Friday, October 1, 2010

Senate Rankings: Democrats Swap Washington for Wisconsin

 It has been a month since my last Senate rankings. Has the outlook improved for the Democrats? Yes and no. In early September, all eyes were on the "left coast" that supposedly would push out Patti Murray (D) Washington and Barbara Boxer (D) California. Recent polls though show that the candidates are back in the lead including an LA Times poll showing Boxer ahead by 8. In Washington, a CNN poll showed Murray leading by 9 and even Republican leaning pollsters such as Survey USA and Rasmussen showed Murray ahead. Also, Christine O'Donnell (R) surprised everyone in winning her primary in Delaware and she is challenging Chris Coons (D). Most polls show him leading by about 10 points and with new quotes coming out about her every week (like how she does not believe in evolution,) she is not likely to gain momentum among non extremist voters. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the Republicans are finding more opportunities outside of the West Coast. In Wisconsin, Russ Feingold (D) suddenly found himself 6 points below Ron Johnson (R) in a recent CNN poll. Feingold is known for voting against many Democratic bills because they are not liberal enough so he might be facing backlash from the base. Also in West Virginia, popular Governor Joe Manchin (D) is facing a tight race against John Raese (R) which shows how West Virginia voters are suddenly disliking their Governor because of the (D) next to his name.

In other bad news for Democrats, there were some races they thought would be closer but their hopes failed to materialize. In Indiana, Dan Coats (R) ran against Brad Ellsworth (D) who was a moderate rural candidate running against a former incumbent lobbyist. Unfortunately, Indiana was too Republican. In Missouri, Robin Carnahan (D) who was reelected with 61% of the vote to Missouri Treasurer ran against conservative Roy Blunt (R). Yes, the Roy Blunt who was the former Majority Whip. Many pundits thought once Carnahan started campaigning, voters would see how conservative Blunt was but Obama is unpopular in Missouri and Blunt is connecting Carnahan to Obama.

Also, I will be changing the formatting of the Senate Rankings. I used to list the races most likely to switch but now I will be saying whether a race is Safe D, Likely D, Lean D or Toss Up and vice versa. Also, look at the time, it is a month until election day. Therefore, I will be posting my updated Senate Rankings weekly because a week in October in politics is as long as a month. The candidate listed is the one running for the seat in the incumbent party. Also, the races bolded are ones the Republicans have a chance at stealing from the Democrats. Right now, the Republicans are looking at a 6-8 seat gain. Now here are the rankings:

Safe D (4 seats)
Hawaii (Daniel Inoyue) He has been in Senate since 1962 and he is staying.
Maryland (Barbara Mikulski) No problem in this heavily Democratic state.
New York A(Charles Schumer) I do not think anyone can beat him.
Vermont (Patrick Leahy) Another easy Democratic hold.

Likely D (2 seats)
Delaware (Chris Coons) Voters have not seen the worst of O'Donnell yet but Castle can steal votes from Coons if Castle writes in.
New York B (Kristen Gillibrand) Joe DiGuardi is tough but Gillibrand should win.

Lean D (4 seats)
California (Barbara Boxer) Fiorina is too conservative for California.
Connecticut (Mark Blumenthal) Linda McMahon (R) is spending like Meg Whitman but popular Blumenthal should pull off a win.
Washington (Patti Murray) She seems to have her lead back but will it stay?
West Virginia (Joe Manchin) John Raese (R) is running a strong race against Manchin but Manchin should pull it off if he campaigns hard.

Tossup (4 seats)
Colorado (Michael Bennett) Ken Buck (R) may be a conservative tea party member but he has a small lead.
Illinois (Alexi Giannoulis) Can moderate Mark Kirk (R) beat Illinois's Democratic lean?
Nevada (Harry Reid) Wow Nevada, are you really considering electing social security and Department of Education hater Sharron Angle?
Pennsylvania (Joe Sestak) I know this race should be Lean R but polls show Sestak is getting closer now that he is running more ads.

Lean Republican (5 seats)
Florida (Marco Rubio) With Charlie Crist (I) bleeding support to Meek (D), Rubio takes the lead.
Kentucky (Rand Paul) Jack Conway (D) is a strong candidate against extremist Rand Paul but Kentucky is too conservative.
Missouri (Roy Blunt) Robin Carnahan (D) is a good candidate but Obama's unpopularity here is bringing her down.
New Hampshire (Kelly Ayotte) New Hampshire has been trending towards the Democrats recently but now it is shifting towards the Republicans.
Wisconsin (Russ Feingold) Wisconsin always seem to come home to its Democrats but Feingold was too independent for the base.

Likely Republican (7 seats)
Alaska (Joe Miller) Either Lisa Murkowski (R) will win with her write in or the extremist Miller will prevail.
Arizona (John McCain) Rodney Glassman (D) is another good candidate in a bad cycle.
Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln) The South keeps trending Republican and John Boozmen (R) should be Arkansas's next Senator.
Indiana (Brad Ellsworth) Ellsworth could have been a strong candidate and the NRA endorsement probably will not save him against Dan Coats (R)
Louisiana (David Vitter) Charlie Melancon (D) did well with the oil spill and Vitter saw D.C Madam but it is not enough for Melancon.
North Carolina (Richard Burr) No Senator has held this seat for more than one term since 1976. Elaine Marshall (D) cannot continue the tradition.
Ohio (Rob Portman) Lee Fisher (D) needs to go back to campaign school. Enough said.

Safe Republican: (8 seats)
Alabama (Richard Shelby) Was this race ever on your radar? It was not on mine.
Georgia (Johnny Isakson) Michael Thurmond (D) is a reasonable candidate in the wrong year.
Idaho (Mike Crapo) Not much to say here.
Kansas (Jerry Moran) Democrats can win here but definitely NOT this year.
North Dakota (John Hooeven) Democrats who are popular with constituents can win easily in North Dakota. So can Republicans.
Oklahoma (Tom Coburn) People talk about conservatives overrunning the Senate this year. This one is already in.
South Carolina (Jim DeMint) The Democrats nominated the worst candidate possible against the teabagger king.
South Dakota (John Thune) No challenge at all.

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