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Senate Outlook Update

September 3rd, 2010 by Kevin

Ok first of all let me apologize for not writing much lately, I\’ve been busy with a variety of activities that I\’m not going to bore you with.  I especially am thankful for those readers who have stuck by me through the dry spell and in fact have requested a new look at the Senate and if the GOP has a chance of taking it.  Fair enough, quite a few races have changed, so let\’s take another look shall we?

To start, let\’s summarize.  Republicans need to get to 51, right now they are at 41.  The last few times I took a look at the Senate I came up with a final total of 49, 48 and 48, in that chronological order.  It\’s become increasingly popular for pundits to declare the Senate is flipping, can Republicans get to 51?  One way to find out.

First of all, let\’s dispense with the states that were at one point interesting and are now all but decided.  North Dakota (D), Indiana (D) and Arkansas (D) are all currently held by Democrats and by next year will be in Republican hands.  I\’m not going to bore you with the history or the details, but to re-use a favorite hypothetical….the Republican could be caught with a dead hooker and a goat on top of a pile of cocaine and they’d still win in all three.  So let\’s move onto something interesting.  +3 for Republicans

Delaware (D) – Now Delaware should be in the category above, if not for the Tea Party, bless their freedom loving hearts.  The Tea Party has gotten a pretty high opinion of themselves lately, and probably for good reason.  They\’ve ousted a lot of moderate earmarking Republicans already, Alaska being just the most recent.  They\’ve now set their sights on Mike Castle (R) of Delaware.  Now let\’s dispense with the obvious, Castle is very much a moderate, but he\’s also much more conservative than the Democrat, Chris Coons.  And Delaware is not Alaska, or Utah, or Nevada….in fact, Delaware is one of the most liberal states in the country so it would be wise to take a page from the Book of Scott Brown, and be happy with whatever Republican you can get.  Especially if that Republican can absolutely demolish the Democrat in an election, while the more \”pure\” Republican would go down in flames.  Tea Party members, don\’t be stupid, go with Castle.  Should be a solid Republican takeover.

Nevada (D) – Ok I\’ve called this a leaning Republican takeover since the beginning and I\’m starting to reconsider that evaluation.  Reid was definitely vulnerable and this was a golden opportunity for Republicans.  Now to be fair, Sharon Angle is incredibly green and there was a huge learning curve.  And she\’s had multiple chances to make that next step to respectable candidate and it hasn\’t happened.  Reid has had incredible horrific negatives from the beginning, so the fact that voters still haven\’t coalesced around Angle suggests it\’s not going to happen.  And unlike many states Nevada has a third option on their ballot….they have a \”None of the Above\” option, which I am starting to suspect all those people not flocking to Angle are going to take.  The intangibles still favor Angle but it\’s hard to call this for her at this point.  This is a toss-up, unless Angle can get her ass in line and mount a respectable campaign, because this should be an overwhelmingly easy win for Republicans.

Illinois (D) -Again, this should have been sooooo easy.  Instead we have two incredibly flawed candidates competing for a seat currently held by a man that bribed his way into the seat, vacated by one of the most incompetent Presidents in history.  On one hand, Kirk (R) has a huge money advantage and an electorate mood that favors him.  On the other hand, Giannoulias (D) has the potent Democrat political machine churning for him in an corrupt Illinois political scene.  I originally ranked this as a Republican takover, then leaning Republican, then toss-up and the trend continues, I\’m moving this to the leaning Democrat retention….the first of the Holy Trinity Senate seats to do so.  Damn it.

Pennsylvania (D) – Last time I was starting to get a little concerned here, but that hiccup seems to have passed.  We\’re back in pretty safe territory for Toomey (R), who has regained the momentum and is opening his leading on Sestak (D).  Toomey has a huge money advantage, he\’s flirting with a double digit lead in the polls, and the momentum.  Sestak has some serious work ahead of him if he wants to win this, but short of that this is a pretty solid Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) – Well this is easier to analyze now that we finally know who our candidates are.  Senator Bennet (D) survived a strong primary challenge and the Tea Party got their man, Ken Buck (R) in.  Buck polled the best of the two Republicans, but Democrats are happy because they think the GOP has appointed an extremist.  They have some reason to remain positive, Buck is a rookie and he\’s at a severe money disadvantage.  On the other hand, Bennet isn\’t very charismatic and has never run a statewide campaign before.   With an anti-insider attitude amongst voters this favors Buck at this point.  Leaning Republican takeover.

California (D) – Holy hell….how did we get here.  California is competitive….the land of hippie gumdrops and magical sticky hemp rope swings.  Really??  But dammit the data keeps pointing to this actually being close.  This is a statistical deadheat and has been for awhile.  Boxer has lost significant segments of the voters and is polling pretty awful.  But so far Fiorina hasn\’t been able to capitalize.  Plus…..IT\’S CALIFORNIA….Obama is still popular here.  Okay we had our fun and made California a battleground state, can we go back to where things make sense now??  Leaning Democratic retention.

Wisconsin (D) – Ok last time I was pretty sure this was leaning Republican takeover but do to the absolutely lack of any sort of significant and reliable data, I stuck with toss-up.  We\’ve had some time and I was right to be cautious.  Wisconsin\’s economy is pretty awful and they are ripe for change.  But Feingold (D) is a smart politician and he knows what he needs to do to survive, plus he has a huge money advantage over all of his potential Republican opponents (primary on Sept 14th).  I\’m keeping this one a toss-up, I just haven\’t seen either one make any major progress.

Washington (D) – The primary confirmed this race is REALLY close, but basically the intangibles still favor Murray (D).  Anything could still happen but this is a blue state, it\’s gotten bluer and the power of incumbency prevails here I think.  Every once in awhile conservatives get excited when Rossi (R) pulls ahead in the polls, but the next four polls show Murray in the lead.  And I suspect that will remain the case all the way to November.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Florida (R) – It\’s too early to say for sure, but it looks like the trend I was hoping to see is beginning.  Independents, Democrats and Republicans all flirted with voting for Crist, but as the election gets closer, Republicans and Democrats are returning home.  Crist has shown all signs of caucusing with the Democrats if he wins, look for that to work against him at the weeks go on.  This is seat is still in danger, but it\’s starting to lean Republican retention.  I\’d like to see a couple more polls confirming that trend isn\’t just a fluke.

Alaska (R) – This really has no place on this list but with Miller knocking of Murkowski, things have changed quite a bit.  Miller is only leading by 6 points, he was up by 8 a week ago… Alaska.  There is a very real concern that he won\’t be accepted by the voters.  At this point, it\’s more than likely these poll results are just residual bitterness from Murkowski supporters, who\’ll eventually fall in line.  Look for Miller\’s lead to increase in the future, otherwise Alaska becomes a permanent part of this list.  Likely Republican retention.

Ohio (R) – The Democrats strategy here was clearly to capitalize on Portman\’s (R) ties with Bush.  But Bush\’s stock his risen in the past few months, although not as fast as Obama\’s has fallen.  It\’s probably not a coincidence that the race is also starting to separate, with Portman opening a respectable gap against Fisher (D).  Portman has a 5:1 advantage in cash and Bush is no longer the albatross he used to be, or at least not enough to counteract the building Republican wave.  Likely Republican retention.

Kentucky (R) – Rand Paul (R) continues to hold his respectable lead and he\’s managed to keep the more unusual parts of his ideology in check.  Moreover his opponent, Conway (D), had to make some pretty bad public commitments to health care and cap&trade to make it past the primary.  That\’s going to hurt.  On the other hand, Democrats are going to try to nail Paul on his opposition to federal handouts which keep Kentucky afloat.  If he can avoid a stumble there this race is done.  Republican retention.

Missouri (R) – So far Blunt\’s (R) biggest problem is himself, his campaign has stumbled over and over, including a number of unforced errors.  The mood of the Missouri voters should work against Carnahan (D) but she\’s proven to a be a top-notch candidate, who could probably keep the race close without Blunt\’s help.  That said, Blunt appears to be pulling it together and the winning coalition that Carnahan needed doesn\’t appear to be developing.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) -There was the potential for something interesting to happen, it didn\’t….now Ayotte (R) is solidly in control of this race over Hodes (D).  Republican retention.

End result? Well there are two toss-ups (Nevada and Wisconsin) but right now I see Republicans taking six Democrat seats and losing none of their own.  That gives Republicans 47, still well short of gaining the majority.  Although to be fair, there is still a very real path to majority for Republicans.  Both the toss-ups have to fall to Republicans, which isn\’t unlikely at all, and Republicans have to regain the advantage in Illinois, which there is no reason to believe they can\’t do.

But just because it\’s possible, doesn\’t mean it\’s going to happen, and right now I don\’t see anything to indicate it will.  Lots of opportunities, but so far just out of reach.

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