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Election 2010


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Originally published Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 12:11 AM

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POLITICAL INSIDER: GOP voters outnumber Dems

Looking for yet another sign Democrats are in trouble? Take note of who is showing up to vote in the primaries.

Associated Press Writer

Follow the latest stories and blog updates of politics across the Puget Sound region or check out our national politics coverage.

WASHINGTON —

Looking for yet another sign Democrats are in trouble? Take note of who is showing up to vote in the primaries.

For the first time since 1930, Republican votes for statewide offices are outnumbering Democratic votes, according to an analysis from American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate. And Republicans, eager to campaign against Democrats who control the House, Senate and White House, are casting primary ballots at the highest rate since 1970.

"It isn't surprising that Republican turnout increased," said Curtis Gans, director of the center, citing intense battles within the party and the opportunity for GOP gains in Congress and in governors' offices. "But what's likely to prove telling is the lower participation of the Democrats, the first tangible demonstration of what polls have been showing - a distinct lack of enthusiasm among the Democratic rank and file."

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EDITOR'S NOTE - An insider's view of this year's elections based on dispatches from around the nation.

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The study looked at the 35 statewide primaries held before Sept. 1, based on final and official results for the primaries before Aug. 17 and final but unofficial results for those primaries that occurred later. So far, more than 30 million people have cast ballots in the nominating contests.

Republicans had three more statewide contests than Democrats: Indiana, South Dakota and Utah. The total votes cast in those primaries was 826,603, hardly enough to explain the more than 4 million-vote gap between Republicans and Democrats.

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Senate candidate Charlie Crist really, really wants voters to know he's neither a Republican nor a Democrat.

In an ad released Tuesday, the independent Florida governor tells voters that "Washington needs to stop all the finger-pointing" and focus on the economy. As he promises to put aside political differences, he takes oversized letters that spell "Republicans" and "Democrats" and moves them around an empty sound stage.

"As an independent, I'll take the best ideas of Democrats and Republicans to get things done. Because at the end of the day, there's only one party I work for," he says as he rearranges the letters to spell "Americans."

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Crist, who was one of the top GOP recruits for the Senate, left the party when it seemed likely he would lose the primary. Instead, he is running as an independent against Republican Marco Rubio and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek.

Strategists see a path for a Crist victory if he can sustain his appeal as an independent against Rubio, a tea party-backed candidate, and Meek, who has low statewide name recognition. Many national Democrats are reluctant to help Meek because if voters elect Crist, he is expected to ally himself with Democrats.

Crist is airing his ad in Tampa, Orlando, Miami and West Palm Beach and is spending about $750,000.

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The committee to elect Republicans to the U.S. House has launched its first campaign ad of the cycle, making Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly of Indiana its initial target.

In an ad, which will run for one week in the South Bend media market, the National Republican Congressional Committee points out that the two-term Donnelly supported the White House's economic stimulus plan and health care overhaul. The ad also notes Donnelly backed the 2008 Wall Street "bailout" - without mentioning Republican President George W. Bush championed the rescue plan.

Donnelly, who is already up with television ads distancing himself from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is one of the Democrats' vulnerable incumbents. Voters re-elected him in 2008 with 67 percent of the vote, but President Barack Obama won only 54 percent of the vote in the district.

As Obama and Democrats have lost popularity, Republicans argue that linking incumbent lawmakers with the president and his party could give them an advantage as they seek to reclaim majorities in both the House and the Senate.

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MGM Resorts International Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren says Sharron Angle's election to the U.S. Senate would hurt Nevada's already struggling economy.

Murren said Tuesday that Angle's comment that the company's CityCenter development injured other businesses in Nevada was disappointing and perplexing. He questions how a U.S. Senate candidate could have such a "poor" understanding of business and economics.

Murren is a Republican who supports Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Angle is Reid's GOP opponent as he seeks a fifth term.

Murren credits Reid for helping CityCenter secure the last of its financing. Angle has said she wouldn't have called banks on the project's behalf.

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Quick hits:

- The candidate Meg Whitman defeated in the California Republican gubernatorial primary earlier this year has finally endorsed her. State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced his support for the Republican nominee on Tuesday, three months after he lost the primary. Poizner endorsed the entire GOP ticket and did not offer any specific praise for Whitman, whom he accused of being a "Republican in name only" during their primary contest.

- Just in case you weren't clear, Rahm Emanuel rubs many liberals the wrong way. On the day Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced he wouldn't seek another term, political operatives looked to Emanuel, President Barack Obama's chief of staff, who has been mentioned as a possible successor to the Daley dynasty. But a leading liberal activist tried to quickly tamp down any suggestion the liberals would support an Emanuel candidacy. "Rahm is unfit to represent Democrats in office. He's a cancer on the Democratic Party," Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green said.

- Republicans have been making hay out of tea party-backed candidate Christine O'Donnell's financial troubles, but their own candidate for Delaware's open Senate seat has a few minor tax troubles of his own. Rep. Mike Castle, Washington's preferred candidate, was late in property tax payments in 2005 and 2006, according to District of Columbia records. In all, he paid less than $230 in late penalties and interest for a Capitol Hill condo worth $287,000.

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Associated Press writer Christina Silva contributed to this report from Las Vegas.

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