Thursday, March 15, 2012

Control of the Senate: Virginia and Nevada

According to RCP analysis, control of the Senate--right now--is up for grabs. RCP shows the Republicans having or taking 46 seats, the Democrats having or taking 45 seats, with 9 seats up for grabs. Those nine seats:
FL: Nelson (D)
ME: Open (R)
MA: Brown (R)
MI: Stabenow (D)
MO: McCaskill (D)
MT: Tester (D)
NV: Heller (R)
VA: Open (D)
WI: Open (D)
The Florida contest will likely pit incumbent Bill Nelson against Republican Connie Mack IV. This contest is likely to remain close, but I have to think Nelson has a bit of an edge, given his willingness to break with the national leadership, when necessary. And honestly, being a Florida resident, I can't say Nelson has been an awful Senator. Still, Mack has the support to take the seat, if things break the right way.

In Maine, Olympia Snowe's retirement is--in my opinion--good and bad news for conservative-minded folks like me. I'm not sorry to see her go, but I fear the seat will end up going to the Democrats. That's just my gut feeling. Right now, we don't have much to go on so it really is a toss-up.

In Massachusetts, Scott Brown had been looking vulnerable, but recent polling data suggests he's gaining traction. His opponent--Democrat Elizabeth Warren--attracts hard-core progressives and liberals, but comes across as a little too extreme for more moderate voters. I think Brown will end up winning reelection.

The Michigan race--pitting incumbent Debbie Stabenow against a to-be-decided Republican--doesn't appear to be much of a toss-up to me. Most polls show Stabenow out in front of any potential challenger and I don't think there's much hope of changing the overall dynamics in the State. So, I'd have to put this one in the Democrat column.

It's a different story in Missouri, where Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill really is vulnerable. All three potential Republican nominees poll well against her, with the likely choice--Sarah Steelman--doing the best of the three. I think McCaskill's time in the Senate is coming to an end.

In Montana, I have to admit a complete lack of familiarity with the incumbent, Jonh Tester, or the Republican challenger, Denny Rehberg. But polling shows them neck and neck, with Rehberg up a few points in most polls.  Rehberg is a seasoned politician in Montana, having served as Lt. Governor and currently serving as a Representative and--in 1996--ran a tough campaign against Max Baucus for the latter's Senate seat. I think Tester will have a hard time keeping his seat.

The Nevada race will likely pit incumbent Dean Heller (appointed to replace John Ensign) against Democrat--and current U.S. Representative--Shelley Berkley. This looks like a ground war. The polls show a close race and I think this is a true toss-up. Berkley--like Nelson in Florida--can appeal to a wide range of voters. And she has the advantage of being the Representative from Las Vegas, proper, and a very popular one at that.

In Virginia, the race for Jim Webb's vacated seat involves two seasoned political heavyweights: Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen. Both are former Governors of the State and both were popular during their tenures. The race--more than any others in my opinion--will be about the current President and his policies. It too is a true toss-up.

Finally, there is Wisconsin. The race there is for Democrat Herb Kohl's soon-to-be vacated seat. Really, this is a race that--a few years ago--should have been a stone cold lock for the Democrats. Now, it it nothing of the sort. Though Paul Ryan declined to enter the race, his popularity will--if he assists the Republican candidate--pay a large part, as will the overall standing of Governor Scott Walker. Democrat Tammy Baldwin is strong candidate, but will she be strong enough? If her opponent is Tommy Thompson, she faces an uphill battle. I don't really see this one as a toss-up, at all.

So by my count, of the 9 RCP-designated toss-ups, I have 2 in the Democrat column (Florida, Michigan), 4 in the Republican column (Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Wisconsin), and 3 true toss-ups (Maine, Nevada, Virginia). That gives the Democrats 47 seats and the Republicans 50 seats, with 3 left in the lurch. So control of the Senate--by my reckoning--will hinge on those three. Allowing that Maine might very well fall to the Democrats, once we have more information, that leaves Nevada and Virginia.

Here's a couple of questions: who won the Republican primaries in those two States this year? By how much? How important is it to get control of the Senate for Republicans?

Food for thought.

Cheers, all.

1 comment:

  1. We seriously need to get shed of Claire.

    Here in Columbia, home of "Our Flagship University", they recently built a parking garage downtown. Stay with me here.

    It looks nothing like the original plans, we can't afford it, don't use it and it is just dog ugly. In it's first few weeks, it attracted "jumpers" - candidates for suicide looking for a good place to make the obituary page. But over time, people just become used to seeing it, and the "skyline" just wouldn't be the same without it.

    I call it The Claire.