Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Open Thread

This is the Guru's first open thread. Please discuss any races of interest to you, or germane current events, or feel free to heap praise on the Guru, or, best of all, offer constructive criticism or suggestions for features you'd like to see added to the Guru's blog. I look forward to your comments!


Blogger VA Blogger said...

I have a suggestion that you'll ignore: objectivity.

3:17 PM, March 20, 2007  
Blogger tomforsenate said...

Great blog! Blog combines national perspective with in depth research about individual races. Well written and funny as well.

Just a general question: Given that the Democrats picked up 6 seats last year, do you expect this trend to continue, or do you expect a slight pendulum swing backwards?

One interesting fact is that in 2006 the Democrats had to hold onto 17 seats, and were able to keep every one. Republicans only had to maintain 15, yet managed to lose 6 of them.

In 2008, Democrats will only have to hold onto only 12 seats, while Republicans will have to defend a whopping 21 seats. This means that if we won half of all the contests, we'd pick up four or five seats.

12:11 AM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger VA Blogger said...

2006 was also one of the worst national environments for Republicans in decades, analogous to the 1994 Republican Revolution. This claimed Chafee, DeWine, and Talent as victims. In addition, Burns and Allen were flawed candidates who deserved to lose based upon scandal or in general a really lousy campaign.

2008 is shaping up to be a much less uneventful cycle, as far as Senate races are concerned. Facing a very low amount of retirements, its possible that there will only be a half-dozen competitive races this cycle. If I had to guess, I would guess that LA, SD, NH, MN, OR, and CO will be the only competitive races, with room for one unexpected race, like Montana or Virginia. And of those races, I doubt more than three will change hands (most likely CO, LA, and NH), giving the Democrats a 52-48 advantage in the 111th.

The liklihood of the Democrats sweeping all the competitive races it the same as the liklihood of the Republicand doing the same. There is as much chance as a 56-44 Senate as there is a 51-49 with the GOP back in charge.

8:56 AM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

va blogger - are you serious when you say "The liklihood of the Democrats sweeping all the competitive races it the same as the liklihood of the Republicand doing the same."

You must have rose-colored glasses stapled to your head after all.

The Democrats' vulnerabilities are, admittedly, Louisiana and maybe South Dakota.

The Republicans' top vulnerabilities are, objectively, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, North Carolina, Virginia, and now New Mexico with Domenici's portion of the U.S. Attorney firing scandal.

So two significant Democratic vulnerabilities against eight top Republican vulnerabilities and you're claiming that it's even money?

And you're looking for objectivity, huh? Really, why do you even read this blog?

12:22 PM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

tomforsenate - thanks for the positive feedback! It's much appreciated, and thanks for reading.

The pendulum in Senate races kinda has a six-year-swing in my opinion, going with the six-year terms of the Senators.

2006 turned out to be a great year for us - which means that in 2012, we'll have some potentially tough defenses with narrowly-victorious Senators like Montana's Tester, Virginia's Webb, and Missouri's McAskill.

2008, given the high number of GOP vulnerabilities and low number of Dem vulnerabilities (see comment above), should be another strong year for Dems.

And, in 2010, assuming 2008 goes well, could possibly approach a filibuster-proof majority for Democrats given the number of possible GOP retirements and otherwise vulnerable Republicans (including Missouri's Bond, Kentucky's Bunning, Iowa's Grassley, New Hampshire's Gregg, Florida's Martinez, Alaska's Murkowski, and Ohio's Voinovich). Possibly.

12:28 PM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger VA Blogger said...

Yes, its possible that the Dems could have a filibuster proof Senate after 2010. Its also possible that the Republicans could as well.

I never claimed 2008 was even money; far from it, in fact. But I don't see more than six races being competitive: two Dem seats (SD and LA), and four GOP seats. The four I pegged are CO, NH, MN, and OR, in that order.

It remains to be seen how vulnerable Collins will be. The only polling so far we have to work on is her sky-high approval rating. Once a poll is done that matches her up against Allen, we'll see how competitive the race will be. Assuming that its competitive without seeing numbers is as premature and skewed as assuming fundraising numbers before they're reported.

You need a candidate in North Carolina before you can say that it will be competitive, and much remains to be seen in Virginia. Without Mark Warner as a candidate, it won't be competitive, no matter who the GOP nominee is.

I'm also not convinced that the U.S. Attorney events will be able to carry through for twenty months to effect Domenici's chances. As is the case in North Carolina, you need a challenger before you can say its a competitive race, and none are on the horizon right now.

1:29 PM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

va blogger - don't backtrack and lie about what you said.

In your last comment, you said, "I never claimed 2008 was even money"

But in your immediately previous comment, you said "The liklihood of the Democrats sweeping all the competitive races it the same as the liklihood of the Republicand doing the same. There is as much chance as a 56-44 Senate as there is a 51-49 with the GOP back in charge."

First of all, there is an "e" in likelihood. But, second of all, and more importantly, you are saying that it's even money if you say that the likelihood of either party sweeping the competitive races is the same.

And it's not even money. The Dems have an obvious advantage here - to suggest otherwise is ludicrous.

And you can't say "Well, North Carolina isn't competitive because there's no formal challenger yet" because if that is the standard, then Louisiana and South Dakota aren't competitive either. Choose a standard and please try to be consistent.

All that said, good for you for offering opinions on New Mexico and Virginia without invective or vitriol. Gold star for you. I disagree with your assessments (that Virginia won't be competitive without Mark Warner as the Dem candidate or that the U.S. Attorney firing scandal won't linger and hurt Domenici), but, hey, we're both entitled to our respective opinions. Great.

I do believe that Mark Warner can beat John Warner heads up, though I think he is the only Dem that can beat J. Warner; I believe that other Dems, like Tim Kaine or Creigh Deeds, can beat Tom Davis statewide if he's the GOP nominee. I also think that if there is a formal ethics investigation into Domenici's phone call and he is found guilty of an ethics violation and receives a censure or worse (and, at the least, receives ongoing bad press), it may cripple him politically. But, yeah, these are beliefs and opinions and speculation - and I don't claim otherwise. We'll see how it bears out. You're welcome to disagree, so long as you don't inject invectives, vitriol, or misrepresented "facts." Terrific.

3:05 PM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger VA Blogger said...

The "obvious advantage" is that there are more Republican seats up for re-election than Democratic seats. But even if, of the six competitive races I picked out, there are more Democrats up than Republicans up, I think its just as likely that the Democrats win all six as it is that the Republicans win all six.

Here's why its not even money, and why my comments are perfectly consistent:

--If the Democrats win all six, that's a pick-up of four seats, giving them a 55-45 majority in the Senate.

--If the Republicans win all six, that's a pick-up of two seats, giving them a slim 51-49 majority.

That is where the numerical disadvantage comes into play. Its not "even money", but this far out, anything can happen; thus the likelihood that the Democrats sweep those six elections is the same as the chances for the Republicans.

My standard for competitiveness isn't just the presence of a candidate. Louisiana, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Oregon, and Colorado will be competitive no matter who the nominees are. North Carolina doesn't have that same guarantee. For starters, North Carolina is a more solid Republican state in a Presidential year. Dole is an effective campaigner and a good fundraiser, and has a lot of friends in the party. Will the race be competitive? If a top-tier candidate gets in against her. Otherwise, not so much.

If Creigh Deeds can't beat Bobby McDonnell, he doesn't stand a chance against Tom Davis. And Tim Kaine would be a great candidate, but I don't see him entering the race.

And none of my posts in this thread have been hostile--mostly because you've managed to refrain from any blatant distortion of the truth.

3:38 PM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

"Dole is an effective campaigner and a good fundraiser, and has a lot of friends in the party."

Are you sure about that?

4:47 PM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger Political Realm said...

While I'd agree that the landscape does favor the Dems in 08, it seems unlikely that they'd pickup more than a couple seats net. Simple because everything would have to break right for that to happen and incumbency is still a valuable weapon.

5:40 PM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger VA Blogger said...

When I say a lot of friends in the party, I mean old establishment types who backed her husband in '96, who either carry a lot of weight in the party or have a lot of money, or both.

6:51 PM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Out here in Oregon a lot of us are waiting to see if our friend Steve Novick will make it official soon and run against Gordon Smith.

Steve had a front page article in one of our local alternative weeklies a couple of months ago that got a lot of people buzzing.

9:27 PM, March 25, 2007  

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