2012 Election – The Senate (Part 2)

Minnesota – Republican: Kurt Bills. Democrat: Amy Klobuchar (Incumbent).

Minnesota feels like the mirror image of Arizona. It’s a state that a lot of people keep expecting to turn more purple, but it just never does. While Romney could eek out a victory here if the presidential election turns into a blowout, Klobuchar is quite safe. Prediction: Democrat hold.

Mississippi – Republican: Roger Wicker (Incumbent). Democrat: Albert N. Gore.

Yes, Gore is indeed a distant relative of the former Vice President. And he has about as much of a chance of winning here as the other Gore would. Prediction: Republican hold.

Missouri – Republican: Todd Akin. Democrat: Claire McCaskill (Incumbent).

Originally thought to be one of the Republican’s surest pickup opportunities, Akin had to go and open his mouth. Despite pleas to drop out of the race, Akin stubbornly stayed in and seemingly doomed the GOP here. Of course he had a secret weapon ready to deploy: his opponent. The fact is, McCaskill is a deeply unpopular Senator who is far too left-wing for her state. Throw in some corruption, and suddenly Mr. Legitimate Rape has a shot. With the polls narrowing, Republicans will have no choice but to throw some money Akin’s way. Looks like he’ll have the last laugh. Prediction: Republican pickup.

Montana – Republican: Danny Rehberg. Democrat: John Tester (Incumbent).

Tester defeated incumbent Conrad Burns by less than 3,000 votes in 2006, and it looks like this is turning out to be another nail-biter. With Montana and North Dakota having close Senate elections, we might be up late on election night wondering who has control of the Senate long after the presidential race has been decided.  Rehberg is the at-large Representative for Montana, so he is as familiar face with the electorate as Tester. Considering that this is a more favorable year for Republicans than 2006, I think Rehberg will win a squeaker. Prediction: Republican pickup.

Nebraska (open D) – Republican: Deb Fischer. Democrat: Bob Kerrey.

This race was decided the day Ben Nelson decided to accept the “Cornhusker Kickback” in exchange for voting for Obamacare. The Democrats had to pluck Bob Kerrey out of retirement in New York in order to even pretend that they had a chance, but this is the one GOP layup for the evening. Prediction: Republican pickup.

Nevada – Republican: Dean Heller (Incumbent). Democrat: Shelley Berkley.

The polls have been narrow throughout, but Heller has maintained a consistent edge in the range of 2-5 percent. Most worrisome for Heller is that he has only cracked 50% in one poll, which is always a danger sign for incumbents. Once again the momentum of the presidential race might determine the ultimate outcome, but it looks like Heller should be able to hang on. Prediction: Republican hold.

New Jersey – Republican: Joe Kyrillos. Democrat: Bob Menendez (Incumbent).

Every now and then New Jersey tantalizes Republicans. Once a fairly strong suburban stronghold for the GOP, it has become a solid blue state since the Clinton years. Though Republicans have done well on the gubernatorial level, and though they do actually have an even split with Democrats in the House caucus, the GOP just has never been able to breakthrough in the Senate. That will not be changing this year. Prediction: Democrat hold.

New Mexico (open D) – Republican: Heather Wilson. Democrat: Martin Heinrich.

New Mexico has been the one semi-swing state that hasn’t turned towards the Republicans this cycle. President Obama seems safe here, and Heinrich has opened up a comfortable double-digit lead. Prediction: Democrat hold.

New York – Republican: Wendy Long. Democrat: Kirsten Gillenbrand (Incumbent).

Believe it or not, but when I was a kid growing up in New York the Republican party in the state wasn’t a joke. Prediction: Democrat hold.

North Dakota (open D) – Republican: Rick Berg. Democrat: Heidi Heitkamp.

For the second cycle in a row, a Democrat retirement has opened up an opportunity for the Republicans to pickup a Senate seat in North Dakota. Unlike last time, this will not be a cakewalk for the Republican candidate. Congressman Rick Berg is running against Attorney General Heitkamp. The polling here has been sparse, so it’s difficult to know how the race stacks up. Even though Romney will win here fairly comfortably, and even though the state trends pretty heavily towards the GOP, this is far from a lock for Berg. I predict he will pull it out, but this is going to be very close. Prediction: Republican pickup.

Ohio – Republican: Josh Mandel. Democrat: Sherrod Brown (Incumbent).

Mandel had this race close, but then Brown started to pull ahead after the Democratic convention. The race has tightened up again, but Brown has a decent-sized lead. Once again, though, Brown fails to poll above 50%. Since Ohio could be viewed as the Democrats’ firewall for both the presidency and the Senate, I do not envy anyone living in the state. My advice – turn off the television. At any rate, though Brown is far to the left of the majority of the state, he is a tough guy to beat. I think Brown will hold on, but this race could easily shift towards Mandel in the closing moments. Prediction: Democrat hold.

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Dante alighieri


  1. The only disagreement that I have is with Ohio. Mandel is closing fast in some polls and I think if Romney manages a 54-45 win in Ohio to mirror my expected national result I think Mandel could squeeze in. Watch a lot of Republican candidates running ads with them and Romney as the Romney steamroller ad blitz kicks into highgear after the last debate.

  2. Mandel would have a better shot if he didn’t look like he was 15 years old. I agree with Paul that Brown will likely hold on here in the Buckeye State. Even if Romney pulls it out here (which I believe he probably will) a lot of blue-collar voters will be splitting their tickets, and Brown will be the beneficiary of that.

  3. I don’t think Mr Zummo needed to limit his scorn to the NY Republican party. It seems to me that quite a few states have very indolent or feckless Republican Party organizations. I think that is what is the limiting factor in a number of states where Repubs do have a shot unlike NY. (And even in NY there are Congr. districts that they should be more competitive in.) Is it an amazing coincidence that the election cycle that the Repub Party was rather uninvolved in, namely 2010, produced one of the biggest Republican landslides in history? Then there’s VA. In the state election of 2009, again where the Repub Party was still shellshocked from 2008, the state gubernatorial ticket won in a blowout and ran even with the Dem in Northern VA. In 2010 the Repub Party were feeling better and reasserted control over things. They then had a relatively disappointing election with big falloffs in districts McDonnell had easily carried or ran even.

  4. “It seems to me that quite a few states have very indolent or feckless Republican Party organizations.”

    Unfortunately, Illinois is one of them. Our GOP practically handed Barack Obama his U.S. Senate seat in 2004, and has yet to put up a decent challenger to the infamously liberal Sen. Dick Durbin. Its next shot at Durbin’s seat is two years away and I don’t see any really promising prospects on the horizon yet.

  5. Great post Paul, here in Ohio Josh Mandel has the best organization of anyone. When Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan come to speak ( and they have been here a lot) the Mandel people are always around handing out yard signs wherever they go (and there are a lot of Mandel signs around here.) He also has the best TV ads of any candidate. No doubt Sherrod Brown will do well in Northern Ohio, but Mandel may actually get the votes of some Jewish voters or some younger people who vote Obama.

  6. What happened to NJ, anyway? I wonder. I know that we’re supposed to look at people like Whitman, or Arnold in CA, and say that they’re signs of their state’s Republican party in its death throes. But in those two particular cases, I can’t help wondering if they were the cause of death.

    I’m a Marylander, and for years I fancied that the Republican Party could elect a candidate here, so obviously I’m delusional. But it felt like we nearly won with Ellen Sauerbrey, and then we won with Bob Ehrlich, and then it was in that victory that the party disappeared. I’m not just saying “better a conservative R than a liberal R”. I’m saying that that much effort for that little reward might be too much to ask.

  7. Pinky,

    I lived in NJ (south) for several years and it’s a tough environment. There was a Republican mayor of Jersey City back in the 90s, Bert Schundler, who got in because two African American candidates split that vote. However once in he instituted a rather conservative agenda which greatly benefited the city. He was reelected in a landslide. When he ran for Gov in 2001 though the Repub establishment threw a hissy fit and the wonderful Jim McGreevy got elected to be followed by the estimable Jon Corzine. I think PA is a better place to try to secure first. NJ is totally surrounded by deep blue states presently. My feeling is that any state with strong public sector unions (I don’t include private sector unions.) )that can’t be dislodged are not going to be easy places for a conservative to operate in. Kudos therefore to Scott Walker and even Mitch Daniels. One need only look to Europe and to CA and IL to see the strangling effect of strong public sector unions.

  8. Pennsylvania’s weird. It’s like the alternate universe where Democratic politicians aren’t endangering their souls. But I sense that the equilibrium in the state is falling apart. The Philadelphia machine seems to be getting more dominant, and political machines cannot tolerate dissent, so everyone’s gotta become pro-choice.

  9. “One need only look to CA and IL to see the strangling effect of public sector unions.”

    Actually, I don’t think public sector unions are to blame for why conservative GOP candidates can’t seem to get traction in IL. If you travel just about anywhere south of I-80 you would think you were in a red or at least purple state. The areas around Springfield also still lean GOP even though large numbers of state employees live there, and I can’t think of anywhere where Dem Gov. Quinn and his now incarcerated predecessor were less popular. Many of the state employees who joined unions in the last decade did so not out of greed or any great love of liberal Democrats, but simply to protect themselves from abuses the Blago administration often inflicted upon non-union executive branch employees who didn’t go along with his, ahem, hair-brained schemes (arbitrary firings, denying raises for years on end back when the state could still afford them, etc.)

    If there is a “strangling” effect against conservative candidates it comes from 1) the weakness of the GOP in the last 15 years since the George Ryan scandal (he’s the OTHER former governor currently in the pokey) and 2) the more liberal tilt of the Chicago suburbs, which are the true swing vote area of the state.

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