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Race by Race Senate Analysis – Part 3 of 3

July 8, 2010

I hope everyone was able to contain themselves and wait for the highly anticipated third addition of the Wild Citizen Senate predictions.  I hope you have as much fun reading them as I did writing them!

North Dakota – Byron Dorgan – D (open)                        Definite Republican takeover

With the retirement of Senator Dorgan, popular Governor John Hoeven steps in as the Republican nominee and will easily beat Democrat Tracy Porter in this match-up.  There is not a political observer in the country that doesn’t rate this as a definite GOP takeover.

Ohio – George Voinovich – R (open)                                   Leans Republican hold

Another open seat, but this race looks like it will be tight all the way until Election Day.  Democrat Lt. Governor Lee Fisher is running against former US Rep and Bush Budget Director Rob Portman.  This race for Fisher has basically been about tying Portman to the unpopular policies of George Bush, which caused Ohio to turn from its usual ‘Lean Conservative’ state to a ‘Lean Democrat’ state for two election cycles.  For Portman, it’s about tying Fisher to the current administration and continuing high unemployment.  Ohio is one of the hardest hit states in the country by unemployment.  Due to that factor and the fact that I think Ohio’s recent left turn is temporary, Portman will win bigger than most people will predict.  For now, I’ll call it lean GOP.

Oklahoma – Tom Coburn – R                                            Definite Republican hold

Senator Coburn is one of the stalwarts of the side of smaller government and in 2010, the term limited Democrat Governor, Brad Henry is taking a pass on challenging.  The losing Democratic candidate will be either Mark Myles or Jim Rogers. Definite GOP.

Oregon – Ron Wyden – D                                                     Definite Democratic hold

Senator Wyden is popular in Oregon and so should not have much of a problem against Republican Law Professor Jim Huffman in the fall.  However, this year there is a very competitive governor race and a lot of unhappiness with politicians in general, so Wyden could have a race on his hands.  Recent polling shows this as close as 10 points.  I think Wyden will pull away in the end, but more polling like that and I will have to revise this to Likely hold.  Stranger things have happened, but not this time.  Definite Democrat hold.

Pennsylvania – Arlen Specter – D (open)                        Leans Republican takeover

Well, the Democrats did what the Republicans should have done six years ago and unloaded self-serving ‘Scottish Law’ Senator Arlen Specter.  It’s about time.  This race features conservative Republican Pat Toomey versus extremely liberal Democrat Joe Sestak in a true contest of polar opposite ideologies.  Sestak has taken a position that most of President Obama’s left wing agenda doesn’t go far enough and Toomey believes that most of it should be repealed.  The debates should be fun to watch as they both talk policy and not personality (at least for those of us who are issues geeks).  Sestak will fire up the liberal base and in a midterm with a Democrat voter edge of 1.2 million in the state, which could put hi over the top.  But this year, I think people will actually listen to the issues and Pat Toomey will win in a close one.  Lean GOP takeover.

South Carolina – Jim DeMint – R                                    Definite Republican hold

Conservative leader Jim DeMint should have an easy re-election against accused felon Alvin Greene this fall.  In fact, no one really knows how Alvin Greene became the nominee against the establishment Democrat, but he did.  However, Alvin Greene does have an ace in the hole and that is his job creation plan to make action figures of himself, you know, for the children for Christmas.

If Alvin Greene’s “outside the box” ideas take off and reduce South Carolina’s high unemployment rate, he could make this a race.  Otherwise, definite GOP hold.

South Dakota – John Thune – R                                       Definite Republican hold

This is the safest seat in the country since Senator Thune does not have an opponent.  Definite GOP hold.

Utah – Bob Bennett – R (open)                                           Definite Republican hold

Senator Bennett retired this year against his wishes as the state party convention voted to not include him on the ballot, so conservative Republican primary winner, Mike Lee will face off against Democrat, Sam Granato.  Mike Lee was supported by Jim DeMint, so if elected, he should be a good small government Senator. And since this is Utah, he will. Definite GOP hold.

Vermont – Patrick Leahy – D                                            Definite Democrat hold

Dead Head Senator Patrick Leahy will face Republican Len Britton and a couple of Independents, including Marijuana Party candidate, Cris Ericson, in the fall.  He also faces Socialist Peter Diamondstone, who has suggested secession for Vermont.  It’s too bad that this won’t be a close, multi-party election since the debates would be awesome to watch.  Definite Democrat hold.

Washington – Patty Murray – D                                     Leans Democratic hold

Now on his third try for statewide office, Republican Dino Rossi will challenge Senator Murray to go to Washington.  He narrowly missed being governor six years ago, thanks to some ‘issues’ in Democratic stronghold King County, and then lost a rematch four years later.  The latest polling shows this race to be a dead heat initially, so Rossi has a shot to beat three term incumbent Murray.  But according to my memory, Murray is considered vulnerable every election cycle and ends up pulling away at the end and winning comfortably.  I don’t think her win will be comfortable this time, but I also don’t think the third time will be a charm for Mr. Rossi.  Lean Democrat hold.

Wisconsin – Russ Feingold – D                                         Leans Republican takeover

Senator Feingold has been an independent liberal for as long as he has been in the Senate.  Feingold dodged a bullet (at least according to the media) when former four term governor Tommy Thompson declined to challenge him.  But that may have actually been bad for Senator Feingold.  Republican Ron Johnson is relatively unknown and is still polling statistically even with the sitting senator, whereas Thompson was polling just slightly better, but still statistically even.  But Thompson is well known and easily defined, while Johnson has the opportunity to define himself and create more upside.  He could also be defined the other way.  But in an anti-politician year, Johnson may have the advantage in a very evenly divided state like Wisconsin, a conservative state offset by Madison and Milwaukee.  Remember, George Bush only lost it by a little over 10,000 votes in 2004.  I’m out on a limb here, but I think this leans Republican takeover.

West Virginia – Robert Byrd – D (open)                        Leans Republican takeover

With the passing of Senate institution Robert Byrd, West Virginia is left without a Senator until the law is confirmed and Governor Joe Manchin appoints someone for the spot.  In the meantime, it is not known if the law that will push the special election into 2012 will be changed to allow for a special election in 2010.  Either way, it seems that the candidates will be the same, Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Governor Joe Manchin.  Cynically, I think it depends on when Manchin thinks he will have a better shot at winning.  West Virginia loves its Democrats in the state, but not as president.  I think that dislike of Democrat president will continue down ballot in rightward moving West Virginia, especially since Cap and Trade policies are hugely unpopular in the state.  Manchin has said that he will appoint a senator that opposes Cap and Trade, as he does, but I think the future of West Virginia politics is Republican.  Leans Republican takeover.

The third set of 12 US Senate races start the cycle with a 7 to 5 edge for the Democrats.  If the West Virginia seat goes up for election in 2010, this group of seats will end up 9 to 3 in favor of the Republicans after Election Day.  Overall, another +4 for the GOP and +3 for Tea Party types (Mike Lee wasn’t officially supported by the Tea Party, but should vote like one).

When you combine the three sets of Senate predictions, the math adds up to a 10 seat gain for the Republicans.  Most other pollsters and pundits are calling for between a 4 and 8 seat gain for the GOP, with the possibility of going over 10.  I think they just don’t want to go out on a limb, but the polling and economic conditions are very unfavorable to the incumbents in charge of the government – Democrats – regardless of whether they deserve it or not, just like the Republicans got tossed in the previous two election regardless of whether they deserved it or not.  Make no mistake, this is a wave election, and with people able to access so much more information in an “I want it now” culture, there is little patience for politicians, who most people agree, are in public service to serve themselves.  When this flood subsides, the Senate will be left with a 51 – 47 – 2 edge for Republicans (both independents caucus with the Democrats making the edge 51 to 49 for the GOP in reality), and I think Jim DeMint will displace Mitch McConnell and become Majority Leader (I’m entitled to a little wishful thinking here).  I also think that there could be a party switcher in there, specifically Ben Nelson of Nebraska who will be facing the race of his life in 2012 in conservative Nebraska.  Joe Lieberman could also switch his caucusing allegiance to the GOP in order to provide extra clout for Connecticut going into his 2012 election.  That would leave the GOP with a 53 to 47 control edge in the Senate, and going into 2012 where the Republicans are only defending 10 seats to 23, is a 60 seat majority in the works here?  2012 will also include a couple 2010 rehashes with Gillibrand in New York and Scott Brown in Massachusetts going for full terms of their own.

Gosh, I love this stuff!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2010 12:55 am

    Hi! You have no foresight because if the pot heads get offa the couch and help out, then United States Marijuana Party candidate Cris Ericson can win!

    Think about it, now that the U.S. Supreme Court Opinion of 2010 has ruled that Corporations are Persons and can promote campaigns.

    Now, think about all of the California Corporations selling medical marijuana under their state law which/who would like medical marijuana to be legalized under Federal Law.

    How many California Corporations would it take to put Cris Ericson WAY AHEAD
    of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy?

    And how about a motivated Corporate/Person from California who could/would create a Reality T.V. show following Cris Ericson’s campaign trail?
    Goodness knows she is fantastically more fun that old Leahy! Cris Ericson

  2. wildjim permalink*
    July 8, 2010 3:48 am

    While unfortunate, my foresight tells me that the pot heads will probably not get off the couch and help out. But if they did it to help you with your campaign, I think it would be awesome. People should be involved in causes that they cherish and informed enough to make an intelligent stand. That’s why we’re here, on line. We want the people in charge of their own lives, and it seems daily, we move further from that.

    I agree that the federal illegality of medical marijuana is kind of nuts. I think it’s a perception problem, pandering, if I may. It is controversial, and politicians like to avoid that stuff. Morphine and oxycontin are legal for medical use and far more addictive and devastating to people and families than marijuana, especially as used for medical purposes.

    I would also agree that you are probably much more fun than Senator Leahy. He is rather codgery and for a former Dead Head, that is disappointing. Truthfully, it would be a beautiful thing to see a six or seven term incumbent such as Mr. Leahy defeated for re-election (even if it was the secessionist) and would definitely be a step in the right direction to restoring ”the people” to their rightful place at the top of the food chain in the government.

    It would truly be fun to cover a multi person race in Vermont. I will be watching those poll numbers to see you cutting into the Leahy lead! And I would be happy to change the race designation from Definite Democratic hold.

    We will also be watching for that reality show!

    Good luck to your campaign.

  3. July 19, 2010 7:15 am

    Wow now thats perspective! I think we often react in agreement or disagreement because of our emotions, but hearing another side, passionately presented, really makes us think!


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