2012 Election – The Senate (Part Three)

Monday, October 22, AD 2012

We’re in the home stretch now as we look at the final set of Senate races. Each of these contests are either complete tossups or utter blowouts.

Pennsylvania – Republican: Tom Smith. Democrat: Bob Casey (Incumbent).

This race had flown under the radar as it appeared that Casey was cruising to re-election. Smith started gaining momentum at a time when nearly every other Republican was losing it, and he has now narrowed the gap. Even when Casey was well ahead he was failing to poll at the magical 50% number. Casey’s problem is representative of the shift in the Pennsylvania Democratic party. While his father was a true social conservative, and therefore a good fit for the state, the younger Casey pays only lip service to abortion and other issues. I think that Casey will survive, but only barely, and for just one more term. Prediction: Democrat hold.

Rhode Island – Republican: Barry Hinckley. Democrat: Sheldon Whitehouse (Incumbent).

A Republican polling firm has this race in single digits. Until I see other polls showing it that close, it still looks to be a pretty safe seat for Whitehouse. Prediction: Democrat hold.

Tennessee – Republican: Bob Corker (Incumbent). Democrat: Mark Clayton.

Corker was just about the only Republican to win a close election in 2006. He won’t have to sweat this time. Prediction: Republican hold.

Texas (open R) – Republican: Ted Cruz. Democrat: Paul Sadler.

Democrats in Texas must feel like Republicans in New York and California. One would think in a state as big as Texas, as Republican-dominated as it is, Democrats would be able to field a semi-competitive candidate. As it is, the real election occurred over the summer when Cruz upset the state’s Lieutenant Governor in a primary runoff. The only question about this contest is how big Cruz’s margin of victory will be. Prediction: Republican hold.

Utah – Republican: Orrin Hatch (Incumbent). Democrat: Scott Howell.

For once Orrin Hatch had to battle for re-election, but it wasn’t the general election that he had to worry about. Hatch was able to avoid the fate of his former colleague, Bob Bennett, and successfully fended off a tea party challenge for the nomination. Hatch had a little more conservative credibility than Bennett, obtaining the support of figures like Mark Levin. Having won re-nomination, Hatch will cruise in the general. Prediction: Republican hold.

Vermont – Republican: John MacGover. Independent: Bernie Sanders (Incumbent).

If there is a silver lining for Republicans, it is that this will continue to be technically a non-Democrat seat. Yeah, I’m stretching. Prediction: Independent hold.

Virginia (open D) – Republican: George Allen. Democrat: Tim Kaine.

In a year of tossups, this might be the tossiest-up of them all. Allen is running to regain the seat that he macaca’d himself out of six years ago. Allen has done better than he did during the last campaign, when he spent the better part of the Fall running negative ads against Jim Webb in a desperate effort to deflect attention away from his macaca moment. The 2006 election was one where partisans on both sides wished both candidates would just go away. Now, in an election pitting two former, relatively popular governors, once again it seems there is surprisingly little enthusiasm. At times it appears that both candidates are kind of going through the motions to win a seat neither really desperately wants, but feel compelled to run for out of some sense of party loyalty. It is truly a strange dynamic, and the voters have expressed their own confusion by failing to break for either candidate. It’s almost impossible to pick a winner, but I’ll go with Allen to win back the seat. No matter who wins, I sense that this will be an open-seat contest again in 2018. Prediction: Republican pickup.

Washington – Republican: Michael Baumgartner. Democrat: Maria Cantwell (Incumbent).

Another seat that the Republicans had some hopes for at the beginning of the year, but this was never a race. Prediction: Democrat hold.

West Virginia – Republican: John Raese. Democrat: Joe Manchin (Democrat).

Manchin has done a masterful job of persuading Mountaineers that he’s a rogue independent while siding with his party when it really matters. Prediction: Democrat hold.

Wisconsin (open D) – Republican: Tommy Thompson. Democrat: Tammy Baldwin.

This race has followed a path unlike most of the others. When former governor Tommy Thompson won the nomination this seemed like a prime Republican pickup opportunity, and Thompson did hold a double digit lead over the summer. Baldwin received a nice post-convention bounce, and she and Thompson have swapped leads it seems with every other poll. Thompson may have seemed like the safe choice for many Republicans in the state, but this is a case where the other candidate’s relative youth may be too much to overcome. Prediction: Democrat hold.

Wyoming – Republican: John Barrasso (Incumbent). Democrat: Tim Chestnut.

I don’t anticipate we’ll be up late waiting to hear a winner announced here. Prediction: Republican hold.

FINAL ANALYSIS: I have the Republicans picking up Florida, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Virginia, while losing Maine. That would be a net gain of five seats for the GOP, giving them a 52-48 majority (assuming the independents caucus with Democrats). I’m starting to rethink my Florida and Missouri calls, though I can see Ohio, Pennsylvania, and especially Wisconsin breaking in their favor (though Massachusetts can also swing the other way). Whatever the case may be, my most fearless prediction is this: we will know the identity of the next president much earlier in the evening on election night than we will which party will control the Senate.

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6 Responses to 2012 Election – The Senate (Part Three)

  • Disagreements:

    In Pennsylvania I think Smith will pull it out. He is dominating the airwaves and is a far more adept candidate than I would have expected from a political novice and Casey the Lesser is still trying to coast to victory purely on his great father’s name. This is one of the more surprising races of the year as I did anticipate Casey coasting to victory. A plus, Smith is a pro-lifer’s pro-lifer being against abortion with no exceptions. He and his wife have seven kids, four of them adopted.

    In Wisconsin I think former governor Tommy Thompson will prevail. I also expect Romney to take the land behind the Cheddar Curtain, helped by Ryan.

  • The Prez selection in VA will pull the Senate race with them. Romney and Allen all the way.

  • “we will know the identity of the next president much earlier in the evening on election night than we will which party will control the Senate.”

    By 10:00 PM Central Standard Time I suspect, although as is usually the case the Mainstream Media will be quick to call Democrat States and slow to call Republican states. Assuming that Romney carries Viginia, Florida and Ohio, in addition to the states everyone concedes he will win, he only needs one of New Hampshire, Nevada Iowa, Wisconsin or Colorado. I predict he will win all of those states in addition to Ohio. For additional icing on the cake, I think Romney will take either Michigan or Pennsylvania.

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  • Rasmussen now has the PA race as a statistical tie.

  • The feeling that this is another 1980 is growing stronger every day.

2012 Election – The Senate (Part 2)

Friday, October 19, AD 2012

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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9 Responses to 2012 Election – The Senate (Part 2)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • “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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • “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.

2012 Election: The Senate

Friday, October 19, AD 2012

Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems that even the Senate races are getting less attention than usual this year. I live in proximity to one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the country, and it’s gotten relatively little attention. It’s all the more amazing considering that almost half of the races are fairly competitive, and the gap between the parties is small. Currently, Republicans hold 47 seats while Democrats have 53 (including two independents that caucus with them). If Mitt Romney is elected, Republicans will need to pickup a net of three seats in order to win effective control of the Senate. Considering recent Senatorial history, Republicans would do well to win a few extra seats.

Since Democrats have to defend two-thirds of the seats up for election this cycle, it would seem that Republicans should have a good chance of winning back control of the Senate. Unfortunately a couple of key retirements and several inopportune gaffes have made the Republican road to Senate control all the more difficult.

All that said, I will briefly analyze each of the Senate races. With 33 seats up for grabs, I will be splitting up these posts in batches of 11 each, working my way through them alphabetically. So let’s get to it.

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9 Responses to 2012 Election: The Senate

  • Click here to donate to Josh Mandel’s campaign.

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  • Only disgreements: I think the wrestling queen will take Connecticut. She has been polling well and Obama has been quite weak for a Democrat in the nutmeg state, Connecticut also has a fondness for quirky politicians, just ask Lowell Weicker. Romney has been showing a lead in one of Maine’s Congressional districts. I do not think it is impossible that the Independent and the Democrat will
    split the Democrat vote and the Republican will squeeze in, just as the current governor did in 2010. Hawaii is my prediction for Senate shocker of the night. I am expecting a Romney landslide against Obama. If that happens it could depress the Hawaii Dem vote enough for Lingle to get in.

  • Of the three, the one that’s the closest call for me is Connecticut. I still think that the WWE baggage is going to be too much (and I say that as a regular viewer of Monday Night Raw), but it’s going to be close.

    In general, if Romney does win in a landslide – and I am with you there, Don – then I can see the Republicans winning all the close contests. Basically it would be 2006 in reverse.

  • Interesting opening sentence. I may be wrong, but I think that the Senate isn’t getting much notice because so many races are close. Paradoxical, I know. Close races should get more press. But no one’s sure how to cover the story. “VIRGINIA RACE COULD GO EITHER WAY AND MAY NOT MATTER” is not a headline that any editor wants to see. As Barbie could tell you, math class is tough, and there’s a slow realization in the press that voter turnout complicates things. Like, the impact of Florida being uncontested is something I hadn’t thought about.

  • Interesting point, Pinky, though I recall a lot of close races in 2004 and there seemed to be more coverage. Of course that could just be perception, and memories get hazier over eight years.

  • Close in Massachusetts. I liked your, “this is Massachusetts, on the other hand.” observation.
    It’s a college student/professor on the rally scene place, from Ivy leagues to Community Colleges (and judiciary), where other voices are suppressed with disdain. Most media is partisan to the n-th degree, so the parents of the above are convinced and brainwashed, also. It is also a place of quieted residents who are mindful of equivocating politicians and media.

    The latest in ads shows E. Warren has begun “waving dead fetuses” with a bullet point on a Scott Brown vote on Roe v. Wade. Connecting dots is common school exercise, and a Harvard professor speaking passionately about amoral ‘rights’ of ‘women’ may cue men and others with a more sane agenda. I really hate that this whole nation is fed daily with coverups using ways and meanings of killing babies in all but those words.

  • The reason the Senate races haven’t gotten much coverage is that the Media is obsessed with Obama. He is their Be All and End All. Also they know that if he is re- elected he will govern as if Congress didn’t exist.

  • Can someone explain to me the reasoning of the bishops refusal to continue the teaching that it is a sin to deny a person their human rights? “Religious and racial prejudice” are sins against the 5th Commandment. And it is “particularly a sin to join an organization that does so, such as the Nazi Party or the KKK.” Cardinal X, I wouldn’t mention his name out of respect for his honest answers and his privacy, confirmed for my in an email recently that those are still the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    Well, if it is a sin against the 5th commandment to join an organization that denies human rights, why is it not a sin to join the Democrat Party that is solely
    responsible for the murder of unborn babies? Write your bishops and ask them why. The answer I got was that “there is more to being a Democrat than that.” What more, I want to know!


    If we get an answer to that, maybe we can stop this game we are having to play every election, especially this one, to get so many people of a particular party elected in order to have a chance of stopping the murder of innocent human babies.