Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Items

  • Idaho: Speaking extemporaneously, I fully agree with mcjoan's thought that it is not entirely beyond the realm of possibility that Senator Larry Craig decides to up and run for re-election, either out of spite to the Republicans who threw him under the bus or out of a sense that he still could win re-nomination. The former reason is predicated simply on how pissed off he is. The latter is predicated on how many people enter the Republican primary. If GOP Lt. Gov. Jim Risch is the only big name in the race, then it may be a moot point for Craig; but, if a few credible names enter the primary and splinter the vote a few ways, such that 35-40% of the vote could win the primary, I certainly wouldn't be shocked if Craig went for it. At this point, he doesn't have much left to lose. Meanwhile, Republican rancher Rex Rammell has officially entered the GOP primary and has a major bone to pick with Jim Risch, so expect some sparks to fly there.

  • Nebraska: Stu Rothenberg offers an uneven look at Scott Kleeb's chances in a possible 2008 Senate bid, highlighting all of the reasons he and Democrats would have momentum, only to say that none of it really means anything. He points out that Democrats have won nine of the past eleven NE-Sen races and nine of the past fifteen NE-Gov races, but also notes that all eighteen victories were for the same four Democrats. Then, he notes that "2006 and 2008 are very different years" when lessening the meaning of Kleeb's strong '06 Congressional showing, and uses election results from as far back as, I'm not kidding, 1974 to demonstrate the overrated value of Kleeb's '06 showing. Of course, Kleeb would be an underdog to Mike Johanns. I'm not debating that. I just find it very uneven that Rothenberg would seemingly discount Kleeb's '06 result because 2008 is a "very different" year, but he finds results from the mid-70's awfully relevant. While '08 will be a Presidential election year, I think most observers would agree that 2008 will prove to be very similar to 2006 in terms of national trends and key issues. (By the way, Draft Kleeb!)

  • Virginia: Republican Jim Gilmore has many, many flaws. But, I will give him some credit: he is hilarious!

  • North Carolina: The OLF siting issue in North Carolina is one of the major local issues that doesn't get national press, but could have a major impact on the NC-Sen race. And Elizabeth Dole just keeps looking terrible on it.

  • Republican Tennessee Senator Bob Corker is "underwhelmed" by George W. Bush's "depth" and "complexity" on Iraq. So are we all, Corky.

  • Well, this is the latest contemptible lack of disclosure from the Bush administration.

  • 4 Comments:

    Blogger The Rothenberg Political Report said...

    Guru- Thanks for reading the Report, although you have offered an uneven look at the column.

    Of the four Democrats who have won ALL of those past Senate races over the last three decades, three of them were governor of Nebraska before elected to the Senate and the other was the former Republican mayor of Omaha.

    Kleeb has neither credential on his resume. Not even close.

    And as far as Kleeb's '06 congressional showing, the column takes a historical look, showing that each time that seat has been open, Democrats have come close, followed by a blowout victory by the incumbent two years later.

    The election isn't until next November, but no matter how you look at it, history is not on Kleeb's side.

    10:14 PM, November 23, 2007  
    Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

    "Of the four Democrats who have won ALL of those past Senate races over the last three decades, three of them were governor of Nebraska before elected to the Senate and the other was the former Republican mayor of Omaha."

    That's true enough, and I don't think anyone disputes that being Governor is a pretty good launching pad for the Senate. But you might also note that neither Exon, Kerrey or Nelson had ever been elected to any public office before defeating an incumbent Republican governor in their first statewide campaigns (in fact, Harrison Hickman's benchmark poll in early '82 found Kerrey had lower name recognition than a completely fictional politician). Or, to take an example from across the aisle: Chuck Hagel was a Republican no-name who came from nowhere to snatch an open Senate seat from a popular sitting governor in '96. It seems to me the only precedent that really matters in Nebraska politics is this: expect the unexpected.

    "And as far as Kleeb's '06 congressional showing, the column takes a historical look, showing that each time that seat has been open, Democrats have come close, followed by a blowout victory by the incumbent two years later."

    No, the Guru's right: this analysis is disingenuous at best. When Bob Kerrey was considering a return to the Senate, the MSM was quick to note that his strong showings in '94 and '88 didn't necessarily spell success in a state that's only grown more Republican over time... and they were right
    The registration gap between the two parties has grown tremendously even over the last decade or so, and this change has been most apparent in the aging third district (where plenty of New Deal Democrats who voted for Sandy Scofield in 1990 simply weren't around in 2006). Democratic potential in the state now rests on an individual's potential to make converts out of Republicans and Independents, a much heavier haul than Democrats faced in the '70s or early '90s but (as Kleeb demonstrated in '06) still quite possible.

    12:39 AM, November 24, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    TRPR - As I don't have the Congressional election results from the 70s and 80s in Nebraska handy, my follow-up question, then, would be: in those situations where a blowout victory for the incumbent followed the tight open-seat race two years earlier, in how many instances did the freshman incumbent have a strong challenger in his or her first re-election bid?

    I think the blowout-ness of the victory for each incumbent's first re-election bid is more of a reflection of how quickly an incumbent in Nebraska, particularly a House Republican, can become entrenched than anything else. Or perhaps it's a reflection of Democrats back then being willing to put more resources into an open-seat than a challenge to an incumbent.

    If this is the metric at bar, then the question becomes: Do you think that, if Kleeb made a repeat run for the House seat, he would get "blown out" as history would indicate by your perception? Or do you think he would keep it a tigher race? (Which also begs the question - did any of the Democrats who lost those open seat House races in decades previous make a repeat run, as Kleeb might? Or were the candidates who ran for the open seat different from the candidates who subsequently got blown out - and could it also be a reflection on the individuals running each time?)

    2:45 PM, November 24, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    Guru... this is damn good... you have TRPR making comments on your analysis... wow.

    HOKIES WON!!!! ON TO JACKSONVILLE!!

    2:06 AM, November 25, 2007  

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