Monday, July 10, 2006

Wait For It

Consider me on the record that I think the Democrats will take back neither the House nor the Senate in 2006. There is just too much ground to make up. I think they will make significant gains, to be sure, but I think they will end up just short in both.

However, it's 2008 where they really stand a chance to clean up. Kos has the run-down of races in 2006 and 2008, and the latter looks really good for the boys in blue. For 2006:
Tier one

1. Pennsylvania
2. Montana
3. Missouri
4. Ohio
5. Rhode Island

Tier two

6. Virginia
7. Tennessee

Tier three

8. Arizona
9. Nevada

We'd need to sweep the Tier ones and pick something else up to take back the Senate, as well as hold our vulnerable seats (Minnesota, Washington, and, I hate to say it, Maryland). I think the sweep is doable, but getting it, and holding all three and winning a tier-two or three race is pushing our luck. So I predict a 51-49 GOP lead in the Senate after 2006.

But then look at the 2008 map. 2008 is when all the senators who won in 2002 are up for re-election. '02 was a blockbuster GOP year, thanks to fear-mongoring before Iraq. But the upshot is you have a bunch of vulnerable seats (and prospective retirements) in 2008:
Alaska

Stevens (R) will be 85, and constantly threatens retirement. An open seat might be possible.

Colorado

Allard (R), who won a tight race in 2002, will face a tough challenger in Rep. Mark Udall.

Georgia

Chambliss (R) won in 2002 by morphing war hero Max Cleland into Osama Bin Laden. People want revenge.

Kansas

Roberts (R) should be safe, if he doesn't retire, but massive rifts in the Kansas GOP have given new blood to the state's Democratic Party. Will bear watching.

Kentucky

McConnel (R) has an iron grip on his state's Republican Party. Of course, that party is now mired in myriad scandals and faces serious losses in 2007. Will that stench hurt McConnel?

Minnesota

Coleman (R) will get challenged by local-boy-done-good Al Franken.

Mississippi

There's lots of talk that Cochran (R) will retire, setting off a battle between Rep. Pickering (R) and former Attorney General Moore (D). And the smart money in that showdown would be with Moore.

New Hampshire

Freshman Sen. Sununu (R) will be looking for reelection in a state that is trending heavily into the Blue column.

New Mexico

Domenici (R), 76, will have to run in this trending Blue state.

North Carolina

Freshman Sen. Liddy Dole (R) will face her first reelection. North Carolina Dems are on the rise with the insane growth of the liberal-leaning Research Triangle. The state's changing demographics are in our favor.

Oregon

Smith (R) is increasingly out of touch with his ever bluer state.

South Dakota

Johnson (D) will likely be the GOP's top and only serious target.

West Virginia

If Rockefeller (D) runs for reelection, this will be a safe seat. If not, then it'll be a tough hold.

Virginia

Warner (R) will be 81, and there's lots of talk that he will retire.

I think we can flip Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Oregon, with South Dakota being the toughest hold (I think Rockefeller will run for re-election). Depending on how Webb does this cycle, Virginia could be an outside shot, and Alaska, Georgia, and New Mexico all could go if there are sufficient Democratic coat-tails at the top of the ticket. Assuming both that my 2006 predictions are right and that none of the 2008 long-shot scenarios plays out and that West Virginia goes GOP, that's still enough to put the Democrats on top in the Senate, 51-49. And they could do significantly better.

Elsewhere, Kos does raise a legitimate point when he asks why the primary challenge to Chafee by Laffey in Rhode Island isn't getting the same press attention, talk about a small-tent party, and otherwise tsk-ing from the center as the Lamont/Lieberman race.

4 comments:

Chris said...

As an Oregonian, I have to disagree with your assessment of Gordon Smith. He is widely respected by moderates & even with crossover appeal. He has always been a consensus builder rather than an idealogue. He even has a very cozy relationship with his Democratic colleague Ron Wyden. If the Dems come up with an exceptional candidate, it may be possible. Right now, I don't know who that would be.

Greg said...

I'm inclined to agree about 2006. 2008 may be somewhat optomistic.

For Minnesota, I really don't know how strong Coleman will be in 2008 but Franken, a vulgar clown with no political experience, isn't likely to be taken seriously by smart people.

New Hampshire is "small l" libertarian, and its senators reflect that. The state is trending blue not so much because of democratic strength, but because of GOP overreach and theocracy. Given his voting record I don't know Sununu has much cause to worry.

It would, of course, be nice to get rid of Allard, Stevens, etc. Time will tell.

jwest said...

David,

When discussing possible election results, the last source you should quote is Kos. His less-than-sterling record of predicting outcomes is grounded in the “wishful-thinking based community”.

In the ’06 Senate races, the only questionable seat on the republican side would be Pennsylvania, however Santorum has a record of coming from behind. The big changes will be in New Jersey, where Corzine’s tax increase will lead to a win for Kean, Maryland will elect Steele with approximately 30% of the black vote and Michigan will oust Stabenow, partly as a coattails effect of the gubernatorial race.

RachelsTavern said...

It's also look pretty bad for Connecticut's wanna be Republican Lieberman. Connecticut is a very blue state, and Lieberman doesn't seem to be doing well because of his support for the Iraq war.

I from Ohio, and I am really rooting for Strickland to win the governors office, but I haven't been paying attention to the Senate.

Ohio is such a contested swing state that my parents were inundated with TV commercials, phone calls, and mail. They got calls every day.