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Can The GOP Retake The Senate?

July 16th, 2010 by Kevin

Gibb\’s admission that the Republicans may very well take over the majority in the the House has re-aligned all the talk about the upcoming election.  Mostly it\’s renewed talk about whether Republicans can retake the Senate.  It\’s a topic I\’ve covered several times before.  Republicans need to get to 51 seats, but the last two times we looked at how things were trending, we came up with 49 and 48.  Have things improved?

Well let\’s take a look at some of the more interesting races.  We\’ll start with those currently held by Democrats…

North Dakota – Republican Hoeven is beating Democrat Potter almost 4 to 1 in the polls.  Potter should count it as a moral victory if he can break 20% in the election…and the way the polls are looking I\’m not sure he can accomplish that.  Solid Republican takeover.

Indiana – This race stopped being interesting a long time ago and it\’s gotten even less interesting as Democrats Ellsworth falls further and further behind.  At this point Republican Coats could be caught with a dead hooker and a goat on top of a pile of cocaine and he\’d still win.  Solid Republican takeover.

Arkansas – The interesting part of this race is long in the past, namely the primary which would determine how Blanche Lincoln was going to be given the pink slip.  Now this race is just plain boring.  Democrat Halter never had a chance.  Even the scenario I described regarding Coats of Indiana wouldn\’t put this race in question.  Solid Republican takeover.

Delaware – I promise…this is the last blowout.  Last two times I offered to put money on this election, Republican Castle over Democrats Coons….now I\’ll give you 2:1 odds. Solid Republican takeover.

Nevada – The NRA\’s favorite candidate is make a race out of this as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defends his seat.  The dynamics of this race has definitely changed.  While most of Nevada already really disliked Reid, now a large plurality also really dislike Sharon Angle.  However, at the end of the day the voters have to pick one or the other and the public breakdown on the issues favors Angle more than it does Reid.  Nevada voters think the economy stink, that the stimulus didn\’t do crap, they want the health care law repealed and they think Arizona\’s new immigration law is a pretty good idea that they wouldn\’t mind trying in their own state.  Plus Reid has made several high profile gaffes lately, including his much lampooned claim that there are no illegal workers in Nevada.  Then a deceased Mormon woman, a key constituency for Reid, slammed him in her obituary.  There is reason to be concerned about this effectively-tied race….but I think in the end Angle pulls this out.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Illinois – Uh oh, this race is quickly falling apart.  While Democrat Giannoulias\’s support hasn\’t increased, Republican Kirk\’s has fallen, and in every possible category these two are tied.  Both candidates have flaws dragging them down.  Giannoulias is part of the corrupt Illinois political culture and Kirk has made false claims about his military record.  Illinois voters are pretty much split on the issues, although they very slightly favor Kirk.  On the other hand Obama is still popular here which favors Giannoulias.  Each candidate has the support of their parties voters and most of the independents fall Kirk\’s way…but there is a large plurality of independents that are still uncommitted.  The Holy Trinity for Republicans is at risk in Illinois….this race is entirely a toss-up.

Pennsylvania – Ok this race has closed a bit since we last took a look and yes there is reason to be concerned.  Now that I\’ve given the disclaimer, this is still looking favorable for the GOP.  Republican Toomey\’s support has never left the mid-40s, while Democrat Sestak has gone from the mid-30s to the mid-40s….although the higher numbers were mostly the result of his primary win and have since tapered off.  The breakdown on the issues remain pretty challenging for Sestak, especially the filing of the lawsuit against Arizona.  This race is closer than is preferred but it still leans Republican takeover.

Colorado – Well this race is turning out pretty interesting, especially considering it appeared to be one of the more boring races a few months ago.  Now both Republicans and Democrats have competitive primary battles.  Lt Gov Jane Norton has been the presumptive Republican candidate for awhile, but now the Tea Party candidate Ken Buck is capitalizing on Norton\’s reputation as the establishment candidate.  Meanwhile Democrats Andrew Romanoff and Michael Bennet are still in a virtual dead heat.  The way things have changed is actually pretty nice for Republicans as Ken Buck polls better against both Democrats.  Until the August 10th primary, there are still too many variables here to make too confident of a prediction, but it\’s tentatively leaning Republican at this point.

California – Really?? This seat actually appears to be in play?? I\’ve fought that perception for months but it\’s hard to continue to ignore polling data.  Latest polls show this a statistically dead heat.  In fact, Republican Fiorina is leading in recent polls over bat-shit crazy Boxer.   Ok we got that out of the way, but let\’s keep our perspective, this is still hippy-land people.  Obama is still popular here of all things, although they are split on health care and immigration.  I\’ll throw you a bone here, and upgrade this to leans Democrat retention but that\’s it.

Wisconsin – Ok this race is basically just starting.  Last we looked Republican Johnson was fresh into the race and there was no polling history.  I gave Democrat Feingold the nod although there were areas where Johnson could gain ground and damned if the guy hasn\’t.  Realistically this race is a deadheat, but perhaps the most telling about just how desperate Feingold is becoming is that he\’s running TV ads claiming to be a political outsider….despite being in the Senate since 1993….17 years folks.  Technically Johnson still have a primary to pass but he\’s a pretty solid choice for that not much to worry about short of it sucking up resources.  Speaking of resources Johnson has raised $557,774 since mid-MAY…..that\’s impressive for a candidate nobody heard of 3 months ago.  Independents break pretty solid for Johnson and half of Wisconsinites say the economy sucks balls.  They hate the health care bill, the love the Arizona law and they think the stimulus plan was a waste of money.  Despite the close polling, all the factors are breaking Johnson\’s way….although he\’s still new and a political novice.  This seat has gone from Democrat retention to toss-up and the only thing keeping me from calling this leaning Republican takeover is that there is still very little polling history to work with here.  This is a toss-up….for now.

Washington -Democrat Senator Patty Murray has been statistically tied with Republican Dino Rossi.  This state is a pretty familiar story.  Position on the issues generally favors Rossi and so does the breakdown of independents but I still have to give this one to Murray.  Washington is a blue state and Murray\’s incumbency trumps Rossi\’s close polling.  Although this race is ripe for change, and has been for months…that\’s the problem, it hasn\’t.  Even in this year I have to give this one a leaning Democrat retention.

And now the Republican held seats….

Florida – Frigging Crist….this should be an easy Republican win but now it\’s interesting.  Democrat Meeks is out of the picture, but billionaire Jeff Greene is trying to muscle his way in as the Democrat candidate.  Oddly enough, he\’s probably Rubio\’s best strategy for a win, because if Democrats don\’t have a viable candidate they are likely to fall to Crist and give him the win.  The demographics here are really very interesting.  Rubio takes most Republican but some still side with Crist.  Meanwhile Democrats are split between Crist and their candidate.  Rubio has a slim lead in the polls but everything has been very fluid and I suspect it all hinges on where the Democrats go, Crist or Greene?  Either Rubiou or Crist is going to win this but the question for Crist is who does he caucus with?  Former Republican who has been drifting left.  Let\’s call this a toss-up.

Ohio – Ohio is living up to it\’s name as a purple state.  Everything about this says toss-up.  Polling has NEVER left the margin of error and it\’s gone back and forth.  The breakdown on the issues strong favors \”Hells if I know\”.  There are a couple factors favoring Republican Porter against Democrat Fisher but they get lost in the mash of evenly split everything else.  I\’m not even confident enough in anything to call this a toss-up as either outcome is just as likely as the reanimated corpse of Walt Disney moving to Ohio and winning.

Kentucky – Okay feeling a little more confident here.  Republican Rand Paul has stopped the bleeding and is maintaining a very modest lead over Democrat Jack Conway.  Both the demographics and the breakdown on the issues heavily favors Paul.  And this race has calmed down to sub-circus magnitude which favors the candidate with the lead.  I was very concerned with this race earlier, now I\’m fairly confident in calling this leaning Republican retention.

Missouri – This race is similar to Kentucky while being very different.  Sure Republican Blunt holds a modest lead over Democrat Carnahan.  And the breakdown of the issues and the demographics favor Blunt.  That said the passion index favors Carnahan and Blunt\’s polling shows vulnerability.  Calling this a toss-up.

New Hampshire –  I had some initial concerns about this race but it seems to be working itself out.  Republican Ayotte now has a two-digit lead on Democrat Hodes and most of the factors favor her.  Ayotte is facing a bit of a scandal in the form of a mortgage fraud case that happened while she was Attorney General, and she didn\’t handle questions about it very well.  That said she\’s pretty solidly ahead in the polling.  Besides even her GOP primary opponents are beating Hodes at this point….so even if she dropped back one of them would likely beat Hodes.  Calling this one likely Republican retention.

North Carolina – I included this state in my last analysis because Senator Burr was showing weakness.  That hiccup appears to have passed and he\’s solidly in control again.  Republican retention.

Where\’s that bring us?

Well of the Republican seats they are either toss-ups or Republican retentions….so it\’s unlikely Republican lose any ground.  Democrats on the other hand have 59 seats (including 2 Independents) currently so they can lose 9 and still control the Senate and I still don\’t see a viable path for that to happen.  They definitely lose Arkansas, Delaware, North Dakota and Indiana and they likely lose Pennsylvania and Nevada.  That\’s six seats, even if Colorado falls that\’s only seven….three short of what Republicans need.

Realistically, at this point I see the Senate breakdown as 53 Democrats and 47 Republicans.  Still that\’s not bad.  It means Democrats can\’t force their agenda through just by flipping either the Maine sisters and/or Scott Brown.  They have to deal honestly with Republicans and have to engage them at the very beginning of writing the legislative language….which means no more exhausting and potentially damaging rearguard action for the Republicans, although they have performed admirably in that regard!

End result, Senate is still not in play.

[Crossposted at True North]

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Posted in 2010 Elections, True North | 4 Comments »

4 Responses

  1. J. Ewing Says:

    The Democrats have 11 seats up. The GOP needs 10 of the 11 to claim a Senate majority. If turnout turns out to highly favor the GOP, isn’t is possible? Is there anything we can do to make that more likely?

  2. Kevin Says:

    Well actually they only need 9, but sure it’s possible. An earthquake swallowing California up is also possible but notice I didn’t include that in my analysis.

    And the national mood is only applicable so far. Remember these are still state races. How the nation feels about Harry Reid doesn’t matter to the people that actually vote for or against him.

    As far as what we can do…being in Minnesota where we have no Senate race this year….not much. You can certainly donate to some of these candidates on the edge of taking over a Democrat seat….but realistically that’s about it.

  3. Robert L. Crocker Says:

    May wanna rethink WA. Today’s poll shows both Didier and Rossi ahead of the hapless Murray.

    Could be Rossi .vs. Didier in Nov.

    I know. I know. They are both Republicans but things have really gotten crazy in Washington state politics the last few years.

  4. Kevin Says:

    Not even close Crocker, I stand by my prediction.

    That poll you refer to, it’s only 3 points difference which is less than the margin of error and given the polling history I don’t think this race has budged. It’s what we call statistical noise.

    Sorry but short of repeated results outside of the margin of error, no reason to think this is anything but leaning Democrat retention.