Friday, February 5, 2010

Polls show Republicans at 49 in Senate Races

Just a few months ago -- or even just last week -- it seemed that Republicans would be happy to gain 3-4 seats in the United States Senate, a signficiant but not reality-changing event. That's because the majority party typically loses seats in mid term elections, and Democrats, though not able to simply ram things through, would still have in the range of 55-56 seats.

That reality is gone. As it appears now, if nothing changes -- the Republicans, just by showing up on November 2, will emerge with 49 seats in the United States Senate -- with 2-4 others up in the air.

With Obama's poll numbers in all polls -- not just Rasmussen -- hovering in the mid to high 40's with an extremely high amount of people who passionately dislike him, the Democrats around the country are in deep trouble. Poll after poll shows previously safe and unthreatened Democrats now losing with high profile challengers taking them on. The latter part is important because even if said vulnerable Democrats retire -- the high profile Republican is still likely to win.

The only case that will likely not be true is Connecticut, where Chris Dodd, who was going to lose, resigned. The Democrat, popular State AG Richard Blumenthal -- holds a 20 point lead over his challengers, Rob Simmons and Linda McMahon. Though that will almost certainly narrow, the fact that Blumenthal is in the mid 50's makes him a strong lean at this point.

So, that's one the Democrats can breate easy about. The ONLY one.

Outside of Pat Leahy in Vermont, Barbara Mikulski in Maryland, Ron Wyden in Oregon and Chuck Schumer in New York, every single other Democrat is either in the fight for their life, a potential fight for their life, or LOSING.

Of course, to get to 49 -- or 50 or 51, certainly -- the Republicans have to hold on to the seats that they have which are open. That's Missouri (Kit Bond), Ohio (George Voinovich), New Hampshire (Judd Gregg) and Kentucky (Jim Bunning).

In all four -- the likely Republican winner -- Roy Blunt, Rob Portman, Kelly Ayotte, and Rand Paul (who will likely beat Trey Grayson, now) -- holds general election leads over their Democrat challengers. Ayotte and Paul still have to win very competitive primaries, but if they win, they will probably win the general. In NH, if Lamontagne were to win, he would have some ground to make up vs. Paul Hodes, but it would certainly be competitive. In Kentucky, even if Paul were to lose to Grayson, Grayson would win the seat.

Quick side note -- let's not forget that conservative challengers are likely to beat moderates in primaries in Florida (Rubio over Crist) and Utah (anyone over Bob "ObamaCare Lite" Bennett), moving the Senate further to the right.

So let's assume for a moment that we hold all of those open seats, and the Republicans still are at 41 as a baseline number. This is where the fun starts.

In order of likelihood of victory, let's start counting:

42. North Dakota -- Governor John Hoeven will walk away with this seat, currently held by retiring Senator Byron Dorgan.

43. Delaware -- Rep. Mike Castle will walk away with this seat, currently held by Ted Kauffman, who was going to be a place holder for AG and VP Son Beau Biden, who appears unlikely to run.

44. Pennsylvania -- former Rep. Pat Toomey will beat either Arlen "act like a lady" Specter or Joe Sestak.

45. Nevada -- Harry Reid is toast -- the question is, who puts him in the toaster? Our guess is Sue Lowden, though Danny Tarkanian is also a great candidate.

46. Arkansas -- Blanche Lincoln could be defeated by anyone, at this point, polls show. Previously, we thought we might need to recruit Mike Huckabee here. Not now, as Gilbert Baker or any of the other potentials would win easily.

47. Colorado -- Former Lt Governor and Susan B Anthony-endorsed Jane Norton is currently blowing out interim Senator Michael Bennett. While Norton still has a primary battle on her hands, she probably wins -- and then will coast in the general.

48. Illinois -- RINO Mark Kirk proved victorious this past week in the Lincoln state, setting aside a cast of conservatives. Credit goes to him, and now polls show him with a healthy lead over State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. While Kirk is not ideal, and would likely team up with the Maine Senators often, winning Obama's seat (on top of Bidens and Reids) makes Mark Kirk acceptable -- particularly when you consider the last candidate we ran here was Alan Freaking Keyes.

49. Indiana. Yes, Indiana, where former Senator Dan Coats is now challenging the man who replaced him, Evan Bayh. Polls showed previously that Mike Pence would beat Bayh, and we expect the popular Coats to win as well -- though it will certainly be competitive, as the conservative and likeable Bayh isn't seen in the same class as other Democrats. That said, he has been part of the 60, and though he's been outspoken lately about the Dems needing to move to the center, he's in trouble.

So, that's 49. If nothing else happened, the Democrats would have 49 seats, the Republicans 49 seats plus Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman. Sanders would most certainly caucus with the Dems, of course, but Lieberman could force a tie by caucusing with the Republicans. If he did so, the Dem leader -- not Reid, of course -- would still be called "Majority Leader", due to the fact Biden would cast a tiebreaking vote.

But, the Republicans might not be done. Let's look at other potential wins for the GOP, in order of likely victory:

50. Wisconsin. Former Governor Tommy Thompson is weighing a bid against Russ Feingold. Polls show he would win if he ran. If he does, you can move this seat to the 8 above.

51. Washington. Patty Murray has been an awful Senator yet has somehow stayed in since 1992. Yes, that woman has been in since 1992. The Republicans are hoping to recruit a top tier candidate here -- such as Dan Reichert -- and if they do, Murray may be done. Even if they don't, even internet conservative-star Chris Widener could present an interesting contrast.

52. California. Boxer is under 40 here, and the fact three strong challengers -- Fiorinia, Campbell, and Devore -- are all within six shows she is vulnerable. Heck, if Scott Brown can win in Massaschusetts, where there are virtually no Republicans, one of the three can win in Calfornia, where, despite it's reputation, there are tens of millions of Republicans -- and where Boxer is a highly polarizing figure. While conservatives should get behind Devore -- he's by far the best choice -- RINO's Campbell and Fiorina certainly would be formidable.

53. New York (Gillibrand) -- this is one we would have if Rudy ran OR Pataki ran. Right now, that appears unlikely but its conceivable a strong alternative could emerge who could defeat the weak and primary-challenged Gillibrand. She would be best to answer positively to the question "have you driven a Ford out of the race lately?", because Harold Ford will cause her all sorts of problems.

So, what is our prediction? Our prediction is that Thompson runs in Wisconsin, bringing the Republicans to 50. That wouldn't be an upset. Right now, the Republicans would need to either find candidates or come from behind in the other three, but given how the GOP is recruiting people quickly, don't be surprised if come November 4, the Republicans have picked up 10 seats and are in control of the United States Senate in perhaps one of the most stunning sweeps in history.

Good news for the GOP -- some of those pickups come in seats like Arkansas, North Dakota, and Indiana -- where trends show they are unlikely to lose it in the future.