Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

Keeping a close eye on developments in the 2008 U.S. Senate races

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Heated Tuesday Night Round-Up

  • Withdrawal deadline language in the Iraq Senate supplemental bill survived narrowly, in a 50-48 vote. Amongst those voting to remove the withdrawal deadline language were Norm Coleman (MN), Susan Collins (ME), John Cornyn (TX), Elizabeth Dole (NC), Pete Domenici (NM), Mitch McConnell (KY), Pete Sessions (AL), John Sununu (NH), and John Warner (VA). This vote will be one of the big ones to bite them in the ass come Election Day 2008.

    Gordon Smith of Oregon was one of only two Republicans (along with Chuck Hagel of Nebraska) to vote to keep the withdrawal deadline language - no doubt influenced by the recent poll showing him behind in a re-election battle.

    The bottom line is that when Coleman or Collins or Sununu try to disavow responsibility for Bush's Iraq War or try to distance themselves from the Bush administration, this very vote will be one of the key ones we point to to demonstrate their lack of independence and entirely absent sound judgement.

  • Oregon: Speaking of Gordon Smith, WaPo's Cillizza highlights the poll showing Smith running behind Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio, and Loaded Orygun asks, "How many licks does it take to get to the Bill Sizemore center of the GOP Senate primary?"

  • Kentucky: Ditch Mitch KY notes Mitch McConnell's stilted approval rating below 50%, while Bluegrass Report and MyDD discuss a $200K ad buy timed with the Congressional recess demonstrating how out of touch McConnell is with reality on Iraq - check out the video for yourself. (Quick reminder: a majority of Kentuckyans want us out of Iraq.)

  • Colorado: Hotline TV takes a hilarious look at the CO-GOP Senate candidate interview process in the wake of former Rep. Scott McInnis' departure. Meanwhile, Colorado Pols has the New York Sun agreeing that McInnis' departure makes a GOP retention of retiring Wayne Allard's seat even less likely.

  • New Hampshire: Blue Hampshire takes a soberingly honest look at the agony of John Sununu.

  • Georgia: Conservative Democrat Vernon Jones will kick off his Senate challenge to "Shameless" Saxby Chambliss on April 3.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with MyDD's Bowers' outlook on how the 2008 Senate race dynamics currently stand (except for the miniscule reference to the possibility of defections). He summarizes:

    With the possible exception of Louisiana, Democrats control every single top-tier Senate pickup opportunity, and still outnumber Republicans in terms of second-tier pickup opportunities.
    And even Louisiana is looking better than the absolute electoral doom we expected.


    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    I almost considered a post refuting you and Bowers, but I realized: you guys just won the Senate for the first time in a while, you're still feeling the high, and believe that you have a mandate. I'll just let you overplay your hand, and realize in a year where things are really at.

    Bowers named 14 races:

    1) Alabama: Ron Sparks will never be competitive with Jeff Sessions. Even Jim Folsom wouldn't be. Artur Davis had the best chance of keeping Sessions under 55%.

    2) Colorado: I'll grant you this one. Its the most vulnerable GOP seat.

    3) Georgia: Vernon Jones is not a strong challenger, especially to somebody as entrenced as Saxby Chambliss. If Chambliss was able to beat Cleland, he'll easily dispatch of Jones. The only question is if Jones' entry will preclude a stronger candidate from getting into the race.

    4) Kentucky: You don't have a candidate, let alone one who can match the institution and fundraising prowess of McConnell. A liberal blog's fervent desire to defeat the sitting Minority Leader does not equal an in-state movement to do the same.

    5) Maine: Susan Collins has one of the highest approval ratings in the country. Tom Allen, her strongest possible challenger who hasn't made a final decision yet, would still have an uphill battle against her.

    6) Minnesota: Norm Coleman is incredibly vulnerable, which is why it must be incredibly disappointing to see that the only two candidates who haven't ruled out a run are the unelectable Al Franken and the unknown Mike Ciresi. Ciresi might put up a strong fight, so if he's the nominee, I'll grant you a tough race there, too.

    7) Nebraska: The top three candidates in this race are Hagel, Johanns, and Bruning, in that order. Even if Fahey gets into the race, it won't be competitive.

    8) New Hampshire: John Sununu is the most vulnerable seat, behind Colorado. Which is why its pretty spectacular that both top-tier candidates passed on the race, and your hopes instead rest with a mayor and a failed Congressional candidate, both of whom are definately second-tier. The lack of a top-tier candidate just may give Sununu the chance he needs; its definately not a guarantee as a Sheheen or Lynch challenge would be.

    9) New Mexico: I'm not convinced this will even be an issue three months from now, but on the off-chance that it is, you still need a candidate. So far, Udall and everybody else in New Mexico is on record as saying they wouldn't challenge Domenici. Get a candidate, at least, before you start salivating at the possibility of picking this seat up.

    10) North Carolina: Same as New Mexico: Get a challenger. A state senator like Kay Hagan, while fiery, equals a recruitment failure that doesn't put this race on the map. In the meantime, Dole continues to raise money.

    11) Oklahoma: Henry, Boren, and Taylor have already passed. Maybe Edmondson or Carson want to waste their time with this race. Inhofe's numbers are low, but he'll only lose to a strong challenger, all of whom have passed.

    12) Oregon: Smith is still an able politician, recent polling aside, and you still lack a challenger. DeFazio has said "no", though that might change. However, at this point, the most interested person is Steve Novick. I'm sure polling against him would put Smith squarely above 50%.

    13) Texas: Its nice to see you guys bragging about not having a challenger in a red state against an able campaigner. Texas is as likely to flip as New Jersey.

    14) Virginia: If John Warner is running, no one will give him a challenge but Mark Warner. But Mark Warner is more likely to pursue a VP bid or the Governor's mansion in '09 than a tough, potentially career-ending, race against John Warner. If Warner wasn't willing to go up against Allen, I highly doubt he'll go up against Warner, despite what recent rumblings and hopeful Raising Kaine postings say.

    Bowers can identify 14 races all he likes; the truth is only five of them are competitive, and you only have a top-tier candidate matched up to a vulnerable incumbent in one of them (Colorado).

    But I'll give you another 12 months to realize that this is the case. In the meantime, enjoy your delusion. You've certainly earned it.

    Don't bother responding; you won't see me post in this thread again.

    11:44 PM, March 27, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...

    Va, your point is well made that the field is not yet set but it is a little early in the day for recruitment conclusions -- Give it until Labour day and we'll see what races are in play. Even you admit the Dems have five truly competitive first tier pick-up chances. Against this the Reps have two. Further, if you are being honest you have to admit that there are a lot more 2nd tier opportunities for the Dems then for the Reps.

    So you are right the Dems are waiting on challengers and events but I think it is far more likely the Dems expand their majority (but don't reach 60) than that the Reps take back the majority.

    You guys have a lot of defense to play. It can be done but pure bravado about the other side being overly optimistic won't do it.

    9:30 AM, March 28, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    johnny c - I'd retract what you said, if I were you. va blogger declared that elections in certain states can't be competitive - and if he declared it, it must be so.

    I mean, the chances of Democrats winning Senate elections in Presidential-year-red-states like Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky right now would be as ridiculous as Democrats winning Senate elections in red states like Montana, North Dakota, oh wait...

    Take Ron Sparks, for instance - in 2002, he was originally elected with 51%, and then he was re-elected in 2006 with 59% - that's a pretty solid jump. People must know and like him. Does that mean he's guaranteed to beat Jeff Sessions? No. I like to have elections first. Does it mean it could be competitive. Very. And the reason that we have people like Senator Webb and Senator Tester is that people as high as the GOP Leadership and as low as va blogger underestimate the potential of these guys as candidates to communicate with their electorate.

    I say, let's actually have a campaign and an election.

    9:53 AM, March 28, 2007  
    Blogger Blue South said...

    at this point in 2005 no one thought we would take the house in 06. By this point in 2006 no one thought we would take the Senate. The fact is that the way things are shaping up at this moment we will come out of 08 with an expanded Senate majority, and possibly control of all 3 branches. The question is, how big will that majority be, and how long will we be able to keep it.

    11:10 AM, March 28, 2007  

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