New Senate: DEM 51             GOP 49

New polls: GA
Dem pickups: GA
GOP pickups: AK CO MT SD WV

Previous | Next

Roll Call's List of Vulnerable Senators

Roll Call has published a list of the 10 most vulnerable senators. No methodology is given; it is basically the reporters' personal opinions. Nevertheless, the list is of some interest. Here it is.

  1. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
  2. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)
  3. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)
  4. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)
  5. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)
  6. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  7. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
  8. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
  9. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
  10. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)

It may well be that, say, Shaheen ranks 7th because almost none of the other senators are vulnerable at all, but in our view Shaheen, Merkley, Franken, and Warner are not the slightest bit vulnerable.

Although we don't have a similar ranking, the Tipping-point state chart updated every day has similar information. The 10 states with the smallest number in the "Lead" column are the closest races. Note that some of these may be open seats, though. Currently, in six states the candidates are within 3% of each other, which is a statistical tie. These are North Carolina, Louisiana, Iowa, Arkansas, Colorado, and Alaska. All of these are in Roll Call's list except Iowa, which is an open seat. In Kentucky, the difference is only 4%.

Although it does not have a top ten, Politico has a good story about the Senate races today.

Democrats and Dynasties

It is well known that over 90% of incumbents are reelected under normal conditions because the voters know them and elected them at least once before. But what happens if the voters know not only the incumbent, but also his or her family? We have the oddity this year that four incumbent Democratic senators running for reelection aren't the only ones in their families to have faced the voters. Consider this:

State Incumbent Father In office
Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) Rep. Nick Begich (D-AK) 1971-1972
Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) Sen. David Pryor (D-AR) 1979-1997
Colorado Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) Rep. Morris Udall (D-AZ) 1961-1991
Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) Mayor Moon Landrieu (D-New Orleans) 1970-1978

While Mary Landrieu's father was only a mayor rather than a member of Congress (although he also served in Jimmy Carter's cabinet) she gets extra points because her brother has been mayor of New Orleans since 2010 and was lieutenant governor for 6 years before he ran for mayor. David Pryor was not only a senator but also the governor of Arkansas. It is hard to tell how much these dynasties matter, but it certainly helps with name recognition. In Mark Udall's case, his father was a congressman in a different state, so that counts for less, but his first cousin, Tom Udall, is a senator in a nearby state (New Mexico) so the Udall name is well-known in the West. Possibly if a voter liked (or disliked) the parent, some of that may rub off on the child.

Some Republicans Calling for Over-the-Counter Birth Control

Republicans are starting to fight back against the Democrats' constant accusations of a Republican "war on women." Up until now, they parried this by simply repeating their own policy items, like charter schools, even though polls have shown that women clearly do not want them. Now several Republican Senate hopefuls, including Cory Gardner in Colorado, Ed Gillespie in Virginia, and Mike McFadden in Minnesota are trying a different approach. They are calling for birth control pills to be sold over the counter, with no prescription needed. While they may think women will like this, it is far from clear if this is the case. As prescription drugs, the pills, which cost about $600 a year, are covered by insurance. As over-the-counter medicine, they are not covered by insurance. So this proposal would save insurance companies millions of dollars a year by passing the cost onto women. What the Republicans haven't done, but in principle could do, is say that by making contraception "easily" available to teenagers they are trying to reduce the number of abortions. Planned Parenthood has called the idea "an empty gesture."

Secret News Is Released Friday Evening

Politicians and journalists know that news stories that come out Friday evening get the least attention because fewer people follow the news on weekends. So politicians who feel they have to announce something bad because it will come out sooner or later prefer to do it Friday evening and hope for the least possible publicity. The National Journal has made a list of eight news stories that came out on a Friday evening in the hopes nobody noticed. Here it is.

  1. McConnell's campaign manager resigns amidst a bribery scandal
  2. IRS lost emails and a computer
  3. The administration won't verify the incomes of people applying for ACA subsidies
  4. Veterans affairs secretary Eric Shinseki resigns
  5. New rules about contraception announced following Hobby Lobby decision
  6. Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock resigns
  7. House ethics committee reverses itself on lobbyist-funded travel
  8. Senate candidate Bill Cassidy announces that his unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant

Kentuckians Do Not Want to Change the Law for Rand Paul

Under Kentucky law, a candidate cannot be run for two offices at the same time. This could be a problem for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who wants to run for reelection to the Senate and also for President in 2016. Right now, Democrats control the state house and have no interest in changing the law for him. Paul has been campaigning for state house candidates in hopes of getting a Republican majority, which might look more favorably on changing the law. What is interesting now is a new poll that shows that two-thirds of registered voters do not want to change the law. In fact, only 15% think Paul should run for both offices. Nevertheless, if the Republicans capture the state house in November, they are almost certain to change the law anyway because forcing Paul to give up his seat would mean an open Senate seat that the Democrats could win.

Today's Senate Polls

A new poll from a new pollster puts Michelle Nunn (D) ahead of David Perdue (R) in Georgia. It is a tight race there and one shouldn't put too much faith in a single poll from an unknown pollster. Polling for Georgia has been somewhat erratic this year.

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Georgia Michelle Nunn 45% David Perdue 43%     Aug 24 Aug 25 GaPundit

* Denotes incumbent

Back to the main page