Friday, January 15, 2010

Nail-Biter in Massachusetts

Summary: Will party unity be able to bring another win for the GOP in a traditionally Democratic State, or can Coakley secure Ted Kennedy's seat on Tuesday?

So far this blog has not really given any insight to the unexpectedly close special election for Senator in Massachusetts. It would be irresponsible if we let that continue. So here’s a little breakdown of what to watch for in the race.

First and foremost, this is a toss-up. Polling - both internal and independent - shows that this race has been getting tighter in the past two weeks. Nate Silver, the polling guru of, agreed on this in a post last night.

Democratic State Attorney General Martha Coakley should by all means be a safe candidate in a liberal state like Massachusetts. But her approval rating (about 49%) is only about 8 points higher than her disapproval rating. Meanwhile her opponent - Republican State Sentator Scott Brown - has a firm approval rating at 57% with disapproval in the mid 30s.

Already fearing a Republican win, many Democrats are speculating that the Coakley campaign just isn’t doing it’s job well enough.

As Byran York writes for the Washington Examiner:

…some Democrats, eager to distance Obama from any electoral failure, are beginning to compare Coakley to Creigh Deeds, the losing Democratic candidate in the Virginia governor's race last year. Deeds ran such a lackluster campaign, Democrats say, that his defeat could be solely attributed to his own shortcomings, and should not be seen as a referendum on President Obama's policies or those of the national Democratic party.

The same sort of thinking is emerging in Massachusetts. "This is a Creigh Deeds situation," the Democrat says. "I don't think it says that the Obama agenda is a problem. I think it says, 1) that she's a terrible candidate, 2) that she ran a terrible campaign, 3) that the climate is difficult but she should have been able to overcome it, and 4) that Democrats beware -- you better run good campaigns, or you're going to lose."

Boy, does that sound familiar.

With the election coming up on Tuesday the campaigns are now heading into GOTV weekend. Polls will now be largely unreliable, and who will win is anyone’s guess. But from what we’ve seen, things aren’t looking much better for Coakley.

They should. With so many Democrats in Massachusetts it should be easy for the campaign to get enough of them to the polls on Election Day. It may mean a lot of stressful hours this weekend for her staff (and I’m sure they will be) but it shouldn’t theoretically be too difficult.

Of course, that’s what we said about the gubernatorial race in New Jersey last year.

And Brown’s GOTV efforts will be a lot easier with significant supplementation from other GOP campaigns across the country. Politico reports today that Republican congressional campaigns from Connecticut to Texas, Pennsylvania to Florida, and just about everywhere else are transferring their time and energy to the Massachusetts race.

From the article:

Some campaigns are blasting e-mails to supporters, prodding them to cut checks. Others are temporarily turning their headquarters into phone banks. A few are even encouraging volunteers to head to Massachusetts…

Now that’s some party unity. The direct benefit to these other campaigns is not obvious. But apparently there is a morale effect. These other GOP campaigns believe that if a Republican can win Ted Kennedy’s old seat, then anything is possible - and that will really encourage their supporters.

There are definitely some undecided voters at this point - probably 4%-5% of the electorate. Voters who haven’t made up their minds by GOTV weekend typically split about 50-50 when they enter the polls. That might not be what Coakley wants to hear.

Yet, I have to imagine this race could be different. Many of these last minute voters who will make their decision on Election Day (even as late as when they head into the booth) will no doubt be thinking about Ted Kennedy’s legacy. It hasn’t really been a big enough issue in the campaign, but it helps - no doubt - that Kennedy’s widow recently cut this ad for Coakley:

Hopefully for Coakley, this message will resonate with last minute voters.

But hope is not enough. Inevitably, the Coakley campaign will need to get-out-the-vote this weekend like none other if they want to send her to Washington.

Note: because this is a critical 60th seat for Senate Democrats, we hope you can spare some time to make calls on behalf of the Coakley campaign. You can help them out this weekend by signing up to volunteer at, or through OFA.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

GOP and Democrats Lay Out 2010 Plans to Control the House

Summary: As the Democrats and Republicans lay out their 2010 strategy, who will need a miracle to reach their goal?

Following a strategy session in Annapolis this week, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) laid out the GOP’s plans to retake the lower chamber.

First and foremost they will use what they call the “80-20 strategy” which basically calls for attacking Democrats on the stimulus, healthcare, and cap-and-trade 80% of the time, and offering their own ideas the remaining 20% of the time this year.

Knowing that they’re even less popular than the Democrats in the minds of the voters, Republican candidates have to focus the majority of their time on attacks.

From Politico:

Republicans aren’t as delusional as some think: They know they aren’t going to win a popularity contest with the public right now. But Republicans don’t think they have to, as long as the public remains down on Democratic rule.

“It is in the mind-set of the public right now: Washington’s out of control,” Cantor said. “They do not have the economic security in their life yet. The 10 months’ time [until the election] is not enough for people to regain their sense of security, no matter where this unemployment rate goes.”

A newly released CNN/Opinion Research poll shows a majority of Americans disapprove of the president’s handing of every domestic issue surveyed — health care policy, the economy, taxes, unemployment and the budget deficit, some by double-digit margins…

…Cantor’s chief deputy whip, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), said the administration’s suggestion that the stimulus would keep unemployment under 8 percent is “going to be the equivalent of [former President] George [W.] Bush landing on the [USS Abraham] Lincoln and saying, ‘Mission accomplished.’”

They will also try to capitalize on the anti-incumbency trends of the moment, offer “a check and a balance to unfettered power”, and try to support more minority candidates.

Republican leaders recognize that their party is embarrassingly white, but they estimate that one-quarter of its top 100 candidates will be minorities. Cantor concedes the lack of diversity in his party today is a big concern. Van Tran, a California State Assembly member who left Vietnam at age 10 in a C-130 military cargo plane, is among the minority recruits they think can win. He is running against Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

Another bright recruit is Hispanic state Rep. Jaime Herrera, running to fill the seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Brian Baird in Washington. Cantor is taking steps to ensure more diversity: This week, he endorsed Ryan Frazier, an African-American city councilman running against Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), even though he’s facing a competitive primary against a former aide to McCain’s presidential campaign.

The 20% of the year they’ll devote to propagating their own ideas will come after Labor Day, at which point they will lay out what Cantor calls “a 21st-century blueprint” that will echo the successful “Contract with America” of 1994.

Cantor says it would start with jobs, then go on to promising a level playing field for investments. Aides say it would be more general than the bill-by-bill roster of the “Contract,” instead focusing on vaguer principles. Tax cuts will be included, too.

Are the numbers there? Well, almost, they hope.

Republicans admit they will need some breaks — a lot of them. They hope Democratic retirements — now at 10 seats — inch up to at least 15. Republicans hope they can win 70 percent of those seats, then defeat 10 percent to 15 percent of incumbents. The spin that the party gives to its prospects: 48 Democrats now sit in districts won by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008. Nearly every one of these races has at least one credible Republican or will soon get one. In addition, according to National Republican Campaign Committee data, 32 Democrats won with less than 55 percent of the vote in 2008. Of 10 Democratic open seats, Republicans will be on offense in at least eight. In 13 Republican open seats, Democrats have fielded strong challengers in only two. Remember: This is the Cantor-GOP spin, but it’s not that far from reality.

Meanwhile, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) is arguing that Republicans simply won’t be able to achieve such an ambitious goal.

As Democratic leaders see things, the economic situation is going to look a lot more promising in the fall than it does right now. And once you factor in the deeply tainted Republican brand and drill down and look at the 435-seat map on a district-by-district basis, the chances of waking up Nov. 3 to a Republican majority in the House are virtually nil.

“We’ve been saying this would be a tough election year, but it’s a hallucination for Republican leaders to think they’ll take back the House — this is not 1994 déjà vu,” [DCCC] Chairman Chris Van Hollen told POLITICO. “They have to persuade the American people to hand them over the keys, to the same folks who drove the economy into the ditch and now run away from the scene of the accident. All the proposals, the same proposals that got us into the economic mess we’re in.”

While party strategists are, at least privately, steeling for moderate-to-heavy losses in 2010, the range is nowhere near the 40 seats necessary for the GOP to return to power in the House. And that’s an assessment that many nonpartisan analysts seem to share — not to mention Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who recently conceded the same.

First there is the issue of trust, and not many Americans trust the GOP brand.

Given the disrepair of the Republican brand, it’s not entirely clear that the party will be able to capture the anger and frustration that exists in the electorate. Consider this data point from a recent Rasmussen Reports poll: the “Tea Party” outpolls the Republican Party on the generic congressional ballot, 23 percent to 18 percent. Democrats, meanwhile, outpaced them both with 36 percent.

Second, there’s the issue of money. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) currently has $11 million less cash-on-hand than the DCCC - about a quarter of the DCCC’s funds for helping candidates.

Usually the NRCC is able to rely on the Republican National Committee for money - but as we mentioned earlier, the RNC managed to burn through about $95 million in 2009, and now is struggling to come up with additional funds for a more important year.

“If you take the Republican numbers on how many recruits they have ... and divide it with the amount of cash on hand, they don’t have the funds to compete in these districts,” said Van Hollen. “It’s going to be a wake-up call to some of these candidates when they see the people urging them on don’t have the resources.”…

…All of this means the NRCC will probably have to rely on outside conservative third-party groups to lend a hand. And, well, sometimes they can be a little off-message, which won’t be helpful with independent voters.

Third, there’s a civil war within the Republican Party.

Remember the New York 23 special election? That didn’t turn out so well for the GOP. There’s lots more where that came from. According to Democratic estimates, there are anywhere from a dozen to as many as 50 GOP primaries where a conservative grass-roots/tea party candidate is vying with a Republican incumbent or candidate.

Not much good can come of that. It will force candidates to the right — jeopardizing their general election chances in many districts — and raises the prospect of numerous bloodied Republican nominees limping out of the primary season.

Van Hollen also argues that Democrats will win on the economy - a bit of a dice-roll, but something that could pay-off some big dividends.

In the end, the state of the economy will play an enormous role in determining the outcome of the midterm House elections. While a rough economy will obviously hurt Democratic candidates, the economic recovery plan has taken the country out of free-fall and started to stabilize the economy — Democrats will get the credit for it, as well as for cleaning up the mess left by the previous administration and the Republican Congress.

“Republicans have been rooting for failure, and that’s not the way to win elections,” Van Hollen said. “I think that the big issue will be the state of the economy and whether or not voters have confident things will turn around. We’ve got a long way to go in political time, and as we begin to turn the corner on the economy, I believe people’s confidence will be restored.”

As for the government’s fiscal matters associated with the economy, Democrats may be getting a leg up from the Obama Administration. President Obama blasted Wall Street in a statement today, saying “we want our money back.”

From the AP:

It was an emphatic and populist tone for a president keenly aware of public antipathy toward Wall Street. With the sharp words, he also tried to deflect some of the growing skepticism aimed at his own economic policies as unemployment stubbornly hovers around 10 percent.

Obama said big banks had acted irresponsibility, taken reckless risk for short-term profits and plunged into a crisis of their own making. He cast the struggle ahead as one between the financial industry and average people.

"We are already hearing a hue and cry from Wall Street, suggesting that this proposed fee is not only unwelcome but unfair, that by some twisted logic, it is more appropriate for the American people to bear the cost of the bailout rather than the industry that benefited from it, even though these executives are out there giving themselves huge bonuses," Obama said.

And with the anti-establishment nature of public opinion right now, the way Obama called out Wall Street today is something Democratic strategists have been waiting for.

Are the numbers there for the Democrats though?

Republicans simply cannot hit the magic number of 40 seats without a surge in
Democratic retirements. And so far, the number of retirements is not at alarming levels.

In total, 31 House Democrats announced their retirement in 1994. This year? So far, only 10 Democrats, which is not only below the historic norm, but also below the overall number of Republicans — 13, to be exact — who aren’t seeking reelection. And there probably aren’t that many more Democratic retirements to come. Van Hollen has been aggressive in reaching out to possible retirees and has received commitments from most of those who represent the seats most at risk that they’re running for another term.

Back in November, I estimated that Democrats would lose roughly 10-15 House seats this year. An optimistic estimate for the Democrats? Yes. But consider the CQ Map, which still finds a net gain for Democrats in non-toss-up seats. Even if the GOP were to win every toss-up seat, it would only be a net gain of 12 seats over the Democrats.

Hitting 40 will take a miracle for the Republicans.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Recent Developments Confirming 2010 Political Trends…

Three articles - all from Politico - today seem to give weight to important trends we’ve been discussing looking forward to the 2010 midterm elections.

Irritated Arkansas Liberals

We’ve been talking quite a lot about the unsatisfied liberal base of the Democratic Party, and how it may be the greatest threat to Democratic candidates this year. Nowhere is this more evident - apparently - than in Arkansas, where Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln is under pressure from both right and left.

From the article:

Even before Lincoln announced her opposition to the public health insurance option, she had frustrated Arkansas progressives with her opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. Some in the African-American community, meanwhile, have complained that the senator hasn’t been aggressive enough in promoting black judges to the federal courts.

While, according to some state political observers’ estimates, liberal voters account for only 15 percent to 25 percent of the voting public in Arkansas, their unrest has further imperiled her political standing as the sole Southern Democratic senator up for reelection in 2010.

Polling shows Lincoln’s support from liberals in the state has fallen precipitously in recent months. A survey in late August by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed Lincoln with 66 percent approval among voters who identified themselves as liberal. By November, another PPP survey found her approval among that group dropping to 50 percent.

The disaffection from the party base comes as a slew of public polls show Lincoln badly trailing several prospective GOP opponents. A Rasmussen Reports poll out last week showed Lincoln receiving less than 40 percent against four separate Republican contenders — an ominous sign for an incumbent.

“I think that anger on the left — as small a group as it may be — is a serious problem for her,” said John Brummett, an Arkansas News columnist who is a longtime observer of the state’s political scene. “In a close race — which this is going to be — an invigorated base is vital.”

Apparently, labor leaders and others are waiting to see if Lt. Gov. Bill Halter will challenge Lincoln in a primary. Halter is expected to be more appealing to the liberal base of Arkansas’s Democrats.

Open Seat in Michigan for GOP?

Politico is also reporting that moderate Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) is considering a bid for Michigan’s open gubernatorial race. Knowing he’d do better in a general election than a primary, Stupak says he’s waiting to see how the rest of the field looks before entering the race.

But by leaving the house, it could easily mean a GOP pickup in what’s likely to be a GOP year.

From the article:

Democrats would have trouble holding on to his first district seat, which includes a conservative northern swath of the Wolverine state and the Upper Peninsula. DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) has called Stupak about running for reelection to the House, Stupak said.

As we’ve mentioned before, Democratic retirements for political advancement could mean trouble holding on to the lower seats. Just across Lake Michigan, Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) decided to sacrifice a gubernatorial run in part - no doubt - because it could have been a possible Republican win in his current district.

A Conservative Base with No Reservations

Meanwhile, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will be holding their annual convention with Glenn Beck as their keynote speaker.

It should almost sound strange that the premier Washington beltway group of the right would be addressed by a conspiracy-theory-holding, populist-inspiring mouthpiece. Yet Washington conservatives are becoming increasingly warm to the Tea Party movement, hoping it can deliver them votes in November.

By listening to a Tea Party conservative like Beck, they hope to be able to tap into this movement.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Can One Political Party Simply Be Better on a Particular Issue?

Ever mindful of the fact that we often take ourselves too serious in politics, I thought it would be good to show you this insightful and hilarious segment from last night's Daily Show today...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Fright Club
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Monday, January 11, 2010

Weekend Political Roundup

Summary: This weekend was full of brash comments from politicians--read who's getting into trouble.

This past weekend was somewhat unusual for me insofar as I was not keeping track of the news. Instead I was mostly watching the NFL playoffs, which I’ll briefly talk about later in the post. Needless to say, when I checked the news this morning, I was surprised by just how much happened in the world of campaign politics in the course of two days.

Blago's Back...

First there were the outlandish comments from ousted Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) who said - among other eccentric things - that he was “blacker” than Barack Obama. The more I think about this I can’t help but think Blagojevich might just be a genius.

Let me explain: he knows his political career is over and there’s no way to bring it back. If he can beat the legal charges against him, however (which I’ll admit, is unlikely) he’ll want to maintain a media presence that can land him a job in, say, television or something. What better way to do that than to constantly act like a lunatic?

Massachusetts Senate Race...

Second was an interesting variation in the polls coming out of Massachusetts. In the race for Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat, it seems that Democrat Martha Coakley could either be ahead of Republican Scott Brown by 15 points, behind by 1 point, or at various intervals in between.

How can this be explained? Nate Silver suggests several reasons but ultimately can’t decide why the polls could be so varied. My guess is it has to do with whether or not the poll included an option for Libertarian Party candidate Joe Kennedy. Silver points out that the polls that do include a third party option are probably inflating what kind of support he’ll see on Election Day. While I agree that would usually be the case, his name is Kennedy, and that could help him out in this election. Thus, I would suggest looking at those polls (from The Boston Globe and Rasmussen) for the best estimates.

Game Change...

Next were a number of reports that came out about the 2008 presidential election. The first story was yet another Palin criticism from McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt, who bashed the former Alaska governor on last night’s “60 Minutes”.

From the story in Politico:

“There were numerous instances that she said things that were — that were not accurate that ultimately, the campaign had to deal with,” said Steve Schmidt in an interview broadcast on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “And that opened the door to criticism that she was being untruthful and inaccurate. And I think that is something that continues to this day.”

Schmidt cited an ethics report on the then-Alaska governor from her home state on an investigation into whether she had improperly used her government position.

“She went out and said, you know, ‘This report completely exonerates me,’” Schmidt said. “And in fact, it — it didn’t. You know it’s the equivalent of saying down is up and up is down. It was provably, demonstrably untrue.”

Even more interesting reports, however, come from the same book the cites a lot of the Schmidt-Palin feud - Game Change by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann - which examines a great number of unknown (and politically damaging) situations during the race, including a strained Obama-Biden relationship over the course of the campaign. Apparently the Obama staff kept Biden off important conference calls and put him on his own in order to “keep a tight rein on him.”

And Biden, in an off-the-record remark, apparently told reporters that he was more qualified to be president than his running mate.

Other reports from the book are also quite juicy:

–Before the 2004 Democratic presidential primary, party strategists Mark Penn and Mandy Grunwald, both then working for Sen. Joe Lieberman’s presidential candidacy, met secretly with then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and a group of her closest confidantes to consider a last-minute entry into the race – and even polled New Hampshire voters about the idea. Ultimately, though, Chelsea Clinton persuaded her mother to opt out of a run, arguing that voters wouldn’t forgive her for breaking a pledge to serve a full Senate term.

–Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and a group of other senators who would back Hillary Clinton’s candidacy encouraged Obama to run for the White House as early as 2006. The concern over Clinton was that she would be a weak Democratic standard-bearer while Obama could energize the party. In late summer 2007, Schumer – using an Obama ally, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), as a back channel – pushed the candidate to “take a two-by-four to Hillary,” as the authors put it.

–In lobbying the late Sen. Edward Kennedy to endorse his wife, former President Clinton angered the liberal icon by belittling Obama. Telling a friend about the conversation, Kennedy recalled Clinton had said “a few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee,” the authors paraphrase. A spokesman for the former president declined to comment on the claim.

–Frustrated over the campaign following her disastrous interview with Katie Couric, Sarah Palin said she regretted accepting the Republican vice presidential nomination. “If I’d known everything I know now, I would not have done this,” she said. McCain’s high command, already worried about her lack of eating and drinking and fearing that she was suffering from post-partum depression, convened a conference call and discussed whether she was mentally unstable.

Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton issued a statement in response to "Game Change" touting the former governor's own insider account.

"The Governor's descriptions of these events are found in her book, 'Going Rogue,'” said Stapleton. “Her descriptions are accurate. She was there. These reporters were not.”

–There were apparently "two Americas" within the marriage between John and Elizabeth Edwards. The former North Carolina senator's wife viewed herself as a worldly intellectual and publicly called her husband "a hick" and his parents "rednecks," according to the authors.

"She was forever letting John know she regarded him as her intellectual inferior," they write, mocking her husband, the presidential hopeful, as somebody who "doesn't read books."

–Before she was tapped as the vice presidential nominee, McCain’s campaign team devoted only five days to vetting Palin and her seventy-four-part questionnaire. But Palin herself only spent a few hours filling it out – an act which had “consumed weeks for other short-listers.” Ultimately, a forty-two-page vetting report of Palin was crashed by McCain’s team in a matter of 40 hours.

–McCain never held a single practice session before the first debate of the general election, in September of 2008. Now-RNC Chairman Michael Steele had spent the entire summer preparing to play Obama in the practice sessions, but McCain wouldn’t spar with Steele out of fear that the sessions would leak and he’d be accused of racial insensitivity.

–Upon finding out that McCain had tapped Palin as his running mate, Vice President Dick Cheney called it a “reckless choice,” believing the Alaska governor was unprepared for high office.

–Members of what the authors call Clinton’s “war room within a war room” became convinced in 2006 that Bill Clinton was having a serious extramarital affair, prompting Hillary Clinton to instruct her aides to be prepared to combat the story.

–After Billy Shaheen, Clinton's New Hew Hampshire campaign chairmen and the husband of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, told the Washington Post that Obama's youthful drug use made him unelectable, Clinton initially cheered him on and encouraged her staff to draw attention to the comment. "Good for him!" she told aides. "Let's push it out." Clinton subsequently personally apologized to Obama over the matter and Shaheen quit the campaign.

–Following the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton was shocked to have been offered the Secretary of State job and decided to reject the offer. She prepared a statement explaining why she would turn the new president down and remain in the Senate. But in an after-midnight call between Clinton and Obama, he persuaded her – only after Clinton expressed concerns about the problems posed by her husband, the former president.

“You know I can’t control him, and at some point he’ll be a problem” the authors paraphrase Clinton as saying. Obama indicated that he was willing to take that risk…

…–Before formally deciding to enter the 2008 presidential race, Obama met secretly with former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Vice-President Al Gore, the latter of whom the authors report had privately consulted with Obama adviser David Axelrod on a potential 2004 presidential run of his own.

Clearly this book doesn’t make anyone look good.

My take is that few people will take any notice of the embarrassing stories in the book except for some Washington insiders who very well might have known a lot of these details anyway.

Well, except for one story…

It was also revealed in the book that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had said that Barack Obama was “light skinned” and lacks “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

That proved to be explosive. Republicans, including the black RNC Chair Michael Steele, have called for Reid to lose his Senate leadership position. Their argument is that there is a double standard for Trent Lott to have lost his GOP leadership position for similar reasons while Reid can keep his.

Democrats, loyal to their leader, defended him vehemently on Sunday with a variety of arguments. Of the good ones: Reid has a record of standing up for civil rights and his comments on Obama were taken out of context. In fact, the book does seem to suggest that Reid was praising Obama’s political skills, albeit in an eyebrow-raising manner.

My guess is this won’t do anything to his role as Majority Leader. However, it will most definitely be a strain to his re-election this year. Reid is already facing bad number in the polls, so he wants as much Democratic turnout as he can get. While many voters who would be especially offended by this may not support a GOP candidate, they may just decide to stay home on Election Day - which is still pretty bad news.

Playoff Season...

Oh, and of course, the NFL playoffs. Now, don’t make too much of this, but I did see an interesting trend this weekend. In the AFC, more-liberal area located teams tended to do better than more-conservative area teams (with New York beating Cincinnati) while in the NFC, the red states beat out the blue ones (Dallas crushing Philadelphia and Arizona edging out Green Bay). A little ironic, perhaps, given that the AFC color is red and the NFC color is blue.

So, if you’re the kind of sports fan who likes to make predictions based on bizarre trends like political tendencies, you might want to put your money on Dallas beating Minnesota, New Orleans clobbering Arizona (Louisiana is much more conservative than the Grand Canyon State), and Baltimore upsetting Indianapolis.

Or you could play it in any number of safer ways, which I would have to suggest.