Will The Senate GOP Find The Electoral Floor?
Now that the debates are over, the final financial data is in, and polls are taking a measure of public support for the candidates, what is increasingly clear is the Senate GOP is in serious trouble. If things don’t break their way soon, they may not even win the salvagable races rated competitive. They could find themselves at or under 40, depending on Lieberman. Unlikely, but we’ll see. Check below the fold for my rankings. Remember – these are in order of likely to vote for the Democrat.
19. Kansas (Roberts vs. Slattery) – Safe Republican
18. Idaho (Risch vs. LaRocco) – Safe Republican
These two keep popping up at the bottom of my rankings, no matter how I tweak the formulae. Too bad, too, for it would be fun to see a ruby red state turn a little pink.
17. Nebraska (Johanns vs. Kleeb) – Safe Republican
Kleeb is a strong candidate, but it might just not be his time. Polling is scarce, so I’m guessing that’s not a good sign (otherwise they’d be releasing results to change perception on this race). He had some potential, but it just didn’t gel right.
16. Oklahoma (Inhofe vs. Rice) – Likely Republican
Rice is keeping the race close – most polls now give him support in the low-40s. Unfortunately, I don’t know if he can do much better than that, although he has the resources, the ads, and the unlikeable opponent, to keep inching upwards.
15. Texas (Cornyn vs. Noriega) – Likely Republican
Texas is just too expensive a state to make this a viable one for third-party ads. Doesn’t rule out the prospect of an upset, but unless Obama starts throwing his money around for the fun of it, I don’t see the upset being anything but about beating expectations on the popular vote margin.
14. Maine (Collins vs. Allen) – Lean Republican
Collins has been spending her warchest away like her seat depends on it, even though polls don’t suggest she’s in that much trouble. Her big worry must then be that Obama’s looming landslide in the state could have coattails. That’s probably the only way she loses, though.
13. Kentucky (McConnell vs. Lunsford) – Lean Republican
Likewise, Obama’s lack of an obvious coattail effect in Kentucky may be what saves McConnell’s sinking ship. Still won’t stop the chatter in DC about “life after Mitch”, so this is a race to watch, especially if the DSCC spends to win like they mean it..
12. Mississippi (Wicker vs. Musgrove) – Lean Republican
Everything’s quite in this state. A lot will depend on whether Obama keeps his national numbers high enough to enable a favorable turnout environment for Musgrove. Throw in the wildcard of no party affiliations being listed on the ballot, and you’ve got a state to watch.
11. Georgia (Chambliss vs. Martin) – Lean Republican
Saxby Chambliss never really expected a fight in Georgia, and neither did the DSCC. So when the financial meltdown melted Saxby’s poll ratings, it sent both sides scrambling to put their A-games in place. This could be down to the wire, or it may just be the next state to slip away from the Republicans (see below).
10. Minnesota (Coleman vs. Franken) – Tossup (Tilt Democrat)
Coleman has abandoned his attack ads and tried for a Hail-Mary prayer – by pretending he is innocent of negative attacks. Now we know why – his numbers have cratered as Obama’s been solidifying his lead in the state. This race still has an unpredictable third-party candidate, but Al Franken may be peaking at the right moment.
9. North Carolina (Dole vs. Hagan) – Lean Democrat
Liddy Dole hasn’t fallen too far in the rankings, but her ratings continue to drop. She’s lost the lead in the polls, and doesn’t have a financial advantage. Her saving grace is that McCain needs to be here a lot to save his own electoral hide, but it’s increasingly not enough. This state just seems ready to retire Liddy Dole.
8. Alaska (Stevens vs. Begich) – Lean Democratic
The main question here is whether we’ll know the outcome of the Stevens trial before the election – which is just 15 days away. We might, and the outcome could very well determine if Begich can hold on to his tiny lead.
7. Oregon (Smith vs. Merkely) – Lean Democratic
Oregon is no longer a battleground for McCain, and Smith is fighting off allegations regarding illegal immigration while demoralizing his base with his repetitve attempts to bear-hug more popular Democrats. The blood is in the water, and I think Smith’s going to have a hard time coming back from this.
6. New Hampshire (Sununu vs. Shaheen) – Lean Democrat
Shaheen has rarely lost the lead in this state, and the drift of the presidential election suggests no McCain coattails for Sununu. And now Sununu’s cash edge is all but gone. What’s left? Oh yeah, Shaheen’s revenge for 2002.
5. Colorado (Schaffer vs. Udall) – Lean Democrat
Is the NRSC in or out? The fact that it was being debated shows that Mark Udall has finally developed a significant edge in the race.
4. New Jersey (Zimmer vs. Lautenberg) – Likely Democrat
Lautenberg is very old and has spent his money already, but he can self-fund. And New Jersey may hate its politicians, but it seems to hate Republicans even more.
4. Louisiana (Kennedy vs. Landrieu) – Safe Democrat
The NRSC only moved back into the state because Senator Vitter and Karl Rove raised hell. Their heart isn’t in it, and we don’t really believe this race is close. We rate is “safe” by the narrowest margins, largely on Landrieu’s cash advantage and lack of contradictory polling.
2. New Mexico (Pearce vs. Udall) – Safe Democrat
Tom Udall is the next Senator from New Mexico. The question is where his and Obama’s coattails are large enough to win an all-Democrat House delegate for the Land of Enchantment. It’s quite possible.
1. Virginia (Gilmore vs. Warner) – Safe Democrat
Mark Warner has already shifted gears toward helping Obama win the state’s electoral votes and help elect more House Democrats. That pretty much sums it up here.