Sunday, February 28, 2010

2010 Elections: Update (Senate)

There have been a few changes since my last analysis, posted just after the Massachusetts disaster.

Sen. Evan Bayh has pulled out; good riddance to faint hearts, one would say, but it does mean the likely loss of a seat for the Democrats. Due to the timing of Bayh's pullout, Ex-Evansville-Sheriff Representative Ellsworth (EESREW) will win the Democratic nomination in a backroom deal, which won't help him. He's even more of a DINO than Bayh, he will give up a defensible House seat (which will then be lost), and he probably won't win the general election. So, all around, another disaster.

We will get a bit more "granular" now on the Senate outlook, as revised. The starting point is that 64 of the 100 senators don't have to run in November. Their party makeup is: 39 Democrats, 23 Republicans, and independents Bernie Sanders (who counts as a Democrat, for most purposes) and Joe Lieberman (who doesn't, regardless of whether he is continued to stay in the Democratic caucus--I could see some reasons to do it, to try to appease him, but would argue against it). The minimally acceptable target is 50 Democrats (with Biden to break ties if necessary), so by my count the Democrats need win a minimum of 10 races of the 36 out there. Not so bad, really, though I would say that 52-53 are really required, so that Ben Nelson or some future Ben Nelson can't hold the body hostage.

The following 5 races are safe for Democrats, by all accounts: Hawaii (Inouye), Oregon (Wyden), New York (Schumer), Maryland (Mikulski), and Vermont (Leahy).

The following 6 races are very likely holds for the Democrats: Wisconsin (Feingold), Washington (Murray), New York (Gillibrand, or another Democrat if she can't win the primary), California (Boxer), and the open, previously-Democrat-held seats in Illinois (Giannoulis, now pulling ahead in a very blue state), and Connecticut (Blumenthal, now that vulnerable Dodd has pulled out).

Then there are these six tossup states, ones where the Democrats have chances that are clearly salvageable: Nevada (Majority Leader Reid's re-election, probably the marquee race of the year), Pennsylvania (recent Democratic convert Arlen Specter's re-election, or the election of Rep. Joe Sestak if he defeats Specter in the primary), Michael Bennet of Colorado (or a different Democrat, if he doesn't win his primary), New Hampshire (the seat being vacated by Republican Judd Gregg), Ohio (the seat being vacated by Republican George Voinovich), and Missouri (the seat being vacated by Christopher Bond).

Given this assessment, my strategy is as follows:
1) As I have threatened, I will not give to the DSCC unless there is a recorded vote on the public option;
2) I will watch closely the 11 safe or very likely Democratic wins above and may make tactical contributions if one or two of those seem in danger;
3) I would like to see some successes in some of the tossups, which will determine the perception of whether the Senate results are disastrous or only mildly unfavorable (though again, control of the Senate should not be at stake in them);
3a) I am particularly receptive to the idea of support for loyal lieutenant Reid, Good Neighbor Bennet, the very impressive Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, and Hodes in New Hampshire.

We'll see about Missouri--about which I'm always pessimistic--and Ohio (the Democratic candidates haven't yet caught my interest, though the state remains interesting), along with Florida, if a three-way race emerges.

In the short run, I'm only giving to Bennet.

*I consider the following races to be lost causes at this point:
the near-certain re-elections of Republican incumbents Crapo (Idaho), Thune (S.Dakota), Bennett of Utah, Murkowski (Alaska), Vitter (Louisiana--and shame on the voters there!), Isakson (Georgia), Grassley (Iowa), DeMint (S. Carolina), Coburn (Oklahoma) and Shelby (Alabama)--10 in all;
the very likely holds of North Carolina (Burr) and Arizona (McCain, or in the unlikely event he loses his primary, Hayward), Kentucky (the open seat of Jim Bunning, whether it's the mainstream Republican or Ron Paul's son Rand), Florida (the open seat formerly of Mel Martinez, unless Charlie Crist breaks from the Republicans and runs as an independent, which will create a whole new scenario), and Kansas (an open seat, whoever the Republicans run)--five more;
and four likely-to-certain losses of seats by the Democrats in Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln, or her primary election conqueror), the aforementioned Indiana, North Dakota (due to the pullout by the irreplaceable Kent Conrad), and Delaware (due to the pullout of the heir apparent, Joe Biden's son Beau).
This would put the Republicans at 42 seats, without the six tossups listed above.

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