Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come.

T-14 Senate Update

October 20th, 2010 by Kevin

Here\’s the latest in my weekly update of the Senate picture.  Like I said last time, as time gets tight, the impact of gaffes are magnified and a bad debate can make or break a campaign.  Makes it more difficult to call the close races but that\’s my problem isn\’t it?

Last time we looked at the Senate Republicans were starting to catch a lot of breaks and for the first time, even my eeyorish eyes were starting to see the real possibility for a Republican majority in the Senate.  Has the trend continued?? Well….

First the safe states….no drama here, no reason to do more than list them.   The safe Republican states include Alabama (R), Arizona (R), Arkansas (D), Georgia (R), Idaho (R), Indiana (D), Iowa (R), Kansas (R), Louisiana (R), North Carolina (R), North Dakota (D), Oklahoma (R), South Carolina (R), South Dakota (R) and Utah (R).  Remember, note the three Republican pickups right off the bat.  Democrat\’s safe list is Hawaii (D), Maryland (D), New York (D – Schumer), Oregon (D) and Vermont (D).  Notice the conspicuous lack of Rs in that list.

Delaware (D) – The non-witch hasn\’t accomplished anything.  Coons reliably polls above 50% and O\’Donnell can\’t gain traction.  I\’m still willing to put money on this race to any Tea Party folk who are still clinging to the \”She\’s got a chance\” mantra….any takers??? Please??? Safe Democrat retention.

New York (D – Gillibrand) – Remember when I said the window for DioGuardi (R) had effectively closed??? Well now it\’s been closed, locked, covered up with a steel-reinforced concrete wall. Safe Democrat retention.

Connecticut (D) – Good news….McMahon (R) has started gaining ground again.  Bad news….it\’s not going to be enough.  Blumenthal (D) remains comfortably above 50%, so even though undecideds are falling to McMahon, he doesn\’t need them anymore.  Tough break for a what could have been a real sweet pickup for Republicans.  Likely Democrat retention.

California (D) – This still remains tight and Boxer (D) is still below 50%.  Problem is Fiorina (R) hasn\’t made up any more ground, even with Boxer sticking her foot in her big mouth every chance she gets.  Ultimately it\’s starting to look like Fiorina has squeezed just about every vote she\’s going to out of California.  If that\’s the case, I hereby officially offer to sell California to Mexico in exchange for two Chipotle burritos.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Washington (D) – Pity….all that progress Rossi (R) made has disappeared and then some.  Murray (D) is back in control.  Dammit.  This race is still close but we\’re starting to run out of time here.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Illinois (D) – What I feared appears to be taking place.  Kirk (R) has lost the slight lead he had and Giannoulias (D) has taken over the lead.  Now that doesn\’t mean as much as you think, because this race has traded the lead so many times, Illinois is being fitted for a swivel.  This hasn\’t been out of the margin of error in over 7 months.  Problem here is that voters appear to be making this a referendum on the national direction and in Illinois that\’s bad for Republicans.  Toss-Up.

Nevada (D) – Ohh, the sweet sweet air of victory is starting to permeate the air around Nevada!  Ok before we get ahead of ourselves, this race is still insanely close.  However, that\’s about where the good news for Reid (D) stops.  Angle (R) is currently leading, and with the exception of a few liberal pollsters has for awhile.  The voters have also showed an impressive level of certainty in their choices, as there are very few undecideds left and they are tending to go for Angle.  And I imagine that trend will accelerate, or at least continue, especially after the disaster of a debate Angle and Reid had recently.  Reid was awful, and while Angle wasn\’t great, she didn\’t need to be.  She\’s been portrayed by Reid as the Wicked Witch of the West for most of the campaign….during the debate, not only did she make a few rhetorical points, she also looked utterly…..normal.  Never has an entire campaign\’s work so utterly imploded.  Leaning Republican takeover.

West Virginia (D) – Not much has changed here….which is nice, because I think Raese (R) still holds a slim lead over Manchin (D).  Worth keeping an eye on.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Wisconsin (D) –  Again not much has changed, and again that\’s good for Johnson (R).  Feingold (D) is still polling sub-50% and Johnson retains a comfortable lead.  I\’m not quite ready to move this further but it\’s well on it\’s way.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) –Buck (R) once held a fairly comfortable lead but that has diminished over the past week.  This is effectively a dead heat now but I give the edge to Buck over Bennett (D).  All sides are spending obscene amounts of money on this race so a lot can happen but so far I\’m happy.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Pennsylvania (D) –Not much has changed here.  Likely Republican takeover.

Alaska (R) – It\’s pretty tight between Miller (R) and Murkowski (I).  But again, Murkowski is running a write-in campaign.  Just don\’t see it happening.  Likely Republican retention.

Kentucky (R) – Paul\’s (R) lead has shrunk but I think he\’s still in safe territory.  Likely Republican retention.

Missouri (R) – Not much has changed here.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) – Not much has changed here.  Likely Republican retention.

Florida (R) – Meek hasn\’t dropped out, which pretty much paints a clean path to victory for Rubio (R) and signals the end of Crist\’s (I) political career. Likely Republican retention.

Ohio (R) – Not much has changed here.  Likely Republican retention.

Okay so what’s the final score??

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Heartbreak!!  After making the past predictions, 49, 48, 48, 47, 47 and 48, I was starting to think there was a real chance for Republican victory.  Now the inner-Eeyore in my has returned.  Even though I\’m now projecting 49 seats for Republicans.  Problem is the path I saw to 50 is starting to fail.  At this point Republicans need to win Illinois and then they need to flip either California or Washington.  Problem with that path is that Illinois is starting to look pretty dicey for Republicans and both California and Washington are moving in the wrong direction to be flipped.

Oh well.  Like I\’ve said before Republicans are likely to score a huge victory even if they don\’t take the Senate.  After all the House controls spending more than the Senate.  And with such a sizeable minority in the Senate, Republicans can effectively shut down the Senate with filibusters.  Plus it might be better long-term for Republicans to only control one of the three arms of government for 2012.  Perhaps Republicans can repeat their performance in 2012 if they can effectively place blame on Democrat control of Congress and the White House.

But there is still time….not much and things can change greatly.  We\’ll take another look next week.


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Senate Update

October 4th, 2010 by Kevin

Ok I figured it\’s time for another Senate update, because that Republican wave everyone keeps talking about appears to be spreading…a number of states that I had figured to be safe are now in play, or at least interesting.  As this trend seems to be spreading, I think from this point on, I\’m just looking at EVERY state that has a Senate race and that way we\’re not missing anything. Plus we\’ve had a couple primaries that yielded interesting results (Deleware!).

Now someone mentioned I haven\’t looked at the House at all.  Well you\’re right.  And that\’s because the House is well….huge.  It\’s a lot of work digging through polling data and background information for each race….the Senate takes awhile by itself, the House is more than quadruple that work.  And besides, even the Democrats have admitted the House is a lost cause and will be flipping.  So where\’s the excitement?  That\’s right….the Senate.

We\’re still stuck with the eternal question: \”Is the Senate in play?\”  I think the answer has been…..almost.  But Republicans have always been just a couple states short of being able to truly threaten leadership of the Senate.  To recap, the last time I looked at the Senate I made predictions of 49, 48, 48 and 47…in that order.  So let\’s get started….

First the safe states….states where I\’m only including them so I can say I looked at them and my brain instantly started doodling on my liver out of boredom.   The safe Republican states include Alabama (R), Arizona (R), Arkansas (D), Georgia (R), Idaho (R), Indiana (D), Iowa (R), Kansas (R), Louisiana (R), North Carolina (R), North Dakota (D), Oklahoma (R), South Carolina (R), South Dakota (R) and Utah (R).  Notice the three Ds in there….three solid pickups by the Republicans.  Now the Democrats also have some \”safe\” seats as well.  I use scare quotes because that list used to be as long as the Republicans, but it gets shorter every time I look at the Senate.  For now that list is Hawaii (D), Maryland (D), New York (D – Schumer), Oregon (D) and Vermont (D).  Notice the conspicuous lack of Rs in that list.

Delaware (D) – Ok this should have been a safe seat for Republicans.  Now it\’s all but a safe seat for the Democrats.  I\’m not ranking it as that more out of bitterness than anything else.  Fact is the Tea Party overplayed their hand here.  They had a safe Republican seat in one of the most liberal states in the country.  Sure Castle was more moderate than conservative, but on most of the key issues he would have sided with Republicans, instead of Democrat Coons who will side with Republicans on exactly zero issues.  Plus it would have been an additional seat towards that big majority everyone is aiming for.  If the Tea Party was going to throw Republicans in front of the conservative bus, I really wish they would have done it for a solid candidate rather than the incredibly flawed O\’Donnell.  Likely Democrat Retention.

New York (D – Gillibrand) – While New York\’s normal senate race is solidly in Schumer\’s hands, the special election to fill Hillary seat is suddenly worth paying attention to.  Let\’s not be mistaken, the polls are still very much in Gillibrand\’s favor.  However, it\’s also clearly that Republican Joe DioGuardi is quickly making up ground, and the Gillibrand\’s remaining support is very soft and may not actually hold up as Election Day nears.  All that said, this is still a long shot for Republicans and is far from canary-in-the-coal-mine status…if this particular canary keels over, it\’s probably because the entire cave collapsed. Likely Democrat Retention.

California (D) – Again…why do you put me through this??? My heart just can\’t take this.  The land of hippie gumdrops and magical sticky hemp rope swings is actually competitive.  And it\’s for real competitive, not just the \”competitive because it\’s fun to consider the possibilities\”.  There are few California Gurls more entertaining to watch than watching Boxer and Fiorina compete for this seat.  Fiorina has scored some solid hits and Boxer has been botching it so far, but the fact that this is California means this is still Boxer\’s race.  Digging into the demographics I see opportunities for Fiorina.  Even the San Fransisco paper refuses to endorse Boxer.  Everyone seems in agreement that Boxer is an  incompetent arrogant do-nothing.  But it appears as if California voters are tempted with going with the devil they know rather than the devil they don\’t.  But here\’s the real kicker…not only can\’t I rank this as safe Democrat, I can\’t even label it likely Democrat.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Nevada (D) – The Holy Grail of Senate seats.  Let\’s get this right out there….nobody is willing to make any sort of call on this seat and hasn\’t for quite a while, and for very good reason.  Statistically you can\’t get much more tied that these two are.  Multiple polls from multiple sources all showing the same thing, both candidates keep trading a statistically insignificant lead.  Digging into the demographics Read is very unpopular, but Angle is even more unpopular.  The support for both is starting to firm up with Angle\’s support being slightly less firm.  On the issues, Angle is a better match for Nevada voters but she\’s also got a lot of uncomfortable statements she\’s had to explain.  I think Angle\’s biggest problem here is the \”None of the above\” option Nevada voters have on their ballot.  With Reid as unpopular as he is, the fact that Nevada voters haven\’t swarmed to Angle probably means it\’s not going to happen.  Last time I moved this race into the toss-up category and that would be the smart move again.  However, although I have no empirical data to support my rating, I\’m going with my gut on this one.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Connecticut (D) – Another supposedly safe seat that is now in play.  Now Democrat Blumenthal should have been able to retain Dodd\’s seat without much trouble, instead Republican Linda McMahon has steadily closed the gap.  Blumenthal originally enjoyed a lead of 40+ points, now it\’s a statistical dead heat.  While McMahon has never actually lead in a poll so far, the gap is now within the margin of error and the momentum has been in entirely one direction.  The interesting part here is that Blumenthal\’s support has remained very steady, almost all of McMahon\’s gains have been independents falling to her.  Now that she\’s closed the gap she has to accomplish the real trick….chip away at Blumenthal\’s support, because she\’s already captured every free vote otherwise.  Blumenthal is still above 50% in most polls,  so he\’s not in real danger yet but if he doesn\’t stop the bleeding yesterday, this is another very blue state gone red.  In fact, even if this doesn\’t change parties, this is already a strategic victory for Republicans, because Democrats will have to spend limited resources to firewall Connecticut.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Washington (D) – Ok the lead has seesawed between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Senator Patty Murray, but mostly it\’s been Murray in the lead.  Washington already had a dry-run of this race via the primary so it\’s no surprise that there are virtually no undecided voters in this race.  That\’s the bad news, because while the race has closed, Murray has maintained a pretty stable lead lately.  With it being this close, something small could swing it, otherwise I wouldn\’t be as non-committal as I am.  Leaning Democrat retention.

West Virginia (D) – This one snuck up on us, the special election to fill Robert \”KKK\” Byrd\’s seat, previously an easy Democrat victory is now in play.  Which is a bit surprising, as West Virginia is usually a very reliably Democratic state and Gov. Manchin (D) at one point enjoyed a healthy lead, befitting that fact.  Now John Raese has not only closed the gap but surpassed Manchin.  His progress seems to stem less from their love for Manchin, but more from their dislike of Obama\’s agenda and giving Democrats another seat to implement that agenda.  Raese\’s campaign strategy seems to hinge on exactly that.  Problem is Raese has basically blown his entire budget to get to this point.  His campaign now has so little left in the bank he couldn\’t buy a used car.  Meanwhile Manchin has virtually all of his fairly sizeable warchest available to convince the voters why they should send him to Washington.  Now this race is by no means over or even close to over, there are still plenty of avenues to success for Republicans here, but at this point I see too many factors against Raese.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Illinois (D) – Basically we have two flawed candidates here fighting for one Senate seat, and the polling data shows the public knows it.  There are a lot of voters still undecided and what support each candidate has it very soft for this late in the game.  That\’s problematic for forecasting, especially for this seat.  On one hand you have the Democrat\’s corrupt Chicago political machine working for them.  On the other hand, while 2010 in general is a referendum on Obama, the election for Obama\’s former seat definitely is.  Republican Kirk maintains a very slim lead over Democrat Giannoulias, but this race hasn\’t been outside the margin of error in 7 months.  It\’s possible the race may hinge on peripheral issues such as the fact that Giannoulias told voters he quit his family\’s bank before it started imploding, but he told the IRS the opposite….oops.  But in reality I think the voters are already aware they have two D-List candidates to choose from and it\’s more likely to end on a referendum of whether the country is going the right direction….but this is Illinois, and that doesn\’t favor the Repubican Kirk.  Despite my being very pessimistic about this one, we\’ll leave it in the middle for now.  Toss-Up.

Wisconsin (D) – This race got going pretty late so we haven\’t had as much history here as we have elsewhere.  And while I wanted to call this leaning Republican for awhile, I didn\’t really have anything to hang my hat on and it was too soon to start going with gut reactions.  Well now we\’re close enough to do that but luckily I don\’t even have to do that.  The recent gains by Republican Johnson over Democrat Feingold, instead of just being a hiccup in the polls, turned out to be the leading edge of a huge swing towards the right.  Johnson lead has now swung well outside the margin of error and it gets worse from Feingold when you start digging into the demographics.  What support Feingold has is soft and independents have strongly lined up behind Johnson.  In fact digging through the demographics and the issues, it\’s hard to find any silver lining for Feingold, save his current cash-on-hand advantage.  And even that isn\’t likely to last.  Look for donors wanting to build relations with a new member of a strong Republican delegation and national Democrats now have big problems as bluer states are now at risk.  Look for Johnson\’s lead to increase in the next few weeks.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) – Although Republican Ken Buck has had a small lead ever since the primaries, this race has been close and in doubt for awhile.  Now voters appear to be coming to a consensus on the race, as Buck has opened a lead outside the margin of error over Senator Bennet (D), and he\’s also over 50%.  The real downside of this for Bennet is that there are very few undecided voters at this point.  This is not yet outside recovery for Democrats, but any path to victory is about as steep as the mountains surrounding Denver.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Pennsylvania (D) – Democrats have squealed about the last couple polls that show this race tightening up and they think they see Toomey (R) fading.  At first glance that is an understandable conclusion, but it doesn\’t tell the whole picture.  What\’s actually happening is undecideds are starting to break towards their candidate.  And while Sestak (D) has benefited from that more than Toomey, Toomey doesn\’t have far to go to cross that magical 50% barrier.   Sestak has a lot of ground to make up and digging into the demographics I don\’t see much promise of that happening.  Short of somet October surprise happening, I\’m pretty satisfied with this race.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Alaska (R) – Ok the only reason Alaska isn\’t listed above amongst the solid states above is because it\’s still unclear which Republican will win.  Alaska is a reliably conservative state.  So much so that even with a conservative (Joe Miller) and a pseudo-conservative (Sen. Lisa Murkowski) splitting the Republican vote, the Democrat (Scott McAdams) doesn\’t have a chance.  The polls show Murkowski closing in no Joe Miller but at the end of the day she\’s running a write-in campaign.  Sure some people say they\’ll write in Murkowski, but that actually takes work and I really can\’t see enough doing it that she wins.  I think the actual Republican wins this one.  Likely Republican retention.

Kentucky (R) – Democrats are still trying to label Rand Paul (R) as an extremist, and in truth he is quite a bit to the right of what Kentucky voters really are.  However, in this political climate that\’s overshadowed by the fact that his opponent Conway (D) supports the health care bill and Cap&Trade.  Paul has wisely kept the more unusual parts of his ideology in check so he\’s in good shape here.  Likely Republican retention.

Missouri (R) – The only thing that has changed here is the current breakdown of support has solidified.  Blunt (R) has maintained a solid lead over Carnahan (D).  Blunt has gotten over his tendency to commit unforced errors, so it\’s hard to imagine a scenario where this devolves into anything other than where it currently sits.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) – The only reason this was every close is because Hodes (D) is essentially running on the same platform as Ayotte (R), that of fiscal conservatism.  But with his party absolutely hemorrhaging money out of the Treasury in pursuit of a far left agenda, the voters aren\’t exactly receptive to Hodes claims.  It\’s still technically not lost but this is a pretty solid race at this point.  Likely Republican retention.

Florida (R) – Last time, I said it appeared that the trend I was hoping to see was beginning.  Namely that Republicans and Democrats both flirted with the idea of voting for Crist (I) but as the election nears, they are returning home.  Last time we looked at this race, it was a little too early to know if this was just a fluke or the leading edge of that trend.  Now it appears pretty obvious my observations were correct.  Crist is now way behind, while both Rubio (R) and Meek (D) have gained.  But Meek is still still way behind Rubio.  Florida has been a little weird this year so it\’s possibly for something to happen, but I can\’t imagine what it would have to be at this point.  Likely Republican retention.

Ohio (R) -Portman\’s (R) lead over Fisher (D) here, has absolutely exploded.  Fisher\’s strategy to tie Portman to Bush has absolutely flopped and at this point Portman has such a huge money advantage that any new strategy is damn near pointless.  Fisher is going to need the King of all October surprises here.  Likely Republican retention.

Okay so what\’s the final score??

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Well we have no Republican seats changing control..in fact none are even close.  Which is sort of amazing when you consider what the big picture looked like just a few month ago.  Sure we had lots of Democrat seats in danger and probably switching, but we also had a few Republican seats that looked less than safe, some even in real danger.  Now it\’s pure curiosity that makes me even look at the data anymore to try to imagine scenarios where the seat might be danger.

On the other side, we have an increasing number of Democrat seats in danger.  In fact, every time I\’ve looked at the data, we find another Democrat seat that\’s barreling out of control downward.  Although at this point, I only see six Democrat seats changing hands, thanks to the Tea Party\’s overzealous move in Delaware.  Although on that note I do have to point out to those Castle supporters who are criticizing the Tea Party by claiming that the Tea Party just ruined any chance for Republicans to control the Senate.  Well look at the data.  The Senate still isn\’t in serious danger of flipping, even if Delaware was still in the Republican column.  As it stands right now Republicans will control 47 seats.  Even using Democrat math I can\’t add one (Delaware) and get to 51.  Sure there are a lot of seats that are only leaning Democrat victory, but in most of those the Democrats position has actually improved in the last few months, rather than gotten worse.

Long story short (too late!), I\’m struggling to divine a scenario that results in Republicans taking control of the Senate.  Here\’s the most \”likely\” path….which still comes up short.  The toss-up state of Illinois goes red.  Then Angle pulls out a miracle and defeats Reid.  And then Raese overcomes his severe financial disadvantage in West Virginia.  Now that only brings Republicans to 50….which is still short since Biden casts the deciding vote.  After that it\’s pretty difficult to see a 51st seat.  California?? Delaware?  The most likely one is probably Washington but even with my obvious Republican bias I still struggle to see that happening.

Sorry Senate is out of reach, but with a caucus of 47, Republicans would basically bring Congress to standstill.  Which is really the important part.  Even if Republicans got control, what are you expecting to see happen?? Republicans passing their agenda?? Seriously people, Presidential veto…it exists.  Besides, Republicans are all but certain to control the House, which is the body that control spending anyway.


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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…..in 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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Another Look At The Senate

June 9th, 2010 by Kevin

A couple months ago I addressed whether the Senate was truly in reach for Republicans this election, and since we\’ve seen a lot of interesting developments in some of the races I thought it would be worth taking another look.  I wanted to wait until after Super Tuesday so my analysis wasn\’t outdated literally within hours after I wrote it.  Now we at least know who the contestants are some of these races….and while Republicans will make major gains in the Senate, the ultimate prize, the majority, is outside of their grasp but there are some nice consolation prizes along the way.

Let\’s start with the easy ones

Indiana – Currently held Senator Evan Bayh (D), the last we looked at it I was pretty confident that a Republican would have a solid shot here, and it\’s moved far beyond that.  This has long been leaning solidly Republican.  Republicans Coats has held a solid lead over Democrat Ellsworth for awhile.  Ellsworth\’s polling has never left the low 30s and while Coats support has drifted up and down between the high 40s and low 50s, it\’s always been at least a two digit gap, which is pretty much all you can ask for a non-incumbency race.  This race ceased being interesting to anyone outside of Indiana awhile ago.

North Dakota – Pretty sure I said it best the first time around.

Dorgan is out, Republican Governor John Hoeven is in, Republican takeover….any question?

Delaware – The first of the Holy Trinity (Deleware, Illinois, Nevada) for Republicans in 2010.  It being Biden\’s former seat is the old part interesting here.  Otherwise it\’s simple.  Republican Castle over Democrat Coons, done deal.  I said I\’d put money on it then, the offer still stands.

Arkansas – The only thing interesting about this race was the primary.  Would Senator Lincoln be removed by voters in favor of  fellow Democrat Halter?  Or would she survive only to be defeated in the general election by Republican Boozman?  No matter how the primary turned out, a Republican was going to come away with the seat in the general election so the primary was purely academic.  This will be Republican territory come November…and Lincoln can\’t blame anyone but herself….well, maybe Obama.

So those are four Democrat seats that should easily come to Republican territory…the score is now 45 – 53 – 2.  After this, things get decidedly more fuzzy…I\’ll save the Republican held seats for last, because with one exception they aren\’t overly exciting now.

Nevada – Another member of the Holy Trinity, one Harry Reid and we finally know who his opponent is, the Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle.  Now some would say Reid has returned from the dead and is ready to pull out a win.  I disagree completely.  The polls have closed and showed a tighter race too, but if you look at the history, Reid\’s numbers haven\’t changed in months.  The dynamics of the polls have been people shifting back and forth between undecided and one of the three Republicans.  Angle was arguably the one with the lowest name recognition.  The fact that so many are still undecided indicates they aren\’t excited about voting for Reid and are willing to give Angle a chance.  This is still looks like a likely Republican takeover….the score is now 46 – 52 – 2

Illinois – The final member of the Holy Trinity, President Obama\’s old seat, warmed over by Chicago-style corruption and now ready for a new occupant.  The Republican candidate Kirk isn\’t the most conservative Republican in the country but he\’s solid where it counts and he is about as good as you can expect from Illinois.  Meanwhile the Democrat Giannoulias, like every other Illinois Democrat, is plagued with corruption charges.  And with the Blago trial kicking off, that\’s at the forefront of Illinois voters.  On the other hand, Illinois Democrats are notorious for their (dirty) political machine and you can\’t discount them yet.  In a fair world, this is an all but certain Republican victory, but I have to list it as leaning towards a Republican takeover…..the score is now 47 – 51 – 2

Pennsylvania – This seat has managed to raise more political drama than you\’d expect.  This was supposed to be relatively simple.  Flip-flopper Spector and Democrat Sestak battle it out, the winner eventually loses to Republican Toomey in the general election.  Short. Simple. Not a whole lot to fuss over.  And then came the news that the Obama Administration had tried to but Sestak off with a job offer.  That story simmered for weeks and then now another Democrat Senate candidate is claiming the same thing.  Insta-drama!!  Not that it\’s helping Sestak, who beyond a short-lived bump in the polls after the outbreak of the latest scandal to plague the White House, is now solidly trailing Toomey.  I fully expect to see that hold.  Sestak lost the chance to capitalize on the scandal when he allied with the White House.  Now there isn\’t much territory to wedge into to regain a lead.  Likely Republican takeover….the score is now 48 – 50 – 2

Colorado – The other half of the scandal, and arguably the more important half.  Before Romanoff, Sestak was an isolated case of political amateurism by the Obama Administration.  Now Romanoff has Republican nationwide on a treasure hunt for more cases of political buyoffs by Obama & Company. But this race has more drama in it\’s own right.  I had confidentially predicted Norton would defeat all Democrat resistance and take this seat.  I\’m not exactly sure why but polling has shown it\’s neck and neck.   Norton is still likely to be the Republican candidate, but the Democrat is less certain.  Senator Bennet is currently leading in the Democratic Primary polls, which is nice because he\’s also polling pretty damn awful for the general election.  If he wins the primary, this leans Republican takeover.  If Romanoff manages to scratch out a win in the primary, this is a toss-up at best.

California – Yes Senator Boxer is batshit crazy, now onto new news, the results of the primary….Carly Fiorina is the Republican.  Now she\’s been solidly behind in polling and she\’s not gaining traction either.  Senator Boxer is polling in the mid to high 40s, so she\’s technically vulnerable but it\’s California….bat-shit crazy is a virtue there.  Likely Democrat retention.

Wisconsin – Well this has changed quite a bit since I last looked at this race.  Governor Thompson is definitely out so that goes Republicans best chance at stealing this seat.  Newcomer Johnson was endorsed on the first ballot at the Republican convention, but there isn\’t much polling history between him and Senator Feingold.  Feingold has always polled just under 50 so technically he\’s vulnerable, and the polling shows that he\’s running neck and neck with Johnson.  However, independents tend to fall towards Feingold, so unless Johnson can really play up ObamaCare, which polls horribly, and Feingold supported, this is a Democratic retention.

Washington – Senator Patty Murray is polling sub-50 which technically makes her vulnerable.  And Republican Dino Rossi is polling neck-and-neck.  But Washington is a blue state and has been trending bluer, so I have to give the tie-breaker to Murray, but we\’ll call this one a toss-up for now.  Until the election gets closer, I\’d say Murray\’s incumbency trumps Rossi\’s close polling.

New York – Last time I listed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as potentially vulnerable, that has most certainly changed.  None of the top-tier Republican candidate materialized and Gillibrand is now polling over 50 against all her potential Republican opponents.  Solid Democrat retention and not worth further study.

Ok now let\’s wander into Republican territory…because even in this year of the Great Republican Feeding Frenzy of 2010, there are some Republican seats that show signs of weakness.

Florida – Ok maybe not weakness as much as pure political theater of the worst kind.  Crist was the establishment candidate for the Republicans.  He had fundraising, he had party support, he had a solid campaign staff….one problem, nobody liked him.  Marco Rubio took over as the Republican candidate and Crist became an independent as bitterly as possible.  Oh and there is a Democrat candidate Meeks, whom nobody seems to be paying attention to, including the Democrats as the Democrats have adopted Crist by sending their best staffers to him.  Crist in return has made a jackass out of himself at every opportunity and established him as the most pathetic form of principle-less flip-flopper there is.  Polling shows things pretty tight but I expect that to change.  Meeks will slowly fall out of the picture and it\’ll be Crist vs Rubio, with Rubio eventually taking it.  I\’d say this leans Republican retention at this point.

Missouri -This should be an easy win for the Republicans, but they had been trying their best to screw it up.  Polling had turned around for Republican Blunt since the new  year and he was solidly ahead until just recently.  Democrat Carnahan has been trying to link Blunt to the oil industry, and by proxy the disaster in the Gulf.   That appears to be gaining some traction.  Looking at the specifics of the polling, despite his lead, I would say Blunt is in serious trouble.  The passion index is solidly in Carnahan\’s favor and the state has a popular Democratic Governor.  We\’ll call this a toss-up at this point.

Ohio – This was already a worrisome state for Republicans and it hasn\’t gotten any better.  Republican Rob Portman has lost his lead, and is polling neck and neck with Democrat Lee Fisher.  The specifics of the poll slightly favor Portman, but not by much and the trend is definitely in favor of Fisher.  I\’ll be optimistic and call this a toss-up.

Kentucky – Well Rand Paul is the Republican candidate, and my fears about him are being confirmed.  And his missteps have hurt him bad.  He\’s holding on to a solid lead at the moment, but let\’s hope he\’s stopped the bleeding or else Republicans will lose this seat.  If they can hold the line, they\’ll keep this seat….barely.  Working against Rand Paul is that he\’s been so high profile that very few are undecided on him, so he doesn\’t have much room to gain ground.  Let\’s call this leaning  Republican….as long as Rand Paul keeps his mouth shut.

New Hampshire – I was a little concerned about this seat last time, but I\’m feeling better now.  Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) leads Rep. Paul Hodes (D) by a solid margin in the polls and has cracked 50 a couple times.  Even Ayotte\’s closest competitor in the Republican primary beats Hodes, although not by much.  This is quickly becoming uninteresting.  Likely Republican retention.

North Carolina -I hesitated included this because I\’m pretty confident this will stay in Republican hands, but Burr has shown far more weakness than a Republican has any right to in this political climate.  There is no political reason for it, so it\’s hard to get a sense of it.  Not helping matters is the fact that pollsters have pretty much ignored this race, with the exception of PPP which with it\’s large Democrat clientele has a vested interest in showing Burr weaker than he is.  Probably not a race that has to be at the top of your radar screen but any incumbent that can\’t break 50% is worth keeping an eye on.

Arizona – This I mention merely to poke fun at the Non-Maverick-Formerly-Known-As-A-Self-Titled-Maverick.  McCain has only himself to blame for all his troubles in this primary and it couldn\’t happen to a more deserving guy. JD Hayworth is still giving McCain fits and McCain\’s TV ads have gained a comically desperate tone to them.  That said McCain still maintains a solid lead over Hayworth in the primary, but both maintain a lead over their Democratic opponent.  Solid Republican retention.

End results?

I see the final results coming out to be 48 Republicans, 50 Democrats, and 2 Independents (caucusing with Democrats), although if Republicans can pull off Colorado 49 for both Republicans and Democrats.  But even if Lieberman decides to caucus with Republicans, that only makes it 50 – 50 with Biden as the deciding vote.  Barring some major event, the majority of the Senate remains out of reach for Republicans.

[Crossposted at True North]


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Thinking Long Term

December 9th, 2009 by Kevin

Red State\’s Erick Erickson slams Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his apparently strategy in handling the health care debate in the Senate, which I\’m not sure is entirely fair.

With that being the case, even some House leaders are wondering why McConnell doesn’t simply require unanimous consent on any, or every, amendment that comes to the floor. The maneuver would force Reid to get 60 votes before proceeding on each amendment. And some of the bill’s opponents are suggesting it could sideline it until next Christmas.

Of course, it is looking more and more likely that Mitch McConnell actually wants the legislation to pass. He seems to be gambling that if it passes, he becomes Senate Majority Leader.

Now I\’m hardly a McConnell fan, I\’ve found some of his moves rather naive, bordering on inept in some cases.  But I think there is a strategy there beyond what is immediately apparent. First of all House leaders are hardly unbiased in their concerns, having failed to stop step one of the health care process, they don\’t want to be up to bat for the third out.

And in McConnell\’s defense, this is quite the Rubik\’s Cube of legislation with factions dead set in their ways at every turn.  On the abortion issue alone, threading the needle between pro-choicers and pro-lifers makes getting into heaven seem like child\’s play (to massacre the saying).  It likely wouldn\’t take any intentional delay to take this debate well into next year.

Which brings me to my main point….eventually this debate will end, one way or another.  And McConnell needs to be thinking more than one move ahead, and there we have two possibilities.

If health care passes in some form, public polling indicates the fallout will be particularly tough on the Democrats.  By at least participating in the legislative process, Republicans can at least claim they tried to improve the bill but Democrats overruled them at every turn.  They attempts to make Democrats own the bill sound more credible.

If health care fails, we still have a health care problem in this country, and it won\’t help Republicans if they can easily be portrayed as obstructionists that didn\’t allow the process to create something palatable.  Republicans can point to the failure of Democrat leadership to solve the problem.

Either way Republicans come out on top, and it\’s only be getting more Republicans elected that McConnell has a chance to be majority leader.

Now that\’s not to say Republicans shouldn\’t fight this bill, but using purely obstructionist tactics aren\’t likely to serve well in the long term.  Democrats have proven that they are more than willing to ignore the rules to get what they want, so they can get around any obstructionist moves Republicans can muster.  If Republicans are going to lose a battle they may as well make it Thermopylae rather than Custer\’s Last Stand.


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E-Verify Saved….For Now

October 3rd, 2008 by Kevin

In the waning days of the this session, Congress passed the Continuing Resolution (H.R. 2638).  This was necessary to keep the government running because due to their incompetence they haven\’t done a damn thing in months, including passing any 2009 fiscal bills.  And extension of E-Verify until March 6th, 2009 was included in that Continuing Resolution.   So E-Verify and therefore attempts to counter illegal immigration will survive for a few more months at least.

The bigger problem is that the next battle for E-Verify could very likely take place in a Congress of unknown political makeup and under a President who will almost certainly be less than willing to extend the program.  Regardless of who wins this Presidential Election, we will have a President very hostile to border enforcement.

Actually an Obama presidency would be better for border enforcement than a McCain presidency.  With McCain as president, Republicans in Congress will feel it necessary to go along with McCain\’s very well established pro-amnesty tendencies.  And just like last times Democrats will go along with it because amnesty works in their favor.  With an Obama presidency, Republicans will fight for E-Verify and against any attempts at amnesty for no other reason than it\’s what Obama wants.  Either way it\’s a shitty environment to fight for the survival of one of the best tools we have against illegal immigration.

Our best bet for E-Verify is for the Senate to pass HR 6633, which has already passed the House.  To do that they have to deal with the hold that Senator Menendez.  Which means Harry Reid either tells Menendez to get bent and ignores the hold, or else he needs to grow a backbone and tell Menendez he\’s a damn moron and to remove his hold.

No matter how the hand is dealt, while we have E-Verify for a few months more, the horizon is looking rather dim.


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