Race by Race Senate Analysis – Part 1 of 3
It’s Independence Day, so Happy 234th America!
And as a blog committed to liberty, it’s time to review all 36 (or maybe 37 if there is a special election for the Robert Byrd seat in West VA) US Senate races as they have begun to clear up. Not being one to sit on the fence, I call nothing a toss-up.
So without further adieu and in alphabetical order – the first baker’s dozen …
State – Incumbent – Party Expected Result
Alabama – Richard Shelby – R Definite Republican hold
One word, “Yawn”. The Democrat is William Barnes, an attorney. Shelby has around $17 million cash in the bank for his run and will win this easily. Note: Shelby, a former Democrat, voted against TARP, but is an earmark kind of guy.
Alaska – Lisa Murkowski – R Definite Republican hold
Murkowski is a moderate Republican, and therefore she is part of the problem. Along with the block that includes Maine Senators Collins and Snowe and a few others, Murkowski has consistently supported big government items such as TARP, Hate Crimes, a slightly scaled back Cap and Trade scheme, and opposes the repeal of Obama-care. Murkowski is the favorite but has drawn a conservative primary challenge in attorney Joe Miller, who has received both the Tea Party and Palin endorsements. Primary day is August 24th and I have seen no polling on this race, but the Tea Party has been good at pulling its candidates across the primary finish lines (Angle in NV, Paul in KY) so this could be a race. A Miller win would be a Tea Party coop.
Arizona – John McCain – R Likely Republican hold
McCain seems to have grown conservative this year. As the Republican nominee against President Obama, McCain was less than inspiring while supporting bailouts, amnesty, and fighting tax cuts and free speech. But he has apparently had an epiphany of sorts and has found some conservative roots – maybe the audacity of Socialism run rampant, exploding debts, or a primary challenger. Whatever it is we’ll take it. His primary opponent, JD Hayworth, is more conservative socially, but less so when taking government handouts. Hard to believe I’m saying this, but I think John McCain might be the right man for the job here. It will be a competitive primary, but I think he will win it and then cruise to re-election against Democrat Rodney Glassman who hasn’t polled above 42% against either Republican.
California – Barbara Boxer – D Lean Democrat hold
Barbara Boxer is one of the more leftist members of the senate and she isn’t all that well liked by her own supporters. With Carly Fiorina willing to spend ridiculous amounts of her own money, while not seeming to be too threatening of a conservative, this race could go down to the wire. Recent polling shows this race within 5 points and 13% undecided, while Senator Boxer has not polled 50% since January. This is a very real takeover possibility for the GOP, but I’m not holding my breath in California. Hold for the Dems.
Colorado – Michael Bennet – D Lean Republican takeover
Colorado has been trending democrat over the last decade and Bennet has the support of President Obama, but there are signs that the states recent tilt is leaning back the other way. And things got a little more complicated since former President Clinton just did a recent fundraiser for Bennet’s primary challenger, Andrew Romanoff. On the GOP side, former Lt Gov. Jane Norton squares off against Tea Party favorite Ken Buck. Over the last month, Mr. Buck has passed charged past Ms. Norton in most polls and Norton has begun a scorched earth campaign against Buck. Both Republican’s have polled ahead of both Democrats in the general match up, but party unity on both sides could be an issue, especially for the GOP where moderates tend to take their ball home and support leftists after losing primaries. Good news is that both GOPers seem to support Health care repeal. This is a toss-up, but it leans GOP with Ken Buck as the Senator.
Connecticut – Chris Dodd – D (open) Likely Democrat hold
AG Richard Blumenthal (he served in Vietnam … oh yeah, wait … he misspoke and didn’t really serve in Vietnam) has been consistently in the lead since announcing his run, but presumptive GOP nominee Linda McMahon (of WWE fame) has tons of money to spend. The state party endorsement caused Rob Simmons, who had been the frontrunner, to drop out of active campaigning, but stay on the ballot. His non-campaign has also helped his poll numbers. I don’t think McMahon will win here, but if GOP race sorta dropout Rob Simmons wins the primary, it could get close. Either way though, Blumenthal holds this seat for the Dems.
Delaware – Ted Kaufman – D (open) Likely Republican takeover
In this blue state, it would normally be very difficult for a Republican to win, but that is precisely what Mike Castle will do this year. Castle is a moderate, long time winner in the state and against an under funded Democrat in a GOP year, so this won’t be much of a contest. If you have Tea Party tendencies, Senator Castle will make you angry, a lot. However Senator Coons, will always make you angry more often (although you will harbor no hopes for him to do the right thing, dulling the pain a bit) and unfortunately there is little chance for the conservative Christine O’Donnell to win. GOP takeover (with lots of moderation).
Florida – George LeMieux – R (open) Lean Republican hold
Now this is an interesting race. First there was the Rubio/Crist saga in the GOP primary. All the party endorsements went to Crist, but the Republican electorate is in no mood for the establishment this year, so the more conservative Rubio was going to win. However, Gov. Crist dropped out of the primary and decided to run as an independent. After talking about how conservative he was, Crist has little by little become unconservative … changing his mind to support the teacher’s union, taking his pro-life credentials off of his web site, etc. He took his ball and went home just like a typical GOP moderate. And there are Democrats. Kendrick Meek, who is polling far behind everyone, was assumed to have a walk into the general until billionaire Jeff Greene jumped into the race. Too many things are unsettled to know what’s going to happen. However, I do have an opinion. I think that while Crist holds a lead now, the Democrats will not take less than 20% of the total in a three way race as the polls now show. They may not get 30%, but will absolutely go higher than 20%, and much of that increase over 20% will come at the expense of Crist’s Democratic and soft left support. I think that Republican’s who supported Rubio will stay there, and so will some who are disappointed Crist left the party. I also think Crist’s political moves appear to be extremely self-serving and contrived and this is not the year for that. Therefore, lean ever so slightly GOP hold.
Georgia – Johnny Isakson – R Definite Republican hold
Isakson may not be as safe as Shelby of Alabama, but in Georgia, in this year, Democrat Michael Thurmond won’t be competitive.
Hawaii – Daniel Inouye – D Definite Democrat hold
The 85 year old President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Inouye has been in the Senate since 1963. He will win in liberal Hawaii against Republican John Rocco. Definite Democrat hold.
Idaho – Mike Crapo – R Definite Republican hold
Crapo hasn’t been in office as long as Inouye, but the results will be the same. Crapo will easily defeat Democrat Tom Sullivan. Definite GOP hold.
Illinois – Roland Burris – D (open) Lean Republican takeover
Senator Burris was appointed to Barack Obama’s seat in what turned out to be a scandalous affair. The governor is currently going on trial for selling the seat and thusly, Burris agreed to serve only this one partial term. So we are left with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, the owner of an Illinois based bank that is scandal tainted (they call him the mob banker) and Republican Mark Kirk (who like Blumenthal of Connecticut served in combat, but yeah, um didn’t really serve in combat). The Kirk scandal isn’t as bad as Giannoulias’ and the Democratic Party’s scandals, but Kirk is a Republican in a Democratic state, so the degree of scandal is probably a wash (People tend to forgive their own easier than someone else’s). Add to the mix a Green Party candidate in LeAlan Jones who is polling around 14%, and even though he probably won’t get that kind of support in the actual election, will potentially pull enough support from the Democrat to push Kirk across the finish line. Lean GOP takeover.
Indiana – Evan Bayh – D (open) Likely Republican takeover
Bayh resigned what was a more or less safe seat for him in Indiana due to the polarization of the Senate. So the state is left with former Senator, liberal Republican Dan Coats and conservative Democrat Brad Ellsworth. Coats will be moderate on social issues and spending issues, like earmarks, and will probably vote conservative on hot button issues, although his campaign claims he will be in favor of getting spending under control. Ellsworth is better on gun issues, but voted for Obama-care. Enough said. This Republican state will elect Dan Coats to the senate again. Likely GOP takeover.
The first 13 US Senate races start the cycle with a 7 to 6 edge for the Democrats. I see these seats starting the next Congress with a 10 to 3 Republican edge, including the takeover of President Obama’s and VP Biden’s seats. Overall, a +4 for the GOP and +2 (maybe Miller also for +3) for Tea Party types.