The Senate races are badly in need of an update, not only because it has been ages since the last ones but also because we finally know the full slate of nominees on both sides (excepting the GOP side of the Wisconsin race). The landscape looks much different today than it did back in April, and right off the bat I want to make a number of updates to reflect that:

The Wisconsin race has turned into a competitive one owing to the conservative lean of much of the non-urban portion of the state and the generally unfavorable environment for Democrats. The biggest thing working against the GOP in the Badger State is that both of their contenders are nobodies. The Feingold-Tommy Thompson matchup never materialized and we're left with two no-name businessmen to duke it out in the 9/14/10 primary. Most analysts have this as a toss-up but given the weak competition I have some confidence that Feingold will hold on.

Worse news for the Democrats: Blanche Lincoln (AR) appears to be toast and Evan Bayh's old seat (IN) is highly likely to change hands. Those are two good pickups for the GOP, and I will not be shocked to see the DNC, DSCC, and other funding sources cutting their losses on these two races soon. On the plus side for the Socialists, Dick Blumenthal appears to have the CT open seat well in hand, thanks in part to the tremendous crapulence of GOP nominee Linda McMahon, wife of WWF chairman/wrestler Vince McMahon. That should be a safe hold, and the Delaware race for Biden's open seat is less of a certain GOP pickup at this stage.

One race with the potential to get very interesting is in Alaska, where Lisa Murkowski has launched a write-in campaign in response to her narrow primary loss to Teabagger Joe Miller. Dividing the conservative vote could have disastrous results, opening the door for unknown Democrat Scott McAdams.

That is about the extent of the Democratic good news, however. The updated uncompetitive/safe races yield a three-seat pickup for the GOP:

The competitive races illustrate the problem with something I tried for the sake of simplicity this year: limiting races to two categories, either competitive or safe. In reality there are competitive races and there are races that are truly too close to call. Those are the four toss-ups you see here. The rest of the races are leaning pretty clearly one way or another (excepting Pennsylvania, which I'll explain in a moment).

Current polling shows Toomey with a decent lead over Sestak in PA, but I still have that one as a Democratic hold because of the exceptionally poor track record of Pennsylvania Republicans in the last few elections. Whether it's McCain choosing PA to make his 300-esque last stand or polls predicting Rick Santorum's re-election, statewide Republicans just don't seem to do as well as predicted lately. The state is just too urban for Republicans to have an easy go of it, although motivating 2008-like voter turnout is a pipe dream in the midterm.

With the GOP likely to pick up two from this bunch (the aforementioned AR and IN seats) that gives the GOP a five-seat gain with four toss-ups.

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If they win all four the Senate will be 50-50, generously counting anal warts like Lieberman and Ben Nelson as Democrats. The Democrats also must contend with the potential for those two corrupt little bastards to switch parties if the would-be GOP leadership offers them something useful.

From the Democratic perspective, the key over the next two months will be to throw everything at Pennsylvania, Colorado, Washington, and Missouri. Delaware is the most Republican-leaning of the coin flip races, and Mike Castle is a quality opponent. Washington is the safest bet, and Colorado can probably be held at tremendous cost. In Missouri, Roy Blunt's lead in the polls withers under the inviolable rule of Missouri politics: never bet against a Carnahan. That one will remain too close to call until the bitter end, most likely.

In future updates I'll focus more on the specifics of the four toss-ups plus Pennsylvania.

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For now, if everything goes right for the GOP the Senate will be 50-50.

With anything less than a total collapse from the Democrats, the more likely outcome is 51 to 53 Republicans the morning after the election.

21 thoughts on “SENATE 2010: TWO MONTHS OUT”

  • The Man, The Myth says:

    awesome post. for those of you who didn't read the opponents on those lists – read them, i cracked up.

    In regards to the AK (alaska) race: 30% of Alaska's economy is based on federal government spending! This Joe Wilson (is that his name?) thinks its smart for Alaska to kill Social security and any number of other programs? Does he realize that the high school in Barrow cost the federal government millions of dollars because of incredible transportation costs? Does he not understand that 3 out of every 10 dollars is quite a bit of money? What else would Alaska have? Its totally bizarre!

    For anyone who didn't read Ed's piece a couple of days ago about the use of adjectives at CNN – Wilson's ideas are stupid… but the press can't use that word, so they end up saying something like "bold".

    (further licking ed's boots)Ed's piece some time ago about the state of Georgia's biggest employers which showed us that the government is basically Georgia's largest employer as well is related to Alaska. The Republican's ideas will destroy our economy's and they don't care. I think they are just so rich they assume they will be able to shoot the poor people but how can you tell?

  • The Republican strategy: Pander to your base.

    The Democratic strategy: Pander to the Republican base, those basil-eating liberal asswipes will vote for you either way.

  • Ok, I live in Indiana and Mike "Baghdad is like a summer market in Indiana!" Pence's district, should I even bother voting?

  • grumpygradstudent says:

    Small correction: the republican currently beating Ellsworth in Indiana is Dan Coats, not Hostettler.

  • The thing about Murkowski running as a write-in or as a third-party is that it will probably split McAdams' vote more than Miller's. This isn't a Republican-vs-Democrat contest, this is a some-sense-of-logic vs. batshit-insane contest.

    Miller's base of support is composed mostly people who believe that Murkowski is a "RINO" because she doesn't froth at the mouth when she denies climate change, or she doesn't call for "watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots" or any of that crazy shit. He's got that column locked up tight. McAdams can count on the votes of democrat voters, plus Republicans who aren't that wild about the idea of re-establishing the Confederate States of America. Throw Murkowski back into the list and you give the GOP faithful who have half a brain a non-retarded candidate to vote for who isn't a democrat.

  • displaced Capitalist says:

    jjack said it best. Murkowski better do the NY think and throw her weight behind the Dems just to spit on the Tea Party.

  • It's still weird to me that this election will probably happen before the idiotic Tea Party fad finally runs its course. It's going to be weird having this many idiots at the top level of government whose whole shtick is dismantling it. At least we can count on those wars to keep going.

  • Thanks Ed.

    I live in Wisconsin – the guy who will be running against Feingold after next Tuesday's general election is Ron Johnson. Given the anti-incum, anti-Dem year, Feingold is in big trouble and I could see him losing.

    Our maverick Russ refuses to bring home any pork (leaving that for the other Senator to do) and is getting beat up as reliable dem vote accept when he's given permission or the dem leadership doesn't need him.

    Johnson is spending a lot of money (most of it his own) and has been running an aggressive campaign. Unfortunately for him (and good for the rest of us) he's said some remarkably stooopid things like attributing global warming to sunspots.

    With a hotly contested gov's race and an active tea party movement, Russ could be in real trouble. Polling I have seen bears this out as well.

    I'd rate this one a toss-up to leaning R pick-up.

  • Take a closer look at Florida. The goobernatorial contest, featuring an unindicted billionnaire health care baron and a colorless lady with the last name of Sink, is going to be worthy of a a plot line in a Carl Hiassen novel before it is over and it may well play into the hand of Independent Charlie Crist.

  • I guess I don't understand the last line unless it's some kind of black humor I don't get. GOP's best case is 50-50, but a more realistic outcome is 51 to 53 republicans? How is that not a better case for the Republic party?

  • bk: I'm in chedderland as well. You're exactly right. I didn't realize that Johnson had a primary on Tues. I knew about the gov. primary, but not the Senate. My only hope is WI sounds a little like PA, republican votes seem to get overcounted in polling but then not show up as strongly on election day. While we're grasping at straws, Russ always seems to pull it out of the hat; maybe by Nov. 6 people will actually find out what these new T-publicans actually think and hopefully it will scare the shit out of them enough to vote the other way.

  • There are two races not determined until Tuesday (Wednesday morning?).

    New Hampshire and Delaware could get pretty interesting if Teabaggers win those primaries.

  • Acer: I know what you mean, and the thing about having so many people in the federal government who hate the federal government is that they will create the self-fulfilling prophecy. If you give people with preconceived notions the power to shape reality to match those notions, most of the time they will, consciously or not.

    So the tea partiers come in with the attitude that anything the government does is doomed to failure anyway so it's no use trying to make it work. They take their hands off the steering wheel and drive the damn thing into the ditch. Then they say, "Look, we told you so!" Finally, they use their self-created fiasco as evidence for pursuing their agenda, which is — as I said above — basically recreating the Confederate States of America minus the slavery (if we're lucky).

  • It's funny, if you listen to Joe Miller he doesn't ever say "we should eliminate Social Security" or "Let's privatize national parks". He says "The federal government shouldn't be doing that, let's give it to the states".

    Why would he want to do that? I guess because he knows that the states' budgets are in even worse shape than the Federal Government's and that they would be forced to privatize everything given to them. Oh wait, it couldn't be that, must just be his principled objection to federal overreach and that liberal Theodore Roosevelt with his namby-pamby parks!

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