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Friday, May 07, 2010

Democrats Fear May's Special Elections In PA and Hawaii


Republican Tim Burns leads his Democratic opponent Mark Critz in the polls for the May 18, 2010, for the PA-12 special election to fill the seat formerly held by John Murtha.

In what was the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha's western Pennsylvania district — reachable through John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport or John P. Murtha Highway — Democrats watch nervously, hoping his former top aide can hold on to the House seat.

Mark Critz, who worked for Murtha for more than a decade in Pennsylvania, including the past three as district director, is in a fierce fight with Republican businessman Tim Burns in the May 18 special election. The national GOP has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to push Burns' candidacy, sensing a legitimate shot of capturing the seat held for 36 years by Murtha, an ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

A loss would unnerve Democrats, who face the backlash against the party in power typical for a midterm election year, and depress the outlook for the party's other candidates in Pennsylvania, which Barack Obama won easily in 2008.


Democrats are "re-evaluating" whether or not to continue to spend money on the special election for Hawaii, where there are two Democrats on the ballot, splitting the Democratic vote and one Republican leading those polls.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is re-evaluating whether to continue to spend money in this month’s Hawaii special election, Chairman Chris Van Hollen told POLITICO Thursday.

With former Democratic Rep. Ed Case and Democratic state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa splitting the Democratic vote against Republican Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou, Van Hollen said the committee recognized challenges to winning the race.

In Pennsylvania, where Democrats lead in voter registration by 2 to 1, this should not even be a tight race. Murtha held that seat for 36 years and Critz worked for Murtha. This should have been a no brainer and yet Democrats are being forced to spend money, hand over fist, to prop Critz up.

Burns' advantage is the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans along with Independents.

For Republicans winning one of these two special elections would be a huge win, but taking both would slam the fact home that the public, even in the most Democratic of districts, has had enough of Washington as it is and wants "change".

[Update] NRO points out another problem in the poll numbers Democrats are facing in PA.

Tim Burns leads Mark Critz 43%-41%, with 14% remaining undecided.

· Among those most likely to vote, Tim Burn’s lead over Mark Critz is wider.

· Among those who can blindly correctly name the election day (40% of the electorate) Burns leads Critz 49% 42%.

· Among those most interested in the election (72% of the voters) Burns leads Critz 46% 40%.

· Among those who are extremely likely to vote (65% of the voters) Burns leads Critz 45% 41%.