Is the GOP Getting Even More Worried?
Stu Rothenberg put out his latest Senate ratings this morning. There are four categories: Currently Safe (including 10 of 12 Democrats and only 11 of 22 Republicans); Clear Advantage for Incumbent Party (including Democrat Tim Johnson and five Republicans, from NC, NM, NE, KY and AK); Narrow Advantage for Incumbent Party (including Democrat Mary Landrieu and three Republicans, from MN, ME, and OR); and Toss-Up (including zero Democrats and three Republican seats, from CO, NH, and VA).
Two items really struck me. First, Virginia is considered a "Toss-Up." Now, given John Warner's virtually non-extistent fundraising, one can easily speculate that he will retire. But, would that alone put Virginia in the Toss-Up category? That alone might more likely put it in the Narrow Advantage for Incumbent Party category - unless Rothenberg has some inside dope on popular former Governor Mark Warner's 2008 intentions. Something to keep an eye out for. The second item that struck me was South Dakota's Tim Johnson being situated in the Clear, rather than "Narrow," Advantage for Incumbent Party. Rothenberg must think that Johnson will likely run for re-election and that super-conservative GOP Gov. Mike Rounds won't challenge him.
Republican pessimism appears to be on the rise, according to The Hill:
Nine months after Republicans were routed in the midterm elections, campaign observers, K Street lobbyists and political experts say there is little evidence the party can rebound in 2008.Regardless of Presidential campaign dynamics (which are impacted by the same issues that impact the legislative races), 2008 could very likely be a repeat of 2006.
The same bad news — the president’s low approval ratings, opposition to the war in Iraq, and the lingering taint of congressional scandal, from the Jack Abramoff investigation to Sen. David Vitter’s (La.) involvement with the alleged “D.C. Madam” — leave observers skeptical that the GOP can dent Democratic majorities, let alone reclaim power in the next election.
“The only thing that has changed is that everything that was bad got worse,” said Bernadette Budde, political director of the Business Industry Political Action Committee. BIPAC supports business-friendly candidates of both parties, though most of the group’s donations go to Republicans.
If the election were held today, “We’d be lucky to hold our own,” one House Republican said.
Minnesota: Republicans must be very worried about Al Franken. Of course, challengers will often take shots at incumbents to bring them down as the challengers try to compete. But I don't remember a situation when the incumbent Party took such direct shots at a challenger this early in a cycle, especially in a competitive primary! The only reasonable conclusion is that Republicans are very worried about Franken. (Unless someone wants to throw the stunningly insightful "reverse psychology" bunk out there.)
Louisiana: Want a hearty laugh? At a recent Senate Republican policy lunch, prostitute-enthusiast David Vitter offered his thoughts on how to improve Republicans' image. You'd think that would be a story from The Onion, but, no, it really happened.
Kentucky: Ditch Mitch KY nails Mitch McConnell for an op-ed that reeks of political desperation, from not-too-subtly beginning with "After the horror of September 11" and repeatedly taking aim at nameless "liberals" and "elites." These McConnell Republicans really don't have that many tactics in their political arsenal.
Oregon: Kos gives his take on what should be a very positive, productive Democratic Senate primary in Oregon between Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley and political activist Steve Novick (with the potential for other candidates still!). I trust it will provide a relentless barrage against Gordon Smith's real record.
Alabama: Commissioner Ron Sparks really is a rock star. I hope he reconsiders and enters the race to defeat Bush rubber-stamp Jeff Sessions.