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Senate Elections – Taking Another Look, Part II

September 7, 2010
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It’s nearly Labor Day, just the time when most non-political junkies begin to pay attention to politics (us addicts have been watching these races since Barack Obama became President-elect.  Anyway, you’ve been waiting, so here’s Part 2 of the revised Senate analysis …

Roy Blunt

Missouri

 – According to most pundits, Roy Blunt and Robin Carnahan were headed for a close election.  I never believed that this would be all that close and the latest polling from Rasmussen shows Blunt up 13.  Most other firms show Blunt with a 6 or 7 point lead.  The Carnahan campaign is trying to paint Blunt with a very broad corruption brush, but don’t seem to want to present anything besides allegations.  I just don’t think that broad and vague corruption charges will stick much this year when unemployment is at 10% and the Dems are in charge.  This is a win for the GOP.   Roy Blunt – R Hold

NevadaThis race has improved greatly for the embattled Majority Leader.  Harry Reid has been effective at painting Angle as unacceptable thus far.  As a result the polls all teetered to Reid during August.  But how will they totter?  I’m going to stick with Angle for now because people still don’t like Harry Reid.  But another month of Reid polling near 50%, and this Wild Citizen is going to have to change that call.  Sharron Angle – R Takeover

New HampshireAt this time, it looks like Kelly Ayotte will win the primary and the general.  But Ovide Lamontagne is closing with a number of undecideds in the primary, while Bill Binnie is fading.  As far as the Democratic opponent, Paul Hodes is concerned, I haven’t seen him poll above 42 or 43% against either Ayotte or Lamontagne.  And now Ayotte has gotten another conservative endorsement in Tom Coburn.  I still don’t count out Lamontagne.  Kelly Ayotte – R Hold

New York – Senator Chuck Schumer is facing … wait, I’ve got it here somewhere … ah … he’s facing … umm … Gary Berntsen or Jay Townsend, depending on the Sept. 14th primary.  Schumer leads by roughly 30 against either.  Chuck Schumer – D Hold

New York (Special) – This is one of the few blown opportunities for the GOP.  Both former Gov. Pataki and Rudy Giuliani both toyed with entering the race for a long time and then both backed out.  Now Gillibrand is facing the much weaker Joe DioGuardi, David Malpass, or Bruce Blakeman, depending on the Sept. 14th primary.  Of course – unlike Schumer – Gillibrand’s lead is only about 20 in each poll.  Kirstin Gillibrand – D Hold

North CarolinaSenator Richard Burr has been considered a hard working, but low profile Senator.  Unfortunately for a Senator whose job requires a “Look at me” attitude for re-election, that keeps most people from forming much of an opinion and can lead to being defined easily.  But to repeat, it’s 2010 and Elaine Marshall will not defeat Burr in this atmosphere.  Richard Burr – R Hold

North DakotaThe smallest lead that John Hoeven has had over Tracy Potter is 43 points from a March poll.  John Hoeven – R Takeover

OhioThis race has definitively moved to the GOP over the last month.  Fisher hasn’t been able to catch on with most of the electorate and doesn’t have anywhere near the resources to take on Rob Portman.  The people of Ohio are angry and the Democrats are going to get creamed here.  Rob Portman – R Hold

OklahomaConservative Tom Coburn is popular in Oklahoma and will be safe in this election against Jim Rogers.  Tom Coburn – R Hold

OregonSenator Ron Wyden is likely to defeat Republican Jim Huffman, but polls have shown Wyden close to the danger zone of 50%.  In an odd twist, Wyden recently came out in support of Oregon withdrawing from the Health Care legislation he helped pass back in March and is working to move up opt out dates to 2014.  His reason seems to be to push Oregon into single payer sooner than other states.  This is a race that could get closer.  Ron Wyden – D Hold

Pat Toomey

Pennsylvania

– Pennsylvania is a lot like Ohio.  People are angry, there are many competitive races and the GOP candidate, Pat Toomey, is opening a lead on the Democrat Joe Sestak.  Yes, Sestak closed fast on Arlen Specter, but Specter turned into a blatant political animal after his party switch, and 2010 is certainly not the year for self-serving politicians.  Pat Toomey – R Takeover

South Carolina Conservative leader Jim DeMint could not possibly lose this.  Alvin Greene is a nightmare for the Dems.  Jim DeMint – R Hold

South DakotaThune is unopposed and considering a Presidential run.  John Thune – R Hold

UtahVery conservative Mike Lee took out the mostly conservative Bob Bennett and will keep this seat in GOP hands for some time.  Mike Lee – R Hold

VermontSenator Patrick Leahy should have an easy time versus Len Britton.  Patrick Leahy – D Hold

WashingtonThe mom in tennis shoes, Patty Murray is facing a race in a bad Democrat environment for the first time.  Normally, she is considered vulnerable, but later shores up her support, and wins comfortably.  This year she faces Dino Rossi, who after 2 statewide races has high name recognition and is still seemingly acceptable to Washington voters.  So acceptable that in fact in the 2 most recent polls, he has been in the lead.  Dino Rossi – R Takeover

West VirginiaThis is the accidental race caused by the death of Robert Byrd.  Joe Manchin and the Legislature decided to have the special in 2010 to allow Manchin to run while his personal popularity is still high.  John Raese, who lost to Byrd by 30 points in 2006, is the GOP nominee.  This could come down to the wire as the latest poll shows this to be a 6 point race to begin.  But with a popular governor under 50% in 2010, things look very bleak for Democrats in West Virginia like everywhere else.  Raese has a better chance than Scott Brown did in Massachusetts and West Virginia just wants to turn Republican.  John Raese – R Takeover

Feingold/Johnson

Wisconsin

– Here’s another Senator who is usually considered vulnerable, then turns safe.  And like Murray in Washington, Feingold is in serious trouble.  Nearly every poll since May has shown Feingold at 45 or 46%, the only exception was a U. of Wisconsin poll showing him leading at 33% with tons of undecideds.  Being consistently at 45 or 46 spell big trouble for the Senator, especially with all recent polls having him down 1 or 2 to Johnson.  Ron Johnson – R Takeover 

Like in the Part 1 analysis, most of these races have been pretty stable since the last time we looked at them.  Nevada is getting away from the Republicans, but it hasn’t gotten just yet, and I’m quite sure that Delaware will go to the Democrats if Christine O’Donnell wins the primary against Mike Castle.  Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania Republicans have all put a little distance between them and their Democratic opponents.  And we’ve changed Washington to a Republican takeover.  All in all, these 37 senate races are much the way they looked in July, with some additional clarity and others just a little more murky.  The Republicans are poised to gain 6 seats among these 18, for a 14 to 4 GOP advantage.  Overall, that changes these 37 seats from 19 to 18 Democrat to 29 to 8 Republican, a gain of 11 and control to the Republicans.  Add, the impending Ben Nelson post (or pre?) election party switch, and you’re left with a 53 to 45 to 2 balance in the US Senate.  And we are still watching Connecticut and California because it is definitely not out of the realm of possibility for those to flip to the GOP as well.  Right now, there are only 5 states that have safe Democratic seats: New York (2), Vermont, Oregon, Hawaii, and Maryland.  Could those teeter as well?  A brutal cycle for Democrats in the Senate for certain.

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