Senate Projection – 4 months out
This is the first edition of my monthly “Senate Projections”, a ranking of races as I see them shaking out. Most election analysts like to be uber-cautious, even when they allow for changes and tinkerings over the election cycle – they’d rather say something is “toss-up” or “safe” than to given any inkling of a competitive/lean nature in a race. So I’m doing my own rankings, based on polling and fundraising potential and the general Democratic tilt to this year’s political landscape.
Here is the July 1st rankings of the U.S. Senate races:
REPUBLICANS NOT UP FOR RE-ELECTION (26)
SAFE REPUBLICAN (8)
Ala. (Sessions), Ga. (Chambliss), Tenn. (Alexander), Idaho (Craig), MS-A (Cochran), S.C. (Graham), WY-A (Enzi), WY-B (Barasso)
LIKELY REPUBLICAN (3)
Neb. (Hagel), Ok. (Inhofe), Texas (Cornyn)
LEAN REPUBLICAN (5)
Kan. (Roberts), Ky. (McConnell), Minn. (Coleman), Maine (Collins), N.C. (Dole)
Alaska (Stevens), Ore. (Smith), MS-B (Wicker)
LEAN DEMOCRAT (3)
Col. (Udall), La. (Landrieu), N.H. (Shaheen)
LIKELY DEMOCRAT (3)
N.J. (Lautenberg), N.M. (Udall), Va. (Warner)
SAFE DEMOCRAT (10)
Ark. (Pryor), Del. (Biden), Iowa (Harkin), Ill. (Durbin), Mass. (Kerry), Mich. (Levin), Mont. (Baucus), R.I. (Reed), S.D. (Johnson), W.Va. (Rockefeller)
DEMOCRATS NOT UP FOR RE-ELECTION (37)
INDEPENDENTS NOT UP FOR RE-ELECTION (2)
That’s 16-16 with 3 races pure toss-ups. It’s a minimum 4-seat pickup for the Democrats with 8 more in theoretical reach. So the minimum I’m projecting is 53 Dems, 42 Republicans, 2 Independents aligned with the Dems (Lieberman and Sanders), and 3 tossups.
For the “Likely Democrat” category, Latenberg is included because of his low approval ratings, and Colorado and Virginia are included because the Democrats listed are ahead by margins in excess of 20 points. “Lean Democrat” includes 2 take-overs where the Democrat is ahead by around 10 points but not consistently over that amount or over 50; Landrieu is included because I am not yet convinced that Louisiana hasn’t lost a lot of Democrats over Katrina, and she has a credible and well-funded party-switcher for a challenger.
All three toss-up states are states where the Democrat is in a tied-race in public polling. All three could be nudged to the Republican in a normal and even landscape, but 2008 is not shaping up to be pro-incumbent or political neutral. I can see Alaska shifting to the Democrats in August if Stevens survives his primary (which I suspect his colleague, Don Young, won’t).
All of the “Lean Republican” races are incumbents who lead by single-digits in the polls and/or have very wealthy challengers. Minnesota has been trending away from Democrats due to personal scandal and Maine towards them due to the Iraq War, with Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina being surprisingly close for a while.
The “Likely Republican” races have 3 candidates that are well-known to the Netroots and all 3 face Republican incumbents who are not particularly popular in their red states. If any of the 3 gain traction in the fall, it might be because they are cheap to run advertising in, and the DSCC has loads of money to spend this time around.
I am less bullish than CQ on Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, simply because those states are the heart of the Appalachian Deep South that I just don’t see being in play for Obama, much less than B-list challenger we have in those races.
Agree? Disagree? Let me have it in the comments.