Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tuesday Rundown

  • Kay Bailey Hutchison has reportedly taken herself out of the running for the #3 spot in the GOP Senate leadership, leaving a head-to-head race between Lamar Alexander and Richard Burr.

  • Republican Senators are calling Ted Stevens and Thad Cochran "outright hogs" for their massive pork-barrel earmarks:

    Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.), ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, has collected $774 million worth of earmarks in 12 spending bills. After Cochran, Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska), the second-ranking Republican on Appropriations, secured more money for special projects than any other member of Congress: $502 million.
    I'd suggest that every single one of Stevens' earmarks be investigated, all things considered.

  • Louisiana: Louisiana State University's newspaper, The Daily Reveille, offers a phenomenal outline of why Louisianans would be much better served by Senator Mary Landrieu than Treasurer John N. Kennedy. They note Landrieu's seniority and ability to secure funding for the Gulf Coast's rehab, as well as Kennedy's mercurial career goals and possibly questionable ethical practices:

    As chair of the Bond Commission, Kennedy is given the power to set the agenda for these meetings, deciding which projects will be considered and how quickly contractors will receive their money.

    Reviewing the agendas for the past eight years, one must wonder why many of the Bond Commission's beneficiaries were also contributors to Kennedy's campaign fund. Did a contribution to Kennedy's campaign increase the chances of having a project considered more quickly?
    I'm sure Landrieu's team will be diligently poring over those meeting agendas and cross-referencing them with Kennedy's fundraising receipts.

  • Nebraska: Scott Kleeb's holiday message indicates that he's still giving a 2008 Senate race all due consideration.

  • Wyoming: Republican Colin Simpson not running for Wyoming's House seat could make it less likely that Senate-appointee John Barrasso might face a primary challenger, as potential primary opponents like former state Treasurer Cynthia Lummis and former U.S. Attorney Matt Mead might just run for the open House seat instead, if they're interested.

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell's latest act of obstructionism is blocking the Senate's energy bill over an expansion in renewable energy. DMKY's Sonka offers further thoughts on McConnell's historic obstructionism.

  • Colorado: The latest Rasmussen poll sees a statistical dead heat between Congressman Mark Udall and former Rep. Bob Schaffer. Also, following the terrific MyDD interview with Tom Udall, Singer serves up a similarly scintillating sit-down with Mark Udall.

  • Iowa: Conservative Rep. Steve King is not quashing speculation that he is considering a 2008 Senate challenge to Senator Tom Harkin.

  • New Hampshire: We should be expecting Sprintin' John Sununu's "honest assessment" on Iraq any day now.

  • Oregon: Don't forget that tomorrow is Hold Gordon Smith Accountable Day.

  • Texas: State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega is now officially in the 2008 Senate race to oust John Cornyn. Celebrate Noriega's official entry by throwing a few bucks his way.

  • Maine: For a fun example of homemade YouTube activism, check out this piece comparing Susan Collins' adherence to Bush-Cheneyism with Tom Allen's independence for Mainers (and be inspired to make your own YouTube video!):


    Blogger Ari said...

    Neck and neck in Colorado? This is not good! Colorado is supposed to be one of our biggest pickup opportunities, and we're only running in a tie there? Is this the result of complacency? Now I'm worried . . .

    2:53 PM, December 04, 2007  
    Blogger Eric In Manassas said...

    I think Colorado is going to come down to the wire. Schaffer is doing a pretty good job of fundraising and Colorado isn't a blue state by any means. I think Udall will still come out on top but the person on top of the presidential ticket could make a really big impact there. All things considered though, when you can put a leans-Democratic as your number 4 pick-up oppurtunity you are in pretty damn good shape.

    3:01 PM, December 04, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    Looking at the Poll in the Colorado US Senate- Their is a huge number of undecided voters unlike the Virginia US Senate Race and the New Mexico US Senate Race. Undecideds are less than 10%.

    Looking at the NM US Senate Race. Tom Udall is likely to be the Democratic Nominee and Heather Wilson is likely to get the Republican Nomination. Polls show that Udall leading Wilson by at least a 15 percent margin and Udall's poll numbers are close to 55%

    In the VA US Senate Race. Warner is at least 30 points a head of Gilmore and Warner's poll numbers are close to 60%.

    The key factor in the CO race is undecided voters.

    3:31 PM, December 04, 2007  
    Blogger The Sleep said...

    I think people have retrospectively turned the last Colorado Senate race into a blow-out, which is never was. It was neck in neck all the way to election day. Though far-away observers have always put CO-Sen way up the list of races likely to go Democrat, I don't think people close to this race, including Udall himself, ever thought it was going to be easy. That said, Schaffer is out of the mainstream and so will be vulnerable once the campaign gets going.

    8:29 PM, December 04, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    Colorado is going to be a tight race all the way till election day. I would say it leans Democrat because we can always dish out Senator Salazar or Governor Ritter out on the campaign trail. Not to mention Democrats are going to dedicate all the resources they need to win.

    If you look at 2006 we were able to win close races while being outspent by a lot.

    10:53 PM, December 04, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    Looking at the 2008 US Senate Election Cycle.

    The Senate Races that are Safe Incumbent Weak Opposition on either party is
    New Jersey-D
    Rhode Island-D
    South Carolina-R
    South Dakota-D
    West Virginia-D
    Wyoming- Enzi-R

    Senate Races that are on the watch list but Incumbent Party Favored
    Mississippi- Lott-R
    Wyoming-R Barraso-

    Senate Races that are Competitive but Incumbent Party Favored
    North Carolina-R

    Senate Races that are going down the wire- Tossup

    Likely Takeover - Competitive
    New Hampshire-R
    New Mexico-R

    Likely Takeover- Non Competitive

    9:23 AM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger Jake said...

    Neal -- I admire the throughness of your analysis. It seems very right on. This is important as we make our own decisions where to allocate whatever we can give. Clearly it makes more sense to support someone who is close over a long shot. I wonder how you are able to compile this list? You clearly are paying alot of attention.

    12:19 PM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    Biden(DE),Durbin(IL),Roberts(KS),Kerry(MA),Levin(MI),Cochran(MS)Baucus(MT),Reed(RI),Rockefeller(WV)and Enzi(WY) were constantly re-elected by landslide margins and they have sacrificial lamb challengers.

    Sessions(AL),Harkin(IA),Lautenberg(NJ),Johnson(SD) have faced competitive re-election campaigns but this cycle they are safe due to weak opposition.

    NO strong challenge has yet emerged against
    First termers- Pryor(AR),Chambliss(GA),Graham(SC),and Alexander(TN)

    Stevens(AK)has always had an easy re-election but this cycle he has a lot of negative baggage.

    Idaho,Nebraska,Mississippi(Lott),and Wyoming(Barasso)are open seat elections but those states tend to favor the Republicans especially in a Presidential Level.

    Inhofe(OK)has had competive re-election bids and has negative baggage but He represents a Ruby Red State.

    Cornyn(TX)first termer- High unfavorable ratings in his home state. Represents a state unfavorable to Democrats.

    McConnell(KY)has high negatives and This cycle has Top Tier Opposition. This is a National Senate Race-

    Dole(NC)- weak incumbent- has a credible opposition

    Collins(ME)- represents a BLUE State- has a top tier challenger but Collins(ME) is personally popular in ME.

    Smith(OR)- represents a BLUE state- has credible opposition.

    Colorado is an OPEN Seat election. It is a battleground state at the national level. Both Democrat and the Republican are current/former US House Members that are polar opposites- Liberal vs Conservative. Polls in CO show a tight race with Udall with a slight advantage.

    Landrieu(LA) has won both Senate Races by narrow margins- She has a top tier GOP challenger. Polls show a close race.

    Coleman(MN) is a first term who 2002 election was a fluke- Represents a traditionally Democratic State. Has top tier Democratic Opposition. Polls show a neck and neck race.

    Sununu(NH)is a first term whose 2002 election was a fluke- Represents a state that leans Democratic- Has a Strong Top Tier Democratic Opposition- Polls show Incumbent trailing the Challenger.

    New Mexico(NM)is a open seat race- Battleground State- The frontrunner on the Democratic side is a popular US Congressman and Former NMAG- The front runner on the GOP side is a Controversial Congresswoman who always won narrow races in a bellwether Congressional District unlike her predecessors Steve Schiff and Manuel Lujan. Polls show the Democratic Front runner(Udall) leading both Republican candidates Wilson/Pearce by at least a 15 percent margin and Udall's poll numbers are over 50%.

    Virginia- OPEN seat race- Battleground State- Democratic Nominee is a popular former Governor- with bipartisan appeal. Republican Nominee is a Controversial Unpopular Former Governor. Polls show the Democrat ahead of the Republican by at least a 20-30 percent margin and Democrat(Warner)poll numbers are close to 60%.

    Republicans have basically conceded VA to us. NM will be ours once Udall wins the Democratic Nomination. NH is a state were are favored but win it will be a fight.

    1:46 PM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Jake, you think his analysis is "thorough"? Most of the people who comment in this blog could compile the same list with a lot better analysis.

    Unfortunately, neal consistently and annoyingly posts the same exact list (under this screen name and other, previous incarnations) in just about every thread, without even tangential relevence to the thread topic.

    2:27 PM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    VA booger- point where you disagree with my analysis in the 08 Senate Races.

    3:10 PM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...


    Kerry and Bauchus potentially face non-sacrifcial lamb challengers in Jim Ogonowski and Bob Keenan, respectively.

    Estabrook is well-positioned to launch a serious campaign against the unpopular Frank Lautenberg, even if she's favored to lose. Also, Steve King would give Tom Harkin a tough challenge, despite also being favored to lose, at least initially. Finally, it remains to be seen how Tim Johnson's health will affect voters' perception of him in a credible, if not strong, challenger in Joel Dykstra. In addition, Mike Rounds has yet to officially decline a run.

    Inhofe has "baggage" in the sense that liberals don't like him, not real baggage that might hinder his re-election.

    McConnell does not have a top-tier challenger, and has high negative ratings because he's been consistently under attack from national groups without an ad campaign defending himself--yet.

    Dole is neither a weak incumbent nor does she have a credible challenger.

    You also decline to note that Smith and Collins both have won re-election easily, despite what people thought were top-tier challengers.

    You decline to note that Louisiana is a red state trending even more Republican, facing a challenger tougher than any of the two she previously ran against.

    Minnesota is a purple state, not a Democratic state, and I disagree that Al Franken or Mike Ciresi are top-tier challengers. You also decline to note the loads of baggage that Franken's candidacy comes with.

    Sununu's initial election in 2002 was anything but a fluke. He defeated the incumbent Senator in the primary then defeated the incumbent Governor in the general.

    I disagree that Heather Wilson is all together "controversial"; also her seat is Democratic-leaning, not a bellweather seat, and it became a lot more Democratic than anytime her predecessors had to defend it.

    At any rate, my point is not that your analysis is "wrong", my point is that it is very annoying when you constantly post the same damn thing, over and over and over again, without anyone ever asking for it and without it ever relating to anything in the conversation.

    3:29 PM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    Kerry and Bauchus potentially face non-sacrifcial lamb challengers in Jim Ogonowski and Bob Keenan, respectively.

    Jim Ogonowski is more likely to seek a rematch against Tsongas rather that challenge Kerry. Keenan has not a top tier candidate like Rehberg.

    You have to be on drugs to imply that Estabrook will give Lautenberg a serious challenge. Same goes with King challenging Harkin and Dyksta challenging Johnson- Rounds says he has no intention of challenging Johnson.

    Inhofe,McConnell,and Dole have high negatives in their home state. McConnell does have a top tier challenger- Greg Stumbo.

    Minnesota is a blue state- It has voted Democratic every presidential race- it is home of Humphrey,Mondale,and Wellstone.

    Collins and Smith were re-elected in 2002 when it was favorable year for the Republicans. They are favored to win re-election. Sununu victory in the General Election was based on Voter Fraud and polls show Shaheen leading Sununu by Double Digit margin.

    3:52 PM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger GreenGuy said...

    Ari, Rasmussen polls almost always skew right by a few percentage points and that is one of the few pollsters I don't find reputible, even if they

    you certainly are optimistic vablogger!

    4:03 PM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Ogonowski could go either way, but though they're not top-tier challengers, they wouldn't be sacrificial lambs, either.

    I didn't say Estabrook would give a strong challenge. I said "could". Learn to read.

    King would certainly give Harkin a strong challenge.

    And I even said that Dykstra was not a strong candidate (again, learn to read). However, as I said, it remains to be seen how Johnson's health will affect his support.

    Dole doesn't have high unfavorable ratings from any repudible source.

    Greg Stumbo is not a top-tier challenger. Ben Chandler would be.

    Minnesota also has a GOP Senator and a GOP Governor, who won in a Democratic wave year. It is a battleground state.

    You have absolutely no proof about the effect any fraud in New Hampshire had on Sununu's victory in 2002. To imply it happened is one thing, to imply that it swung the race is far-fetched.

    4:31 PM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    I share your frustration with Neal's duplicative posts.

    There is no implication that there was voter fraud in NH. People were criminally prosecuted (successfully) for the phone jamming scandal. It is not far fetched to believe that in a very close election it had an impact (maybe even changing the final outcome). The republicans who risked jail (and if memory serves actually served some jail time) must have thought it could change the outcome or they never would have taken that chance.

    5:26 PM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger Eric In Manassas said...

    va blogger,

    A couple notes.

    Massachusetts: You are right to suggest that Jim Ogonowski would not be a sacrifical lamb. However, he is on basically the same level a Scott Kleeb run would be in Nebraska. He'd be a third-string challenge running aganst an entrenched incumbent in a deep blue state in a presidential race. Neither he nor Kleeb would stand much of a chance barring a Macaca moment.

    Minnesota: I'd dispute your suggestion that Minnesota is a purple state, it is true that Republicans can win statewide in Minnesota and you could probably argue that Minnesota is trending Republican. However, it is unlikely that Minnesota will vote Republican next year, the Democrats easily won in the Senate race last year and Coleman won election in a very tight and controversial race. You are right to say that neither Ciresi or Franken is a first-tier candidate, they DO both have a lot of money. Coleman's race is going to be tight no matter what happens.

    New Jersey: Let's face it, every year the Republicans get hyped up because the Democrats are terribly unpopular in New Jersey. The New Jersey people still vote for them regardless. Not to mention Lautenberg is entrenched, has a ton of money in an expensive state and is in a deep blue state in a presidential election. I'm not sure how much money Estabrook has, but I doubt she can expect much money from the NRSC. She's a second-string challenger assuming she can heavily self-fund.

    South Dakota: Until Mike Rounds gets in, Tim Johnson is going to win. South Dakota is a red state, but Johnson has won against A-list challengers before. I don't think he's going to face much problems from a second-string challenge. If Rounds gets in, this is of course an entirely different race.

    Iowa: By all means, have your 4th (or is it 5th?) sitting Republican congressman lose to Harkin. He's entrenched as entrenched can be, has decent favorabilities and would face an opponent that has no ties to the more moderate Eastern Iowa (which you need to win in statewide elections). I doubt King could hold Harkin under 5 points.

    Kentucky: It's not entirely true that McConnell has no ads up defending himself. I know right after Fletcher's defeat he had ads up touting the fact that he was the Senate Minority Leader. I'd agree that Stumbo isn't a top tier challenge. I'd be suprised if McConnell lost, but he's not a lock either.

    Maine: It's true that Snowe and Collins both won pretty easily last time they were up for re-election. However, Collins is facing the most serious challenger she has ever faced and Maine is a deep blue state in a presidential year. If she's polling above 50 against Allen by April next year though, she's probably in the clear.

    Louisiana: This is the number one republican pick-up oppurtunity for next year, I don't think anyone would deny that. Landrieu is a long-time incumbent with deep-pockets, and the Democrats will throw everything they can to save her. I'd still guess this is a toss-up at best, and is probably more likely in the same category as New Hampshire and New Mexico.

    7:05 PM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    A few notes.

    Mike Johanns is popular in Nebraska. John Kerry is now. However, I agree that both are long-shot candidates.

    I wouldn't argue that Minnesota is trending Republican.

    Estabrook has a decent sized personal fortune she can invest. While I'm not getting my hopes up for the race, she's a credible challenger, and that's always nice to have in the event of...

    I nominally agree with you about South Dakota; however, it really does remain to be seen how Johnson's health will affect things. Its early yet.

    I doubt King could do that well against Harkin, too. However, he'd be a credible challenger. I'm not too worried about losing IA-5.

    Maine has a much more pronounced independent streak than the rest of New England, and indepedents greatly outweigh Democrats. Collins has a strong moderate record that the voters approve of, last time I checked, by a 3:1 ratio.

    Landrieu is a two-term incumbent. While 12 years is a long time, she is not a long-time incumbent by any means, compared to the rest of her colleagues.

    8:11 PM, December 05, 2007  
    Blogger Eric In Manassas said...

    With regards to Johanns/Kerry:

    You are right that Johanns has better favorability/unfavorability numbers but he also hasn't run a campaign in sometime and as the old cliche goes "absence makes the heart grow fonder". Again, despite Kerry's relative unpopularity it'd be incredibly hard to unseat him, especially in a Presidential election year. Same goes for Johanns. Neither incumbent is remotely in danger borrowing a Macaca moment.

    Regarding Minnesota:

    I actually would argue that Minnesota is trending Republican (to some degree). Minnesota has long been a Democratic bastion, but the last few elections have seen increasingly narrow elections in Minnesota. I would still characterize Minnesota as a light blue state and it remains to see if Bush's continued unpopularity will reverse any trend to the right in Minnesota.

    Regarding Estabrook:

    It really depends on how much money she's willing to spend. If she's willing to spend like Jon Corzine then she might make the race at least somewhat competitive (though still a longshot), if not then she's probably doomed. I'd rate her chances similar to those of Rick Noriega in Texas, a credible challenger in a state that is strongly partisan (in a different direction from the candidates) and is facing a relatively unpopular incumbent.

    Regarding South Dakota:

    Well sure it's early, but since we're speculating we can only speculate on the information we now have as opposed to what we'll know later. I mean nobody thought Larry Craig was going to be out of the Senate a year ago.

    Regarding Iowa:

    I think that's a pretty good analysis. It really depends on if King wants to give up a secure seat in the House to run a (probably) losing campaign for the Senate. If it was a more positive atmosphere for Republicans I would have bet money he'd run.

    Regarding Maine:

    That's true, but it's still a presidential election year and the Democrat will take it by at least 10 points. That's going to hurt Collins. As of right now I'd say Collins has a clear advantage, we'll know more once both sides have ads underway and what the environment is looking to be like in November.

    Regarding Louisiana:

    Landrieu won't go down easily, I would say however that she in a very similar situation to Sununu in New Hampshire. She's a not terribly popular, non-entrenched incumbent in a red state. She's facing a credible challenger and she'll have a lot of money thrown at her. If I had to guess right now, I'd say she's gone. She has won tough elections before though and she does have the power of incumbency and a substantial purse though. It'll be a nasty race.

    10:15 PM, December 05, 2007  

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