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"California On The Hill"

First Paper Assignment

The mid-term elections are shaping up as a critical test for the Bush Administration. After picking up House and Senate seats in the last two elections, the mishaps of the last year-from Katrina to the Abramoff scandel--- have put the Republicans on the defensive. But can the Democrats take advantage of this? The task is formidable given that they would have to pick up 6 seats net in the Senate and 15 seats in the House.

So, assume that you are working for the DNC/RNC or one of the Congressional campaign committees, and you have been asked to assess the prospects of picking up a seat for your party: a Republican seat if you are "working" for the Dems or a Democratic seats if you are working for the Reps. Pick one of the Senate races from the list of possibilities below, look up the voting history in the past decade of that state in terms of 2000/2004 Presidential, US Senate, Congress and Statewide races such as Governor, Lt Governor etc. Find out who is running on either side, and look into their backgrounds. Consider the record of the incumbent for strengths and weaknesses. Check FEC records for fund-raising totals and history. Check local paper reports, blogs, Hotline, Cook report, etc and any others sources you can find, and then in a concise 5 page memo state your conclusions and back it with evidence. Can the seat be won by your party? How much money will the candidate need? What are the best issues? What are the biggest problems? Should it be the top priority of the national party? Finally, design a 30-second attack ad against the most likely opponent or positive ad for the most likely candidate for your party.

We will try to recruit someone who does this for a living to come in and assess your judgments, so be prepared to make an oral presentation.

You can work on this with a partner, but the expectation of the paper size and research will go up accordingly.

Due date February 2.

Hot Seats:
Santorum, Penn
DeWine, Ohio
Chaffee, RI
Burns, Montana
Kyl, Arizona
Talent, Missouri
Minn, open
Florida, Nelson
NJ, open.
Tenn, open