Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

Keeping a close eye on developments in the 2008 U.S. Senate races

Thursday, November 30, 2006

More on Georgia and a Look at Mississippi

Two more news bytes for the evening update:

  • Georgia: The Associated Press has more on former Senator Cleland's decision not to run for his old seat in 2008. The article does offer:

    Democrats said to be considering a Senate bid include Rep. Jim Marshall of Macon, DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Vernon Jones and state office-holders such as Secretary of State Cathy Cox.
  • Mississippi: Jonathan Singer at MyDD takes a look at the 2008 Senate race, incorporating some Drew Pitt thoughts, highlighting that incumbent Republican Thad Cochran might retire given current conditions and that former state AG Mike Moore remains our best bet.

  • National Republican Senatorial Committee's New Chair

    I think everyone can agree that North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole was an abysmal failure for her Party as Chair of the NRSC. This was highlighted in her outgoing plea for funds to retire a largely fruitless debt.

    The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza notes that the new Chair of the NRSC will be Nevada Senator John Ensign, and Cillizza suggests that "Ensign's ties to gaming interests in Nevada should help from a fundraising perspective."

    While Ensign's gambling ties may help in fundraising, I don't know how much those ties will help from a PR perspective. Just as the Mark Foley scandal (and countless other GOP scandals in 2006) depressed turnout for some "family-values conservatives" who would traditionally vote Republican, so too could it depress turnout when Democratic Senatorial candidates highlight how Republican Senate candidate/incumbent X is receiving large sums of funds from the NRSC who in turn raise their funds from casino moguls and hotel/resort owners who make large profits off of adult/pornographic movies aired in hotel rooms. But if the NRSC's bread and butter will be casino owners and pornographers, more power to them.

    Very Disappointing News from Georgia

  • Georgia: The Associated Press has former Senator Max Cleland confirming that he will not be challenging incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss in 2008.

    Chambliss is the incumbent I would most like to see lose in 2008, after the despicable ad campaign Chambliss waged against Cleland in their 2002 race. And I was hoping Cleland would be up for another go-around.

    I wish Cleland the best as a private citizen and hope that we can find another strong Democrat to take on (and take out) Chambliss. (And let's keep hoping anyway that Cleland has a change of heart!)

  • Oklahoma, Colorado, and Online Candidate Recruitment

    Here's your morning news:

  • Oklahoma: Unfortunately, Tulsa World has Democratic Governor Brad Henry's spokesman making it crystal clear that he has no plans to run against Republican incumbent Senators Jim Inhofe (in 2008) or Tom Coburn (in 2010). Paging Brad Carson! Seriously, though, I'm surprised the piece didn't try to get a comment from Carson, Democratic former U.S. Rep. from OK-2 and the party's nominee for Senate against Coburn in 2004. We're waiting on Carson to decide if he wants another run. I hope he does.

  • Colorado: The Associated Press has Denver is hyping its fundraising pledges in its bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The big beneficiary would be U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, likely Democratic candidate to take on Republican incumbent Senator Wayne Allard (or one of his stand-ins). Site selection should be announced by the end of the year.

  • DavidNYC at Swing State Project has posted his "Senate Recruitment Thread #1" for Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Idaho. Go offer your thoughts on what Democrats should challenge those Republican incumbents!

  • Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    GOP Senate Committee Begs for Money (and CO and OR tidbits)

    The first item should put a smile on your face:

  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the fundraising body for GOP Senate candidates, is not just broke but in massive debt. kos has the e-mail appeal from the outgoing NRSC Chair, North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole (who is up in 2008 and has not made clear whether or not she plans to run for re-election), begging contributors to help retire the debt. Basically, Dole led the NRSC into massive debt with the end result being a loss of six seats, a loss of the Senate majority, and not a single D-to-R flip. Nice going, Senator Dole. The Washington Post piece notes that "party committees are required to file postelection financial reports with the Federal Election Commission on Dec. 7." So we'll know by the end of next week exactly how much Senator Dole led the NRSC into debt.

    And out west:

  • Colorado: One of the four Republicans oft mentioned as a stand-in for incumbent Senator Wayne Allard, should Allard choose to retire, is former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis. The Daily Sentinel has McInnis publicly urging Allard to run for another term. This is the best move for McInnis politically as it demonstrates a magnanimous attitude and allegiance to his Party. Meanwhile, Allard isn't going to decide whether to run again or not based on McInnis' urging, so it costs McInnis nothing to gain this goodwill. However, Allard still has incredibly low approval ratings for an incumbent and a relatively small bankroll at this point. Oh yeah, he also pledged to only serve two terms when first elected - meaning that a campaign for re-election in 2008 would be a broken promise. So, I say, "Go for it, Senator Allard!"

  • Oregon: OregonDem at Swing State Project analyzes what needs to be done to unseat incumbent Republican Gordon Smith.

  • Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    Analyses and Speculation

    Lots of reading material for you this morning:

  • offers a close-up look (in three parts) at the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006.

  • 80 is apparently the new 50, as this New York Times snapshot notes that several of the Senators on retirement-watch in 2008 are expected to run for re-election, including Stevens of Alaska (83 years old), Lautenberg of New Jersey (82 years old - though I expect he'll announce his re-retirement in the spring), Warner of Virginia (79 years old - see below for more), and Domenici of New Mexico (74 years old).

  • Virginia: Speaking of Republican John Warner, he gives his strongest hints yet that he's leaning toward running for re-election. Meanwhile, recently-deposed George Allen is giving an address this weekend to a major VA-GOP gathering. If Warner does retire, Allen will probably be the VA-GOP's top choice, despite Allen's many, many, many self-inflicted political wounds and Allen's own reputed distaste for the job of Senator.

  • New Mexico: Jonathan Singer at MyDD offers a quick breakdown of the New Mexico 2008 Senate race.

  • Monday, November 27, 2006

    Even More Speculation in Colorado and New Mexico

    S'more for you:

  • Colorado: The Associated Press has Republican Senator Wayne Allard's Chief of Staff saying that Allard will decide by "early next year" whether or not he will run for re-election (or whether or not he will keep his self-imposed two-term limit promise). The article also has Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Udall saying he will decide in the "next couple of months" whether or not he will run for the seat. The Denver Post offers interesting clues suggesting that Allard may decide to retire (Hat Tip: Political Wire). Both articles suggest Rep. Udall as the likely Democratic candidate and mention the same four Republicans as possible stand-ins for Allard should he retire: Owens, McInnis, Schaffer, and Tancredo.

  • New Mexico: Columnist Kate Nash of the Albuquerque Tribune takes a look at three possible statewide candidates on the Democratic bench for 2008: Attorney General Patricia Madrid, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. Could a run for Republican Pete Domenici's Senate be in the cards for them, whether or not Domenici retires? (Chavez has commented that he'd support Domenici for re-election if he runs or run for the seat himself if Domenici retires.)

  • Analysis on Minnesota, Colorado, and Senate Rankings

    Some fodder for you:

  • Minnesota: The Minnesota Daily takes a look at the 2008 Senate picture, noting that, as well as the Dems did in '06, the '08 picture is even better for them. The Daily notes:

    The picture in 2008 looks much rosier for Democrats. Democrats will only be defending 12 seats while Republicans will be defending 21. Moreover, many of the seats Republicans are defending are those which have only been held by Republicans for one term - which means those legislators will not have the benefits of long-term incumbency to run on.

    One such seat exists right here in Minnesota where first-term Republican incumbent Norman Coleman is looking to defend his Senate seat in an increasingly hostile environment. Given the shellacking Republican Mark Kennedy took in the 2006 Senate race, Coleman has a right to be worried about maintaining his seat. However, in addition to the recent election results, Coleman has other, more personal, reasons to worry about maintaining his seat. Of the 21 Republican Senate seats up for re-election in 2008, Coleman has the fifth-lowest approval rating. Moreover, in this same category, Coleman is one of only five Senators who has an approval rating below 50 percent.
  • Colorado: The Rocky Mountain News offers insight into Republican Wayne Allard's thought process on a re-election run. RMN also reminds us that when Allard was first elected in 1996, he pledged to only serve two terms - a run in 2008 would break that self-imposed term limit promise. Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report calls likely Democratic candidate U.S. Rep. Mark Udall "the strongest candidate [Allard] has ever faced." Should Allard retire, suggested Republican stand-ins mentioned were soon-to-be-former Governor Bill Owens (who may be considering a Presidential bid as well), U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (also considering a Presidential bid), and former U.S. Reps. Scott McInnis and Bob Schaffer.

  • Finally, X Stryker at Swing State Project offers his analysis of the recent SUSA Senate rankings.

  • Sunday, November 26, 2006

    Senate 2008 Guru's Quote of the Weekend

    "I think it is just, you know, there’s always in history been people that are back with their thinking in the Stone Age."

    --California's GOP Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Meet the Press this morning, responding to Oklahoma's GOP Senator James Inhofe's comment referring to global warming as "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Inhofe is up for re-election in 2008 and enjoys only a 46-41 approval-disapproval rate, ranked 80th out of 100 U.S. Senators.

    Party Vulnerabilities and More Potential Senate '08 Candidates

    First, the Washington Post offers its synopsis of both party's vulnerable points in the 2008 Senate elections:

    On the Senate side, the GOP faces more trouble. The Republicans need at least one seat -- and maybe two, depending on who wins the presidential race -- to take back the upper chamber. But while 12 Democrats are up for reelection in 2008, 22 Republicans are. [Note: It's only 21, not 22, GOP up for re-elect.]

    Only a few Democrats and Republicans, however, are considered vulnerable. Still, Republicans could be buffeted by a string of retirements that would make the field more competitive. As of now, the two most vulnerable Democratic senators appear to be Tim Johnson (S.D.) and Mary Landrieu (La.), while the most vulnerable Republicans are Wayne Allard (Colo.), Norm Coleman (Minn.) and John E. Sununu (N.H.).
    So, yes, the three most vulnerable Republicans in 2008 are Allard, Coleman, and Sununu. But there are several other GOP-held seats that are more vulnerable than most any Democrat (except Landrieu), from Smith in Oregon to the potentially open Virginia seat to even Inhofe in Oklahoma. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, yes, we'll all agree that Mary Landrieu is the most vulnerable member. But their pick for the second most vulnerable member is a Senator with a 70-26 approval-disapproval. Sounds very good to me!

    Second, some rumblings from around the country:

  • Alabama: The Alabama Associated Press offers more thoughts on a possible Rep. Artur Davis challenge to Republican Jeff Sessions.

  • New Mexico: KOBTV takes a look at possible candidates for Republican Pete Domenici's seat, including Democrats Rep. Tom Udall and Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez.

  • Oregon: Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer is deliberately cagey on whether or not he'll run for Senate, against Republican Gordon Smith, in 2008, offering the typical non-candidate answer:

    Asked about his ambitions -- and a rumored bid for U.S. Senate -- Blumenauer bristled.

    "I think it is pernicious to start speculating about 2008 before we've finished 2006," he said. "I think everybody ought to take a deep breath and try to salvage what we can in the lame-duck session (next month) and then start the new session on a positive note" in January.

    As for 2008, "that's a conversation people ought to have a year from now," Blumenauer said.

  • Friday, November 24, 2006

    New SUSA Senate Rankings and More Rumblings from New Hampshire

    Survey USA has just released its latest rankings of Senator approvals. Shocker, 8 of the top 10 are Democrats (the two ladies of Maine are the two GOP Senators in the top 10), and 7 of the bottom 8 are Republicans - the bottom four (Burns, Santorum, Talent, and DeWine) were all deposed in this month's elections.

    Here are the rankings for the Senators up for re-election in 2008:

    Rank - State - Name - Party - Approve-Disapprove - Approval Margin
    4 ME Susan Collins R 73%-23% +50%
    6 MT Max Baucus D 72%-23% +49%
    10 SD Tim Johnson D 70%-26% +44%
    11 NM Pete Domenici R 68%-25% +43%
    19 RI Jack Reed D 66%-27% +39%
    20 WY Michael Enzi R 65%-26% +39%
    24 MS Thad Cochran R 65%-29% +36%
    27 VA John Warner R 60%-28% +32%
    31 DE Joseph Biden D 63%-33% +29%
    32 WV Jay Rockefeller D 61%-32% +29%
    34 ID Larry Craig R 60%-32% +29%
    35 AK Ted Stevens R 62%-34% +28%
    41 AL Jeff Sessions R 58%-32% +25%
    43 NE Chuck Hagel R 59%-35% +25%
    48 SC Lindsey Graham R 56%-34% +22%
    54 AR Mark Pryor D 56%-37% +19%
    55 MI Carl Levin D 54%-36% +18%
    59 TN Lamar Alexander R 53%-36% +17%
    61 OR Gordon Smith R 54%-37% +17%
    62 GA Saxby Chambliss R 52%-36% +16%
    65 KY Mitch McConnell R 54%-39% +15%
    66 KS Pat Roberts R 51%-36% +15%
    68 IL Richard Durbin D 52%-38% +15%
    69 IA Tom Harkin D 53%-40% +13%
    72 NC Elizabeth Dole R 52%-40% +12%
    73 LA Mary Landrieu D 54%-42% +12%
    80 OK James Inhofe R 46%-41% +5%
    81 MN Norm Coleman R 48%-43% +5%
    84 TX John Cornyn R 45%-42% +3%
    86 NH John Sununu R 47%-44% +3%
    89 CO Wayne Allard R 44%-43% +1%
    92 MA John Kerry D 48%-50% -2%
    96 NJ Frank Lautenberg D 39%-45% -5%

    Observations from the bottom up:
  • 1) Democrats in New Jersey will spend the next few months deciding on a replacement for Frank Lautenberg. The Congressional delegation is probably deciding who will step forward - consider Rep. Robert Andrews the frontrunner. The GOP will wait and see if Tom Kean Jr. wants another shot before looking elsewhere.
  • 2) John Kerry's seat is his if he wants it (don't let the low approval fool you) and will stay in Democratic hands if he forgoes it for a 2008 Presidential bid.
  • 3) The next five lowest are all prime targets: Allard, Sununu, Cornyn, Coleman, and Inhofe. It's just a question of who is the top target between Allard, Sununu and Coleman (and finding the right opponents for Cornyn and Inhofe).
  • 4) Don't be fooled by Harkin's and Durbin's close-to-50% approvals. Both should be very safe. Mary Landrieu may be the GOP's only real target. Since the GOP does not want the embarrassment of two consecutive cycles without a D-to-R pickup, expect them to get behind a GOP candidate early and pour ungodly sums of money into Louisiana to take out Landrieu.
  • 5) In the second tier of GOP (dis)approvals (Dole, Roberts, McConnell, Chambliss, Smith, Alexander), Smith is the top target, but all are in play given the right opponent (say: Easley/Edwards, Sebelius, anybody who blinks regularly, Cleland, Kitzhaber, Bredesen/Ford Jr., respectively).

    Also, in New Hampshire, the Portsmouth Herald has a piece out focusing on their Mayor, Steve Marchand, but mentioning several possibilities to take on Republican John Sununu:

    Although the 32-year-old mayor has yet to discuss the matter with his wife, never mind announce himself as a candidate, Gov. John Lynch's recent statement that he does not have political aspirations in Washington has sparked discussion about potential challengers to the freshman senator. And Marchand is on the short list. ...

    Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, who lost to Sununu in 2002, recently told the Boston Globe she has not ruled out a rematch against Sununu. The article also mentions state Sens. Maggie Hassan, Joe Foster and Peter Burling as potential candidates, as well as Marchand.
    I'd imagine that former Governor Shaheen has first dibs, but it is great to see what a deep bench New Hampshire has for us.

  • Thursday, November 23, 2006

    More Maybes from Around the Country

    A couple bites as you enjoy your Thanksgiving:

  • New Mexico: Albuquerque's Democratic Mayor John Chavez has said that he is considering a run for the Senate in 2008, but only if incumbent Republican Pete Domenici does not run.

  • Montana: Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg, now Montana's top elected Republican with the defeat of soon-to-be-ex-Senator Conrad Burns, is cagey about whether or not he plans to challenge Democratic Senator Max Baucus in 2008.

  • Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    Poll: Democrats More Moderate and Expected to Retain Congressional Control

    Rasmussen Reports just released a new poll with beneficial findings for Democratic Congressional candidates and incumbents in 2008:

    Sixty-five percent (65%) of Americans believe that Democrats are likely to retain their newly won control of Congress in Election 2008. Thirty-two percent (32%) consider ongoing Democratic control “very” likely. ...

    A plurality (41%) views most Democrats in Congress as politically moderate. Thirty-five percent (35%) say most are politically liberal. On the other side of the aisle, 49% say that most Republicans in Congress are politically conservative while 32% see them as moderate.
    Looks like good news for Democrats, especially those in left-leaning “moderate” states, like New Hampshire, Oregon, and Minnesota.

    MN & NH Statements Coming - TX, OR & ME Speculation Here

    More fodder from around the country:

    Taegan Goddard at Political Wire recaps the following bites:

  • New Hampshire: Former Governor Jeanne Shaheen "has not ruled out" a rematch run against Republican freshman Senator John Sununu. Given New Hampshire's strong blue streak in 2006, giving Democratic Governor John Lynch a record re-election and turning both Congressional seats from R to D, this would be very good news for Democrats and very bad news for incumbent Sununu.

  • Minnesota: Comedian/commentator Al Franken said that he would decide over the coming weekend whether or not to challenge incumbent Republican Norm Coleman.

  • Texas, Oregon, and Maine: kos at Daily Kos recaps a Hotline piece outlining potential Dem challengers to incumbents in those three states. The most promising pickup of the three is Oregon, with ex-Governor John Kitzhaber as the Democratic "lion in waiting."

    UPDATE (12:28 PM): Jonathan Singer at MyDD takes a look at New Hampshire and the same Hotline piece that kos does.

  • Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Can the 2008 Dem Nat'l Convention Help Increase the Dems' Senate Majority?

    The region of the country in which Democrats have made the biggest inroads in the last few years has been the "Mountain West," particularly in states like Colorado and Montana. USA Today has an article this morning following this trend.

    Denver is one of the finalists for landing the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The Rocky Mountain News and the Associated Press both reported on this today. It would indeed build on the Democrats' momentum in the region to hold their quadrennial convention in Denver.

    While the conventions tend to focus on presidential candidates and presidential politics, the politically beneficial siting could also help the standing of Democrats trying to unseat Senate incumbents in Idaho, Wyoming, and, of course, Colorado.

    Some consider Colorado one of the "marquee races of the cycle" and one of the best pickup opportunities for Democrats. The free media that the Democratic nominee for Senator from Colorado would enjoy is incalculable, and would immediately put Republican Senator Wayne Allard or any other Republican seeking the seat at a comparative disadvantage.

    It is certainly something the powers that be ought to consider as they decide where the '08 Convention will be held.

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    '08-Election Senators Eying the White House

    Recent polling does not bode well for the three U.S. Senators who are up for re-election in 2008 and also eying a White House run the same year.

    On the Democratic side, 2004 nominee John Kerry of Massachusetts and 1988 candidate Joe Biden of Delaware are both taking thorough looks at sequel campaigns. While Kerry's MA seat will almost definitely stay in Democratic hands should he give it up to seek the Presidential nomination, Delaware has a potentially strong Republican contender in at-large U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, who won re-election to the House this month by a 57-39 margin, a risk Senator Biden should consider.

    However, both Kerry and Biden ranked in single digits in a poll released today by CNN. Kerry clocked in at 7% and Biden at 3%. The leader was recently re-elected New York Senator Hillary Clinton at 33%, followed by Illinois Senator Barack Obama at 15%. The other current senator on the list was Indiana's Evan Bayh at 2%. Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, who seems much more likely to run for President than to challenge Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole for his former job (unfortunately, as he would be the best Democratic candidate for the NC Senate seat out of the gate), came in third at 14%.

    On the Republican side, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska was not in any better shape. A Gallup poll released by USA Today on Friday put Hagel at just 1%. I'd like to see his percentage go up to encourage him to run and free up the seat, as it would be easier for a Democrat to win the open seat than unseat the incumbent Hagel. What bodes worse for Hagel, though, is that only 37% of his fellow Nebraskans think he would make a good President, according to an Associated Press exit poll on Election Day. Other sitting Republican Senators in the Gallup poll included Arizona's John McCain at 26% and Kansas' Sam Brownback at 1%. Outgoing GOP Senators on the list included Tennessee's Bill Frist at 4% and Virginia's George Allen at 2%.

    Meanwhile, kos at DailyKos today cites the relative irrelevance of polls this far away from an election.

    Sunday, November 19, 2006

    Speculation on the East Coast

    Two fairly predictable tidbits:

  • Virginia: Rumblings are already progressing of some wanting Felix Macaca, whose secret identity is lame-duck Senator George Allen, to run for the Virginia Senate seat in 2008 if John Warner retires. If Allen couldn't beat Jim Webb in 2006, he can't beat the wildly popular ex-Governor Mark Warner in 2008, who will likely give the 2008 Senate race a good long look.

  • Rhode Island: In another case of a recently run-out-of-DC-Republican considering a second try, will Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, having just lost to Sheldon Whitehouse, take a chance against Jack Reed in 2008? Probably not, given Reed's incredibly high popularity (64-26 approval). But, if he does, don't be shocked if Chafee tries a run as an independent. Bob "Count Chocula" Novak's latest column notes that Chafee didn't even give the Bush administration a partisan thanks for their support:

    The national Republican strategists had excused Chafee's repeated deviations from party line voting on grounds that it was necessary for him to survive in his heavily Democratic state. But with Chafee a defeated lame duck after the election, there was no political justification for his declared opposition to John Bolton as United Nations ambassador. That killed any last hope for confirming Bolton.

    The White House had made a calculated decision to support Chafee against a regular Republican in the GOP primary in the belief only he could be elected. The Bush aides felt Chafee owed the president the Bolton vote since he was leaving the Senate anyway.
    Chafee is that unhappy with the GOP. And I'm very comfortable with that.
  • Friday, November 17, 2006

    Who's Out, Who's Thinking it Over, WaPo's Take on it All, and the Senate GOP Leadership

    A few info bites this morning:

  • New Hampshire: The Union Leader reports that very popular Democratic Governor John Lynch will not challenge Republican Senator Sununu. While Gov. Lynch's entry would make this an easy pick-up, given how blue NH has trended over the last four years (Kerry winning in 2004 where Gore didn't in 2000, Lynch's huge margin of victory and both Congressional seats flipping from R to D in 2006), this is still a top target, and the Dems should be able to find a strong candidate from an ever-increasing bench.

  • Georgia: DeKalb County CEO and "conservative Democrat" Vernon Jones is considering a run against Republican Saxby Chambliss. Those who read this blog regularly will see that Chambliss is the Senator I would most love to see lose his seat, after the 2002 slime campaign he waged against war hero and then-incumbent Max Cleland. I would also love to see Cleland get back in for a rematch. But this is a start.

  • Virginia: Republican John Warner is undecided about a run for re-election. The Associated Press and Times Dispatch offer their takes. Warner suggests a final decision may not come until 18 months before the election, or roughly next May. He suggests that George Allen's loss to Jim Webb is a factor in his decision, and the Times-Dispatch notes that "rules bar him from serving as senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, where he has served a term-limited six years as chairman." My guess is that Warner will retire based on a few factors: 1) He won't like serving in the minority party; 2) It's less fun when you're not a powerful committee chairman; 3) Virginia is trending blue - demonstrated by Dem Gubernatorial wins in 2001 and 2005 and the 2006 Webb victory - and it would be a stain on his legacy to go out on a defeat; and 4) Virginia has a deep Democratic bench, headlined by former Governor Mark Warner (who recently backed out of the 2008 Presidential race) and current Governor Tim Kaine. My guess is: expect a retirement announcement next spring.

  • Chris Cillizza of Washington Post's The Fix offers his "way early look" at the Senate races in 2008. His major conclusion is the same as everyone else's: the Dems have fewer seats to protect and fewer targets (noting only two: Louisiana and South Dakota), while the Republicans have much more to protect and much more to lose, with many more retirement prospects.

  • On a personal note, how about the Senate GOP Leadership for next session! The minority leader will be Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, who only has a 52-40 approval rating in his home state (not solid at all) and blinks less than Steve Forbes. The minority whip will be Trent Lott, who left the leadership a few years back after hinting that segregation was the cure for what ails him. Segregationist Lott beat out for the number two spot the more moderate Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, who is up in 2008. Alexander is suffering from an anemic 46-42 approval rate and could use a boost in home-state popularity with the leadership post. Hopefully, this won't be the only election Alexander loses in the near future. In swing states where Dems are looking to pick up seats, like New Hampshire, Oregon, and Minnesota, I really don't see campaign visits from McConnell or Lott doing much to help guys like Sununu, Smith, and Coleman.

    UPDATE (4:32 PM): Minnesota: Just voted-out-of-office State Senate DFL Leader Dean Johnson is letting speculation swirl about a possible entry into the race to take on Republican Norm Coleman.

  • Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Maybe Running, Maybe Retiring, Maybe Recruiting, Maybe Forboding

    A bunch of quick hits for your reading pleasure:

  • U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, is considing jumping in against Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions.

  • Several Democrats are thought to be considering a run to unseat Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman - most notably comedian/commentator Al Franken and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback.

  • The Hill takes a look at possibly retiring Senators, noting New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg as a likely potential retiree, while 2006 GOP NJ Senate nominee Tom Kean Jr. hints at another run. However, if Douglas Forrester is any indication, Republicans attempt at second runs gain them no traction statewide (Forrester lost the 2002 NJ Senate race to Lautenberg 54-44 and then lost the 2005 NJ Gubernatorial race to Jon Corzine by a near identical 55-44).

  • Two-hundred-year-old Alaska Republican Ted Stevens says he is running for re-election, despite having hit retirement age one-hundred-and-thirty-five years ago.

  • The North Carolina Democratic Party is employing a novel candidate recruitment technique to oppose Republican Elizabeth Dole.

  • Amongst their fun facts, NPR notes that "Gov. John Lynch's (D) 74 percent [re-election support for Governor] was the highest in state history." That, along with the switch of both NH Congressional seats from GOP to Democrat and both houses of the NH state legislature from Democrat to Republican, should indicate that Republican Senator John Sununu has a huge target on his forehead.

  • 2006 in the Books

    The 2006 Senate races are in the books.

    8 new Democratic Senators (Brown - Ohio; Cardin - Maryland; Casey - Pennsylvania; Klobuchar - Minnesota; McCaskill - Missouri; Tester - Montana; Webb - Virgina; Whitehouse - Rhode Island) plus Vermont's Bernie Sanders caucusing with the Democrats. 1 new Republican (Corker - Tennessee).

    With both Sanders and Joe Lieberman caucusing with the Democrats, the Dems hold a slim 51-49 advantage. And we look ahead to 2008.

    kos of Daily Kos offers his outlook on the 2008 races. Chris Bowers of MyDD offers his take. Needless to say, both like how the geography and politics shape up for Democrats. I can't say I disagree. Swing State Project has started a 2008 Senate race tracker.

    The New York Times offers this summary of 2008 Senate races, based on's handy chart looking at each Senator's last election percentage of the vote, their state's 2004 Presidential vote, and each Senator's cash on hand.

    Finally, as Bowers cites in his aforementioned 2008 outlook, Survey USA has come out with new Senator approval ratings as of October 24, 2006. Bowers culls out the Senators up for re-election in 2008:

    • Lautenberg, D-NJ: 39%--51% (approve %--disapprove %)
    • Inhofe, R-OK: 40%--49%
    • Allard, R-CO: 42%--46%
    • Cornyn, R-TX: 40%--43%
    • Alexander, R-TN: 46%--42%
    • Coleman, R-MN: 49%--44%
    • Roberts, R-KS: 47%--42%
    • Levin, D-MI: 48%--42%
    • Chambliss, R-GA: 47%--40%
    • Harkin, D-IA: 51%-44%
    • Graham, R-SC: 50%--40%
    • Landrieu, D-LA: 53%--43%
    • Smith, R-OR: 50%--38%
    • Sununu, R-NH: 52%--40%
    • McConnell, R-KY: 52%--40%
    • Durbin, D-IL: 51%--38%
    • Kerry, D-MA: 55%--40%
    • Sessions, R-AL: 54%--35%
    • Dole, R-NC: 56%--36%
    • Biden, D-DE: 58%--38%
    • Pryor, D-AR: 58%--33%
    • Enzi, R-WY: 59%--32%
    • Hagel, R-NE: 60%--32%
    • Domenici, R-NM: 61%--30%
    • Warner, R-VA: 61%--30%
    • Baucus, D-MT: 61%--30%
    • Stevens, R-AK: 63%--32%
    • Cochran, R-MS: 64%--31%
    • Craig, R-ID: 62%--38%
    • Rockerfeller, D-WV: 65%--30%
    • Reed, D-RI: 64%--26%
    • Johnson, D-SD: 70%--24%
    • Collins, R-ME: 72%--24%
    Six of the seven (and eleven of the fifteen) lowest net job approvals are from Republican Senators.

    Saturday, November 04, 2006

    Looking Ahead to 2008

    Election Day 2006 is on Monday. The balance of power in the U.S. Senate (along with the U.S. House of Representatives and many Governorships and state Legislatures) is up for grabs. So why start looking at 2008 already? Because it's never too early.

    As tenuous a time as the GOP is having with the 2006 election, the GOP's prospects in 2008 are all the more difficult, numerically, given that they have 21 seats to defend, compared with 12 Democratic seats.

    Prime opportunities for Democratic pick-ups of GOP seats include Colorado (Wayne Allard), Minnesota (Norm Coleman), Oregon (Gordon Smith), New Hampshire (John Sununu), and Virginia (John Warner). Other targets include Georgia (Saxby Chambliss), Texas (John Cornyn), North Carolina (Elizabeth Dole), and Oklahoma – yes, Oklahoma – (James Inhofe).

    The GOP's best chances for pick-ups of Democratic seats include Louisiana (Mary Landrieu) and South Dakota (Tim Johnson). Other targets include Illinois (Richard Durbin), Iowa (Tom Harkin), and New Jersey – yes, New Jersey – (Frank Lautenberg).

    There is also the potential for several open seats, between retirements and Presidential runs. The oldest Senators up for re-election in 2008 (and, therefore, the ones we should watch most closely for possible retirement announcements) are Ted Stevens (R-AK) at age 82, Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) at age 82, John Warner (R-VA) at age 79, and Pete Domenici (R-NM) at age 74. Senators up for re-election in 2008 who are reportedly considering Presidential bids that year are Joe Biden (D-DE), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and John Kerry (D-MA).

    33 Senators:
    21 GOP, 12 Dem
    2000: 22 Bush, 11 Gore
    2004: 23 Bush, 10 Kerry

    Average Age: 62.38 GOP, 62.25 Dem

    Note: Approval ratings are from Survey USA 3/23/06.

    Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
    Approval: 57-32
    Age: 66 (7/3/40)
    2000: Bush 51, Gore 47
    2002: Alexander 54, Clement 44
    2004: Bush 57, Kerry 43

    Wayne Allard (R-CO)
    Approval: 47-37
    Age: 62 (12/2/43)
    2000: Bush 51, Gore 42
    2002: Allard 51, Strickland 46
    2004: Bush 53, Kerry 46

    Max Baucus (D-MT)
    Approval: 57-32
    Age: 64 (12/11/41)
    2000: Bush 58, Gore 33
    2002: Baucus 63, Taylor 32
    2004: Bush 59, Kerry 38

    Joe Biden (D-DE)
    Approval: 60-33
    Age: 63 (11/20/42)
    2000: Gore 55, Bush 42
    2002: Biden 58, Clatworthy 41
    2004: Kerry 53, Bush 46

    Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
    Approval: 50-36
    Age: 62 (11/10/43)
    2000: Bush 55, Gore 43
    2002: Chambliss 53, Cleland 46
    2004: Bush 58, Kerry 41

    Thad Cochran (R-MS)
    Approval: 65-26
    Age: 68 (12/7/37)
    2000: Bush 58, Gore 41
    2002: Cochran 85 (No Dem, O'Hara Ref 15)
    2004: Bush 60, Kerry 40

    Norm Coleman (R-MN)
    Approval: 55-38
    Age: 57 (8/17/49)
    2000: Gore 48, Bush 46
    2002: Coleman 50, Mondale 47
    2004: Kerry 51, Bush 48

    Susan Collins (R-ME)
    Approval: 72-24
    Age: 53 (12/7/52)
    2000: Gore 49, Bush 44
    2002: Collins 59, Pingree 41
    2004: Kerry 53, Bush 45

    John Cornyn (R-TX)
    Approval: 44-38
    Age: 54 (2/2/52)
    2000: Bush 59, Gore 38
    2002: Cornyn 55, Kirk 43
    2004: Bush 61, Kerry 38

    Larry Craig (R-ID)
    Approval: 59-32
    Age: 61 (7/20/45)
    2000: Bush 67, Gore 28
    2002: Craig 65, Blinken 33
    2004: Bush 69, Kerry 38

    Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)
    Approval: 56-35
    Age: 70 (7/29/36)
    2000: Bush 56, Gore 43
    2002: Dole 54, Bowles 45
    2004: Bush 56, Kerry 44

    Pete Domenici (R-NM)
    Approval: 63-28
    Age: 74 (5/7/32)
    2000: Gore 48, Bush 48
    2002: Domenici 65, Tristani 35
    2004: Bush 50, Kerry 49

    Richard Durbin (D-IL)
    Approval: 48-42
    Age: 61 (11/21/44)
    2000: Gore 55, Bush 43
    2002: Durbin 60, Durkin 38
    2004: Kerry 55, Bush 45

    Michael Enzi (R-WY)
    Approval: 57-30
    Age: 61 (2/1/44)
    2000: Bush 69, Gore 28
    2002: Enzi 73, Corcoran 27
    2004: Bush 69, Kerry 29

    Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
    Approval: 59-29
    Age: 51 (7/9/55)
    2000: Bush 57, Gore 41
    2002: Graham 54, Sanders 44
    2004: Bush 58, Kerry 41

    Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
    Approval: 59-32
    Age: 60 (10/4/46)
    2000: Bush 62, Gore 33
    2002: Hagel 83, Matulka 14
    2004: Bush 67, Kerry 32

    Tom Harkin (D-IA)
    Approval: 53-39
    Age: 66 (11/19/39)
    2000: Gore 49, Bush 48
    2002: Harkin 54, Ganske 44
    2004: Bush 50, Kerry 49

    James Inhofe (R-OK)
    Approval: 46-39
    Age: 61 (11/17/34)
    2000: Bush 60, Gore 38
    2002: Inhofe 57, Walters 37
    2004: Bush 66, Gore 34

    Tim Johnson (D-SD)
    Approval: 69-24
    Age: 59 (12/28/46)
    2000: Bush 60, Gore 38
    2002: Johnson 50, Thune 49
    2004: Bush 60, Kerry 38

    John Kerry (D-MA)
    Approval: 53-43
    Age: 62 (12/11/43)
    2000: Gore 60, Bush 33
    2002: Kerry 81 (No GOP, Cloud Lib 19)
    2004: Kerry 62, Bush 37

    Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
    Approval: 53-42
    Age: 50 (11/23/55)
    2000: Bush 53, Gore 45
    2002: Landrieu 52, Terrell 48
    2004: Bush 57, Kerry 42

    Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
    Approval: 45-38
    Age: 82 (1/23/24)
    2000: Gore 56, Bush 40
    2002: Lautenberg 54, Forrester 44
    2004: Kerry 53, Bush 47

    Carl Levin (D-MI)
    Approval: 56-33
    Age: 72 (6/28/34)
    2000: Gore 51, Bush 46
    2002: Levin 61, Raczkowski 38
    2004: Kerry 51, Bush 48

    Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
    Approval: 49-40
    Age: 64 (2/20/42)
    2000: Bush 56, Gore 41
    2002: McConnell 64, Weinberg 36
    2004: Bush 60, Kerry 40

    Mark Pryor (D-AR)
    Approval: 57-29
    Age: 43 (1/10/63)
    2000: Bush 51, Gore 46
    2002: Pryor 54, Hutchinson 46
    2004: Bush 54, Kerry 45

    Jack Reed (D-RI)
    Approval: 68-23
    Age: 56 (11/12/49)
    2000: Gore 61, Bush 32
    2002: Reed 78, Tingle 22
    2004: Kerry 60, Bush 39

    Pat Roberts (R-KS)
    Approval: 50-38
    Age: 70 (4/20/36)
    2000: Bush 58, Gore 37
    2002: Roberts 83 (No Dem, Rosile Lib 9, Cook Ref 8)
    2004: Bush 62, Kerry 37

    Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
    Approval: 66-27
    Age: 69 (6/18/37)
    2000: Bush 52, Gore 46
    2002: Rockefeller 63, Wolfe 37
    2004: Bush 56, Gore 43

    Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
    Approval: 58-31
    Age: 59 (12/24/46)
    2000: Bush 57, Gore 42
    2002: Sessions 59, Parker 40
    2004: Bush 63, Kerry 37

    Gordon Smith (R-OR)
    Approval: 50-38
    Age: 54 (5/25/52)
    2000: Gore 47, Bush 47
    2002: Smith 56, Bradbury 40
    2004: Kerry 52, Bush 48

    Ted Stevens (R-AK)
    Approval: 65-29
    Age: 82 (11/18/23)
    2000: Bush 59, Gore 29
    2002: Stevens 79, Vondersaar 10
    2004: Bush 62, Kerry 35

    John Sununu (R-NH)
    Approval: 52-36
    Age: 42 (9/10/64)
    2000: Bush 48, Gore 47
    2002: Sununu 51, Shaheen 47
    2004: Kerry 50, Bush 49

    John Warner (R-VA)
    Approval: 63-24
    Age: 79 (2/18/27)
    2000: Bush 53, Gore 45
    2002: Warner 84 (No Dem, Spannaus O 9, Hornberger O 7)
    2004: Bush 54, Kerry 45