News from the Votemaster
In a surprisingly candid interview, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, admitted that 2008 is going to be tough sledding for the GOP in the Senate. To start with, the math is against them--21 Republican seats are on the line vs. only 12 Democratic seats, and one of those (Colorado) is an open seat as Sen. Wayne Allard is retiring. He thinks five Republican Senate seats are in danger: Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Oregon but only two Democratic seats are in danger: South Dakota and Louisiana. He also noted that Iowa and Montana are long shots.
I agree with him on the five endangered Republican seats, but I would add to them Pete Domenici's seat in New Mexico as his role in Gonzalesgate emerges. If the public becomes convinced Domenici tried to get a U.S. attorney to pursue a case for partisan political reasons and then got him fired for resisting, Domenici will catch a lot of flak for that.
South Dakota and Louisiana are both problems for the Democrats, but for different reasons. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) had a cerebral hemorrhage in December and is recovering slowly. On the other hand, he wants to keep his seat and his Democratic colleagues in the Senate are already raising money for him. South Dakota is a small, rural state, and it doesn't take mountains of money to run a good campaign there. If his bank account is full when the action starts, that will make it much easier for him.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has a different problem: she barely won election in 2002 and hundreds of thousands of Democratic voters have left the state as a result of hurricane Katrina. With all due respect, I think she is more trouble than Johnson, who will get a lot of sympathy and who was a very popular senator before his illness, with a net positive approval rating of +46%. If a candidate or his spouse's health problems disqualify one for public office, John McCain (malignant melanoma three times), Rudy Giuliani (prostate cancer), Mitt Romney(wife Ann has multiple sclerosis), and John Edwards (wife Elizabeth has incurable metastatic cancer) have even bigger problems. Candidates may even turn these diseases to their advantage by using them to splotlight their health care plans.
As to Ensign's thinking that Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is in trouble, he's been smoking something and inhaling it. Baucus is chairman of the powerful Senate banking committee and won by 32% last time. Furthermore, he is so far to the right that many liberals would love to see him be defeated in a primary. It would take a (Republican) miracle to unseat him. Montana is not nearly as red a state as some people think: both senators and the governor are Democrats, and the Democrats control the state Senate and have 1 seat less than the Republicans in the state House.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) is chairman of the Senate agriculture committee, something very important to Iowa's many small farmers. He's a guy who can bring home the bacon. He is very popular and will be difficult to dislodge.
What Ensign didn't mention, but is all too keenly aware of, is that his counterpart at the DSCC is pitbull Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the guy who engineered the Democrats pickup of six Senate seats in 2006, something nobody thought possible. Schumer would love to make it two in a row and this time nobody is taking him for granted.
This page is the prototype for 2008. The data and map will refer to previous elections until serious polls begin in 2008. The blog will be updated when there is interesting news about the 2008 races.Preview of the 2008 races: President Senate House
This map shows the current governors. Put your mouse on a state for more information.
This map shows the current Senate. Put your mouse on a state for more information.
This map shows the current House. Put your mouse on a state for more information.
-- The Votemaster