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The Friday Line: Prospects for a Narrower GOP Senate Majority

With the political environment nationally still looking generally dismal for Republicans, the top three races in The Fix's latest Friday Line are each pick-up opportunities for Democrats. That same national mood could complicate Republican chances in the Democratic seats listed this week -- all but one (Nebraska) of which were won by John Kerry in 2004.

Although Democrats seem likely to gain seats in 2006, it remains a stretch that they will gain the six they need to take back the majority.  The No. 1 race below is the one most likely to change parties next year.  I'll be chatting online at 11 a.m. ET this morning -- a chance for you to ask questions about this list or any other political topic.

The Senate Line:

10. Nebraska -- Democrat Ben Nelson: Former Ameritrade executive Pete Ricketts's (R) willingness to spend heavily out of his own pocket on a series of television commercials gives Republicans some hope against Nelson in this deeply red state.  Ricketts faces a primary challenge from former state Attorney General Don Stenberg and former state party chairman Dave Kramer; if Republicans have any shot at beating Nelson, Ricketts needs to emerge as the GOP nominee. (Previous ranking: 9)

9. New Jersey: With Gov.-elect Jon Corzine (D) expected to name Rep. Robert Menendez to fill the remaining year of his Senate term, the Garden State Senate race now begins in earnest. Menendez's first challenge is to convince Reps. Rob Andrews and Frank Pallone not to challenge him in next year's primary. If Andrews, a favorite of southern New Jersey, decides to run it would be an epic battle in a state with a long history of brutal intraparty fights. Republicans are very keen on their candidate -- state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., who is the son of beloved former Gov. Tom Kean (R).  National Democrats are quick to note that Republicans have talked up their chances in several New Jersey races since 2000 and have come up short each time. (Previous ranking: 10)

8. Washington -- Democrat Maria Cantwell: Cantwell remains in danger, but she is well aware of it, which, when it comes to incumbents, is half the battle. Cantwell is aided by the Democratic tilt of the state, though former Safeco Insurance CEO Mike McGavick (R) argues that voter anger over the controversial gubernatorial loss of Dino Rossi (R) in 2004 will counteract any negative national mood for Republicans. (Previous ranking: 8)

7. Missouri -- Republican Jim Talent: This race still seems destined to be nip and tuck for the next 11 months. State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) has been traveling the state trying to lay the Iraq problems at the feet of Talent -- perhaps a sound strategy given current public opinion surrounding the war. But Talent is a solid campaigner as he proved during his successful effort against Sen. Jean Carnahan (D) in 2002, and he will not likely give McCaskill a lot of openings. The outcome of this contest is tied closely to how bad the political atmospherics in the state are for Republicans next November. (Previous ranking: 5)

6. Maryland -- OPEN (Democrat Paul Sarbanes is retiring): One of the party committees is going to be red-faced about the Maryland Senate contest next November. Democrats see Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R) as a paper tiger who has little chance of making inroads in this Democratic state. Republicans believe Steele, an African American, is a national star in the making with massive fundraising capacity and the ability to reach across party lines for votes. Democrats face a very crowded primary, although Rep. Ben Cardin and former Rep. Kweisi Mfume seem the two strongest candidates at the moment. A September primary will force Democrats to quickly regroup for the general against Steele. (Previous ranking: 6)

5. Montana -- Republican Conrad Burns: Burns has had a terrible month as the media continues to hammer him on his close ties to disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.  This story doesn't seem likely to go away, and Burns has not dealt effectively with it yet.  State Auditor John Morrison and state Sen. Jon Tester have smartly stayed in the background to keep from politicizing what is clearly a winning issue for them. The first few months of 2006 will be important for Burns; he needs to find a way to explain the Abramoff issue or he could find himself on the wrong end of the ledger next November. (Previous Ranking: 7)

4. Minnesota -- OPEN (Democrat Mark Dayton is retiring): President Bush is in the state today to raise money for Rep. Mark Kennedy, who has the Republican field to himself -- the major advantage GOPers hold in this Democratic-leaning state. Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar (D) is gaining steam in the primary, but wealthy attorney Mike Ciresi (D) is still hovering as a potential candidate. If Ciresi decides not to run, this seat will earn a lower rank on the line. (Previous ranking: 3)

3. Ohio -- Republican Mike DeWine: The Fix was surprised to hear National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Nick name Ohio as one of his party's two most vulnerable seats -- along with Pennsylvania -- at a recent campaign briefing. Republicans benefit somewhat from the Democratic primary between Rep. Sherrod Brown and Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, which is shaping up to be nasty.  Still, the ongoing problems surrounding Gov. Bob Taft (R) could drag DeWine down regardless of who wins the Democratic primary. (Previous ranking: 4)

2. Rhode Island -- Republican Lincoln Chafee: How effective the ads sponsored by the NRSC bashing Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey (R) have been is a matter of debate.  Supporters of Chafee insist damage is being inflicted that will nullify Laffey's primary challenge.  Laffey backers released partial polling trying to show that the commercials are having the opposite of their intended effect.  Regardless, Chafee has one of the most complicated roads to reelection of any incumbent. Beat Laffey and he still must overcome former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse (D) or Secretary of State Matt Brown (D) in a state Kerry won by 20 points. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. Pennsylvania -- Republican Rick Santorum: Americans for Job Security, a soft-money group, has run two commercials supporting Santorum this fall. The ads paint Santorum as someone who gets things done for Pennsylvania -- perhaps a signal of the direction the senator's own media campaign will take. In a race that has already been polled to death, no new surveys have been released lately.  Until a new poll proves differently, we still see state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. (D) with a high single-digit or low double-digit lead over the incumbent. (Previous ranking: 1)

-- Chris Cillizza

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 9, 2005; 8:25 AM ET
Categories:  Senate , The Line  
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Comments

I actually did an analysis of the 8 most vulnerable GOP-held seats as well.

Pennsylvania is the only sure thing out there although Rhode Island and Ohio look pretty tough for those incumbents as well.

I'm not convinced of Talent's weakness yet. The Missouri GOP has its machine and message down pretty well and is not weakened the way Ohio's is. The only Democrats who seem to win statewide are named Carnahan.

Politicaltaoist.blogspot.com

Posted by: Tao Te Schmooze | December 29, 2005 8:48 PM | Report abuse

The idea of Amy Klobuchar winning in Minnesota is simply ludicrous because of her timid stand on the war in Iraq regarding a withdrawal date. Her main opponent Patty Wetterling, the child safety advocate who put Amber Alert and Megan's Law on the books in Congress has already raised over a million dollars. She has also set a definite withdrawal date from Iraq --Thanksgiving 2006. Since her stance 45 days ago, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to ask President Bush to set a date, and the leading Congressional Democrat,John Murtha of Pennsylvania has endorsed an immediate pullout plan. Therefore she occupies the happy medium. Her opponent Mark Kennedy thinks so much of her he co-sponsored her proposed legislation this year which is embodied in the National Child Safety Act 2005 which passed the House and is now before the Senate. Kennedy told the Minneapolis Star Tribune "Patty's ideas are too importasnt to be left on the dielines." This leads up to the prospect of a Wetterling Kennedy race with the idea--why stop with the idea, why not send the author as well. Wetterling's perspeciaty in anticipating national trends before they occur will stand well in the days ahead as she moves on to other issues.

Posted by: Arlin carlson | December 13, 2005 1:13 PM | Report abuse

The idea of Amy Klobuchar winning in Minnesota is simply ludicrous because of her timid stand on the war in Iraq regarding a withdrawal date. Her main opponent Patty Wetterling, the child safety advocate who put Amber Alert and Megan's Law on the books in Congress has already raised over a million dollars. She has also set a definite withdrawal date from Iraq --Thanksgiving 2006. Since her stance 45 days ago, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to sk President Bush to set a date, and the leading Congressional Democrat,John Murtha of Pennsylvania has endorsed an immediate pullout plan. Therefore she occupies the happy mediou. Her opponent Mark Kennedy thinks so much of her he co-sponsored her proposed legislation this year which is embodied in the National Child Safety Act 2005 which passed the House and is now before the Senate. Kennedy told the Minneapolis Star Tribune "Patty's ideas are too importasnt to be left on the dielines." Thisa lead up to the prospect of a Wetterling Kennedy race with the idea--why stop with the idea, why not send the author as well. Wetterling's prepeciaty in anticipating national trends before they occur will stand well in the days ahead as she moves on to other issues.

Posted by: Arlin carlson | December 13, 2005 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Ever notice how some people are stupid enough to marry the clothes? When you're at the level where you think having a trophy wife/husband is important, then you're still an adolescent. Having a relationship with your politician should be more based upon performance in bed than what they look like.........if the feelings not there it doesn't matter what they look like.... Maybe you should look at who you're married to.

Posted by: ONly an idiot would applaud a party when the party is a facade | December 10, 2005 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Actually I live in NEOH and am in Brown's Dist. We see each other on the campaign trail and are on speaking terms. Used to live a block away from him.I live in the belly of the beast where for the past 20 years we have seen the demise of the steel and Ford plants. Point is, this process as evolved for the past 20-25 years and is nothing new here, we are immune to it and while it MAY be an issue, the 200,000 jobs have been lost over a long period of time, not on Dewine's watch.
The reason for the admission that Dewine is in trouble is to help with fundraising. You think he could motivate contributors if they felt he was a shoo-in, which he isn't?
Brown and Hackett already have nad blood between them. Warms the cockles of my heart.

Posted by: vivabush04 | December 10, 2005 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the economy is performing just wonderfully! That's why poverty is up and wages are down every year since Bush has been President. Those manufacturing jobs sure have Ohio humming along too! Along with that great college education available to every high school graduate in the state, which is preparing Ohio's economy to be strong for the next generation and providing the job opportunities that keep Ohio attracting young people from all over the country to enjoy its rich standard of living!

It's a lovely dream world you live in, Viva. Unfortunately it bears no resemblance to the truth. Ohioans are not thrilled to be losing more and more of their own servicemembers in a war fought on a false pretext which has accomplished nothing and has no end in sight.

Sixteen years of all-Republican rule is exactly why Ohioans are anxious for a change in the leadership of their state. Ohio is not a subsidiary of the Republican Party; you don't get to control everything there forever.

Why is the NRSC admitting that DeWine is its 2nd most vulnerable incumbent in the nation? Methinks you need to get out of Southwest OH more often.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 10, 2005 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Once again an OH-Woo Loser is wrong to trumpet the Dem's chances to beat Dewine.

The last time Brown ran state-wide in 1990, he lost to the sterling Bob Taft. True to form, he won big up North but could not beat the GOP south of Mansfield. The same scenario holds true today.

As for Rasmussen, you are looking at month-old stats. The most recent Rasmussen shows Dewine slightly ahead of both Hackett and Brown. Taft's numbers are down and do not apply to Dewine; they are hardly the same person. Going into 2006 the economy is on the upswing, even in Ohio and the Iraqis are holding their thrid national election and electing a new government. By November 2006 when the stock market exceeds 12,000, when the economy is growing at a 4-5% clip, when unemployment falls below 5%, when American casualties are down and troops slowly withdraw, it will be a different warand a different year.

Brown's big negatives which you cannot dismiss is that he is anti-war, any war, and that doesn not win votes in Ohio, maybe in Oberlin but not anywhere else. He is anti-gun, anti-business, pro tax and pro gay marriage in a state where the Marriage Amendment won 63-37% last year. Bush only beat Kerry 51-49 so a lot of Dems voted for Marriage. Brown's record is like a pinata that will be whacked incessantly starting with Hackett who will not hold back anything to win. Labor is a paper tiger and hardly the force it was 15-20 years ago and is one of the reasons why the Dems have been 0 for the last 15 years since they last won a state office. What makes things any different now?

In 2004 and 2005 the State GOP beat back a formidable Democrat, left wing coalition to prove its grassroots volunteers can get-out-the-vote better than the Dems. We beat them at their own game and I expect to do the same this year.

From ground zero in Ohio....
Vivabush04

Posted by: VIVABUSH04 | December 10, 2005 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I find a number of problems with your Ohio analysis, but let me just point out that Columbus is Central Ohio, not Southern. And Sherrod Brown already won statewide office twice. And some of those left-wing policies are rather popular in a state that A) has suffered 16 years of all-Republican government, B) has lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs in recent years, and C) is suffering badly from cuts to education, health, and the like. Brown is both smart and correct to raise the issue of young people leaving Ohio in droves. Ohio now ranks 49th in many education measures, and his anti-free trade message will help him gain a lot of votes. Labour will pull out all the stops for him as he's been such a reliable, stand up ally on their issues. He's also distinguished himself with a great record on health care, to the extent a minority Congressman can, and on those issues it's DeWine who's out of step with Ohioans; Brown actually represents their needs and desires pretty well.

Rasmussen polling recently found not only that Brown was leading DeWine, but that he'd beat DeWine by a larger margin than Hackett--a man with no political experience who would inevitably make fatal gaffes in his campaign. Brown is tested and ready for the Senate, and it's rare that we have a chance to elect a real progressive from a swing state like this. Hackett is better suited to the House where he has a good shot of beating Jean Schmidt and could (should) pay his dues before going to the Senate, which he is not ready for.

Through an odd set of circumstances, both Dems will have grassroots and netroots support, but I think time will show that Brown is clearly the superior candidate. I think he's more likely to win the nomination, and I think he can beat DeWine.

If anything, people should remember that Ohio has a particular precedent in electing its Senators: they have to run and lose first before they can win. DeWine lost to Glenn in 1992. Voinovich lost to Metzenbaum in 1988. Glenn and Metzenbaum both had their losses in the 70s. It's hard to tell if this sort of tradition is still alive, but if Brown were to lose (with around 48% of the vote) in 2006, he'd be in prime position to take out Voinovich in 2010.

Allen is hardly vulnerable. Burns is, but Schweitzer is not going to take him on, Tester or Morrison will. Schweitzer has to get reelected Governor to feed his presidential aspirations. How on earth has Chafee been a lock step conservative? He was the only Republican to vote against the war. He's voted against a number of the tax cuts. He publicly said he didn't vote for Bush for President in 2004. I think you're ignorant about or oversimplifying this. The Chafee name goes back a long time in Rhode Island, and despite his party affiliation he's a pretty good fit for his state. He had a strong opponent in 2000 and dispatched him easily. I think people are underestimating Chafee. The NRSC ads against Laffey will remind Dems and independents why they like Chafee. Brown or Whitehouse will have a tough challenge arguing that RI should oust an incumbent in favour of someone new with the same positions on the issues, just because they are a Democrat. Yes, the state is very Democratic, but it also hasn't had a Dem governor in over 10 years. Plenty of crossover voting going on in RI.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 10, 2005 3:46 AM | Report abuse

My comfort level with the reality that we exist within is decreasing. I haven't seen this much lack of concern for other people since "A Christmas Carol," and Ebeneezer is talking to Bob. Oh, I guess there was a little bit of racism around in the 50's and 60's. And poor people have always been thought of as not trying hard enough, usually. Bad engineering exists when a problem persists, a resource is not used or found to be useful....hell you can find something to do with peanut shells. I could solve the inequality and empty the jails withing 15 years, and not spend much more than is already spent on containment.....sloppy thinking is rampant. Such as you can't rebuild a good reputation as easily as you can maintain one. Good thing this is called Bush's War, cause America can just wipe it's hands on Bushwah and say....THAT wasn't our idea, probably wasn't his either...just the front man.


...but I can't ever remember people not having health insurance as a way of life. I mean look at the movie "Miracle on 34th Street." Someone could own a house or have a normal life working in a department store....you probably couldn't get 40 hours, and certainly not retirement and healthcare nowadays. Has something changed?

Seems to me, that the way disinformation is being used today, that people don't trust what does come out, so they don't pay attention. They've been lied to for so long that unless it's critical they just think that it's bs. I mean I'm sure that's what the government thought about Katrina....just kidding I don't think they needed any help to not think about the effects of Katrina.....is that in Pakistan? You can't feed people unreliable information on a consistent basis and expect them to be able to make competent decisions about their lives. That's the price you pay for disinformation....the other price is that you can cover up anything just by saying it's not true often enough....volume sways and shit stays....shoo fly.

Posted by: I really can't remember a time when people were this stupid | December 10, 2005 1:34 AM | Report abuse

Here's my take on the possibilities:

1: Santorum; he helped Spector turn back a very conservative primary challenge in 2004. Spector will attempt to return the favor. I would not call this a lock for Casey if Spector goes all out. That said, Casey wins with 53% of vote: MOVES TO BLUE

2: Maryland: GOP is making big fuss over a Democrats violation of Steele's personal financial position and credit history. Here is a fact that is getting over looked. I lived and was involved with newspaper industry in Steele's home of Prince George's County,, a largely African-American community. This is a fact, the man can not balance his own check book.

He has not been successful in private business. As a Lt Governor, he was chosen because he was the GOP Chairman and Erlich needed to offset Townsends strong democratic base.; However, Steele did NOT deliver votes for Erlioh in PG county. The percentage did not change from 1998 to 2002. What won the election for Erlich was a very weak Townsend who picked Larsen a no body as Lt. Governor who did not help her. Secondly, she was tied to Parris Glendening who left his wife and had an affair with one of his 30 something aides and had a baby at age 63 while being a second term governor. Marylanderss were fed up with Glendening and took it out on Townsend. Erlich won by default. Steele is untested and is very partisan. Steele was courted run as Prince Georges County Executive but declined because he knew he could not win over the african american voters. Instead, the ran a white women Audrey Scott who lost by 30 points. Final Analysis: Cardin wins with 58% of vote. It wont be close: STAYS BLUE

3: Mike Dewine: Sherrod will lose big in south Ohio especially in Cincy area and Columbus suburbs. HE will win big in Cleveland. Turnout will be the key to his victory. Hackett would have a better shot. I agree Dems are making a mistake running a left wing congressman in a moderate GOP state. Here's my take: Dewine 51% Sherrod 49%: Hackett 54% Dewine 46%. STAYS RED

4: Tennessee: Ford can not break the racial barrier in East Tenneessee. He is not Obama. Any GOP 55%; Ford 45%: Stays RED

5: Washington: Cantwell 53%; Safeco 47%
STAYS BLUE

6: Missouri: McKaskill 52% Talent 48%. Talent played dirty with Carnahan and Missouri remembers it well. Moves to BLUE

7: New Jersey: Kean factor motivates the GOP moderate base. Conservatives like Forrestor supporters will stay home: Menendez 55% Kean 45%; Stays Blue

8: Michigan: Stabenow squeaks by: GOP is not liked; FINAL Stabenow 52%; Amway salesman 48%: Stays Blue

9: Minnesota: Minn will buck any trend. The most independent group of voters in US. RATE: TOSS-UP

10: UPSET SPECIAL: George ALLEN loses VA in 2006 to Don Beyer if he decides to run at all. Allen is increasingly seen as a lighweight intellectually which he is. HE spends little time in VA working for VA. A primary run by WOLF of Norther VA could oust him. Wolf may run, Allen may step down to run for President because he has Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell's backing. TOSS-UP

11: UPSET Special #2: Current governor of Montana Schweitzer takes down Burns IF Schweitzer can remain as govenor and run for senate at same time. STATE TURNS BLUE

12: Rhode Island: State is a Democratic state. Chafee is a very liberal Republican who has made mistake of falling in lockstep with Conservative GOP. It will cost him his seat: DEML 53%; Chaffee 47%. State switches to Blue

I have not commented on the two Nelsons, Florida and Nebraska. Both remain blue states as both are well liked and have not made any misteps while in office.

My prediction, the least DEMS pick up is four, the most Seven. Overall prediction: SENATE GOP 51 seats; DEMS 49 seats. GOP Moderates Spector, Snowe, Collins, will be swing votes on all issues. The days of right wing dominance will have ended.

Posted by: db | December 10, 2005 1:19 AM | Report abuse

But to use 2004 as an example of low voter participation doesn't make a lot of sense. It was the first time since ratification of the 26th Amendment that turnout reached 60%. Political activity and participation were unusually high in the US in 2004. I'm a political junkie and I loved it. I thought it was closer to the way (our) democracy is supposed to work. But we still lost. There are a number of reasons for low turnout, and reforms we could make to improve it, which is a great topic to discuss. We should have same-day voter registration for one thing, if we keep it at all since the whole idea is antiquated, and Election Day should be declared a federal holiday--even on a philosophical basis, it makes less sense to celebrate Independence Day than election day. It's voting that makes us a democracy; we could just as easily be independent and totalitarian. I don't see what 2004's turnout is supposed to predict for 2006, or who it would benefit. Probably the turnout in 06 will be similar to that in any other midterm election like 1998 or 2002.

Though experts have pointed out that many states are eager to change Governors, meaning it will be hard for Democrats not to come out of next fall with a majority of governorships (we now have 22) for the first time since 1994. Almost all the open Governor's seats are being vacated by Republicans. In the Senate, it's about even: MN and MD on our side; TN for Republicans, of the competitive races. By itself, the fact that Dems have more seats to defend than Republicans means nothing. Many of them, e.g. NY, aren't competitive. The set that are suggests Democratic gains; I have yet to see anyone argue that the Republicans gain seats or even come out with the 55 seats they have now. The question is just how many seats Dems will gain and what the chances are of gaining the 6 we need to win a majority (slim at this point, but not outside the realm of possibility). I don't think anyone would have guessed 2-3 years ago that Mike DeWine would be vulnerable (as admitted by the NRSC!).

Check out all the recent polling data. The issues at the tops of voters' minds are Iraq and the economy. They're dissatisfied with how those are going, and disapprove of Bush and Congressional Republicans on them. Bush's approval ratings are up slightly but still very low for a second termer, and anger at Congress is at its highest since 1994. As usual, 2006 will be more about voting against one party than for another, but it's clearly shaping up to be a Democratic year.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 9, 2005 10:53 PM | Report abuse

You realize that part of why voter turnout has been decreasing is the large number of people disenfranchised by going to jail? The US *does* have more people in prison than any country in the world, including China with 5 times our population.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 9, 2005 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I think you mean Slade Gorton (R-WA).

But yes, the re-elect rate would be higher for House than Senate members for a number of reasons; one being that it's much harder to gerrymander states than districts.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 9, 2005 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Will: There has been no Senator Gordon in recent history. Who are you referring to?

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 9, 2005 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Sandwich Repairman, yes you're right that 60% was the total voter turnout. That was 60% of all registered voters.

But, the number of eligible voting age who did not go to the polls in 2004 was 78 million. According to numbers I found, there were 217.8 million voting age residents in the U.S. population. That comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, Take it for what it's worth.

Bush received 62,040,610 and Kerry received 59,028,111. Do the math and the number of non-voting comes out higher, about 96 million, but that includes several million U.S. voting age residents who were non-citizens and not eligible to vote. Thus, the number of eligible U.S. residents who could have, but didn't vote is estimated to be around 78 million.

However, my point was, as much as we celebrate our democracy, a lot of people simply can't take the time to participate in the voting process.

I also agree with you that there are several vulnerable Republicans up for reelection, Santorum probably in the worst shape. But my guess is, Democrats will win nothing below the Mason-Dixon Line with the possible exception of Bill Nelson of Florida. Unfortunately, the Republican apparatchik have fine-tuned their computer hacking techniques there and Katherine Harris may win in spite of what the polls say. Considering the rest of the field,

Democrats have to defend and win 17 U.S. Senate seats while Republicans only have to defend and win 15. Most of the House members also are expected to be returned to office but only those who know their own political gut feelings can tell who will be turned out and who will stay. One thing for sure, in California Randy "Duke" Cunningham who resigned will not be back in office but a Democrat winning in his district has about as much of a chance of winning there as Jane Fonda.

With imponderables like "wag the dog" good or busted economic numbers on jobs and unemployment, etc. plus a full-on assault against Democrats by Swift Boaters and Screech Radio, you have to give the edge to the Republican Party since they dominate the media, in spite of their whining that the "Librul" media is slanted against them. I don't believe that for a minute. Who needs the Lincoln Group when Republicans have Fox News Network?

What I do predict is the spate of hot button wedge issues like flag desecration, dozens of anti-gay issues on state ballots which the Religious Right like Dobson's Focus on the Family will insist on, prayer in schools (my prayer, not yours) along with the so-called Intelligent Design-Evolution debate that the media have been mostly responsible for perpetuating, and of course THE WAR!!! If you're against the war of course, you'll be tarred as being against the military and not supporting our troops, you're against people of faith, you hate God and you're against the soon-to-be-introduced Republican-sponsored bill, "Freedom to Bake Mom's Apple Pie."

And, don't forget the Axis of Evil. If Republicans look like they're in danger of losing power there's always a good old fashioned bombing to take out Syria, Iran, North Korea or maybe all three. Shock and awe war and pyrotechnics trumps everything else. Besides, you can't change horses in the middle of a stream, especially when the nation is at war.

Posted by: Richard | December 9, 2005 10:22 PM | Report abuse

The Ohio Republican Party is a mess. The four ballot initiatives that went down last month went down because they were confusiong, not because anyone wanted to stand up for the Ohio Republican Party. Governor Taft's approval rating was 15% in the last poll I read. Whether or not he is on the ballot next year, he is a drag. Congressman Strickland is a solid candidate for Governor. A moderate Democrat who has been supported by the NRA in the past, he will do well in red/purple counties in central/southern Ohio. Look for Strickland to also pick up ground in the exurbs of Medina and Delaware Counties. The Republicans have run the state for the past 16 years. It is not only Democrats in Ohio who think it is time for a change.

Posted by: Zak In Ohio... | December 9, 2005 9:51 PM | Report abuse

The 98% reelect rate is for House races, the high figure being due to gerrymandering and the tendency of people to live in clusters of politically likeminded kin.

I'm not sure what the reelect rate is for senators, but it is a lot lower. In 2000 six senators lost reelection (Robb (D), Ashcroft (R), Gordon (R), Grams (R), Roth (R), Abraham (R)) which was somewhat exceptional but proves that such shakeups are possible.

Posted by: Will Pastor | December 9, 2005 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey Richard: voter turnout in 2004 was 60%, a level the US hadn't seen since the 1960s. It was just 51% in 2000, 49% in 1996, and 52% or 55% in 1992. Just how high do you think voter turnout should get, or can realistically get?

Yes, incumbents have an overwhelming reelection rate. That's why the open seats are of such interest (MN, MD, TN). And that 98% figure can be pretty misleading. Republicans gained 8 Senate seats and 52 House seats in the 1994 elections. We're looking at a year potentially almost as big for Democrats. When incumbents like Santorum, DeWine, and Talent are polling as badly as they are, and when the public is disillusioned about the direction of the country as they are now, incumbency can easily turn into more of a liability than an asset.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 9, 2005 6:41 PM | Report abuse

New Brunswick will not be competitive?? What are you talking about? The Liberals and NDP are battling it out fiercely over there! Look for a 10-15 seat gain for the NDP in next month's elections. Jack Layton is on the rise. What's more, the Grits are about to lose most of the seats they have left in Quebec (about 14 of 21) to the BQ. Paul Martin will emerge as leader of an even weaker minority government, giving the NDP more federal influence than ever before.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 9, 2005 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Re: Casey v. Santorum in Pennsylvania

I am a conervative and first voted for Santorum when he was a no-name first term congressmen from western Pennsylvania. His anti-big government, anti-tax stance stance appealed to me, and his religious/abortion ideas appeared secondary.

I watched him on C-SPAN in the early 1990's rail daily against the corrupt Democrats, about out of control federal spending, huge budget and trade deficits, ethical lapses, and lobbyist influence in politics. In those early days, local media had a name for Santorum, "Slick Rick." I resented that and felt the media was being unfair toward this political newcomer.

Fast forward, 15 years, and today, I reflect on Santorum's rather humble start to realize he has become exactly what he criticized Democrats for. Santorum is no true conversative, in any sense of the word, either fiscally or socially. He has aided and abetted the "out of control" spending and pork barrel politics of the GOP, since 1994. I don't even recognize the Santorum of today, versus the young upstart.

Two things I know about Santorum today; you can count on hearing from him about every 30-60 days re: abortion AND he is the chief sponsor of puppy-mill legislation in the US Senate. Period.

Rick Santorum took a wrong turn from the people of Pennsylvania when he began to follow the wishes of the national GOP elites and put his personal "national aspirations" above those of average citizens. In effect, he turned his back on the people of Pennsylania.

Pennsylvania has lost more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs (well-paying jobs of average citizens) since the mid-1990's. Santorum has voted consistently against any increase in the minimum wage and in fact has lobbied to keep it stagnant. Santorum's fiscal votes and policies have been nothing short of reckless for the people of Pennsylvania.

Finally, with the ethics and influence charges swirling around former House Speaker Tom Delay (and the effort to redistrict in Texas), Santorum should tell his own story. How, as a result of the 2000 census, he and his protege, fellow GOP Congresswoman Melissa Hart (R-PA), became the "Bullies-in-Chief" in Pennsylvania, and bullied the Pennsylvania Legislature into a statewide redistricting plan that gave Republicans a 5 seat majority in the Congressional delegation. How could the state congressional delegation go from 11 DEMS, 10 REPS (with minus 2 because of population loss) to post 2000 of 12 REPS and 7 DEMS?

Santorum and Hart are guilty of influence peddling (i.e. Tom Delay and the Texas situation) and used the promises of $$$ and influence to thwart the fair representation of the people of Pennsylvania.

Santorum has forgotten the citizens of the Commonwealth. Come to western Pennsylvania. There are no jobs, the roads, sewers, and schools are a mess. We've got $500 million worth of new pro sports stadiums, which Santorum lobbied for the people to be taxed for.

Santorum should look in the mirror. He may not see "Slick Rick" but he will most assuredly see "Reckless Rick." He has been reckless with the public trust of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and should be returned to his only true state of residence, permanently, the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Posted by: Mark Rodgers | December 9, 2005 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to hear how Connecticut votes Lincoln Chafee out next year given that Chafee represents Rhode Island. If there's any change in CT, it will be the aftermath of Lieberman becoming Secretary of Defense.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 9, 2005 6:27 PM | Report abuse

AZ, WA, NE, and MI are not competitive. Kyl doesn't even have an opponent. Cantwell is polling 15 points ahead of hers, and Nelson is way ahead.

This reminds me of 2000 when the experts were all focused on the possibility of a Democratic House and all but wrote off Democrats' chances in the Senate. I remember telling people to forget about NY and look at MO and WA. They seemed shocked when we gained 5 seats--especially those two--to make it 50-50. Santorum is toast; OH, MO, and MT are likely pickups. TN is a strong possibility. RI, MD, and MN will be close, but ultimately I see the incumbent party holding those seats. Noteworthy that FL has fallen off the radar screen at this point.

No one is going to unseat Olympia Snowe (R) in Maine.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 9, 2005 6:20 PM | Report abuse

The average American doesn't give a damn.

Posted by: Don Phelps | December 9, 2005 5:13 PM | Report abuse

George Bush Sr. started it. He tacitly gave Saddam the okay to invade Kuwait. Since Iraq felt that the Kuwaiti's had taken oil from Iraq, Saddam did that, Bush ordered Desert Storm to open the door for future occupation....left Saddam in charge as a reason to return. His son completed that set-up after 9/11, resource secured. Please remember that somehow Saddam Hussein escaped from a city surrounded by drone reconnaisance, ground operatives that had infiltrated his troops, active troops, AWACS, spy satellites that can tell you what you ate for lunch today, knowing exactly what they needed to be looking for and where to look....with three tractor trailers loaded with cash....not possible. Do you know that Saddam is in Iraq? Because they told you? Have you ever been lied to by them? Are any of their children fighting in this war? Say: Mom, Apple Pie, Partriotism, gun control, gay marriage, and some people do whatever you tell them to without thinking or examining...Pavlovian response. Hamsters on wheels....this is called appeal to emotion, grounds for disqualifying a response in college level debate and your average US vs Them primitive doesn't even know when he/she is being directed/led.

Posted by: The economic containment of a scarce resource in an unstable region? | December 9, 2005 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Apologies to those who may think I'm spamming but every time I tried posting I got the message back, "website not responding." Ergo, the multiple posts on same topic.

Posted by: Richard | December 9, 2005 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I am a 50+ midwest born conservative. I say conservative because I do not know who these people are that call themselves Republicans today. This is not the strong defense, low tax low spend Republicanism of our youth. That GW and the rest can coop the GOP is a travesty.

Real Republicanism does not meddle in others personal, private business and leaves religion for the preachers and sunday.

Their numbers have to be decreased in the Congress if we are to remain a democracy. I do not want to be ruled by any religeous order be it christian, pagan, whatever.

Posted by: oigfree | December 9, 2005 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I am a 50+ midwest born conservative. I say conservative because I do not know who these people are that call themselves Republicans today. This is not the strong defense, low tax low spend Republicanism of our youth. That GW and the rest can coop the GOP is a travesty.

Real Republicanism does not meddle in others personal, private business and leaves religion for the preachers and sunday.

Their numbers have to be decreased in the Congress if we are to remain a democracy. I do not want to be ruled by any religeous order be it christian, pagan, whatever.

Posted by: oigfree | December 9, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I am a 50+ midwest born conservative. I say conservative because I do not know who these people are that call themselves Republicans today. This is not the strong defense, low tax low spend Republicanism of our youth. That GW and the rest can coop the GOP is a travesty.

Real Republicanism does not meddle in others personal, private business and leaves religion for the preachers and sunday.

Their numbers have to be decreased in the Congress if we are to remain a democracy. I do not want to be ruled by any religeous order be it christian, pagan, whatever.

Posted by: oigfree | December 9, 2005 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I am a 50+ midwest born conservative. I say conservative because I do not know who these people are that call themselves Republicans today. This is not the strong defense, low tax low spend Republicanism of our youth. That GW and the rest can coop the GOP is a travesty.

Real Republicanism does not meddle in others personal, private business and leaves religion for the preachers and sunday.

Their numbers have to be decreased in the Congress if we are to remain a democracy. I do not want to be ruled by any religeous order be it christian, pagan, whatever.

Posted by: oigfree | December 9, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Slimmer majority or not, Bush and the Republicans will rule as if they have an absolute mandate. Look at the statistical truth to confirm the fact that in the last 10 to 12 years somewhere between 95% and 98% of all incumbents are returned to office. That's a fact.

Democrats, whether energized (poor word) by prospects that they could increase their numbers should be prepared to expect more of the same partisan, my-way-or-the-highway Republican totalitarian rule. The Republicans have already made a mockery out of the Ethics Committee and the Federal Election Commission where majority Republicans control the agenda and the rules.

As to the U.S. Supreme Court, even if in the unforseen event Democrats ever do gain a slim majority in either house of Congress or the unlikely scenario that the voters put a Republican-Lite president in the White House (someone like a Joe Lieberman), you can bet that the minimum five-person phalanx of partisan, activist Supreme Court justices now ensconced by Republican administrations will throw up as many roadblocks to Democratic priorities as they can muster.

Add to the sad state of democracy in our country is the fact that 78 million eligible voters did not vote in the 2004 election. There is nothing in the tea leaves that suggests to me that that number will improve in either 2006 or 2008.

The truth is, democracy and self-rule died a long time ago in America as we have seen special interest K Street lobbyists add more and more congressmen and women to their payrolls. One would have thought that Bush's initial $1.35 trillion tax cut giveaway to the wealthiest 1% of the population would have been a wakeup call for the people.

But, Republicans, arrogant and confident that the power of the people is a chimera, just passed en masse the USA Patriot Act with even more curbs on individual rights and freedoms than the first law which was passed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

Adding insult to injury and as a show of utter contempt for fiscal responsibility, this same autocratic Republican regime by a 234-197 vote just passed tax cuts that will cost the U.S. Treasury $94.5 billion over five years. They still don't have the integrity or honesty to include the costs of Hurricane Katrina funding or the ongoing $6 billion per month cost of waging Bush's vanity war in Iraq but instead, are catapulting the propaganda and their mendacious claim that they are lowering the previous federal deficit from $521 billion in 2004 to $319 billion in 2005.

Back to the USA Patriot Act, the version that the Republicans passed did not include a single Democrat in the negotiations. Talk about irrelevant. Maybe Joe "what me worry" Lieberman will step up to the plate and embrace it in a pretense to show bipartisan unity.

But it sure as hell doesn't display any signs of cojones. And like Walter Winchell said in earlier years, "And that's the way it is."

Posted by: Richard | December 9, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Slimmer majority or not, Bush and the Republicans will rule as if they have an absolute mandate. Look at the statistical truth to confirm the fact that in the last 10 to 12 years somewhere between 95% and 98% of all incumbents are returned to office. That's a fact.

Democrats, whether energized (poor word) by prospects that they could increase their numbers should be prepared to expect more of the same partisan, my-way-or-the-highway Republican totalitarian rule. The Republicans have already made a mockery out of the Ethics Committee and the Federal Election Commission where majority Republicans control the agenda and the rules.

As to the U.S. Supreme Court, even if in the unforseen event Democrats ever do gain a slim majority in either house of Congress or the unlikely scenario that the voters put a Republican-Lite president in the White House (someone like a Joe Lieberman), you can bet that the minimum five-person phalanx of partisan, activist Supreme Court justices now ensconced by Republican administrations will throw up as many roadblocks to Democratic priorities as they can muster.

Add to the sad state of democracy in our country is the fact that 78 million eligible voters did not vote in the 2004 election. There is nothing in the tea leaves that suggests to me that that number will improve in either 2006 or 2008.

The truth is, democracy and self-rule died a long time ago in America as we have seen special interest K Street lobbyists add more and more congressmen and women to their payrolls. One would have thought that Bush's initial $1.35 trillion tax cut giveaway to the wealthiest 1% of the population would have been a wakeup call for the people.

But, Republicans, arrogant and confident that the power of the people is a chimera, just passed en masse the USA Patriot Act with even more curbs on individual rights and freedoms than the first law which was passed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

Adding insult to injury and as a show of utter contempt for fiscal responsibility, this same autocratic Republican regime by a 234-197 vote just passed tax cuts that will cost the U.S. Treasury $94.5 billion over five years. They still don't have the integrity or honesty to include the costs of Hurricane Katrina funding or the ongoing $6 billion per month cost of waging Bush's vanity war in Iraq but instead, are catapulting the propaganda and their mendacious claim that they are lowering the previous federal deficit from $521 billion in 2004 to $319 billion in 2005.

Back to the USA Patriot Act, the version that the Republicans passed did not include a single Democrat in the negotiations. Talk about irrelevant. Maybe Joe "what me worry" Lieberman will step up to the plate and embrace it in a pretense to show bipartisan unity.

But it sure as hell doesn't display any signs of cojones. And like Walter Winchell said in earlier years, "And that's the way it is."

Posted by: Richard | December 9, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I am a 50+ midwest born conservative. I say conservative because I do not know who these people are that call themselves Republicans today. This is not the strong defense, low tax low spend Republicanism of our youth. That GW and the rest can coop the GOP is a travesty.

Real Republicanism does not meddle in others personal, private business and leaves religion for the preachers and sunday.

Their numbers have to be decreased in the Congress if we are to remain a democracy. I do not want to be ruled by any religeous order be it christian, pagan, whatever.

Posted by: oigfree | December 9, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Slimmer majority or not, Bush and the Republicans will rule as if they have an absolute mandate. Look at the statistical truth to confirm the fact that in the last 10 to 12 years somewhere between 95% and 98% of all incumbents are returned to office. That's a fact.

Democrats, whether energized (poor word) by prospects that they could increase their numbers should be prepared to expect more of the same partisan, my-way-or-the-highway Republican totalitarian rule. The Republicans have already made a mockery out of the Ethics Committee and the Federal Election Commission where majority Republicans control the agenda and the rules.

As to the U.S. Supreme Court, even if in the unforseen event Democrats ever do gain a slim majority in either house of Congress or the unlikely scenario that the voters put a Republican-Lite president in the White House (someone like a Joe Lieberman), you can bet that the minimum five-person phalanx of partisan, activist Supreme Court justices now ensconced by Republican administrations will throw up as many roadblocks to Democratic priorities as they can muster.

Add to the sad state of democracy in our country is the fact that 78 million eligible voters did not vote in the 2004 election. There is nothing in the tea leaves that suggests to me that that number will improve in either 2006 or 2008.

The truth is, democracy and self-rule died a long time ago in America as we have seen special interest K Street lobbyists add more and more congressmen and women to their payrolls. One would have thought that Bush's initial $1.35 trillion tax cut giveaway to the wealthiest 1% of the population would have been a wakeup call for the people.

But, Republicans, arrogant and confident that the power of the people is a chimera, just passed en masse the USA Patriot Act with even more curbs on individual rights and freedoms than the first law which was passed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

Adding insult to injury and as a show of utter contempt for fiscal responsibility, this same autocratic Republican regime by a 234-197 vote just passed tax cuts that will cost the U.S. Treasury $94.5 billion over five years. They still don't have the integrity or honesty to include the costs of Hurricane Katrina funding or the ongoing $6 billion per month cost of waging Bush's vanity war in Iraq but instead, are catapulting the propaganda and their mendacious claim that they are lowering the previous federal deficit from $521 billion in 2004 to $319 billion in 2005.

Back to the USA Patriot Act, the version that the Republicans passed did not include a single Democrat in the negotiations. Talk about irrelevant. Maybe Joe "what me worry" Liberman will step up to the plate and embrace it in a pretense to show bipartisan unity.

But it sure as hell doesn't display any signs of cojones. And like Walter Winchell said in earlier years, "And that's the way it is."

Posted by: Richard | December 9, 2005 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Slimmer majority or not, Bush and the Republicans will rule as if they have an absolute mandate. Look at the statistical truth to confirm the fact that in the last 10 to 12 years somewhere between 95% and 98% of all incumbents are returned to office. That's a fact.

Democrats, whether energized (poor word) by prospects that they could increase their numbers should be prepared to expect more of the same partisan, my-way-or-the-highway Republican totalitarian rule. The Republicans have already made a mockery out of the Ethics Committee and the Federal Election Commission where majority Republicans control the agenda and the rules.

As to the U.S. Supreme Court, even if in the unforseen event Democrats ever do gain a slim majority in either house of Congress or the unlikely scenario that the voters put a Republican-Lite president in the White House (someone like a Joe Lieberman), you can bet that the minimum five-person phalanx of partisan, activist Supreme Court justices now ensconced by Republican administrations will throw up as many roadblocks to Democratic priorities as they can muster.

Add to the sad state of democracy in our country is the fact that 78 million eligible voters did not vote in the 2004 election. There is nothing in the tea leaves that suggests to me that that number will improve in either 2006 or 2008.

The truth is, democracy and self-rule died a long time ago in America as we have seen special interest K Street lobbyists add more and more congressmen and women to their payrolls. One would have thought that Bush's initial $1.35 trillion tax cut giveaway to the wealthiest 1% of the population would have been a wakeup call for the people.

But, Republicans, arrogant and confident that the power of the people is a chimera, just passed en masse the USA Patriot Act with even more curbs on individual rights and freedoms than the first law which was passed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

Adding insult to injury and as a show of utter contempt for fiscal responsibility, this same autocratic Republican regime by a 234-197 vote just passed tax cuts that will cost the U.S. Treasury $94.5 billion over five years. They still don't have the integrity or honesty to include the costs of Hurricane Katrina funding or the ongoing $6 billion per month cost of waging Bush's vanity war in Iraq but instead, are catapulting the propaganda and their mendacious claim that they are lowering the previous federal deficit from $521 billion in 2004 to $319 billion in 2005.

Back to the USA Patriot Act, the version that the Republicans passed did not include a single Democrat in the negotiations. Talk about irrelevant. Maybe Joe "what me worry" Liberman will step up to the plate and embrace it in a pretense to show bipartisan unity.

But it sure as hell doesn't display any signs of cojones. And like Walter Winchell said in earlier years, "And that's the way it is."

Posted by: Richard | December 9, 2005 3:26 PM | Report abuse

This blog is a prime example of media bias( which, of course, the MSM claims does not exist). Chris is practically a cheerleader for Dems regaining control of the Senate with no perspective on the realities of political climate outside the Beltway. While Democrats should have every opportunity to gain seats, realistically, they will lose seats. The reason, they are absolutely bereft of ideas and positive policies. Their two-faced opinions on the Iraq liberation will come back to haunt them during the mid-term elections.

Posted by: Thomas Stealy | December 9, 2005 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Jeb Bush running for President in 2016 doesn't seem plausible either. Yes, he won the Governorship twice in FL, against weak Democratic opponents. Also, he had the unwavering support of the Cuban community which ultimately decided both of his elections here but carry no such clout in a National race.

This country will not elect a third "Bush" anytime soon. Further, there is immediate family baggage well beyond the underage drinking of W's twins.

Posted by: Miami | December 9, 2005 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Harold Ford Jr. will be the next U.S. Senator in Tennessee.

http://haroldfordjr2006.blogspot.com/

According a recently released analysis from the Cook Political Report, Tennessee's Senate race ranks as only 1 of 4 toss-ups in the entire country. Cook is not alone in his analysis either. Other well respected experts and pundits also believe Ford can win.

They are all backed up by several key facts.

First, the latest Zogby poll showed Congressman surging in support. According to the polling, back in August, Ford trailed by 17 points. In September, he was behind 11 points. And according to the latest polling, he has cut the lead to within the margin of error to 6 points.

Second, a recent Global Strategy Group poll showed Congressman Ford leading all of his opponents in U.S. Senate campaign.

Finally, Congressman Ford led all his candidates in fundraising for the third quarter and has raised more than any other candidate this year.

Other indicators also support the assertion that Congressman Ford is on his way to a 2006 victory.

According to a November article in the Tennessean a MTSU poll showed that, "Bush's approval rating had plunged from 55% last February to 40% this fall. Support for the war in Iraq also dropped, as did Tennesseans' belief that Bush could achieve political goals such as keeping America prosperous and ensuring Social Security's long-term stability."

"The poll also found that 64% of Tennesseans are unhappy with the nation's direction."

Those numbers coincide with the findings from the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

When asked, "What is your preference for the outcome of the November 2006 congressional elections: a Congress controlled by Republicans or a Congress controlled by Democrats?," 36% of respondents said they would prefer a Republican Congress, while 47% said they would like to see a Democratically controlled Congress.

It is clear: people want change.

Harold Ford represents change, and that is why he will be Tennessee's next U.S. Senator.

More: On Thursday the National Republican Senatorial Committee showed just how scared they are of Congressman Ford and his campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Out of the 197 people that voted against Thursday's bill, the National Republican Senatorial Committee attacks only who?

You guessed it, Congressman Ford!

That shows you just how scared they are of him and his campaign!

Posted by: Chris D. Jackson | December 9, 2005 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I've noticed that at the end of the day, sophisticated analyses tend to be less successful than simple polls. Granted, polls might be less useful this far out, but I still think they are the best predictor.

Based on the polls, Santorum is doomed. DeWine and Talent are about even with challengers. The RI, TN and NJ polls have undecided categories that are too big for anyone to figure out much. No one has polled MN or MT (at least not recently) for reasons that are beyond me. Cardin should pull through in Maryland. WA, NB, MI, and AZ are not competitive.

Posted by: Will Pastor | December 9, 2005 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats will pick up at least three seats in 2006. They will hold onto their current seats. So which Republicans will get the ax? Rick S, Mike DeWine, and Lincold Chaffee. Bob Casey Jr. has a golden situation. What carried Rick Santorum was his abilty to unite Catholic voters, but with Casey being a prolife Catholic will make Rick's stength go away. Also, Rick is so right the liberal hate him so much that they will unite behind a prolife Democrat in order to win. So Casey will not lose any liberal for being prolife, and will pick up prolife voters who only vote Casey for that issue. Casey will not win by 10 or more percent but will win by about 5%. Mike DeWine will get beat by either Paul Hackett or Sherrod Brown. Both Dems are leading Mike DeWine right now. Paul Hackett will do better since he is an Iraq veteran because Ohio supports their vets since they were one of the hardest hit by troop deaths. Plus, Paul Hackett is a straight shooter and is more conservative than most Democrats. He is unique too because although he is a centrist liberals love him to death, and will pump loads of cash to his campaign. Plus, Hackett is leading by a couple percentage points before he has even campaigned. This is a point to look at because Hackett is not state wide know like DeWine, and most voters this early vote on name recognition. Once, Hackett gets more known he will take a bigger lead over DeWine. Plus, his campaign will feed off Ted Strickland's success. Strickland is running for governor is leading in polls over any Republican candidate by 8%. There will be a lot more straigt ticket voters because of Strickland thus the votes going torward Hackett. Dems and Independents want to get Repubs out after Taft. My guess is that Hackett will pull off 54 to 46% win. Chaffee, is dead in the water. He is getting primary challenged and Conneticut is very Democratic, and will vote Chaffee out. Dems look good in 2006.

Posted by: Independent | December 9, 2005 1:02 PM | Report abuse

You're way off on Maria Cantwell's race in Washington state. Check this out for the proof that Cantwell is getting safer all the time: http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/12/8/161822/932

Posted by: Ken | December 9, 2005 12:59 PM | Report abuse

RE: DeWine and Ohio
I was back in Ohio with relatives at Thanksgiving and asked about whether they had voted on the amendments. The answers were "No", and the explanation was that they didn't really think it that important. However, EVERYONE is going to go to the polls to get rid of Taft. This represents a big problem for DeWine.

Posted by: schlicht | December 9, 2005 12:54 PM | Report abuse

New Jersey and Maryland? Come on. Republicans have a faint chance in New Jersey and none at all in Maryland. Steele is not only far too conservative for Maryland but will be running against a popular Democrat, Ben Cardin. Add to that the unpopularity of Gov. Ehrlich, who will be running for reelection, most likely against the very popular and charismatic Mayor O'Malley of Baltimore and the huge advantage of Democrats in Maryland both in terms of numbers and organization and Steele is sunk even before you add in that Bush is not at all popular in Maryland. Ehrlich only won in 2002 because Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was such a wretched candidate and had such a terrible record as Lt. Gov.

As for Washington and Minnesota, the Dems will hold. Cantwell would have probably lost had Rossi been the nominee but now she should be reelected with a small but certain margin. In Minnesota the Republicans lost their best chance when Sen. Dayton decided not to run for reelection...his personal unpopularity is only matched in the state by the unpopularity of national Republicans, and Rep. Kennedy has an uphill battle. The Republicans, however, should hold Missouri and probably Montana as well. In neither state do the Democrats have the organization and the candidate to take out the incumbents, no matter how weakened they may be. Burns was weak back in 2000 against Schweitzer, a stellar candidate, but still managed to win.

As for Ohio is Sherrod Brown is the Democratic nominee than Sen. DeWine will be reelected fairly easily...if Hackett is the nominee DeWine will probably lose, perhaps decisively. However, institutional Democrats seem hell bent on shooting the party in the foot and backing Brown at all costs. Look for the Dems to grab defeat from the jaws of victory by nominating the boring and uninspiring Brown.

As for Nebraska, I do not think either will change hands. Sen. Nelson changing parties at some point would be more likely than him losing reelection in 2006, and I do not see either as a strong possibility. In Nebraska Senate elections personality not party has been the big issue for years, hence this conservative state has sent a series of centrist Democrats like Nelson to the Senate for multiple terms. Nelson is personally popular at a time when both the Democratic and Republican parties are not trusted by Nebraksa voters. Ricketts great spending ability helps make a race that given the political climate should have been easy for the Republicans competitive for them when otherwise it would not have been given Nelson's popularity. However, Nelson is no slouch as a fundraiser and Ricketts' money probably will not be enough.

In Tennessee Rep. Ford is delusional if he thinks he can win. The state is not only solidly conservative but Rep. Ford has his own family scandal problems to deal with as well as Southern racial politics. He will lose by a margin that will look suprisingly large to the Northern elites but will surprise few of us in the South.

End prognosis. The Democrats pick up Pennsylvania and Rhode Island and that is it. Everything else pretty much stays the same. Although the Nebraska seat could go either way Nelson still should be favored. I would be shocked if the Dems pick up more than 1 or 2 seats tops.

Posted by: Rachel B. (Maryland) | December 9, 2005 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Democrats will pick up Missouri, Montana,Ohio R.I.,and Penn. without losing a single seat giving us a 50/50 Senate. Talk about deadlock and chaos. It will also force Cheney to emerge from his hideout to break ties and try to organize things.

Posted by: Peter L. | December 9, 2005 12:30 PM | Report abuse

What state is EI? Was that supposed to be RI (Rhode Island)?

Regarding Maine, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both moderate-to-liberal Republicans, hold their seats due to personal, rather than party, strength (though I'm somewhat surprised that no credible Democrat has expressed any interest in taking on Snowe). The same is the case with Nebraska's Ben Nelson.

Posted by: MHK919 | December 9, 2005 12:19 PM | Report abuse

All of you are so wrong. None of you have the pulse of the American people. The people are tired, disgusted, and fed up with politicians, regardless of the party. They are sick of non-answers and double talk from politicians who speak so slowly you would think they were mentally disabled.(They are.) There is no poll that will tell you anything, because the people will choose on a case by case basis, who, at the moment, seems honest(a rarity), and interested in serving the state they represent(even rarer), not themselves, their families, or special interests. These comments cut across party lines. Both parties have succumbed to self-interest and greed, and the people see it. We are not dumb, and far smarter than any people in the Beltway whose only contact with America is by cell phone. (This includes journalists.) If a new party were to start, it would overtake both parties within minutes. Where are statesmen? All that's left is self-seeking some-kind-of-crats whose only interest is themselves.

Posted by: Lorenzo | December 9, 2005 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I too disagree with the assessment of the Tennessee US Senate race, Mr. Cilliza.

If Tennessee is such an easy win for Republicans, why is the NRSC already attacking Harold Ford? Must mean that Ford is onto something and the National Republicans are worried.

Posted by: Terrance | December 9, 2005 12:00 PM | Report abuse

WA and NE are not top-10 races at this point. I'd replace them with TN and AZ.

Although, really, there are only 8 or 9 competetive races at this point, and I think you got the rest of them right. I'd quarrel with the order a bit - Santorum's seat is definitely #1 right now, but I'd put DeWine at #2 (Ohio GOP is in terrible shape, Taft has single digit approval ratings) and the open MN seat at #3, ahead of Chaffee. You are also underestimating Talent's troubles in MO, that seat should be at #5.

top tier:
1. PA
2. OH
3. MN
4. RI
5. MO

2nd tier:
6. MT (Burns is in deep if he gets wrapped up w/ Abramoff)
7. NJ
8. MD
9. TN

3rd tier:
AZ, WA, NE, FL, VA (if the Dems can recruit Webb or another serious challenger to Allen), etc.

Posted by: thirdparty | December 9, 2005 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I think there IS a realistick chzance of a Demo Senate. I don't know about Maine---but no Demo senators there seems out og line in a very vlue state (quiye a switch from the 30's). I expect D pickups (tho close) in MT, Mo, Pa, EI and TN (Ford will win big). Arizo is a possibility; if Kyl does lose, that will be a clear indication the GOP loses the Senate overall. Fla. MD and MN are problems for Demos, but I expect they will keep all 3. I think Nelson is in no real trouble; Red State or not, he won big as Governor---and the Neb. Rep Senator sounds like he is to the LEFT on Nelson on some issues--like Iraq---not leaving much ground to attack Nelson.

Posted by: Gary Klahr | December 9, 2005 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I think Sean's just about right, although I'd switch the order of Ohio and Missouri; Missouri seems to be slightly the "redder" of the two states. Also, I'd switch the order of Maryland and Minnesota, assuming Cardin is the MD nominee (which is likely). Steele is, if anything, more overrated than Kennedy and is running in an even more Democratic state.

Posted by: MHK919 | December 9, 2005 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"Fix"? How naive is this Blogger? Counting your liberal chickens when the Hawks will come out on top again!!!

Posted by: Larry Alan | December 9, 2005 11:45 AM | Report abuse

My Line:

1. PA
2. RI
3. NJ- Because Kean is a very strong candidate and Menendez' statewide appeal is questionable, this is definitely the top Republican pick-up opportunity.
4. MO- McCaskill is a proven vote getter who can get to the brink of victory on her own... imo, the Dem wave pushes her over the top...
5. OH
6. MT
7. MD
8. MN The margin in this race may end up closer than some of the ones above it, but I think its potential as a turn-over is less than c.w. suggests. Klobuchar has been doing everything right, appears to be gaining in popularity, and will be facing a dem-leaning electorate. Kennedy, meanwhile, is rather unpopular statewide...and he's really overated as a candidate...
9. WA
10. TN

11. MI
12. NE- Nelson is so strong he doesn't make the top ten...

Posted by: seank | December 9, 2005 11:39 AM | Report abuse

We linked to this at Martini Republic, with a little comment:

"Many critics have denounced with considerable contempt the blogosphere's treatment of political races like horse races, with jockeyings, ups, downs, etc. The critics haven't been around politics long enough. It's precisely the way the parties themselves view political races. How did they come to be called races, anyway?"

http://www.martinirepublic.com/item/52-47-51-48/

Thanks much and best with your blog.

Posted by: joseph | December 9, 2005 11:06 AM | Report abuse

How about some comments regarding the the race in Tennessee for Bill Frist's seat? Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D - Memphis) seems to be well-regarded as a centrist. It would be great poetic justice for the Senate Majority Leader's seat to move across the isle. Frist's ethics problems can't be helping the Republicans in Tennessee.

Posted by: Patrick Robbins | December 9, 2005 10:51 AM | Report abuse

For your information: See a unique
effort in a Congressional Campaign, seemy website: www.georgedweber.com
It has many items not mentioned in the
other races. Al;os linked to my recent
book, Four Generations of Service.

George

Posted by: George D. Weber | December 9, 2005 10:49 AM | Report abuse

For your information: See a unique
effort in a Congressional Campaign, seemy website: www.georgedweber.com
It has many items not mentioned in the
other races. Al;os linked to my recent
book, Four Generations of Service.

George

Posted by: George D. Weber | December 9, 2005 10:49 AM | Report abuse

If Ohio is so red, then how come it was so close last year? I'm not willing to predict the outcome there yet, but it should be competitive.

I live in Maryland, where Ben Cardin seems likeliest to win, judging from the polls, fundraising, and overall tilt of the state.

Posted by: MHK919 | December 9, 2005 10:30 AM | Report abuse

CORRECTION ON PREVIOUS POST "Ohio Republicans are quick to note that Democrats have talked up their chances in several Ohio races since 1994 and have come up short each time."

I may not be from Missouri but Ohio Dems have TO SHOW ME first.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | December 9, 2005 10:20 AM | Report abuse

There is a lot of time, 11 months, before the next election and I see Mike Dewine returning to the U.S. Senate. To paraphrase a remark made on the NJ race, "Ohio Democrats are quick to note that Dems have talked uo their chances in several Ohio races since 1994 and have come up short each time."

Just spoke to a Dem state rep and a friend of Brown and he doesn't see him beating Dewine and believes that Hackett will be tough in the primary. The Fix says this race is getting nasty and it is.

Hackett will lose to Brown in the primary and Brown will lose to Dewine in the general. Ohio is a Red State and once the voters compare Dewine's moderate-conservative record to Brown's far left record (pro-abortion,anti-business,pro-gay marriage,anti-war, anti-gun)it will be no contest. The last time Brown ran state-wide in 1990 he lost. Brown really screwed Hackett and his party for getting into the race after he said he wouldn't. He also gives up his district seat for which there is no sure Democrat to replace him so there is now an outside shot that a Republican can take it.

We keep hearing references to Taft and corruption but when the Dems tried to use that to pass 4 ballot amendments last month they failed miserably. I saw this as a no confidence vote on the state GOP and was pushed as such by the RON forces. If they could not convince the voters that corruption exists and the GOP needs to pay, how will it affect Dewine, Blackwell, etc next fall? Dewine is not Taft, officially has no direct connection to state government, just happens to be an Ohio Republican.

The national GOP has reason to be concerned about the race in order to attract dollars for Dewine since he is going to need every bit he can raise to take on either Brown or Hackett and especially Hackett.

Posted by: VIVABUSH04OH | December 9, 2005 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Mark my words: Neither Amy Klobuchar nor Mark Cerisi will be the DFL nominee for Senate in MN.
Watch out for Ford Bell.

Posted by: sled | December 9, 2005 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Santorum's gonna lose? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
What are the people of PA. thinking? Where else are you gonna find a walking headshot like Santorum?

Posted by: Uncle T. | December 9, 2005 9:30 AM | Report abuse

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