The prestigious New York Times has released their official appraisal of where the re-election races of Pioneer Valley Congressmen Richard Neal and John Olver stand as of October 15. While Republicans in much of the country are enjoying unprecedented high poll numbers, the Times reports that according to their appraisal, coming into the home stretch both Neal and Olver are poised for landslide re-election victories.
Saying that "based on polling, expert forecasts, fundraising, past election returns and other indicators" in the closely watched 2nd Congressional District, where the entrenched Neal is being challenged by businessman Tom Wesley, the Times says that Neal is leading with 71% of the vote with Wesley trailing 44 points behind with only 27%. On the basis of those numbers, the Times declares that they are 100% certain that Neal will be re-elected.
The Times regards the Olver effort, where he faces local Tea Party favorite Bill Gunn, to be more competitive, but just barely. Dismissing leftist third party candidate Michael Engel as entirely irrelevant, the Times declares that Olver is leading with 66% of the vote to Gunn's nearly 32%. This leads them to conclude that there is a 99.9% chance that Olver will be re-elected, not quite the 100% certainty the Times has about Neal, but still pretty discouraging to those hoping for change.
But is it really so hopeless? I think the Times is mistaken in totally dismissing the role of Engel's leftist third party challenge in the Olver race. If Engel pulls a significant number of disillusioned Obama liberals away from Olver, Gunn's chances may prove better than forecast. And the experts have been underestimating Tom Wesley from day one, when everyone said that Wesley's GOP primary challenger, Dr. Jay Fleitman would win the GOP nomination easily.
In any case it will be the voters of the First and Second District who will make the final determination on November 2nd of who will represent them in Congress - not the New York Times.
To read the full NYT Neal-Wesley appraisal click here.
To read the full NYT Olver-Gunn appraisal click here.
Luke Arrivel was playing at the Haymarket in Northampton this past weekend.
A Deadhead in the UMass library.
I saw this red-tailed hawk in a tree outside Bartlett Hall at UMass this afternoon.