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Senate Outlook

This page will be updated whenever events dictate at this time. More regular updates will take place as November 2004 approaches.

By Kos, Jerome Armstrong, and Stephen Yellin
Last updated (by Kos) July 16, 2004


1. Illinois (Last update: 1)
Jack Ryan was forced out of the race once his sexual picadillos were revealed in his unsealed divorce records (though he still hasn't filed the paperwork to make it official). There was much talk about Ditka replacing Ryan, but Ditka refused once he realized he would have to surrender his lucrative endorsement deals. Various Republicans passed on the chance to get beaten handily by Obama. And Rove's choice for the GOP ballot line, Andrea Grubb Barthwell, likes to harrass coworkers with "lewd and abusive" behavior.

The question is not so much whether Obama will win, but whether he will have coattails at the House level.

2. Colorado (last update: 2)
Republican candidates Bob Schaffer and Peter Coors have gone negative on each other, while Democratic frontrunner Ken Salazar has relative smooth sailing against rapidly fading Mike Miles.

A June Denver Post poll has Salazar beating Schaffer 49-35 and beating Coors 47-40. Salazar raised $2 million in Q2 and had $1.6 million on hand, compared to $1.6 million raised by Coors and $437,000 by Schaffer.

3. Alaska (Last update: 3)
The latest polling in the race gives Democrat Tony Knowles a 46-44 lead, and Knowles outraised incumbent Lisa Murkowski (beneficiary of her father's, er, generosity). the NRSC ran anti-Knowles ads, and Murkowski's numbers dropped as much as Knowles'. Alaskan voters are in no mood for negative campaigning, and the perpetually sunny and optimistic Knowles is reaping the rewards in what is a heavily Republican state.

4. Oklahoma (Last update: 4)
No public polling since May, when Republican Tom Coburn and Democratic rising star Brad Carson were essentially tied. But since then, Republicans Coburn and establishment-backed Kirk Humphreys have been going hard after each other, with the Club for Growth throwing plenty of flames on behalf of certified wingnut Coburn.

However, if fundraising numbers are any indications, things are looking good for Carson. No Senate race in Oklahoma has ever cost more than $3 million. Yet Carson has already raised that much this cycle, including $1 million Q2 and over $1.9 million cash on hand. Coburn raised $718K in Q2 and has $365K cash on hand. Humphreys raised $572K and has $223K cash on hand. And Carson doesn't have to spend a dime during the primaries.

5. Pennsylvania (last update: 5)
After squeaking through his primary with Congressman Pat Toomey on April 27th (51-49), Senator Arlen Specter isn’t out of the woods just yet. Constitution Party National Chairman Jim Clymer is running for the seat now, and the track record for pro-life 3rd party candidates in this type of race is strong. In 1994, Peg Luksik (Con. Party nominee for Governor) drew 13% of the vote, almost costing Tom Ridge the Governorship.

Democrat Joe Hoeffel raised $1.1 million in Q2, which is respectable. Specter raised $2.3 million in Q2, after spending $15 million (!) to win his tight primary battle. More discouraging is Hoeffel's inability to raise his name ID, hurting his performance in the polls. The latest Q-Poll, from the second week in July, gave Specter a 50-35 lead, with Specter's numbers actually improvingfrom May.

6. Missouri (last update: 6)
No polling in this race since February

Incumbent Republican Kit Bond, who has made a career of being endangered and squaking through with narrow victories, raised nearly $1 million in Q2 and has $5.4 million COH. Democrat Nancy Farmer raised $750K in Q2 and has $1.2 million COH.

********* States below this line are safe GOP seats *********

7. Kentucky (last update: 7)
This race slips into the "Safe GOP" category this update. A June SUSA poll gave Incumbent Bunning a commanding 53-34 lead over Democrat Dan Mongiardo.

Mongiardo is also not having much luck fundraising, and has lent his campaign $500K boosting his COH to $700K. Bunning has $3.9 million COH. Economic issues might yet make this race competitive, but as it stands right now, this one is looking tough.

8. Ohio (last update: 8)
Democratic challenger Fingerhut reported a paltry $229K in Q2, and has yet to break $1 million. Republican incumbent George Voinovich has $5.6 million in the bank.

9. New Hampshire (last update: 9)
Democratic State Senator Burt Cohen quit his race just a day before the filing deadline after his campaign manager ran off with $200K in campaign funds. The best Democrats could come up with was the energetic Granny D (Doris Haddock), who at 94 might be inspiring, but hardly cuts an imposing figure against incumbent Judd Gregg.

10. Utah (last update: 11)
ex-AG Paul Van Dam will be the Democratic nominee against Senator Bob Bennett. An early-year independent poll showing Bennett leading 63-16 over Van Dam is a likely indicator of this race. I think Van Dam is a decent enough candidate to break 35%, but that’s about it.

12. Alabama (last update: 12)
Neither Ex-Governor Jim Folsom, Jr. or Don Siegleman filed to run against Senator Dick Shelby in 2004. That leaves Democrat Wayne Sowell, an NCO who supports marijuana legalization as the sacrificial lamb against Shelby (Democrat Johnny Swanson III was kicked off the ballot) Shelby should win big in 2004, in what will likely be his last term in the Senate.

13. Iowa (last update: 13)
ex-State Senator Art Small filed against Senator Chuck Grassley. His chances are even smaller than his name, as he’s raised less than $1000 so far. Expect Grassley to win big, with about 70%.

14. Kansas (last update: 10)
Kansas Democrats dug up this guy to lose against incumbent Republican Sam Brownback.

14. Arizona (last update: 13)
McCain as wildly popular, and whoever his sacrificial opponent is (three Democrats are running) will lose badly. If McCain somehow ends up as John Kerry’s running mate, things will get much, much more interesting.

15. Idaho (last update: 14)
Hell will freeze over before the Democrats have a chance in Idaho, and aware of the fact, none filed to challenge the unfortunately named Mike Crapo.


1. Georgia (last update: 1)
Not as much of a sure thing as the Democrats' Illinois pickup, but pretty close. A perfect symbol of the utter collapse of the Georgia Democratic Party.

The real Senate race in Georgia is the GOP primary. A runoff will include Congressman Johnny Isakson, but the other spot is a tough one to call. Congressman Mac Collins and African-American pizza entrepreneur Herman Cain are battling each other for the second spot. Isakson is having difficulty reaching out to the Christian Conservatives in the primary electorate, so the runoff will likely be competitive.

2. South Carolina (last update: 2)
SurveyUSA released a mid-July poll showing Republican candidate Jim DeMint leading Democrat Ines Tenenbaum 48-41.

DeMint, however, was the beneficiary of a name ID-boost from the just-concluded GOP primary. And the fundraising numbers are looking good. Tenenbaum has $2 million in her campaign coffers, while the primary-depleted DeMint has less than $100,000.

3. North Carolina (last update: 3)
A July Mason-Dixon poll shows Bowles maintaining a 10-point lead, 48-38, over Republican Richard Burr. Bowles is hammering Burr over the free trade issue, using NC’s job losses to his advantage. This will be a tight one, but second time should be a charm for Bowles.

4. Florida (last update: 4)
This race has multi-candidate primaries on both sides, so it's hard to get a handle on who the nominees will be, much less gauge the general election chances. Democrat Betty Castor leads in the polls, but Congressman Peter Deutsch (D) and Republican Mel Martinez lead in fundraising. The GOP has eight candidates in the race for this seat, and the Democrats three.

Martinez is Rove's favorite, though as a trial lawyer, he's becoming collateral damage in the whole "trial lawyer" smear campaign being waged against John Edwards.

5. South Dakota (last update: 5)
Daschle is the only incumbent Democrat in danger this cycle. This race leans to the well-funded Daschle, but expect Thune and the GOP to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the Senate Minority Leader.

5. Louisiana (last update: 6)
Breaux's retirement throw this from a safe seat to a tossup. While generally a conservative state, Louisiana Democrats have run the table on their Republican opponents the last two election cycles. While it may be too much to hope for a presidential pickup, state Dems have shown their ability to consistently beat the best the GOP can throw at them.

Given that all candidates in LA run in an open primary, it's hard to gauge each candidate's chances until the field is set. Republican Congressman David Vitter leads in the polls, courtesy of him being the only Republican running. However, the Democrats now have a third candidate in the race- State Rep. Arthur Morrell, Jr. Morell, an African-American, is bad news for State Treasurer John Kennedy, who was hoping to get into a December runoff based on liberal and minority support. Now, the advantage for the runoff goes back to Congressman Chris John, a centrist Democrat in the mold of Senator John Breaux.

**** States below this line are safe Dem seats *********

7. Washington (last update: 7)
Senator Patty Murray has the unfortunate potential to end up this year as the 2004 version of Max Cleland. She does have a big lead in the polls and in fundraising, but Congressman George Nethercutt could prove to be competitive.

8. California (last update: 8)
Senator Barbara Boxer should win fairly easily, Governator or not. Bush is deeply unpopular in the state, and the Republicans won't put money into this expensive state. An April 17 LA Times poll gave Boxer a comfortable 54-34 lead over Republican Bill Jones.

9. North Dakota (last update: 9)
More good news for the Democrats-the GOP ended up with a little-known attorney to challenge Senator Byron Dorgan. Mike Liffrig is his name, and landslide defeat is his fate. Dorgan is the easy winner here.

10. Wisconsin (last update: 10)
Russ Feingold has greatly improved his chances for reelection this time around, and so he’s likely to win reelection in 2004. No candidate matchups yet, but the GOP primary between State Senator Bob Welch, and millionaires Russ Darrow and Tim Michels will be fun to watch.

11. Nevada (last update: 11)
Senator Harry Reid gets the “Bullet Dodger” award in 2004 for avoiding at least 10 challengers whom could have been competitive against him. Now, with over $6 million in the bank and with four little-known GOP challengers running, Reid should do well this year. 55-60% is likely.

12. Arkansas (last update: 12)
The GOP’s only hope to be competitive against Senator Blanche Lincoln died when wealthy CEO Tom Fornicola did not file for the Senate seat as expected. That leaves State Senator Jim Holt and Benton County Sheriff Any Lee as the GOP’s likeliest nominees. Lincoln will have to brush off a primary challenge from activist Lisa Burks.

13. Maryland (last update: 13)
Mikulski leads sacrifical lamb State Senator and millionaire E.J. Pipkin by a huge margin in a recent indy poll. Best case scenario, Pipkin gets between 35-40%.

14. Connecticut (last update: 14)
Senator Chris Dodd will likely face ex-CEO Jack Orlucchi. Orlucchi has promised to spend a great deal of money on the race, so Dodd will not get to sleepwalk to reelection. Rather, expect Dodd to break 60%, but not much else.

15. Indiana (lat update: 15)
Frequent candidate Marvin Scott will go down hard against Senator Evan Bayh. Bayh, with a 70% approval rating, should cruise to another six-year term.

16. Oregon (last update: 16)
Senator Ron Wyden drew six GOP challengers-none of whom have a snowball’s chance in hell of beating him.

17. New York (last update: 17)
Senator Chuck Schumer may be running for Governor in 2006-if so, that race will be much harder than his current run. He’ll likely face Assemblyman Howard Mills, but with the Conservative Party line going to Dr. Marilyn O’Grady, Mills will probably get crushed.

18. Vermont (last update: 18)
Senator Pat Leahy is another safe bet. His opponent is yet to be determined, although Jack McMullen, who lost to a dairy farmer in the 1998 GOP primary, may end up as his opponent.

19. Hawaii (last update: 19)
Senator Dan Inouye is a Hawaii institution. He's not going anywhere until he decides he wants to be elsewhere.

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