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Senate Dem 58   GOP 41   Ties 1
House Dem 257   GOP 178  

Map of the 2010 Senate Races
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strong Dem Strong Dem (57)
weak Dem Weak Dem (0)
barely Dem Barely Dem (1)
tied Exactly tied (1)
barely GOP Barely GOP (5)
weak GOP Weak GOP (1)
strong GOP Strong GOP (35)
Map algorithm explained
Senate polls today: (None) RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): (None) GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA

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News from the Votemaster

No Special Election for Illinois Senate Seat

Although Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL) has called for a special election to replace Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL), the State Senate has killed the idea. Oddly enough, it was the Democrats who killed the plan, even though it is clearly in their interests to replace Burris with an elected senator. Usually we can count on politicans to act in the most cynical and partisan possible way, but the underlying logic is sometimes fairly obscure. Why would the Democrats want to keep the tainted Burris around when they could easily get rid of him? Of course if they call a special election, the Republicans might win it, but the Democrats have many strong candidates and the Republicans have few so it seems like a reasonable bet for them.

Minnesota Election Contest Continues

The election contest in Minnesota continues. Actually, that is news. Al Franken introduced a motion to stop the whole thing and seat him but the court rejected it. Such motions are routinely brought by the person trying to maintain the status quo (in this case, Franken would prefer to eliminate Coleman's opportunity to chip away at his 225-vote lead). Courts routinely dismiss them. The trial itself is likely to last another 2 weeks or so.

Voters Split Their Tickets in 83 Districts

CQ Politics has now tallied up the districts that Obama won but which elected a Republican to the House (34) and the districts that McCain won but which elected a Democrat to the House (49). All 83 of these are likely to get a fair amount of attention in 2010 although if the Democrats couldn't win a House seat with Obama on the ticket it will probably be harder without him. Similarly, if the Republicans lost a seat with Obama on the ticket, they might be able to get it back without Obama on the ticket. Thus these are all districts the Republicans will be concentrating on, which automatically means the Democrats will be doing so, too. Accordingly, our list of Hot House races has been updated, as it will gradually throughout the year, as evidence accumulates about where the top action will be.

Obama Hurt Democrats Chances in 2010

The LA Times has an article today on how Obama has seriously hurt the Democrats' chances to pick up Senate seats in 2010. He did this by putting very strong Senate candidates in the cabinet and thus eliminating them as Senate contenders. In Arizona, he plucked Janet Napolitano from the governor's mansion and dropped her at the Dept. of Homeland Security. Had he not done that, she would probably have challenged Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and might well have beaten him. Now McCain gets a free pass at being reelected. In Kansas, Obama took another Democratic governor, Kathleen Sebelius, and put her in the cabinet, at Health and Human Services. In the absence of this appointment, she would probably have run for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and had a decent shot at winning. In Iowa, the appointment of former governor Tom Vilsack to Agriculture means he won't challenge Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a seat he might otherwise have won. By naming Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) to the Interior Dept., Obama created a vacancy that has now been filled with a newbie, Michael Bennet (D-CO), who is far more vulnerable than Salazar. In New York, the appointment of Hillary Clinton to run the State Dept. has resulted in another newbie, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). While Gillibrand is a strong campaigner and fundraiser, had Obama not appointed Clinton to the cabinet, there wouldn't have been any special election in New York in 2010, as there now will be. And of course, there is the Illinois Senate seat he vacated himself, but there isn't anything he could have done to prevent it being filled by an appointee. All in all, by raiding the pool of potential senatorial candidates and by removing popular Democratic senators from office, Obama has made DSCC chairman Bob Mendendez' job much harder and NRSC chairman John Cornyn's job much easier.

Backgrounders on the People Behind Obama

When the President--any President--says something, the whole world pays attention, but the ideas and words aren't always his own. Just as George Bush had Karl Rove to tell him what to say and do, Barack Obama has key advisors who stay in the background but play a key role in his administration. Two of them moved temporarily into the spotlight today. The NY Times has a piece on Obama's closest political advisor, David Axelrod, who vets everything Obama does and says for its political impact and the Chicago Tribune has a piece on Jon Favreau, who writes all of Obama's speeches. While normally behind the scenes, these two probably have more impact than any cabinet officer as they both get face-to-face time with Obama every day.

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-- The Votemaster