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.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Big Tossups of the Cycle

 The 2010 election season as many pundits know is a year where almost every race is competitive for both Democrats and Republicans. The pundits like to say it is a Republican year with Democrats being the party in trouble? Am I disagreeing with that? No I am not and the Democrats will definitely get a big beating and have a poor chance of holding the House. They will probably hold the Senate but the question is will they lose 6 or 9 seats out of the 10 Republicans must win to control the Senate? Unlike 2000 where the political races came down to Florida and 2004 where they came down to Ohio, this election is more like 2008 where control of the Senate will not come down to one seat. The same is true for the control of the House and the majority of Governorships which Republicans will definitely gain. The object of this post though is to highlight those big tossup races to watch during election night for both the Senate and the Governorships. Although those races are crucial to deciding who controls the Senate, the Republicans will not gain the Senate even if they pick up all the tossups. If they can get races such as Washington and California into the tossup column though, they will have a shot at picking up the Senate though. Anyway, here are those important Senate and Gubernatorial tossups that will keep you up on election night:

Senate Pure Tossups (4 seats)

Colorado: At first, this race appeared to be in Ken Buck's (R) column. Buck is a teabagger who has extreme beliefs such as he is better than any opponent of his who wears high heels and that being gay is a choice. Does he really think people would choose to be gay when people keep denying them rights and bullying them in school? Anyway, Michael Bennett (D), the former Colorado Superintendent of Schools is getting closer in the polls with a Rasmussen poll showing Buck ahead by only 2 points. He is helped by a great ad "extremes" where he talks about Colorado's extreme mountains, extreme rivers and extremists. At the end, he says that some extremes are good but not Ken Buck. Also, the Democratic base in Colorado may be waking up too. Overall, it appears that the combination of the base coming home and moderate voters realizing how extreme Buck is are the factors tilting the race toward Bennett. How far will it tilt though?

Illinois: If any race is within one point or heads for a recount, it will be this one. Unlike Colorado, this race has not experienced a shift toward either party. This race has always been a tossup with two not so popular candidates. Mark Kirk (R) may be moderate AND he may be from the crucial suburban collar counties BUT he lied about his Vietnam war record and yesterday he lied about legislation he passed. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulis (D) is running in a heavily Democratic state where Obama is still popular BUT his family's bank is running into problems, making him look poorly. In Illinois, Democrats need to turn out heavily Democratic Cook County with Chicago and some Democratic suburbs. Giannoulis is not inspiring so having Obama come and help him is exactly what he needs. This campaign is very nasty and closepin sellers will become rich when people buy closepins to hold their noses when they vote.

Nevada: This is yet another race full of noseholding. Harry Reid (D) as the Majority leader in the Senate is getting blamed for Nevada's poor economy even though he has passed numerous legislation helping Nevada including a bill that prevented massive teacher layoffs. At first, Reid was in trouble against rich Sue Lowden (R) but after she suggested you should trade healthcare benefits for hens and roosters, she lost the Republican primary. Sharron Angle (R) won the primary and she is equally (or worse) as strange as Lowden. Angle wants to eliminate social security, the right of people to drink liquor (I bet the casino unions and the casinos love her,) and she wants to eliminate the Department of Education. Of course, you may have heard about her recently saying that Hispanics look Asian. Harry Reid is taking advantage of Angle and running ads attacking her whenever he can. Reid is still in a dead heat with Angle even while Nevadans are familiar with her extreme views. Overall, I think Reid pulls it off by 2 points because of Nevada's strong Democratic Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operation and some Hispanics shifting to Reid after Angle's comment and an ad encouraging Hispanics not to vote.

Pennsylvania: If I had published this post on Tuesday, there is no way I would put this race on here. Most polls have showed fake moderate Pat Toomey (R) leading by 7 points...a few weeks ago. Former Admiral Joe Sestak (D) from the pivotal Philadelphia suburbs has been lying low. The polls have been narrowing ever so slowly but a new poll came out yesterday showing Sestak ahead. The poll is from PPP, a firm famous for getting the results of NJ Gov, MA Sen and the Maine anti gay rights initiative right on target (no pun intended, Target is in MN anyway.) Another poll came out today (not an internal for Sestak) from the Morning Call showing Sestak leading by three. This is similar to May when Sestak was trailing Arlen Specter (D) in the primary. Then Sestak came out of nowhere campaigning really hard. He won by eight points while pundits predicted a nailbiter. Sestak seems to be attempting a late surge again by slowly but surely running more ads until it explodes (which should be really soon.) Is Sestak ahead? Maybe he is ahead or maybe he is behind but it is certain this race is becoming closer. If the trend keeps up, more polls will show a close race and everyone else will view it as a Tossup.

Governor (2 races)

Florida: Although this race has been shifting, most of the time it has been close. State CFO Alex Sink (D) was always a shoo in for the Democratic nomination and I thought she would face Attorney General Bill McCollum (R). Rick Scott (R) leaped into the race though and playing on voter anger, won the Republican primary. Scott has money and is spending it while Sink does not have as much. She has been going negative against him which works until Scott starts spending again. Then he retakes the lead against her. Right now, Scott seems to be retrieving the lead again. He also shows how strong voter anger is right now because he is drawing support even though his company has been accused of fraud, the Government raided it and the company ended up paying 1.7 billion in settlements. Sink is highlighting Scott's past but will it work? Although the race always has about a 3 point lead for either candidate, this race will be very close. No, I am NOT looking at a 36 day hassle over yellow jacket...er butterfly ballots again but I am looking at a 2 point win by either candidate. It all depends on who can win the I-4 corridor with Tampa, Orlando and Daytona Beach.

Oregon: Democrats have recently been bragging about a pacific firewall which I am worried about now that Patti Murray (D) in Washington State is leading by 3 points and Barbara Boxer (D) in California is leading by only 5. Oregon though has always been a close race. In Oregon, John Kitzhaber (D), the former Governor of Oregon who won with 64% in 1998 wants his old job back. It looked like an easy win until May when polls showed basketball player Chris Dudley (R) (who is famous for breaking the record of missing 13 consecutive free throws) in a tight race. Dudley has raised twice as much money as Kitzhaber and not until Labor Day did Kitzhaber campaign actively. His hard work seems to be paying off though because a few polls have shown Kitzhaber is taking a small lead. Still, Dudley has the money and it is a Republican friendly year. Also, Oregon is the only state that votes entirely by mail and many voters have mailed in their ballots. In the last two weeks though, Kitzhaber has had the wind at his back and Oregon is trending Democratic so Kitzhaber will probably pull it out but barely.

Do you think these races are all tossups? Should I add more races? Who do you think will win these races anway? Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Senate Rankings: Who's Getting the Surge?

 Many pundits recently have been saying that there may be a Democratic surge. In the Gubernatorial races, there definitely is. In Ohio, Ted Strickland (D) was down by 8 points in most polls against John Kaisch (R) but most polls show Strickland down by about 2. In Illinois, Pat Quinn (D) was losing by 10 points to extremist conservative Bill Brady (R) who is anti abortion even in cases of rape. Quinn started airing ads highlighting Brady's extremist views in the Chicago suburbs, an area that shifted toward the Democrats in the 90's due to social issues. Now Quinn is down by only a few points. The shift is happening with seats in the Senate too.

 In New York, Kirstin Gillibrand (D) was appointed to Hillary's Senate seat. Joe DioGuardi (R) with money got the nomination over David Malpass (R). At first, polls showed a close race but Gillibrand now has a clear lead. By, the way, Kara DioGuardi is related to Joe, she is his daughter. In Connecticut, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) was expected to win easily against Linda McMahon (R) from WWE who is very rich. A week ago, polls showed the race tightened up with Blumenthal leading by only 6 points. Then a few new polls came out this week showing Blumenthal with a lead of about 12 points so this race is definitely heading back in his direction. This shift happened because he previously did not campaign strongly but he is now actively campaigning. In Washington, most polls show Patti Murray (D) with a lead over her challenger Dino Rossi (R). In California, the Democratic shift is also apparent. Barbara Boxer (D) is leading in most polls against the fired CEO of HP Carly Fiorina (R). Boxer is leading because she pulled a Karl Rove and used Fiorina's strength as a CEO as her weakness. Overall, most of the races where the Democrats are improving are races where the Democrats started campaigning.

Republicans also have their own surge in some races too. In Wisconsin, Russ Feingold (D) was expected to win reelection easily. Then Ron Johnson (R), another rich Republican won the primary and started spending his money. Feingold was never popular with the Democratic base because he often votes against pieces of Democratic legislation that are not liberal enough. In West Virginia, pundits expected Governor Joe Manchin (D) to easily hold the late Robert Byrd's Senate seat. Although Manchin is very popular, John Raese (R) has said that Manchin will be a rubber stamp for Obama and this strategy has caused Raese to obtain a small lead in the polls. Also, some polls are suggesting that Sharron Angle (R) who wants to eliminate social security, the Department of Education and the Department of Energy is surging too. I need to see a few more polls to confirm this though.

Overall, the Democratic surge seems to be in Democratic states while the Republican surge is in Republican and swing states. This suggests that the Democratic base is waking up now and they are entering the likely voter pool. An excited Democratic base will not save every seat of course but it will prevent Republicans from winning in Democratic states where Democrats outnumber Republicans. My current prediction for Senate pickups is a 7-9 seat gain for the Republicans. By the way, bolded races show races that might switch parties. Now off to the rankings:

Safe D (5 seats)

Delaware (Chris Coons) O' Donnell keeps getting crazier and less popular. A poll showed her down by 19 points.


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)
Connecticut (Richard Blumenthal) Linda McMahon (R) is spending like Meg Whitman but Blumenthal is leading in the polls.

New York B (Kristen Gillibrand) I strongly considered putting this seat in Solid D.
Lean D (2 seats)

California (Barbara Boxer) Fiorina is too conservative for California.

Washington (Patti Murray) She seems to have her lead back but will it stay?

Tossup (4 seats)

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.

West Virginia (Joe Manchin) John Raese (R) is running a strong race against Manchin but Manchin should pull it off if he campaigns hard.


Lean Republican (4 seats)

Colorado (Michael Bennett) Ken Buck (R) may be a big teabagger but he is leading.

Kentucky (Rand Paul) Jack Conway (D) is a strong candidate against extremist Rand Paul but Kentucky is too conservative.

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 (9 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.

Florida (Marco Rubio) With Charlie Crist (I) bleeding support to Meek (D), Rubio takes the lead.

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 apparently, most Louisiana voters do not really care about family values.

Missouri (Roy Blunt) Robin Carnahan (D) is a good candidate but Obama's unpopularity here is bringing her down.

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.


Do you agree or disagree with the rankings? Do you have any you want to share? Feel free to comment.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How will the housekeeper scandal affect Whitman?

 The California Governorship is one of those races where the leader keeps changing. In early 2009, former Governor Jerry Brown (D) led former ebay CEO Meg Whitman (R) by double digits. In late 2009 when she started spending her money in the primary, she strongly cut Brown's lead and the lead stayed that way throughout early 2010. Close to the June 8th primary though, Brown pulled ahead again by a few points. His lead of about 5 points stayed intact throughout most of the summer until August came along. I have frequently mentioned in other posts that August is a bad month for Democrats. This fact was no exception for Brown who saw Whitman's $104 million at that time work on voters. In early September, Whitman was leading but that was before Brown decided to campaign. Before September, Brown had barely campaigned. A month ago, I was seeing Brown become the next Phil Angelides (D) who ran against Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in 2006. Angelides barely campaigned at all and lost by 17 points.

Fortunately, Brown realized he could not become the next Angelides so he began to campaign. He ran ads like a funny one with Meg Whitman's nose growing longer after he clearly showed how she lied. These ads helped him get a lead of 5 points and in the last week, the outlook is getting better and better for Brown. In a debate last week, Whitman appeared over rehearsed while Brown was personable but also knew his issues. Unless a candidate makes a major gaffe in a debate, bounces from debates do not last forever. I expected Brown to continue to have a five point lead. This was before the housekeeper Nicky Diaz Santiallo came onto the scene. Whitman was discovered firing her undocumented housekeeper who was like family for nine years. The news story is everywhere and if you are in California, I do not know how you have NOT heard about it. It makes Whitman hypocritical when she said people need to crack on illegal immigrants. The media is saying how dangerous the story is for Whitman because it will send Hispanics flying away from her. My question is, will it hurt her with everyone?

One group it will certainly hurt Whitman with is Hispanics. Before the scandal broke, Whitman was poised to make strong inroads among Hispanics. She has been courting this group and many polls showed Brown leading because he was pulling it close with whites and not because of margins among Hispanics. Whitman said she treated Santiallo like part of her family until Whitman learned that Santiallo was undocumented. Then Whitman fired her and tore herself away from Santiallo. Many Hispanics found Whitman unsympathetic and I know someone who told me "I have a Hispanic friend who generally votes Republican but after the housekeeper scandal, she is fully behind Brown." Now that Whitman lost her inroads among Hispanics, what normally Democratic group can Whitman win now? Winning middle class whites in the Central Valley/Inland Empire is not enough to win.

No one has mentioned this but the housekeeper scandal can give Whitman an opening with one group. She could pick up upper class white voters who may feel the same way she does with hiring undocumented immigrants. Many of them may have Hispanic housekeepers and worry that they could be undocumented. Also, upper class white voters may feel worried they will hire undocumented workers s so they understand how Whitman feels. Whitman cannot use this issue to make inroads among all white voters because many of the liberals will dislike Whitman's firing of Santiallo. The more moderate whites Whitman could try to pick up are the upper class white voters in the southern Bay Area, Santa Barbara and the LA coast south of Venice. Still, whatever gains Whitman makes among these voters will be offset by Hispanic losses. If Whitman wants to win though, she has to take control of the issue and try to appeal to upper class white moderates.

Another group that will be affected by the housekeeper scandal is the teabagger supporting middle class whites in Inland California. Some of them may hire housekeepers but most of the voters want undocumented immigrants to leave and they will be unable to help contribute to the economy and take jobs no one else wants in California. Some of those voters will see Whitman as not tough enough on Santiallo while many of the Hispanics will. The Inland conservatives may think that once Whitman knew Santiallo was illegal, Whitman should have called the Border Patrol in 2009 or in 2003 when her husband received the letter. Still, will this story sway voters because are the Inland conservatives going to vote for Brown? Now with Jill Armstrong, Whitman's ex-nanny backing up Santiallo, the story should stay for a longer time. With the story still dominating the headlines, it may convince those conservatives to leave the Governor's race blank. Whitman cannot win without the big conservative turnout in the Central Valley (for more info on where Whitman needs to win, check my post California Baselines )

Overall, the housekeeper scandal is definitely affecting Whitman with every demographic. More Hispanic voters dislike her, richer whites may understand her and the Inland conservatives are less enthusiastic about her. Still, many pundits are overestimating the damage of the story. Unless the story gets very large, the Inland conservatives will probably not sit out the election as a protest vote. Yes, the story will move Hispanics toward Brown but it might shift a few rich white voters who associate Brown with the unions and see identifying with Whitman on the immigration issue as the final reason to move toward her. Overall, this story definitely hurts Whitman but not as much as the pundits say, unless the story grows and stays.

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.