So You Want to Be a Political Handicapper? 2014 Edition

Stuart Rothenberg July 30, 2014 · 10:29 AM EDT

The thought of three candidate interviews over a four-hour period invariably fills me with dread.

The chance of all three congressional hopefuls being thoughtful, reasonable and personable — and having a good chance of winning in the fall — is relatively small.

But sometimes the unexpected happens. And on July 16, I had the pleasure of interviewing three quality candidates.

Democrat Pete Aguilar is likely to win California’s open 31st District. Of course, he was regarded as the favorite two years ago, but Democrats got an unpleasant surprise when two Republicans finished first and second in the open primary and met in November.

That almost happened again this cycle, but Aguilar, 35, squeezed into second place narrowly and is now favored to win a district that gave President Barack Obama 57 percent of the vote in 2012.

A graduate of the University of Redlands, Aguilar worked in then-Gov. Gray Davis’ Riverside office after college and then for a credit union for eight years before starting his own public affairs firm.

He was appointed to the Redlands City Council in 2006 and was elected to full terms in 2007 and 2012. He was appointed mayor by his colleagues on the council.

There is no reason to believe Aguilar will be anything but a loyal Democrat who will toe the…

Chuck Schumer’s Dream: A Democratic Nightmare

Nathan L. Gonzales July 29, 2014 · 10:16 AM EDT

New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer laid out his dream for a less partisan Washington recently. But the Democrat’s New York Times op-ed is giving some strategists in his own party nightmares.

“Polarization and partisanship are a plague on American politics,” Schumer wrote in the piece — titled,…

Montana Senate Moves to Lean Republican

Stuart Rothenberg July 24, 2014 · 2:00 PM EDT

As Roll Call was preparing to post my column yesterday on the Montana Senate race and recent Democratic polls showing the contest “closing,” a report surfaced in the New York Times about appointed Senator John Walsh’s plagiarism in his master’s thesis.

The Walsh story is a huge one and…

Montana Senate: A Real Race or Simply Manufactured Buzz?

Stuart Rothenberg July 24, 2014 · 1:59 PM EDT

Maybe you believe in coincidences. I usually do — but not four months from an election.

Almost simultaneously, two different memos appeared from Democratic pollsters insisting the Montana Senate race has closed and the outcome of the contest is very much in doubt.

One memo, by North…