Steve Benen

Steve Benen's blog is The Carpetbagger Report.

Recent Articles


GALLUP SHOWS DEMS FALLING JUST SHORT OF +6. A series of new polls released this morning by USA Today /Gallup show Democrats ahead in several key Senate contests, but not quite enough to give them the majority. Missouri: Claire McCaskill (D) leads Sen. Jim Talent (R), 49 percent to 45 percent Montana: Jon Tester (D) leads Sen. Conrad Burns (R), 50 percent to 41 percent. New Jersey: Sen. Bob Menendez (D) leads Tom Kean Jr. (R), 50 percent to 40 percent. Rhode Island: Sheldon Whitehouse (D) leads Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R), 48 percent to 45 percent. Tennessee: Bob Corker (R) leads Harold Ford (D), 49 percent to 46 percent. Virginia: Sen. George Allen (R) leads Jim Webb (D), 49 percent to 46 percent. In other words, a whole bunch of races that are too close to call, and which will ultimately dictate the majority party in the Senate next year. As Salon's Joan Walsh asked in a slightly different context, "You didn't want Tuesday to be a landslide, did you? I mean, how boring." -- Steve Benen


CRIST TO BUSH: DON'T CALL ME, I'LL CALL YOU. As we've been covering over at Midterm Madness , Florida's gubernatorial race against state Attorney General Charlie Crist (R) and Rep. Jim Davis (D) has grown increasingly tight in recent weeks, so much so that President Bush is on his way to the Sunshine State now to lend a hand. Crist, however, won't be there . In another sign of how Bush's market value has fallen, Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist said yesterday that he would skip the president's rally in Pensacola this morning. The White House put the Florida stop on Bush's election-eve schedule specifically to promote Crist, only to be embarrassed by his last-minute defection. That will make the most prominent Florida politician appearing at the event Senate candidate Rep. Katherine Harris, who appears headed for a crushing defeat and whom the Bush family has tried to avoid this fall. Crist cited the need to campaign elsewhere, but it's worth remembering that he had...

Is Our President Learning?

In January 2005, George W. Bush sat down with C-SPAN's Brian Lamb, longtime host of Booknotes . When Lamb asked the president how much reading he does on a given day, Bush replied, “I read, oh, gosh, I'd say, 10, maybe, different memoranda prepared by staff.” When Lamb clarified that he was asking specifically about books, the president explained, “I'm reading, I think on a good night, maybe 20 to 30 pages,” before segueing into an explanation about his rigorous exercise schedule. Given the history, it came as something of a surprise this month when the White House began a not-so-subtle public-relations campaign suggesting that the president not only has a great fondness for books, but has actually become a voracious reader who finishes challenging texts at a stunning clip. It began when the White House noted that Bush's summer reading list included Albert Camus' existentialist novel The Stranger. Press Secretary Tony Snow was cagey about details, but told reporters that the president...


'AN ANGRY ELECTORATE LOOKING FOR CHANGE.' Connecticut's Senate primary clearly captured the political world's attention, but let's not forget that other states had noteworthy primaries as well. In Georgia, Democrats replaced a combative and controversial lawmaker, while in Michigan, Republicans rejected a rare House centrist. The defeat of Georgia's outspoken Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D) and Michigan moderate Rep. John J.H. "Joe" Schwarz (R) appeared to confirm the strong headwinds that polls suggest members of Congress will face in November from an angry electorate looking for change. McKinney lost to former DeKalb County commissioner Hank Johnson in a runoff election. Schwarz was defeated in the Republican primary by a conservative challenger, Tim Walberg. Meanwhile, Colorado's Ed Perlmutter, who ran as "a Democrat's Democrat," defeated former state representative Peggy Lamm and a third candidate. Amy Walter , a House political analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, told...