In these last weeks before an election, things can change pretty fast and the impact is magnified. There isn\’t time to recover from a gaffe and there isn\’t time to spin bad news how you want it to be interpreted. A shift of just 1 or 2 points could be easily, and rightly, dismissed earlier in the year…now it\’s all it takes for a race to flip. So we\’ll be doing a weekly look at the Senate as we countdown to the great 2010 Hopenchange Referendum.
Where do we currently stand? 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) – Only reason this isn\’t listed with the safe seats above is because of the drama around it. But let\’s be realistic, it\’s safe. Coons by a large margin. I\’d put money on it. Safe Democrat retention.
New York (D – Gillibrand) – Some minor movement here but all in the Democrat\’s favor. There a very slim opening for Joe DioGuardi (R) to make something happen…that window has effectively closed. Likely Democrat retention.
California (D) – Not much new here. Boxer is still in control here….for now. Good thing here is that this race has become a referendum on Boxer rather than a Fiorina vs Boxer contest. That\’s good for Fiorina, because the general consensus appears to be that Boxer is an incompetent arrogant do-nothing. But so far that\’s not translating into enough people flipping. California may very well be going with the devil they know than the one they don\’t. This might hinge on dynamics from the Governor\’s race. Leaning Democrat retention.
Connecticut (D) – All that progress by McMahon (R) has hit a brick wall. She had closed the gap and now needed to steal support from Blumenthal (D). Then they met in debate, and apparently Connecticut voters disagree with my evaluation of her performance because support has shifted to Blumenthal. On the plus side, McMahon has already scored a big-picture victory, as the DSCC has announced it\’s dumping $500K of ad time into this race. The fact that the DSCC is spending even a shiny nickel to firewall this race is a victory for Republicans. Leaning Democrat retention.
Nevada (D) – I was pretty pessimistic about this before, mostly because of Nevada\’s \”None of the Above\” option on the ballot. I feared undecideds were going to remain undecided, which helps out Reid (D). But now undecideds appear to be very tentatively going for Angle (R). Not much, but then again there isn\’t much room between these two. Now Angle is ever so slightly ahead, as all the momentum since September has been Angle\’s way. This is all horrible news for Reid, he\’s very unpopular in Nevada (even his son has abandoned him) so he needs to go into Election Day with at least a slight lead. Otherwise undedecided voters may go with the crowd and vote Angle instead of None of the Above. My gut feeling was wrong last time, I\’m moving this back where it should have been and if nothing changes I\’ll move it even more. Toss-Up.
Washington (D) – Insert nervously suspenseful theme music here. This race might have turned the corner. They had a primary race here, which was basically a dry run for the election. It didn\’t turn out well for Rossi (R), and, until recently, it hasn\’t moved much from that ever since. Murray (D) had a huge cash advantage, but Rossi has been gaining slightly. Murray sought to counter that with an ad blitz and she certainly did. Problem is they\’ve hit Dino Rossi with everything they can think of. It\’s evident they\’ve used up the entire toolbox, as their latest ads are repeating old material and it hasn\’t stopped Rossi\’s advance. In fact, now Rossi is leading ever so slightly in the polls. Too early to tell how real that lead is and there are two TV debates left. If Rossi doesn\’t screw up there, this will come down to voter turn out…which is bad for Murray. This gets upgraded in status. If those TV debates go well this will change status again. Toss-Up.
Illinois (D) – This race still hasn\’t been outside the margin of error in 7 months and it hasn\’t really changed. Undecideds are starting to break but they are doing so roughly evenly so the net gain is zero. That works out well for Kirk who appears to be holding onto an ever so slight lead. However, Kirk needs to gain some more ground here because if the remaining undecideds make this a referendum on the national direction and/or Obama then Giannoulias (D) is going to win. Toss-Up.
West Virginia (D) – Gov. Manchin (D) is popular in the state but not so popular is the idea of giving Democrats a seat to defend ObamaCare and the rest of the Democrat\’s agenda. Raese (R) had a slim lead and that lead has been increasing. It appears as if Machin\’s severe money advantage isn\’t going to help him with the way the dynamics are working out. Manchin is trying to convince West Virginian\’s that he\’s opposed to ObamaCare, but he has a track record stating otherwise. Plus even if that\’s the case, he\’s already got a job, that of Governor, where he can effectively fight ObamaCare. It\’s hard for him to make a case to move him to Washington. I\’m shifting this one. Leaning Republican takeover.
Wisconsin (D) – Good news for Feingold (D) is he has stopped the bleeding. Bad news is Johnson (R) is holding a comfortable lead over him. There are a couple big debates coming up but Feingold\’s support hasn\’t moved significantly up or down in almost a year and it\’s below 50%. For a well-known incumbent not only is that bad news but it\’s also hard to change. Short of a major screw-up by Johnson in those debates this is looking pretty good for Republicans. I\’m tempted to move this even further right but let\’s get a debate or two behind us first. Leaning Republican takeover.
Colorado (D) – This race has turned into a financial battleground, with both parties investing obscene amounts of money in this race. But for the most part this race has stabilised with Buck (R) holding a modest lead. There is a recent poll showing Bennett (D) with a slight lead. Now that could be the leading edge of a shift in public opinion, however, the polling agency that reported that is well known to have a liberal bias, so I suspect it\’s due more to that than anything concrete. Leaning Republican takeover.
Pennsylvania (D) – Undecided voters had started breaking to slightly larger degree towards Sestak (D) but not enough to make up the support gap. As a result, Toomey (R) holds his steady lead and the race has stabilised. However, what\’s more telling is the financial moves lately. The DSCC has withdrawn their ad purchases for this race and Republican groups continue to pour in money. This is looking pretty safe now. Likely Republican takeover.
Alaska (R) – McAdams (D) is quickly becoming a non-factor in this race. While it\’s still tight between Miller (R) and Senator Murkowski (I). But considering that Murkowski is a write-in candidate, unless she opens a serious lead between now and Election Day, I see this being won by Miller. Likely Republican retention.
Kentucky (R) – Yeah, nothing new here. Likely Republican retention.
Missouri (R) – Democrats are pulling their ad purchases here. Likely Republican retention.
New Hampshire (R) – Yeah, nothing new here. Likely Republican retention.
Florida (R) – Some drama here as Meek (D) has become a non-factor. So there are some rumours that Meek may drop out and clear the way for Democrats to go the most liberal candidate that has a chance Crist (I). Problem with that theory is it hasn\’t happened yet and by now Rubio (R) has such a commanding lead it may not matter. In fact it may have the opposite effect as the Republicans still supporting Crist may peel away from the defacto Democrat and support Rubio. Either way, it\’s worth keeping an eye on for any shenanigans but it\’s pretty safe at this point. Likely Republican retention.
Ohio (R) – Yeah, nothing new here. Likely Republican retention.
Okay so what’s the final score??
Ok at this point I see at least seven seats changing control but two more have moved into the Toss-Up category and in both of them, if trends continue, they\’ll shift to leaning Republican takeover. So theoretically we soon have nine seats changing hands, which would bring Republicans to 50 seats…with Illinois becoming the tie-breaker. Wow.
Want to get real excited? Remember how last time I was casting doubt on the whole Republicans retaking the Senate?? And as part of that I projected the most likely path for that to happen? Well every race I mentioned that had to shift is….well shifting. That hypothetical path is taking place! Dude, for the first time I\’m getting a little excited here, this could be happening….that wave may very well crest at above flood stage.
Now we\’re still three weeks out. All sorts of chances for an October surprise. Lots of debates still to happen, which open the possibility for gaffes by either candidate. But remember, I\’ve been denying Republicans had a chance for months. But now even by my eeyorish viewpoint, I see a very real path to majority here for Republicans. Not only a path, but a path the country appears to be traveling down.
Plus it\’s hard to resist the temptation that control of the Senate hinges on control of Obama\’s old Senate seat. Dude, they just don\’t write political drama better!