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    A few weeks ago, Kos wrote a great piece on the competitive races for 2010.  I would like to follow up with a prediction diary on what I think will actually happen and what the Senate will look like after the election on Nov. 2nd, 2010.

      First, let's start with the Democratic seats that are up for reelection that are Safe Seats:

Blanche Lincoln - Arkansas
Barbara Boxer - California
Ken Salazar - Colorado
Chris Dodd - Connecticut
Evan Bayh - Indiana
Harry Reid - Nevada
Byron Dorgan - North Dakota
Ron Wyden - Oregon
Patrick Leahy - Vermont
Patty Murray - Washington
Russ Feingold - Wisconsin

I do not believe the Repulicans can mount anything resembling a serious challenge to these Democratic Senators in 2010.

       Now, let's turn to the Democratic seats that might possibly be at risk due to retirement, or other reasons.

? - Illinois (Obama's seat)
Barbara Mikulksi - Maryland
Daniel Inouye - Hawaii

       I actually don't think whoever replaces Obama will necessarily be at risk, but it is simply impossible to know that right now.  Daniel Inouye will be 86 in 2010 so we don't know if he is going to retire or not.  Should he decide not to retire, it's unlikely that the Republicans would mount much of a challenge against him.  

       Barbara Mikulski will be 74 in 2010 and it's unclear whether she has considered stepping down.  Probably not, as she is one of the most popular politicians in Maryland.  In fact, before this election, Mikulski held the record for most votes ever received for any political candidate in Maryland:  1,504,691.  (Now, Barack Obama holds the Maryland record at around 1,597,000 - a figure which will increase once all the absentee and provisional ballots are counted).  She is also the first female Senator from Maryland and is currently the female Senator in the Senate with the most seniority, having served since 1987.  Even if she steps down, I still see the Democrats holding the seat.

       Now, let's turn to the Republican seats that will be up for reelection.  I concur with Kos, who says that Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, South Carolina, and Utah will be off the table, but I disagree with him about South Dakota.  I have a sneaking feeling that we'll see a competitive race there, particularly if Obama's approval ratings are high.  I also disagree with the idea that Tom Coburn might be vulnerable in Oklahoma.  I don't see that as a realistic pickup.

       Here are the Republicans who might be at risk:

John McCain - Arizona
Richard Shelby - Alabama
Mel Martinez - Florida
Sam Brownback (retiring) - Kansas
Jim Bunning - Kentucky
David Vitter - Louisiana
Kit Bond - Missouri
Judd Gregg - New Hampshire
Richard Burr - North Carolina
George Voinovich - Ohio
Arlen Specter - Pennsylvania

       Of these, Richard Shelby, John McCain, and Kit Bond are probably the safest.  Shelby has a 61% approval rating, according to Survey USA (10/23).  However, I think Janet Napolitano could give McCain a run for his money.  Kit Bond will be going up against a thoroughly rejuvenated Democratic Party in Missouri.  I don't see Richard Shelby being unseated in Alabama though.

       Jim Bunning is nuts and I imagine the GOP leaders will probably urge him to step down.  If he runs again (and it looks like he might) I predict he will get crushed.  I also predict David Vitter will get crushed.  

       Can Judd Gregg hang onto his seat in New Hampshire?  He is a moderate Republican in a generally moderate state.  I suspect he'll hang on in a close race.  Kos has floated the idea of Rep. Paul Hodes as a likely contender for the seat.

       I suspect that Kit Bond and Mel Martinez will probably hang onto their seats.

       That leaves Richard Burr, George Voinovich, and Arlen Specter.  Specter will be 80 in 2010 and, sadly, is dealing with health issues.  Voinovich is a somewhat moderate Republican in a state where his base is anything but moderate.  His approval rating is just 51%, according to Survey USA (10/23).  I agree with Kos when he states that Tim Ryan will run for this seat.  Richard Burr will be facing a hugely expanded Democratic base, owing to the Obama campaign's efforts throughout North Carolina.  Democrats currently enjoy a registration advantage of 867,000 and almost 14 percentage points in the Tar Heel state.  

       The vacating of Sam Brownback's spot leaves an interesting opening for Democrats.  Kathleen Sebelius has a job approval rating of 62% (versus 33% neg.), according to Survey USA (10/22).  I think she would be a shoo-in should she decide to go for it, but that would leave the Governorship up for grabs.  We shall see.

Ultimately, here are my predictions:
I do not believe that the Democrats will lose any of the seats for which they are up for reelection, even if Daniel Inouye decides to step down.
Democratic seats: 0 changes

I believe that the Democrats will take away 4 seats from Republicans:
David Vitter - Louisiana
Jim Bunning - Kentucky
and two of the following:
Sam Brownback (empty seat) - Kansas
Arlen Specter - Pennsylvania
Richard Burr - North Carolina
George Voinovich - Ohio
John McCain - Arizona
Republican seats: +4 for the Democrats

    One sort of intangible element in all this is the idea that the fate of our Senate races will be tied to Obama's approval rating.  If the economy rebounds before 2010, the Democratic Congress and Obama will (and should) receive full credit.  I predict that this will take place and that we will witness the first filibuster-proof majority in the Senate in my lifetime.  If another Democratic wave happens, we could see the Democrats pick up as many as 8 seats in the Senate.  That would be astounding.

    I also predict that Al Franken will win the recount against Norm Coleman and that we will pick up either Alaska or Georgia, but not both.  That would mean that, according to my prediction, we would have 63 seats in the U.S. Senate (still counting Lieberman as a Democrat - for now) after the 2010 elections.

Here is a link to those Survey USA tracking polls:
http://www.surveyusa.com/...

Originally posted to FightingRegistrar on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 10:50 AM PST.

Poll

Which of the following Republican Senate seats do you feel will be most at risk in 2010?

19%43 votes
11%25 votes
9%20 votes
16%37 votes
6%15 votes
3%8 votes
9%21 votes
5%13 votes
4%10 votes
9%21 votes
1%3 votes
2%5 votes

| 221 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Kansas? Really? (4+ / 0-)

    Is Sebelius going to run for that seat?

    --- It's SPELLED "TooFolkGR" but it's pronounced "Throat-Warbler Mangrove."

    by TooFolkGR on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 10:52:23 AM PST

  •  let's be realistic here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    njhoo

    Harry Reid will face a solid challenge, though the GOP's top candidate (Porter) lost on Tuesday. Feingold and Salazar could also be in for a fight. And if Arnold runs for Senate (as is rumored), Boxer could be the most vulnerable Democrat.

    I don't disagree that the Democrats look to have a much better map, but it will be a midterm election of a Democratic president so if you're putting Alabama and Kansas on the map it's silly to pretend that Wisconsin, Nevada and California are all locks.

  •  ASDF (0+ / 0-)

    I think it would help your analysis if you could discuss possible candidates in some of these races (you mention Napalitano in AZ, but nobody else).

    Good diary othewise!

  •  only gain will be in PA... Vitter/Bunning safe (0+ / 0-)

    Every election we think we have a achance in KY and lose.. it happened last time Bunning ran.  If he runs he will win.  If he steps down his replacement will win

    Vitter's scandal is so old, the voters will have forgotten and he will win

    If spector doesnt run, the Dems will pick up that seat

  •  A lot depends on Obama and how he and (4+ / 0-)

    the Congress govern over the next two years. And a lot depend on the candidates that get recruited in these races.

  •  Will McCain run? (5+ / 0-)

    Does he have the fight left, and against Napolitano, who could beat him? I'm guessing he won't.

    emerging research proven

    by bob zimway on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 11:06:22 AM PST

  •  On what basis do you claim Gregg is moderate? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jj32, RIP Russ

    He is a doctrinaire Republican who has not challenged Delay dogma at all. He supports Social Security privatization, the Iraq War, and a minimum wage of $0.00.

  •  Don't know yet who will challenge Richard Burr (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jiordan, FightingRegistrar

    in North Carolina, but "his" seat is ready to be turned over. To all who would say "Not so fast" I have a little reminder: No one believed Kay Hagan would unseat Elizabeth Dole, but we did it - we turned North Carolina BLUE and will be sending the oh-so-awesome Kay Hagan to the Senate in January. We can do it again.

    "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

    by MsWings on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 11:07:28 AM PST

  •  If Grassley goes (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, mcfly, jj32, FightingRegistrar

    IA flips blue, if he doesn't it won't...

    "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

    by skywaker9 on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 11:17:53 AM PST

  •  Mid term election (0+ / 0-)

    I know this is fun and all, but the fact is, mid-terms are usually rough on the President's party. And no matter what he does, Obama is looking at a recession that may well last (to some extent, at least) into 2010.

    So, I think it's way too early to figure out who is safe and which seats are likely to be competitive. The number of GOP seats up vs. Dem seats is encouraging, and we can all hope Obama is popular enough that he can buck the historical trend. But I just can't look at these races thru rose-colored glasses yet.

    It's the four pillars of the male heterosexual psyche. We like: naked women, stockings, lesbians, and Sean Connery best as James Bond.

    by RIP Russ on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 11:24:55 AM PST

  •  Vitter (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrymir, FightingRegistrar

    If Vitter hadn't gotten involved with that lil' cutie named Wendy (the other Wendy, not his wife), I'd say he could walk away with an easy reeelecion.  But as we have it the diarist identifies Louisiana as one of our guaranteed pickups.  I wouldn't say it's in the bag, as there's much to consider:

    Despite McCain's strong showing in Louisiana this year (R+19), Mary Landrieu won re-election with the widest margin of her three Senate victories (D+6).  

    John Kennedy was a weak candidate against Mary in that he was neither credible nor likable after switching parties, but though Vitter originally had strong GOP credo among both social conservatives and big-money fiscal conservatives (he was jockeying to be veeped by America's Mayor before Guiliani's campaign unraveled and Vitter's phone number appeared on the DC Madame client list), he has seriously undermined his reputation among the Louisianans that represented his funding apparatus and GOTV base.  

    Vitter proved in 2004 to have a surprisingly effective ground game, but what of the two entities that made that a success?  Woody Jenkins lost disgracefully against Don Cazayoux in LA-06 in May, and the Louisiana Family Forum no longer has the same conviction towards Vitter's family values bonifides.  Remember, Vitter won his Senate contest outright with only 51% with no other real Republican in the race; Chris John, the leading Democratic opposition in the jungle primary was gearing up for a runoff and neglected to bring Vitter down under 50%.

    That said, national Republicans may see fit to compensate for any funding shortfalls he may face, and he recently was able to raise $20K for his legal defense fund, whereas Larry Craig was only able to scrape together $4600.  Vitter is also said to have had the pull to prevent the NRSC from giving up on Kennedy against Landrieu, and Vitter's statewide fundraising cabal the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority was active in Jindal's successful gubernatorial bid and Vitter's defense fund.  On the other hand, he may face a spirited and organized primary challenger from within the GOP.  Vitter should be a high-profile target of the DSCC this cycle because he reeks of Bush-era GOP excesses, and frankly, no sitting Senator of either party is willing to have their name on a bill co-sponsored by Senator David B. Vitter.

    If Vitter survives a primary challenge, he would be vulnerable in many areas where he has a natural advantage, provided a Democrat can chip away at him on character and economic populism (Central and North Louisiana) and efficient government and responsible spending (Acadiana and the West Bank).  The North Shore is likely Vitter's strongest country, but urban Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta areas natural favor a Democrat.  Formidable challengers would likely be centrist Democrats that can capitalize on issues around energy, coastal protection, domestic infrastructure, national security (read international competitiveness and emergency preparedness) and the Main Street economy.  There is a tendency for Democrats to run as conservative lookalikes to Republicans, but I think a strong Democrat that is proud of his party but can also argue for balance (very palatable to the Louisiana electorate) has a great shot to win without selling out their ideas.  Vitter is limited in his ability to launch attacks on his opponent's character or values and has very little in terms of real accomplishments for Louisiana in the Senate to campaign on back home.  

    •  I think Vitter retires and the seat stays GOP. (0+ / 0-)

      I doubt the NRSC will invest money in Vitter if he decides to run, and may even fund a primary challenger. Even in a solidly GOP state, DiaperMan won't be able to get past his past.

      -6.38/-3.79::'A man is incapable of comprehending any argument that interferes with his revenues.' Descartes

      by skrymir on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 11:47:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You forgot the Delaware special, for Biden's seat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RIP Russ
  •  Burr (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FightingRegistrar

    is kind of a nonentity and is considered a waste of space by his constituents.  He just doesn't DO much.  I bet he gets taken down.

  •  Republican seats come in four groups. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dconrad

    Highly vulnerable incumbents - FL, KY, NC - All of these senators either have sub-50 approval ratings.  I think they're all goners provided they don't retire.  

    Seats vulnerable to good challengers - AZ, KS - Sebelius and Napolitano respectively put these races on the map.  Otherwise, not so much (although the Dems now have a deeper bench in AZ provided it's an open seat)

    Seats vulnerable with a Republican retirement - IA, PA - Grassley, and to a lesser extent Specter, are probably safe if they run for reelection.  However, these seats surely lean Dem if they become open.

    "Swingy" seats - MO, HH, OH  - In all cases the incumbent is fairly popular, but further right than the states they represent now are.  With top-tier recruits, and hopefully a good Obama administration, these are all "reachable".

    Unlike you, I see no chance in Alabama and Mississippi however.  In both cases the Democrats are still on the decline on the state level, and the bench of potential challengers is very weak.  I would also rate AR, CA, CO, CT, and NV as holding some danger for the Dems.  In the end, I expect 1-3 Democratic losses, but far more Republican losses.  We'll surely be over 60 regardless.  

  •  Hawaii and CA have popular GOP governors (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrymir, Elwood Dowd

        Either or both might take Senate seats in 2010.

  •  Hmmm. for some reason, I suspect (0+ / 0-)

    that Boxer will not run again, possibly due to health reasons.

    McCain's seat will be safe, but there too, I don't see him running again.
    Bunning? Dead.
    Neidermeyer? Dead.
    Vitter? Dead.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 12:05:10 PM PST

  •  Missouri (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FightingRegistrar

    Bond is very, very vulnerable, especially if Robin Carnahan runs.

    He will have to make a lot of challenging votes in the next two years.

    Carnahan just got one of the largest vote totals any statewide candidate in Missouri has received.

    She has suffered from breast cancer and makes a great case of national health insurance.

    Bond's liver has also been severely abused and it is unclear that it will allow him run in 2012.

    Missouri has a great chance to be a pick up!

    Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren. Bertolt Brecht

    by MoDem on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 12:11:26 PM PST

  •  About Bond (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FightingRegistrar

    As a missourian I can tell you he could lose with the right candiate.

    I could see one of the Caranhan siblings running  (Russ or Robin) and making it close.

  •  CT and AR (0+ / 0-)

    Rell in Connecticut has 77% support and Dodd has scandals now, but she's set up an exploratory committee for another gubernatorial run. Still, if the NRSC chair gets down on his knees and begs her to run, she could take the seat for them. With Shays gone, there are no sitting House Republicans to take Dodd, so that probably thins their bench.

    Likewise with Arkansas; terrible Republican bench and heavily Democratic at the state level, even though McCain's 20+ victory there was one of the GOP's only points to celebrate around. Pryor's worst nightmare was that Huckabee might accept defeat in the GOP primaries and run for senate instead, but he didn't. But if Huckabee does want to reinject himself into national politics and score a political win for his side ahead of 2012, he could run this time. As a popular former governor with a national conservative following, he could effectively mark Blanche Lincoln for execution.

  •  How old is Patrick Leahy? (0+ / 0-)

    It seems like he's been there forever. I love 'im, but are we sure there's no danger of him retiring?

    Excellent diary.

  •  It depends (0+ / 0-)

    Mikulski should run for re-election. Should there be an open seat the only Republicans who could run semi-competitive races are Bob Ehrlich and Michael Steele. Unless the Democrat runs a KKT-style campaign it looks like the Democrats should be the favorites to hold on in MD should Mikulski retire.

    As for IL, given that the IL Republican Party is in pathetic shape, any Democrat should be a favor. The only possible Republican who could make it a race is Jim Edgar and he's shown no interest in running.

    Byron Dorgan could face a tough race if John Hoeven or Ed Schaffer runs. The both of them, though, have repeatedly refused to run. Unless they jump in I think that Dorgan is safe.

    Inouye in HI might face a tough race if Linda Lingle chooses to run. She is the only Republican who could make a competitive race there.

    Barbara Boxer could face a tough race against Arnold, but I don't think that he's shown interest in that seat either. She should win without a problem.

    With those incumbents out of the way I can focus on the GOP seats. I will say that John McCain will have a tough race should either Janet Napolitano or Terry Goddard run. There are also new AZ Congressmen/women who are Democrats. Any of them could challenge McCain. Does McCain want to retire? I'm not sure.

    Shelby might face a tough race if Arthur Davis or Jim Folsm runs against him. It would be good, though, if Ron Sparks would throw his name into the ring--or someone who could at least build the party name there.

    In FL Martinez will face a tough race because his numbers stink. FL Democrats might run Alex Sink or Betty Castor's daughter. SE FL Democrats are unelectable. Allen Boyd, despite being a little conservative, might be a good candidate.

    Brownback's open seat becomes a top-tier race in KS if Sebeilus runs. The new Democratic Attorney General might make it a race.

    In NH Judd Gregg is bound to face a tough race. Either one of the Congressmen/women in NH-1 or NH-2 could make a race. John Lynch could also make it a race. The key is to have someone very well-positioned to win to drop his name in the ring and force Gregg to retire.

    In OH the local GOP is in bad shape. They've lost at least two House districts in 2008. They hold only one statewide office. As with NH the key is putting up a strong challenger to force him into retirement. There are plenty of challengers who could make the race competitive.

    In KY Jim Bunning is in danger. Although the state is dark red presidentially, should Ben Chandler run, he will face a tough race. He probably retires, leaving an open seat. Who runs as the GOP nominee in that scenario, I don't know.

    In PA Arlen Specter will be a narrow favorite if he decides to run again. However, there are plenty of Democrats who could run. Ed Rendell would be a tough candidate for Specter. Specter is kind of like the Connie Morella in MD. Now that the Republicans are a minority I'm not sure if Specter can receive the same support from Democrats in Philadelphia that he is used to getting.

    In NC that seat has changed parties every six years dating back to 1974. There are plenty of Democrats who could run against Burr. The one caution here is not to run Erskine Bowles.

    Kit Bond in MO will probably hold unless Robin Carnahan or another high-profile Democrat runs. The problem here is Bond seems to be the Frank Lautenberg of NJ. He has never really won by large margins, not more than 54% of the vote or so; but for, whatever reason, any of the Democrats who has ever run against him has failed to close the deal. I fear that whoever the Democrats run will end up with the same 45-47% that most of Bond's recent challengers have received.

    In LA I think that Vitter is a narrow favorite because the state has trended red. I hate to say that, but the only Democrats that I could see winning there are Mitch Landrieu or the Attorney General.

    Overall the map looks good for the Democrats, though I would caution that this is a midterm election; and usually, the incumbent party in the White House suffers some losses.

  •  Grassley in IA (0+ / 0-)

    I forgot about him. If he retires the Democrats should take that seat if Tom Vilsack runs.

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