Thursday, October 28, 2010

Races Democrats CAN Feel Optimistic About

 Go to any political website. Look in any politics section of the newspaper. Talk to any political analyst (including this one.) What do they tell you about the upcoming midterm election? They tell you that the Democrats will have a horrible night, they will lose the House, possibly lose 50 seats (that's the median for many projections now,) and almost lose the entire Senate. The Republicans also look to pick up numerous Gubernatorial races. Although I have seen people suggest that 2012 will be a good Democratic year, I am not looking too far ahead right now. Anyway, looking two years ahead in politics is like looking 200 years ahead into the future. Anyway, you probably see my diary title about Democrats having races to feel happy about. For the reasons I just listed about them losing the House and having a slim Senate majority, how can they be happy? Well, this post is about races where the Democrats can feel optimistic because although we ARE losing many seats, we are looking to pick up a few too. The Senate offers no pickup opportunities though except for Kentucky but most polls have shown Rand Paul (R) leading in the high single digits after Jack Conway's (D) ad criticizing Rand Paul's religion backfired. The Democrats are looking to pick up some Governorships and even a few House seats. I will start with the list of Governorships the Democrats have a strong chance at picking up, then I will go to the House seats:

California: Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is retiring and former Governor Jerry Brown (D) is leading former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R). Brown's campaigning in September and October was extremely skilled, making up for lost ground over the summer. He defeated Whitman in the debates. Then the housekeeper scandal surfaced and many voters viewed Whitman as mean while her strategy was to be friendly. Brown's closing arguments are even stronger, with an ad highlighting Whitman's similarities to Schwarzenegger and another ad saying how even Whitman admits Jerry Brown did well as Governor. A recent PPP poll showed Brown leading by nine points. That sounds right to me.

Connecticut: Jodi Rell (R) was one of the most popular Govenors in the nation but she is retiring. It is a Repulican year but Connecticut is still a Democratic state. Former Stamford mayor Dan Malloy (D) is leading against businessman Tom Foley (R). Malloy won a primary against rich Ned Lamont (D) who challenged Benedict Arnold Joe Lieberman (I) in the primary in 2006 but lost the Senate race to him. Foley is not a bad campaigner but most polls show Malloy with a 5-7 point lead.

Florida: Charlie Crist (I) left the Governorship and ran for Senate. Both races looked competitive at first but Republicans have the lead in the Senate race. They were not able to seal the deal for the Gubernatorial race though. State CFO Alex Sink (D) is locked in a battle with Rick Scott (R) who should be in jail for fraud in his former company's billing practices. Scott is outspending Sink and the Republican year are keeping this race very close but Scott's ethical problems prevent him from gaining a clear lead. Sink is also personally popular and she is popular in the Tallahassee area which has been trending Republican recently. The polling pattern is that the leader changes every week and the leader has a 3 point lead. Scott has a small lead of 2 points now. The question is will he hold the lead or will the Democrats pick up this Governorship?

Hawaii: Linda Lingle (R) proved that Republicans can be elected Governor in Hawaii and Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona (R) needs to prove two Republican Governors can be elected consecutively. Unfortunately for him, the polling suggests that will not happen. Hawaii's 1st District Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D) is leading by eight points in most polls. It is a Republican year but Obama is still popular in Hawaii. He recently cut an ad for Abercrombie which seems to be working.

Minnesota: Tim Pawlenty (R) is retiring and may be a Presidential candidate in 2012. I do not expect him to win the nomination but anyway, this post is about the Governor's race. Former Senator and owner of Dayton Stores, Mark Dayton (D) is running for Governor against Tom Emmer (R). The Midwest is looking mostly bad for the Democrats but not in Minnesota. A recent poll showed Dayton leading by ten points. An independent candidate is on the ballot too though and independents can get high shares of the vote in Minnesota (Jesse Ventura (I) was Governor in the late 90's.) The independent may take more votes from Dayton than Emmer but Dayton should still win.

Vermont: Jim Douglas (R) was able to win easily despite Vermont's blue trend but Douglas is now retiring. Democrats should be holding a big lead in this race but instead, it is a close race between State Senator Peter Shumlin (D) and Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie (R). Dubie is a moderate and Vermont likes its moderate Republicans AND this is a Republican year. Vermont is still trending blue though and most polls show Shumlin leading by a few points. Therefore, Shumlin should win but it will be close.

Now onto the House:

AZ-03: John Shadegg (R) vacated his seat and now Ben Quayle (R) is running for it against John Hulburd (D). This seat leans Republican but Quayle ran into problems when he called Obama "the worst president in history," and ran an ad where he played with kids that were not his. The race leans toward Quayle at the moment but since he is a flawed candidate, Democrats have a shot here. Having Quayle lose would help make it a good election night for the Democrats.

CA-03: Democrats are not favored to win this race but they have a strong shot at it. Obama barely won this district in 2008 and Dan Lungren (R), the incumbent still won. Conventional wisdom says that any Republican incumbent who survived 2008 can win in 2010. This year, the Democrats have Ami Bera (D) who has consistently out raised Lungren and campaigned extremely hard. Although most polls show Lungren with a small lead, Bera could pull an upset.

DE-AL: Michael Castle (R) vacated his house seat to run for Senate (and he later lost to Christine O'Donnell.) With a popular Republican no longer holding the House seat, Democrats nominated a strong candidate in John Carney (D). All polls show Glen Urquhart (R) behind in low double digits so this will be an easy Democratic pickup.

IL-10: Even Kerry won this suburban district by 6 points so the Democrats keep trying to find someone to win here. It has been almost impossible for them to beat former incumbent Mark Kirk (R). Now that Kirk vacated his seat to run for Senate, Democrats have a great chance at winning. Dan Seals (D) is running against teabagger Bob Dold (R) and we know what suburban voters think of extremist teabaggers. Still, this is a Republican year so the race is close. I expect a Seals win here though.

LA-02: Joe Cao (R) won in a 75% Obama district where Obama is still popular against corrupt Bill Jefferson (D) who put illegal contributions in his freezer. Cao is in trouble now though because he is up against Cedric Richmond (D) who has no money in his freezer. Yes, this is a Republican year, yes Cao is moderate but this district is too Democratic to elect a Republican unless the Democrat is as corrupt as Jefferson.

WA-08: Dave Reichert (R) is in a district that leans Democratic. He won in 2006 and 2008 which were strong Democratic years. Therefore, it appeared that this year, he would win because it is a Republican year. Apparently, he believed that so he got caught napping as Suzan DelBane (D) got closer in the polls. Reichert lost the endorsement of some of the area's major newspapers which were crucial to his winning in 2006 and 2008. Reichert is campaigning now but this race is getting closer. It will be a better election night than expected if Democrats can win seats like this one.

Overall, the Democrats will get kicked on November 2nd but they still have pickup opportunities in the Governorships and even seven in the House. It is hard to ignore all the losses the Democrats will face but there will be bright spots!
Feel free to share your thoughts on these races.

No comments: