Swing State Pres

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Senate Update....Takeover? What Takeover? (October 16, 2012)


A funny thing happened on the way to the Republican takeover of Congress.  It’s called the Senate.  The Republicans are not going to win the Senate.  In fact, I don’t think they are going to win any additional seats.  They might even lose one, maybe two.

In the current 113th Congress, the Democrats hold 51 seats, plus two Independents (Lieberman of Connecticut and Sanders of Vermont) sit with their caucus, so they hold a 53-47edge.  I currently have them picking up one seat, for a 54-46 edge in the new 113th Congress.

The Republicans certainly have the advantage coming in.  Only 33 of the 100 Senate seats are being contested; of the 67 NOT contested, the Republicans hold 37 of these seats, while the Democrats hold only 30.  But 15 of the 33 are sure things for the Democrats, versus only six for the Republicans.  And the 12 toss-up states are breaking the Democrats way as of now, 9 to 3.  And that adds up to 54-46 for the Democrats.


Democrats
Republicans
Not up for reelection
30
37
Solid
15
6
Toss Up Leaning
9
3
Total
54
46

This is not getting much attention in the glare of the razor-thin margin of the Presidential election, but it is extremely significant, of course.  Many Republicans have been privately arguing – at least up to the first debate – that, given the state of the economy, Obama should have been easy to take out, and that a stronger candidate (Christie, Daniels, Bush, etc.) would have been a lock.  That rationale is harder to support if they make no progress on the Senate (or the House).

My previous claim that it all might come down to Angus King of Maine no longer seems relevant.  King, you may recall, is the independent former Governor of Maine who will easily win the Senate seat left vacant by Olympia Snowe’s retirement.  He has not declared with which party he will caucus, leaving the delicious possibility that the Senate majority could be decided by his decision on where he sits.  But now it looks like the Democrats will maintain the majority without needing him (and he is almost certain to sit with them, anyway.)

The Toss-Ups

Let’s look at those 12 toss-up states. 









DEMS

REPS









54
0
46


Dem
Rep
Ind.
 Latest Polling %
Dem
Toss Up
Toss
Toss Up
Rep

Cand.
Cand.
Cand.
Dem
Rep
Mrgn
Solid
Dem
Up
Rep
Solid







45
9
0
3
43
Democrats Not Up






30




Democrats Solid






15




Missouri
McCaskill
Akin

49
43
6

1



Ohio
Brown
Mandel

47
42
5

1



Connecticut
Murphy
McMahon

51
46
5

1



Pennsylvania
Casey
Smith

47
42
5

1



Wisconsin
Baldwin
Thompson

49
46
3

1



Virginia
Kaine
Allen

48
45
3

1



Arizona
Carmona
Flake

45
42
3

1



Massachusetts
Warren
Brown

48
46
2

1



Montana
Tester
Rehberg

47
46
1

1



North Dakota
Heitkamp
Berg

47
47
0



1

Nevada
Berkley
Heller

42
45
-3



1

Indiana
Donnelley
Mourdock

42
47
-5



1

Republicans Solid










6
Republicans Not Up










37

The five highest visibility races are…

·        Massachusetts.  The Democrats are trying to take back Ted Kennedy’s old seat, now held by Republican Scott Brown, who shockingly won the special election in 2010.  Elizabeth Warren of consumer protection fame heads the Democratic ticket, and had held a steady lead for months, but now leads by only 2 points.

·        Virginia.  This is a heavyweight battle between former Democratic Governor Tim Kaine and former Republican Senator and Governor George Allen.  (Allen was the one whose Presidential aspirations in 2008 were derailed by his calling an opponent’s staff member a “micaca” and failing to extricate himself from that mess gracefully.)  Kaine leads by only 3 points in a hard fought race.

·         Missouri.  Claire McCaskill, the Democratic incumbent, barely won in 2006 and has long been viewed as highly vulnerable.  That is, of course, until challenger Todd Akin opened his mouth with his incredible “legitimate rape” comments in August. This should have been an easy win for the GOP, but McCaskill is now +6.

·         Connecticut.  World Wrestling Federation mogul Linda McMahon is at it again; after losing the Governor’s race a few years ago she is trying to buy, that is, win the Senate seat vacated by the retiring Lieberman.  But Democratic Representative Chris Murphy has pulled into a 5 point lead.

·         Ohio.   Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown seems to have a solid 5-point lead over youthful state treasurer Republican Josh Mandel.

The other races…

·        Nevada.   Republican incumbent Dean Heller is challenged by Democratic Congresswomen Shelley Berkeley.  Berkeley has been hit with an ill-timed ethics charge but is now within 3 points of Heller.

·         Montana.  Only a point separate Democratic incumbent Jon Tester; who won his first term in a squeaker in 2006, and Representative Denny Rehberg, who could still very easily prevail.

·         North Dakota.  The Republicans thought they had a sure win here, but former state attorney general Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is proving to be a charismatic campaigner and giving Representative Rick Berg all he can handle.  This is a dead heat but I still see Camp pulling it out.

·         Wisconsin.  Democratic Representative Tammy Baldwin is 3 points ahead of big name former Republican Governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson.

·         Pennsylvania.  Incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Casey has a clear, though shrinking lead over Republican Tom Smith.

It is, of course, possible that strong Romney coattails could pull four of the Democratic-leaning seats into the Republican winner’s column on Election Day and give “total control” to the GOP.  But I don’t think that is going to happen.

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