A couple of disparate thoughts on the U.S. Senate race between Linda Lingle and Mazie Hirono.
First, one of the smartest elections blogs around, FiveThirtyEight, put out its first forecast for the Senate Tuesday. Nate Silver gives the Democrats a 70 percent chance of hanging onto control and says GOP takeover hopes are “slipping.” Here’s what he writes about the Hawaii contest:
Republicans have strong candidates in two open-seat races, in the form of former Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii and former Representative Heather Wilson of New Mexico. Both rate as being more moderate than most Republicans who are running this year. Ms. Wilson has raised about as much money as her Democratic opponent, Representative Martin Heinrich, while Ms. Lingle has raised more than hers, Representative Mazie K. Hirono.
But the Democrats, Mr. Heinrich and Ms. Hirono, have built up leads in the polls, and they have the partisan tide at their back, since New Mexico has become quite blue-leaning in recent years, and Hawaii will be overwhelmingly so with its native son, Mr. Obama, on the ballot. The chances of a Republican pickup in each state is now only about 10 percent, according to the forecast.
The FiveThirtyEight model, which weighs four independent public opinion polls taken between January and July, actually gives Lingle only a 7 percent chance to beat Hirono. The odds would be stacked even higher against Lingle if not for comparatively narrow survey numbers from two editions of the Civil Beat Poll earlier this year.
Lingle’s camp, as you might expect, doesn’t agree that she’s a heavy underdog. In a release blasted out Tuesday, Lingle Campaign Manager Bob Lee says new spending by a mainland Super PAC on Hirono’s behalf shows she’s running scared.
“Governor Linda Lingle and Mazie Hirono are in a neck and neck race for U.S. Senate judging by the $64,000 spent by a Washington, D.C. SuperPAC on television ads this week to prop up Hirono’s faltering campaign,” he said.
The PAC in question, called “Working Families for Hawaii,” is connected to labor unions. Federal Election Commission filings show the group received $200,000 from the AFL-CIO in June, and spent $63,950 on Monday for television ads opposing Lingle.
“They are obviously seeing the same poll numbers we are and are starting to hear footsteps,” Lee said in the press release.
Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with candidates.
— Michael Levine