Editor's note: In eight days, voters will cast ballots in the hotly contested midterm elections. In this special feature, CNN's political contributors share their quick thoughts on what's making news.
Ruben Navarrette Jr.is a nationally syndicated columnist, an NPR commentator and a regular contributor to CNN.com.
Ed Rollins, a senior political contributor for CNN, is senior presidential fellow at the Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency at Hofstra University. He is a principal with the Dilenschneider Group, a global public relations firm. He was White House political director for President Reagan and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Ruben Navarrette Jr.: Different fates for Fiornia and Whitman
For a split second, it looked as if Carly Fiornia and Meg Whitman would be California soul sisters. Both came from the GOP's moderate wing, and both had been CEOs of successful tech companies. But in this election, U.S. Senate hopeful Fiorina and gubernatorial candidate Whitman have rarely appeared together. And now they appear headed for different outcomes.
Despite spending $140 million of her own money, Whitman has all but lost. The former eBay CEO is trailing Attorney General Jerry Brown by anywhere from 6 to 13 points. Meanwhile, Fiorina has closed the gap to the point where her race is now a toss-up. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO is even with Sen. Barbara Boxer.
It could be that one of these Republican candidates wins and the other doesn't. And the punditry will have to figure out what happened and why. I'll put in my two cents early to beat the rush.
Fiorina did a better job of exciting the base and winning over independents. In a state that is broke, it might be that both these groups resented Whitman's free-spending ways. It turns out that, in California, money can buy you a ton of political ads. But it can't buy you love.
Ed Rollins: Last-minute craziness as election looms
This is the silly week. Every Democrat pundit spins as best he or she can that "the election is not going to be as bad as everybody thinks. ... Our side is surging!" Losing the House might be a good thing for the president.
Denial is their last refuge. The Republican pundits are confident the House is theirs and the Senate is within their grasp with a little bit of luck. After four decades in this business, I know luck has nothing to do with winning elections. And after more than a billion dollars has been spent, many millions more will be spent in these closing days on advertising and last-minute efforts on an electorate that months ago decided it wanted change.
In the 2008 election, "change" meant voting for President Obama and the Democrats. In 2010, "change" means throwing Democrat incumbents out. This is the third election in a row -- 2006, 2008 and 2010 -- that the self-identified independents will decide many winners. Every poll has them breaking overwhelmingly in the Republicans' direction. The man who promised to set a new tone in politics, Obama, has run the most partisan campaign I have seen in many years, and I think it's backfired.
At a time when the U.S. is engaged in two foreign wars, record high unemployment, a struggling economy and a vast majority of Americans thinking the country is going in the wrong direction, the four things being avoided at all costs by endangered Democratic incumbents are Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Obamacare and the so-called stimulus bills. All four are opposed by a majority of voters. So there is no way they are assets. I don't think any Democrats knew they were such a a liability; what a difference an election cycle can make.
The opinions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of the writers.