It's still a dead heat.
A last-minute poll by the Pew Research Center released yesterday confirmed the conventional wisdom that there is no discernible national pattern on the eve of Tuesday's midterm elections. The poll by the nonpartisan group found that 46 percent of those likely to vote Tuesday will pull the lever for a Democratic House candidate, while 44 percent favor a Republican. That's within the poll's 3.5 percentage point error margin and is statistically no change from early October (when Democrats had a one-point lead among likely voters) and early September (when the GOP had a one-point lead among likely voters).
The results are so close that polls are of limited value in determining Tuesday's outcome. Such nationwide "generic ballot" questions are too blunt an instrument when the results will be determined by a handful of votes in a small number of competitive districts and states. "The correspondence between a party's share of the popular vote and the number of seats it wins is too approximate to make a projection of which party will control the House when the popular vote is likely to be this close," Pew concluded.
Republican voters were more likely to view Tuesday as a referendum on President Bush. Fifty-four percent said their vote reflects support for the president, while 56 percent of Democrats said Bush is not a factor. In 1998, during impeachment proceedings, 35 percent of Democratic voters said their vote reflected support for President Bill Clinton.
As in earlier surveys, Democrats enjoyed a significant edge among voters who named domestic issues as a priority, while Republicans fared much better among those who cited national security and foreign policy.
A considerable number -- 14 percent -- said they had already cast their ballots through early or absentee voting. Those voters favored Democratic House candidates over Republicans, 51 to 41 percent.
The Web site that raised $1 million in two days for Sen. Paul D. Wellstone (D-Minn.) and three other politicians who had opposed the congressional resolution on Iraq is pouring its energy in the last days before the election into raising money for the Democrat who replaced Wellstone on the ballot, Walter F. Mondale.
An open letter to members of MoveOn.org, started by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs during President Bill Clinton's impeachment hearings, describes the GOP as going into "full attack mode" for Wellstone's -- and now Mondale's -- GOP opponent, Norm Coleman, noting successive late appearances in the state by Vice President Cheney, first lady Laura Bush and President Bush.
"We've been talking with the Mondale campaign, and they're emotionally exhausted and besieged," stated the e-mail released Friday afternoon. "Mondale has no staff, no media dollars, and no web site. GOP attacks keep coming, and the money keeps rolling in for Coleman -- the Republicans now see this as a winnable race. Mondale and his volunteer staff are good people running under the most difficult of personal and political conditions. We've just got to help."
MoveOn.org (named for its original message on impeachment -- censure and move on) has set up a way to give to the Mondale campaign through a separate legal entity, MoveOnpac.org. Organizers hoped to raise more than $1 million in less time than the Web site had before.
Sticking It Out
Should he stay? Or should he go?
Thomas Golisano, the independent whom Democrats had asked to withdraw from New York's three-way race for governor, weighed his options over the weekend and -- he's staying.
Golisano ended the suspense last evening with a two-minute speech on three television networks in New York. But he had taped two messages, just in case.
Golisano also ordered his pollster, John Zogby, to check on how the race's dynamics might change if he pulled out, leaving Democrat H. Carl McCall, who was running second in recent polls, to a one-on-one battle with incumbent Republican George E. Pataki, who had a 20-point lead over McCall. Zogby told the Associated Press he also polled on how things would look with Golisano staying in the race. Better, apparently.
Staff writer Evelyn Nieves contributed to this report.