Friday, October 22, 2010

A Look at the Senate Picture

In looking at the races in the US Senate we must in some ways understand where we have been to see where we currently are.  Twelve months ago the assumption was that the Democrats even in a bad environment were going to be a lock to hold on to a majority in the Senate.  A few months ago and even as shortly as a few weeks ago it started to seem as if the Republicans had a real shot at taking control away.  I say taking control away, in terms of the majority, since we have all seen that in reality they have had control of the Senate already by imposing the filibuster proof margins to do anything. 

The chance still exists right now for the Republicans to gain the majority as there are eight races right now that are either slighty one way or pure tossups.  Those being Washington, California, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky.  There was also a poll in the past few days that showed a glimmer of hope for Russ Feingold in Wisconsin.  The way I would project the overall standings at the moment is 48 locks for the Democrats (counting Delaware, Connecticut) to 44 for the Republicans giving them (Florida, Alaska, New Hampshire, Missouri and Wisconsin).  What this means is that the Senate could be anything from 56-44 for the Dems to 48-52 with the Republicans in control.  It is always possible that Feingold could have real momentum and find a way along with the Republicans splitting the vote so badly in Alaska that McAdams squeaks in but not seeing enough evidence of either to believe it.

In terms of the eight races that I have identified Democrats seem to be advancing in Colorado, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky while losing ground in Washington, California, which leaves Illinois and Nevada as basically not changing much. 
  • The movement to the Dems in Colorado, and Kentucky seems to be as much due to failures of the GOP candidates as it is a new found affinity to the Republican candidate whether it be women’s issues in Colorado with Buck or Medicare in Kentucky with Paul.  Colorado has the feel of a legitimate hold for the Democrats though I cannot make myself fully believe in the Dems getting a pickup. Predictions: Bennett by 2, Paul by 8
  • In Pennsylvania you have a candidate in Joe Sestak who is doing things to make himself more known as standing up without apologizing for him positions combined with more focus being put on Toomey and his long stated desire to privatize social security.  Don’t know if it was false hope or not on my part but I never had Pennsylvania as a lost cause as many seemed even as little as two weeks ago.  There is a quality progressive candidate who has the necessary toughness credentials for Pennsylvania with his career as an admiral in the Navy versus a candidate who had been give a free ride all year and was the de-facto first Tea Party candidate years before the full blown movement came.  Also don’t forget huge registration advantage for Democrats in Pennsylvania.  As always Pennsylvania for Democrats will depend heavily on voter turnout in Philadelphia. Prediction: Sestak by 3
  • West Virginia appears to be a race in which you have an outsider candidate in Raese who is being hurt by his Florida country club life with Rush Limbaugh, the hicky stereotype ad, and his views on minimum wage.  On the Democratic side you have a candidate who has been very popular as governor and once he got scared in this race decided he needed to run right even changing his position on health care reform.  Prediction: Manchin by 6
  • In Washington polling keeps flipping from Patty Murray advancing to Rossi closing in on her so it is very tough to read the overall mood of the state for me.  Personally I think Patty Murray has been a very good senator and I cant stand Dino Rossi.  The big divide is most polling seems to be along gender lines with Murray doing very well with women and Rossi getting his advantage with men. Prediction: Murray by 3
  • California is a very interesting race for me as it seemed that Boxer was pulling away as Jerry Brown also began to make headway in the Governor’s race but since Fiorina has slowly closed in.  Still tough for me to buy Republicans winning this race with a candidate in an election year that is supposedly anti-corporation with the definition of a golden parachute CEO who would fire anyone to increase her bonuses. Prediction: Boxer by 8
  • Illinois is my candidate for re-count in 2010 as neither candidate can get any sort of significant lead in the race.  Neither candidate is very good which accounts for the huge number of undecided voters in each and every poll.  Prediction: Kirk by 1
  • Nevada is a case of a candidate who is both the face of the Obama agenda but also with the personality of death warmed over versus a candidate who will spout crazy ideas and then deny she ever said them even if they are on tape.  These two are truly made for each other and the only way either would have a chance is against the other.  Against any other candidate both are getting blown out right now and I would bet most Nevada voters wish there was a “none of the above” option on the ballot.  As bad as Reid is and his debate performance was pitiful I have to believe people can’t elect Angle to the US Senate. Prediction: Reid by 1.
The way I see it with these predictions would end up 54/46.  None of those are locks with basically 10 days left and I am curious to see if there is any sustained movement in Wisconsin for Feingold.  The most interesting thing is to think where this race would be without the Tea Party as establishment candidates in NV, DE would be locks for wins along with better chances in CT, KY, thus the Republicans would have a better chance of winning the majority.  The key to many of these races as always will be which segments of the voter population turns out on election day.  An older, whiter voting group likely bodes well for Republicans, while he Democrats will likely benefit if they can anywhere mimic the turnout among young and minority voters of 2008.

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