Bear with me and it will become clear. From the moment we are born, we humans build our knowledge of the world. We have the ability to go to school and to read and learn without having to experience something, but we also learn from our own experiences about events and what they mean and what other events they cause.

We also learned eventually that our ability to observe and determine causality and relationships are potentially flawed. The scientific method was developed to go beyond casual observation and ensure that proper experimentation and analysis providing repeatable results was what governed human understanding of the world around us. These kinds of experiments and rigorous analysis led us to understand things like, the sun does not revolve around the earth like casual observation might lead one to believe.

There is a segment of fellow folks on the left that do not seem to understand the idea of rigorous analysis when it comes to analyzing whether intervention in a situation overseas is warranted.

I think about this a lot and started thinking about this when ISIS executed the Japanese prisoners they had been holding over the weekend. You see, since the Iraq war, and Rude one you and I have talked about this, many fellow Liberals and Progressives have been superficially analyzing events where the US was considering intervening.

The prevailing opinion among this small group of fellow Liberals and progressives, and its far from all of us, just this group, is that every potential military use is like Iraq and illegitimate automatically.

Let me respond directly to this group of fellow Liberals and Progressives. No everything is not like Iraq. 

In Iraq, the Bush administration made a big deal about WMD, made a big show for a year about Iraq not allowing the UN weapons inspectors back into the country, then when they got them in they ignored their results. In hindsight (and actually I called it before the Iraq war in several articles) it was clearly a lie from the getgo. Iraq was not threatening anyone. Their troops were not massing on the border of any of their neighbors. Nothing was going on there.

This is a completely different situation from ISIS who are attempting to take over two countries and have explicitly stated their intent to take over many more. I want to go back to the Japanese Nationals. Their execution is a watershed event. The Japanese have it in their constitution that their military cannot be used overseas. So the idea of executing one of their journalists who you capture is completely despicable. Japan represented no threat at all to ISIS and they killed two of their citizens anyway. This is extremely important for everyone to think about. Because there is an opinion among this group on the left that I’ve been talking about that if the US simply leaves people alone, stops being involved in other countries that everyone will leave us alone too. In some cases that is true, but it is not true of ISIS.

This subgroup of fellow Liberals and Progressives believes that if we will leave ISIS alone, they will leave us alone. Well, by default, and by their Constitution, the Japanese leave everyone alone. But ISIS did not leave THEM alone. So there is your answer. With certain groups and certain countries, leaving them alone is not the right answer. How can you tell which is which? Well, ISIS doesn’t exactly make it hard to figure out to which group they belong.

Today, ISIS executed a Jordanian prisoner by putting them in a cage and burning them alive.

ISIS has demonstrated that they are one of the most ruthlessly violent and cruel groups in human history.

This nonsense with ISIS has gone far enough. Here’s what we need. We haven’t seen it in 60 years since the Korean War, but we need a fully global effort led by the UN to fight ISIS. If the UN won’t do it, anyone willing to do it should. The UN Security Council has already passed resolutions denouncing ISIS and target funding for ISIS and similar measures. It’s time for a resolution for the use of force against ISIS and all countries responding should be reflagged under the UN banner. ISIS should be degraded at least to the point where they cannot hold territory. And all fellow Liberals and Progressives should be supportive of that effort.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Regarding the execution of Japanese citizens by ISIS

I would like to express my shock and outrage at the execution of Japanese Citizens by the cowardly and criminal terrorist group ISIS and also express solidarity with and give my condolences to the people of Japan.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Leser Focus - My special statement on the rampant and intentional dishonesty of Conservative Punditry

This can be heard as delivered on KCAA 1050am on my Tuesday 1-13-2015 show by downloading the .mp3 file by clicking this link:

I noted with some amusement the tribulations of Steve Emerson, a conservative and self-proclaimed expert in terrorism who made some interesting claims on TV the other day.
Mr Emerson exclaimed that quote:

“In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in. And, parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire.”

Now folks, Birmingham is one of the United Kingdom’s largest cities with a population of about a million people. Fourteen percent of those people are Muslim, it is not totally Muslim as Mr. Emerson claims. There are no Muslim religious police anywhere in the UK and no police of any kind who attempt to enforce Sharia or Muslim laws including those on dress.

Emerson’s statements were widely retweeted and made it to the British Government. UK Prime Minister David Cameron was having breakfast when the allegation was reported to him and he says he nearly choked on his porridge. He said of Emerson that “he must be a complete idiot.”

Mr. Emerson also blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on Muslims.

Mr. Emerson is popular with Conservatives because he likes to blame the President and European Leaders for terrorism, who he and they regard as too left wing. An August 2014 article by Mr. Emerson is titled “The President’s True Colors Finally Revealed” and excoriates President Obama for offering to Hamas to guarantee Israeli adherence to any peace agreement that would be signed. This is supposed proof of the President hating Israel and being an ally of Hamas who Emerson goes to great pains to identify as an organization of bad people.

What I encounter far too often when I debate conservatives both in media and in personal appearances are people who simply make stuff up to attack Democrats and the President. Mr. Emerson was caught here and he finally apologized because his falsehoods were easily demonstrable and his statements went viral on twitter. If both of those things hadn’t been the case, he would have gotten away with it and those who watched him on TV would have simply believed what he had said.

That happens as I said, far too often. Conservatives in media here in the US are deliberately misinforming their fans and constituents on a daily basis. There have been a number of studies that have come out where grassroots conservatives were asked about certain things and they regurgitate answers that are not true about a host of things that they said they were told on conservative media.

According to Chris Mooney who recently came out with a book titled "The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality.", Conservatives are, by and large, authoritarian and absolute in their beliefs, and they limit challenges against their belief systems by surrounding themselves with sources of information that will tell them they are right...and by defiantly, even violently, challenging those who tell them they are wrong.

Mooney’s book illustrates a number of the survey’s I was just mentioning about such things like were there WMD in Iraq, there weren’t but Conservatives think there were, is Global Warming in dispute as far as the Scientific Community is concerned, it’s not but Conservatives think it is. Mooney has many other examples.

We can point to politifact lies of the year for the last six years since President Obama has been in office. Most of those are lies by Conservative media personalities and Republican elected officials about the President and his programs.

I hope we see more instances where Conservative pundits are called out for lying via a viral social media response. Deliberately misleading the public when you are one of the folks who is in the media and trusted to deliver truthful information is a despicable act.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Slate: Don’t Accept Putin’s Version of History. The West didn’t provoke Russia. It gave it more credit than it deserved.

Excellent article by Slate's Anne Applebaum. Since the fall of the USSR, the US and NATO did everything to reassure Russia and make Russia feel like a part of what was going on in the world. Putin and his government did nothing but take advantage of that. Ms. Applebaum lays out the history. 

But one Western policy stands out as a phenomenal success, particularly when measured against the low expectations with which it began: The integration of Central Europe and the Baltic States into the European Union and NATO. Thanks to this double project, more than 90 million people have enjoyed relative safety and relative prosperity for more than two decades, in a region whose historic instability helped launch two world wars.
For the record: No treaties prohibiting NATO expansion were ever signed with Russia. No promises were broken. Nor did the impetus for NATO expansion come from a “triumphalist” Washington. On the contrary, Poland's first efforts to apply in 1992 were rebuffed. I well remember the angry reaction of the U.S. ambassador to Warsaw at the time. But Poland and others persisted, precisely because they were already seeing signs of the Russian revanchism to come.

When the slow, cautious expansion did eventually take place, constant efforts were made to reassure Russia. No NATO bases were ever placed in the new member states, and until 2013 no exercises were conducted there. A Russia-NATO agreement in 1997 promised no movement of nuclear installations. A Russia-NATO council was set up in 2002. In response to Russian objections, Ukraine and Georgia were in fact denied NATO membership plans in 2008.

Meanwhile, not only was Russia not “humiliated” during this era, it was given de facto “great power” status, along with the Soviet U.N. Security Council seat and Soviet embassies. Russia also received Soviet nuclear weapons, some transferred from Ukraine in 1994 in exchange for Russian recognition of Ukraine's borders. Presidents Clinton and Bush both treated their Russian counterparts as fellow “great power” leaders and invited them to join the G-8—although Russia, neither a large economy nor a democracy, did not qualify.

(more at above link)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Update on my Predictions, Karl Rove, plus Nate Silver says pretty much the same thing I did. Republicans are going to do well in 2014 because the close races are mostly on their turf (Red States) as a result of 2008

On the show I aired on October 26th & 27th (See ), I said that Republicans are not going to win seats because of some national agreement with them on the issues or that they belong in power. Nate agrees with me that this is not a wave election for Republicans and lists below in the excerpt of his article some of the reasoning why the "Wave" narrative doesn't work.

As far as my predicting how the senate will end up is concerned, races in two states have trended in the wrong direction for Democrats since I made my predictions on October 26th-27th and those states are Iowa and Georgia. Georgia polling had Michelle Nunn a few points ahead as a result of Perdue making his comment about how great outsourcing is but that bounce for Nunn did not stick and Perdue now seems to be a few points ahead. In Iowa, there seemed to be a trend toward Braley at the time of my show and now that trend seems to be reversed.

As it stands now it seems like Republicans will gain seven seats and thus the senate will be 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats and those who caucus with them assuming all of the sampling assumptions by polling agencies are correct. In Iowa, the large early voting turnout by Democrats may confound the polls and yet result in Braley being elected and many other Democrats as well, but as I always say, if your side winning an election depends on the polls being wrong, you are not in a good place.

If Republicans take control of the senate, one of the things that will happen is the reemergence of Karl Rove as the premier kingmaker for Republicans. Rove's reputation took a big hit in election 2012 both with the fact that most of the candidates promoted by his SuperPAC, American Crossroads, lost, and his abysmal performance on Megyn Kelly's show on election night trying to say that the folks on every channel who had called Ohio for Obama were wrong. Kelly did a particularly good job of skewering him and as I have said to several folks, you underestimate her at your peril.

But it was Karl Rove's American Crossroads, with help from the Koch brothers, that initiated the ad blitz this season that completely reversed the senate races in several of the closest contests including Iowa, Colorado, Arkansas and Louisiana, and made it much closer in North Carolina and New Hampshire. The GOP will owe control of the senate to Rove.

Is 2014 A Republican Wave?

Complication No. 1. Some prominent Republican incumbents are likely to lose. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas is no better than even money to keep his seat against independent Greg Orman. Incumbent Republican governors are underdogs — some by slim margins — in Alaska, Florida, Kansas, Maine and Pennsylvania, while Rick Snyder of Michigan and Scott Walker of Wisconsin are likely but not certain to survive.
Complication No. 2. Republicans are largely playing on home turf. The average Senate race this year is being held in a state where Barack Obama won just 46 percent of the vote in 2012. In the House, meanwhile, the median Congressional district is Republican-leaning. (Democrats tend to bepacked into geographically compact, urban areas; this tendency is sometimes enhanced by gerrymandering.) A method of assessing the score probably needs to account for this.
"Most Senate seats on the ballot this year were last contested in 2008, an extraordinarily strong Democratic year."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Transcript of My Election 2014 Predictions as I stated them on my Radio Show on Monday 10/27/2014

(You can hear the predictions as I gave them by clicking on this link: )

Hello folks, welcome to our special edition of Making Sense with Steve Leser where we devote the show to coverage of and predictions regarding Election 2014.

Well, here we are less than ten days to Election Day 2014. I think we have all been hearing for practically the last two years that Democrats are going to have a bad day this Election Day, Republicans are going to win all these additional seats and it’s going to be because of Obamacare or Benghazi or some other trumped up issue by the GOP.

For the purposes of the show, I am going to concentrate on the race for control of the US Senate since control for the senate has been deemed to be up in the air and that has the potential to impact all of us the most. I will talk about other aspects of the election later but my concentration is going to be on the senate.

Let’s talk first of all about where we are now. The senate of course has 100 members, 100 seats. Right now Democrats have 53 seats and two independents caucus with the Democrats so for all intents and purposes, the Democrats have 55 seats.

Republicans have the other 45 seats. For them to take control, they would have to flip six seats. Five won’t do it because if the count ends up 50-50, Democrats would retain control by the slimmest margins because Vice President Joe Biden would cast the tying vote for control of the senate.

Now right off the bat, a lot of people are asking me why Republicans seem like they have a chance to take that many seats. They ask me, doesn’t that say something about what people are thinking about President Obama or the Democratic Party? That would be a reasonable question and Republicans and conservative pundits are certainly spinning this election as a rebuke of  the President and Democrats.

Let me explain why what is going on with the Senate race is not a negative statement on the President or the Democratic Party. As we all know, senate terms are six years long. So the senate seats that are up for election this year were last up for election in 2008. 2008 was a wave year for Democrats. 

President Obama won that election by a massive margin and carried a lot of Democrats into the House and Senate on his coattails. Many of those Democrats were elected in the South and swing states and in districts where normally Democrats almost never win or have a very difficult time winning.

If we look at the senate races that are close this year that will determine control of the senate, they are all in what we call either red states or swing states.

Let’s start to get into those now.

There are ten states that will determine control of the senate, they are Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Kansas, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Louisiana and Alaska. Three of those states are swing states, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire. Seven of those states are red states, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska.

So right off the bat, you can see that Democrats are going to have an uphill battle with this election. Many political pundits noted this, by the way, in the aftermath of the 2008 election, I remember several pundits remarking that the Democrats would have a tough time defending a lot of the house seats they won in two years and a lot of the senate seats they won in six years. Political professionals expected this for the last six years, this is not a surprise to folks who make their living in politics.

The fact that Democrats are contending for all ten of these states and just about all of them are in the margin of error right now, I would argue says something bad about the Republican party and how it is perceived. In those seven red states, for instance, the Republican candidates should be blowing the Democratic candidate out of the water, it shouldn’t be close. The Republican candidates should be leading by ten to twenty percentage points by now. They aren’t. In fact, if we examine an eleventh state, Virginia, which has traditionally been a Red state and is now more of a swing state, Democrat Mark Warner is up by double digits over former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie.

So, Republicans are not making new inroads into parts of the country, we’re not seeing them ahead in places where Democrats should be leading. We aren’t seeing anything that indicates they are winning over the hearts and minds of American citizens.

In fact, the latest generic congressional poll of likely voters has Republicans ahead by one point. And keep in mind, the likely voter polls use a formula that takes into account that more Republicans vote in midterm elections than Democrats. Polls of all registered voters shows that more people are in favor of Democratic candidates this election than Republicans. So if every registered voter went to the polls on November 4th, the Democrats would win pretty handily.

The reason I am taking so much time to talk about this before I even get into many of these races is so that you all understand the reason why we are seeing what we are seeing. A lot of Conservative pundits are going to play up the fact that Republicans will be gaining seats in the senate. That is a given. Republicans will gain somewhere between four and eight seats. The fact is that they will be gaining those seats almost exclusively in red states that they should have had all along and if they don’t gain enough they will still not control the senate. So let’s get into those ten states and I will explain what I think is going to happen in alphabetical order, and just to remind us all, without those ten states, the count is 45 Democrats and those who caucus with Democrats, and 45 Republicans in the senate.

First up we have Alaska. In Alaska, incumbent Democrat Senator Mark Begich is facing off against Republican and former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan. Here is exactly what I was talking about. We have a Democratic incumbent in a very red state, a state where you wouldn’t normally think we could get a Democrat elected facing off against a locally popular Republican. And according to most of the polls right now, he is anywhere from three to six points behind which is within the margin of error. As any reputable pollster or polling aggregation group will tell you Alaska is a notoriously hard state to poll. Polls have frequently been wrong there before and there are polls showing all kinds of different outcomes. The Hellenthal and Associates poll has Begich ahead by 10 points. CNN’s last poll has Sullivan ahead by 6 points. Making this race interesting is that the Republican Sullivan has had a number of strange gaffes and misstatements during the campaign.

One of my favorite Dan Sullivan mistakes was back in May as reported by the Huffington Posts Michael McAuliffe. Sullivan, in an advertising spot that month, attacked Begich from atop the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage, saying that Alaskans wanted someone who delivered real results. Unfortunately for Sullivan, the very center from which he conducted the ad was built through Begich’s efforts and was dubbed Begich's "crowning achievement" by local press during his days as mayor, when he secured its construction.

Begich created an add mocking Sullivan’s ad and pointing out how he had the center built and all of his other achievements. It’s hard to tell where that race is going to end up, but I am not counting on it for the Democrats in my predictions. I’m putting it in the Republican column only on the basis of Alaska being a traditional red state, not on any belief regarding who is ahead. I won’t be surprised if Begich pulls this one out.

So if Alaska is in the Republicans corner, we have 45 Democrats and 46 Republicans so far.

Next on the list is Arkansas. Of the ten close contests, Arkansas looks like the most difficult one for the Democrat in the race, incumbent senator Mark Pryor. The polls for the last month all show Republican Tom Cotton ahead between three and nine percentage points but I will give this note of caution regarding those polls. The only impartial polls over the last few weeks have this a three point race. The polls that have a larger margin are all conservative leaning polls. Three points is well within the margin of error and if there is a substantive reason to think the polls may have some issues in general, and I will talk more about those later, this race might in fact be dead even. For now, I will have to count this one as being in the Republican column.

That puts our race at 45 Democrats and 47 Republicans.

Next we have another race that looks like a tough one for an incumbent Democrat, that’s Colorado with incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall vs. Republican Cory Gardner.  This is one of the races that has been affected by the Koch brothers add blitz that will reportedly pay for one in every ten ads that will air this election. I am not sure any wealthy family not actually in politics has had the kind of effect on an election that the Koch brothers will have on this one. The Koch brothers along with Karl Rove stepped up their efforts to buy ads in late august through the end of September and this has had a big effect on a number of races including the one in Colorado. Democratic Senator Udall was leading in this race by an average of around 5 points until the Republican ad blitz started. Now, the Republican Gardner leads by an average of around three or four points but in some polls by five to seven points. Still, most of those are still within the margin of error. Again, I’ll have to count this one as being in the Republican column, but the race is very close.

We’re now at 45 Democrats and 48 Republicans.

In Georgia, we have an open senate race between Democrat Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former popular Georgia senator Sam Nunn, and the Republican David Perdue. Georgia is a tough state for Democrats to win in, despite famous parentage and Perdue led this race through the beginning of October. Then a series of gaffes, culminating in Perdue saying how good it is to outsource American jobs overseas and how proud he was of doing so, turned the race around and Nunn now leads by a few points in most polls. 

Nunn’s lead is in the margin of error but it’s hard to imagine Perdue winning after voicing his unabashed support for outsourcing so I am giving this one to Democrat Michelle Nunn.
Georgia in the Democratic column puts us at 46 Democrats and 48 Republicans.

We will continue with the coverage of election 2014 right after this…

Welcome back to Making Sense with Steve Leser and our election 2014 predictions.

Alphabetically, that brings us to Iowa, but I am going to save Iowa for last and you will see why when I get there.

On to Kansas, which is a fascinating race where the Democrat has left the race in order to throw his support behind Independent Greg Orman to try to prevent Republican Pat Roberts from winning. 

Orman shown some indication that he caucus with the Democrats if he wins. Orman was leading handily throughout September, then early in October it looked like the Republican ad blitz had turned the race around. Now, Orman seems to be opening back up a lead.

This one looks like it is going for Orman.

That makes the race 47 Democrats or those who caucus with them and 48 Republicans.

After Kansas we have Kentucky and how interesting is Kentucky, which features incumbent and Senate Minority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell in a race to save his seat at a time he should be relishing the opportunity to take over the senate and perhaps become majority leader. The problem for McConnell is that he is nationally unpopular and also unpopular in his state. So this race is a contest between the natural fundamentals of the state, which favor Republicans, versus the unpopularity of the Republican candidate against a very likeable and capable Democratic candidate in Alison Lundergan Grimes.

I find this race fascinating for so many reasons. The guy who might lead the senate if Republicans take it over could instead be the tipping point for Democrats by losing. Right now, McConnell is ahead in most polls by one to four points but that is all within the margin of error. The race could just as easily be tied or Grimes could be slightly ahead. For the purposes of my prediction model, since the polls show an average for McConnell of 2-3 points ahead I am putting this in the Republican column, but that does not mean this is a done deal at all.

One of the things that may change the dynamics of the Kentucky senate race is a new ad being run by groups in Kentucky that suggests that McConnell used insider information from phone calls from the US Treasury department to shuffle his investments. The McConnell campaign is desperately trying to get local stations not to air the ad. We have to see how that shakes out.

So by my calculations that makes the race for the senate 47 Democrats and 49 Republicans. So two more for the Republicans and they would control the senate.

Next we have Louisiana where incumbent Democratic senator Mary Landrieu faces Republican Bill Cassidy. Louisiana’s race is not at all typical in that we have actually several candidates running and Landrieu and Cassidy are just the front runners. If no one reaches 50%, and it doesn’t look like anyone is close to that, the first two place finishers will face each other in a runoff on December 6th. In the polls for November 4th, Landrieu actually leads all other candidates. But polls for the runoff show her a couple of points behind. Anything can happen between now and December 6th and Landrieu has been a Houdini of sorts in the past being able to pull these races out of her hat.

For our purposes, I am putting Louisiana in the Republican column, even though counting out Mary Landrieu is not a smart bet in my opinion. And since there will be a runoff, this race won’t be decided until December.

But again, just for arguments sake, that gives us 47 Democrats and 50 Republicans.

So one more and Republicans would take control.

But next is New Hampshire. And in New Hampshire, Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen has led this entire race against Republican carpet bagger Scott Brown who had a short tenure as Senator in Massachusetts. There was an indication that toward the end of September and beginning of October, Brown had made it a closer race than it had been, probably partially due to the Republican ad blitz, but the latest polls show that Shaheen is starting to open up a larger lead again. What’s worse for Brown is that polls consistently show Shaheen with 49% or 50% of the vote of likely voters for the last two months.

So I feel fairly confident that we can say that Senator Jeanne Shaheen will be re-elected and we can add New Hampshire to the Democratic column. It’s still within the margin of error, so in terms of the need to get out the vote and the possibility that the polls are wrong and all of those other issues, it’s not a done deal. But I am predicting that she will be re-elected.

That gives us 48 Democrats and 50 Republicans so far.

Next is North Carolina where we have another Democratic incumbent senator, Kay Hagan against Republican Thom Tillis who was the house speaker of the North Carolina state legislature. Polling wise, this race  has gone very similarly to New Hampshire. Senator Hagan has led this race pretty much all along and had opened a larger lead at the beginning of September before the Republican ad blitz hit and Tillis narrowed the race considerably. But again, Senator Hagan seems to be pulling away from Tillis. Again like New Hampshire, the race is still within the margin of error so anything could happen here. But I believe Senator Hagan will pull this out and the models at both Real Clear Politics and Five Thirty Eight show she has greater than a 70% chance of winning.

So now we are at 49 Democrats and 50 Republicans.

We will continue with the coverage of election 2014 right after this…

Welcome back to Making Sense with Steve Leser and our election 2014 predictions.

We left off with nine of our ten close senate races analyzed with my model saying that left us at 49 Democrats and 50 Republicans after election day.

That brings us back to Iowa, which is an open contest with no incumbent running between Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst.

I’ve saved Iowa for last because I believe the race in Iowa is the tipping point state for control of the senate. The latest polls show Republican Ernst up by about one point. If the Democrats hold the states that they are now leading in and win Iowa, it will be 50-50 and the Democrats will retain control of the Senate.

Republican Ernst may have just done something to change the trajectory of the race against her. Like all candidates, she scheduled a meeting with the editorial board of one of the most important local newspapers, the Des Moines Register. Unlike all other candidates, however, she cancelled the meeting and intends not to meet with them. She probably did this because, as noted by Ben Jacobs of The Daily Beast, she has run one of the most gaffe prone campaigns in history. Jacobs notes:

Ernst has endorsed nullification of federal laws, warned of the United Nations evicting Iowa farmers from their land, called President Obama “a dictator,” and claimed that the “cap and trade law,” which never passed, is the federal regulation most undermining job creation. These all got national attention and made national headlines.

Ernst had long been scheduled to meet Thursday with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register, the biggest and most influential paper in Iowa. The meeting would have included the paper’s publisher, its editor, editorial board as well as various columnists and reporters—all of whom would have been able to ask questions of Ernst. It would all be recorded and live-streamed on the Internet as well. But then, Wednesday night, her campaign suddenly said the candidate would not be able to attend and that the meeting was canceled.

Now I think it’s pretty clear that the Ernst campaign cancelled because they were afraid their candidate would say something dumb during those interviews. In a race where polls suggested she was one or two points up in a race that was getting really tight, they probably made a calculated risk that the damage from publicly pulling out of the Des Moines Register interview would be less than the damage from a bad gaffe, but that decision says all kinds of bad things about Ernst.

Your candidate can’t pull it together enough to be sane for a couple of hours?

According to the polls, all this has to do is hurt her by a point or two to put Braley ahead. Braley may not need it since the race was heading in his direction on its own.

A recent Quinnipiac poll shows that among people who have already voted, Braley leads by around 21 percentage points. Now to be sure, I have seen situations like this before where someone led in early voting before Election Day and the other candidate ended up winning. That can and has happened. But I don’t think it is going to happen this time.

I think Braley is going to pull this one out, and this is one of the few places I disagree with and but to be sure, even both of those sites have this race about as close as possible, showing Ernst only leading by a point.

If I’m right, the Senate will be 50 Democrats and those who caucus with them, and 50 Republicans which with Vice President Joe Biden’s tie breaking vote in favor of the Democrats, keeps the senate in Democratic hands by the narrowest of margins.

Now, obviously, with no less than ten contests within the margin of error in current polling, you cannot be sure of anything. Either party could theoretically sweep all 10 or any combination could happen. RealClearpolitics dot com is currently predicting 51 Republican Seats and 49 Democratic seats when it all shakes out, they have it the same as I do minus Iowa. Five Thirty Eight Dot com is currently predicting 52 Republican Seats and 48 Democratic seats not based on specific state outcomes but on many thousands of simulations of the entire election showing that count the most frequent outcome.

The election could turn on a number of things. A major national event in the last ten days could change things considerably. If the assumptions polling agencies have made is off in terms of which voters will show up at the polls, it would change things a lot, and when I say this I have a couple of potential sampling errors that pollsters may be making including the fact that the assumptions are that more Republicans will turn out percentage wise than Democrats. All the polls you hear about at this point are of likely voters. If you look at polls of registered voters, Democrats are significantly ahead in all of what are now considered the close races. In other words, if everyone who is registered to vote came out to vote, Democrats would win handily. If more Democrats show up than is expected, Democrats are going to have a great night.

If fewer Democrats come out than is expected, Democrats are going to lose the senate big.

Speaking of analyzing who is going to come out to vote, one thing that has come out in the last few weeks is a study by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials which, discussed in a article by Griselda Nevarez, predicts more Latinos will come out to vote this year than in past midterm elections.

The report projects 7.8 million Latinos will cast ballots in the November elections. That means the number of Latinos who come out to vote this year could increase by nearly 19 percent over the last midterm elections in 2010, when 6.6 million Latinos came out to vote.

The report also projects Latinos will make up about 8 percent of the nation’s voters. Furthermore, it predicts there will be more than 28 million Latinos who are eligible to vote by the 2016 presidential election, up from the current 25.5 million.

This could be significant in a number of races, particularly Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa. Latinos vote around 80% Democratic. A significant increase in the Latino vote would give Democrats in those four states the win.

Also in terms of who comes out affecting the race we have the Millenials. On October 9th, Politico ran a story talking to a Fusion poll of Millenials that reports that young voters will likely be turning out in far stronger numbers for Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections. Forty-seven percent of millennials say they are more likely to vote for the Democratic candidates in the November elections, compared with 32 percent who say they are more likely to vote for Republican candidates.

An increase in the Millenial vote would improve Democratic chances across the board versus what we are now seeing in the polls if the polling agencies have not accounted for it in their Likely voter models.

So that’s where we are with the senate. We have the GOP about to gain seats because six years ago, these seats were won in a climate where we had Barack Obama winning in a landslide that pulled a lot of senate and house victories in places where Democrats usually don’t win. It’s that simple.

I have a lot of folks asking me what the consequences would be of Republicans winning the senate in 2014. To be honest, the effects wouldn’t be that big. We already have divided government where it is very difficult to get any bills passed. It would be biggest as a symbolic victory. Most Presidents don’t get much done in the last two years of their second term. I don’t think any Republican takeover would survive the 2016 election where I expect Hillary Clinton to have a massive victory and again, as Obama did in 2008, carry in a lot of democrats in the House and Senate in on her coattails.

I’ve covered on this show how it is impossible for Republicans to win enough states to, for instance, override a Presidential veto on things like repealing Obamacare. Any Republican running for the House or Senate on a promise to repeal Obamacare is running on a promise they cannot keep.      
I want to give you some quick updates on other parts of election 2014. I know I spent a lot of time on the race for control of the senate because I think that is going to be the biggest story of the election, but there are some other important races. But first we have to go to break.

We will continue with the coverage of election 2014 right after this…

Welcome back to Making Sense with Steve Leser and our election 2014 predictions.

Earlier in the show I covered my predictions regarding the senate races in election 2014.

Regarding Governor contests, that should be a bright spot for Democrats this election as Democrats overall are expected to pick up two states. I’m particularly focused on the Governor contests in Massachusetts, Florida, Wisconsin and Texas.

Let’s start with Texas where we have an open seat being vacated by Republican Rick Perry. Vying for the Governor’s mansion in Texas are Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis and current Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

As we all know, Texas is one of the reddest of red states these days but a couple of things make this interesting. First is that analysis of long term Demographics show that because of the increasing Latino vote, Texas will become a blue state at some point in the next 5-20 years. It makes sense from that standpoint for Democrats to keep challenging Republicans in statewide races. The second reason Texas is interesting is Wendy Davis. Senator Davis captured the imagination of not only Texas but the nation with her filibuster against, as Wikipedia notes:

Texas Senate Bill 5, a proposal to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require abortion clinics to meet the same standards that hospital-style surgical centers do, and mandate that a doctor who performs abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Davis attempted to hold the floor until midnight, when the Senate's special session ended, after which it would no longer be able to vote on the measure. Following an 11-hour filibuster—ending three hours short of midnight—Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst ruled that Davis had gone off topic, forcing a vote on whether the filibuster could continue. Despite Republican efforts, parliamentary inquiries from Leticia R. Van de Putte and others as well as raucous cheering and yelling from the political activists gathered in the Capitol carried on through midnight and the close of the special session. Following the deadline, Republicans indicated that a vote had taken place and passed, while Democrats declared that the vote had taken place after midnight, making it void. Dewhurst later conceded that the bill was dead. 

The next day, Governor Rick Perry called for a second special session to allow for another attempt to pass the abortion restrictions, as well as to address other issues. The bill was eventually passed by both the House and the Senate in the July 2013 second special session and the bill was signed by Gov. Rick Perry on July 18, 2013.

Wendy Davis’ filibuster attracted national attention, including in The New York Times and The Washington Post.  National fundraising by and speculation about a gubernatorial run for Davis also followed.  She was encouraged to run by groups like Battleground Texas and EMILY's List.

That brings us to where we are now. If this were a Hollywood movie where the good guy comes out on top at the end, Davis would win the race for Governor. Unfortunately, it looks like the Demographics in Texas haven’t yet turned the state blue. Just about all of the polls of this race in 2014 show that Davis trails by double digits. Still it has been a fascinating race and a game effort by Wendy Davis regardless of the outcome.

In Florida, we have a race between a current and a former Governor. We have incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott seeking re-election against former Republican Governor now turned Democrat Charlie Crist. As if that isn’t interesting enough, Floridians universally remember Charlie Crist’s tenure in Governor fondly and are not happy with how Rick Scott has handled the Governorship. 

That contrast is one factor in the race, the other is that the Scott campaign has tried to play up Crists’s switching of parties.

Complicating Scotts attempt to be re-elected is that he is gaffe prone and has been during his time as governor and during the campaign. His most famous gaffe or mistake, of course is fangate, where he almost refused to come out to debate Charlie Crist on October 15th, because Crist had a fan at his podium. Crist was alone by himself at his podium for 7 long televised minutes where the moderator even called out Scott for the nonsense of not wanting to debate because of a fan.

I think that when Floridians go to the polls on November 4th, the race is going to be decided by Floridians remembering that they thought Crist did a good job as governor and they do not like the job Scott has done as Governor. It’s that simple. Crist had positive approval numbers throughout his time as governor and Scott has had abysmal numbers during his time as governor. This race should be that simple and in the end, when Floridians have to make their final decisions, I think it is going to be that simple.

Massachusetts is a contest for an open seat being vacated by Democratic Governor Deval Patrick contested by Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker. I have to admit that as a Democrat, I was nervous when I saw that Massachusetts Democrats had nominated Coakley in another statewide race. If you recall, she is the Democrat who lost a Senate race in Massachusetts to Scott Brown back in the 2010 special election. She was widely criticized for not running a good campaign at the time.

I understand she is a fantastic person and has been an excellent attorney general for Massachusetts, and I have no doubt she would be a great Senator or Governor, but you have to be able to run a good enough campaign to get the job. Again, we are seeing her have issues in that regard. All the polls since the middle of October show Coakley behind and some by significant margins. The good news for Coakley and Massachusetts Democrats is that by all accounts, Coakley whipped Baker in their Tuesday October 21st debate.

The problem for Coakley has been, and I got this from my friends in Massachusetts, is that she is perceived as having no charisma at all. The folks up there seem to agree with everything she says, but the way she says it is off-putting compared with the charismatic guys she has been up against in terms of Scott Brown in 2010 and Charlie Baker this year.

What I would say to Massachusetts voters is this, every Republican you have elected to statewide office you have been extremely disappointed with by the end of their first term and they have not been re-elected. When Mitt Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, he was unable to run for re-election his favorable rating was so low. Scott Brown was beaten after one short special term as senator from Massachusetts. One of the more tongue in cheek definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. That is what electing Baker would be, insanity. Charlie Baker is proposing the same kinds of things in general as Scott Brown and Mitt Romney, large tax cuts, increases in spending and no idea how he is going to pay for any of it. The end result will be greatly expanding deficits in Massachusetts like what happened in Kansas under Republican Governor Brownback who is also incidentally in trouble this election. Like all Republicans who propose tax cuts, Baker is hoping voters will think short term having a dozen or so more dollars in their pockets per month for a few years will make them forget that it comes at a cost of breaking the budget of the state and ultimately require a large increase in taxes and a cut in state services to deal with the shortfall.

Charisma is nice, but it doesn’t balance a budget and doesn’t enact good policy. If Baker were coming up with brand new policies, I would understand Massachusetts voters being taken by the charisma difference, but Baker is spouting the same failed supply side economics Republicans have been pushing for the last 35 years and the evidence is in that they do not work. Policy success is not affected by charisma. If Baker is elected, Massachusetts voters will have massive buyer’s remorse and regret their decision long before the end of his first term.

Contrast that with Coakley who has a 15 year record of success in public office where voters are happy with her performance. Massachusetts voters, the decision of this race is one of those rare great opportunities in life where you know the outcome in advance. You know you won’t be happy with someone who enacts the kind of policies Baker will enact and you know that Coakley is successful at the jobs to which you elect her. That’s the election, if you are able to see it.

Finally we have the Wisconsin race for governer pitting incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker against Democrat Mary Burke. When discussing the Massachusetts race I was talking about how we know that supply side economics don’t work and what the end result of them will be. 

Wisconsin is yet another excellent example of this. Republican governor Walker has implemented supply side policies of tax cuts and has increased spending in the state and that will result this year in a 1.8 billion dollar shortfall in Wisconsin’s budget, some thing Democratic challenger Burke has been hammering on in her two debates with Walker and in campaign ads.

Walker has been trying to claim that his policies should take credit for the addition of 110,000 jobs in his four years, but Burke has countered that all states have done well in increasing employment under President Obama, but Wisconsin has done the least well of pretty much any other state in the country.

Of the last four polls in the state, two have it exactly even, one has burke up by one point and one has Walker up by one point. One thing that may affect the race is that Burke is perceived to have done better than Walker in the two debates they had in October. Another is that there seems to be some element of Walker fatigue in the state. It will be interesting to see who pulls this race out. I’m betting Burke.

One last thing regarding election 2014, compared to the coverage of the Senate races there isn’t much coverage of the House races. With hundreds of races obviously there is not enough time for me to make a serious dent in this program. I expect to see a small GOP increase in house seats in the order of a 5 seat increase plus or minus 3 seats.