Saturday, May 01, 2010

Predictions: Senate Races 2014

9/29: All competitive races updated

Current Senate: 55 Democrats, 45 Republicans.
Current 2014 election prediction: 52 Republicans, 48 Democrats.

Democrats to pickup KS, assuming Senator Orman chooses to caucus with them.
Republicans to pickup AK, AR, CO, IA, LA, MT, SD and WV.

(9/29/14) Final note for the year. Until recently, I was confident Democrats would hold the Senate. But the bottom seems to have fallen out on a number of close races. The good news is, I'll guarantee right now Democrats will take the Senate back in 2016.
(11/22/12) When I originally wrote this post thirty months ago, I presumed that by the 2014 election the Republicans would get control of the Senate. Now that's much less certain. '14 is still likely to be a great year for the GOP, but they'll need to win a net six seats to get a 51 to 49 majority. A lot will depend on retirements. The Republicans have only beaten three Democratic incumbents in the last five elections.

(5/1/10) For the next four and a half years, I'll be writing about the 2014 Senate races. I'll be reporting good news for Democrats wherever I can find it. Unfortunately, by election day '14 it's likely I'll be predicting that the blue team is going to lose some seats, and lose control of the Senate as well. (Of course they might lose control of the Senate before 2014, but that's another story.)

Consider what the Democratic Senate caucus is up against in 2014:
* Of the 33 seats up for election, it is likely that 19 will be Democratic and only 14 Republican.
* The Democrats have 5 Senators who will be between the ages of 73 and 90 and another (Tim Johnson of South Dakota) who faces serious health concerns. If any of these six retire, Republicans will have a good shot at winning the open seat. (The Republicans running for reelection are no spring chickens themselves. Eight of them will be age 69 or older.)
* There's a good chance that Democrats won't be able to pick up a single Republican seat. 13 of the 14 Republicans up for reelection are in red states, and Susan Collins from Maine isn't really vulnerable.
* The party out of power tends to do well in mid-term elections, particularly in years when the President is in his sixth year in office.

If you'd like to read what I wrote about this same class of Senators the last time they were up for reelection in 2008, click here.

Races are categorized as either likely or unlikely to be competitive. This post will be updated continuously through election day.

Races likely to be competitive:

Rating: Leans Republican pickup
Democrat: Mark Begich (incumbent)
Republican: State Commissioner of Natural Resources Daniel Sullivan
Indepdendent: Zachary Kile
Overview: (5/1/10) Begich's chances are difficult to gauge. Congressional incumbents seldom lose in Alaska, as the state likes to build clout and seniority in Washington.
(2/15/13) Begich is polling well against potential challengers.
(8/2/13) I'm getting a bad feeling about this one. Mead Treadwell, who's already won a statewide election, trails Begich by only 4 in a recent poll. It's possible that the Democrats can get an assist in this race from third-party candidates. Best hope would be for teabagger Joe Miller to run as an independent after he loses the GOP primary;  otherwise the blue team probably has to pray that the Libertarian or Alaskan Independence parties can siphon off some Republican votes.
(9/15/13) All good news right now for incumbent Mark Begich. State Commissioner Daniel Sullivan has jumped in on the GOP side. This means an even nastier battle for the Republican nomination; one that could easily split the "establishment vote" between Treadwell and Sullivan, thus handing the nomination to coco-bananas Joe Miller. Furthermore, current polls show Begich leading both Treadwell and Sullivan should either become the nominee and show Begich leading Miller nearly two-to-one.
(5/13/14) Another race where the incumbent Democratic Senator may survive thanks to an independent right-wing candidate who eats the Republican's lunch. Zachary Kile of the Alaska Independence Party drew 5% support in a new PPP poll that also showed Begich leading likely GOP nominee Sullivan 42% to 37%. Begich is running a good campaign and I like his chances.
(9/29/14) This is a Republican state, this is a Republican year, and the most recent PPP poll shows Sullivan with a small lead. As far as I'm concerned that seals the deal: Sullivan will win.

Rating: Leans Republican pickup
Democrat: Mark Pryor (incumbent)
Republican: Congressman Tom Cotton
Overview: (5/1/10) Pryor will be running for a third term at the age of only 51.
(6/20/13) Mark Pryor is a fundraising machine. This has the tendency to scare off potential Republican opponents. Case in point: Lt. Governor Mark Darr said he was in, now says he's out. Congressman Tom Cotton seems to be ignoring calls for him to get into the race. I think the situation is similar to Steve King in Iowa; Cotton is a nut who knows he's got a limited base of support, and also knows he's got a cushy job in the House and doesn't want to risk losing it.
(8/14/13) Cotton is in, and he's polling pretty well. Ok, maybe I was too dismissive of him. I still like Pryor to win. Wikipedia notes, "Of the 88 previous occasions when an incumbent Senator was re-elected without major party opposition and then went on to contest the following general election, all 88 were successfully re-elected."
(11/24/13) Yeah, this race is starting to lean towards Cotton. A recent poll shows Cotton 37%, Pryor 36%, undecided 34%. Polls like this always make me want to ask: how the heck can anyone be, "undecided"?!
(4/28/14) Is Pryor a magician? The current NY Times polls shows him leading Cotton by 10. Cotton refuses to say much of anything about Obamacare (other than "repeal" of course), apparently believing that position sells itself. Being very quiet is not a good strategy to unseat an incumbent Senator.
(8/6/14) A new PPP poll has this race at Cotton 41%, Pryor 39% with the Green party candidate taking 4% and the Libertarian 3%. The Democratic party is going all in with a huge ad buy designed to drive down Cotton's favorables. Pryor is going to need a Houdini-like escape to get out of this red-state-in-a-red-leaning-year trap.
(9/29/14) Pryor has almost everything a Democrat would need to win in a red state, in a Republican year, against a strong challenger. Almost but not enough. Pryor trails by 5 in the most recent PPP poll. Game over.

Rating: Leans Republican pickup
Democrat: Mark Udall (incumbent)
Republican: Congressman Cory Gardner
Overview: (5/1/10) Colorado is a swing state, but Udall is a very seasoned politician who is unlikely to lose.
(8/14/13) Four candidates have already announced on the GOP side, and that's good news for Udall. Whoever wins the primary is likely to have limited support and cash on hand. Udall is also polling well against all of them.
(1/18/14) Ken Buck underperformed as the Republican nominee for Senate in 2010. After upsetting former Lt. Governor Jane Norton in the GOP primary, Buck lost by 1.7% to appointed incumbent Michael Bennet. Thanks, Tea Party! Polls show Udall with only a slim lead over Buck, but I think Udall will hold on. Colorado's voters already had a chance to elect Buck to the Senate, and even the the ultra-Republican year of 2010, they said, "pass."
(3/2/14) Congressman Cory Gardner is a late entry to this race, but will definitely win the GOP primary. Udall will need a lot of luck to survive this challenge from a "rising star" in the Republican party.
(7/15/14) This NBC/Marist poll shows Udall up by 7. Udall is a sharp, experienced campaigner. Gardner by contrast keeps tripping over himself trying to explain his extremist positions to voters. Udall should also benefit from the fact that the GOP has nominated a very weak ticket in Colorado's gubernatorial race. I'm feeling a lot better about this one.
(9/29/14) Udall led in 6 consecutive polls between mid-July and mid-September. But it seems once Coloradans got a good look at Mr. Gardner, they liked what they saw. Gardner apparently performed well in their first debate, and Udall is apparently backing off some expected debates (?) I'm not sure how Udall screwed up this badly, but Gardner has led in the last six polls. Sorry, Gardner will win.

Rating: Likely Democratic hold
Democrat: Chris Coons (incumbent)
Republican: Businessman Kevin Wade
Overview: (9/26/10) Conventional wisdom suggested that popular Republican Congressman Mike Castle would win this seat in 2010's special election, and that he might then retire in 2014. That was before the loony, loony Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell beat Castle for the Republican nomination. Democrats are fortunate that a popular, seasoned public servant like Chris Coons chose to run against the seemingly-unbeatable Castle in 2010. It means that it's likely that in 2014 they'll have an incumbent Senator who will be difficult to defeat for reelection.
(7/6/11) Maybe the Republican party in Delaware will become more competent in the next three years. But I doubt it.
(9/15/13) No Republicans have announced for this race. Hey, anybody want the nomination? Hello? Is this thing on?
(9/29/14) Not sure why Republican did not choose to contest this race in a serious way. Coons will win 2-to-1.

Rating: Leans Republican hold
Republican:  Businessman David Perdue (incumbent Saxby Chambliss retiring)
Democrat: Businesswoman Michelle Nunn
Overview: (5/1/10) Here's what I wrote about Saxby Chambliss in 2008: "Chambliss is the Republican that Democrats love to hate. In 2002, he defeated incumbent Democratic Senator (and triple amputee) Max Cleland after running an ad showing Cleland's picture next to that of Osama bin Laden and questioning Cleland's commitment to American security. Yes, that's right, Chambliss won based on questioning the patriotism of a veteran who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam. Thanks a lot, Georgia." Chambliss was expected to have an easy time winning a second term in 2008, but was nearly defeated by Jim Martin, long-time member of the Georgia House of Representatives and Vietnam veteran. Unfortunately for Democrats, Chambliss will probably have an easy time winning a third term.
(1/25/13) This is now an open-seat race. The GOP will likely hold it unless the Tea Party rides to the Democrats rescue by nominating an unelectable candidate in the Republican primary. Personally, I recommend they nominate Congressman Paul Broun. He's exactly the kind of nutjob who could hand this election to the Democrats.
(2/15/13) Broun is in; the only declared candidate so far. Here comes your candidate who believes that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory are "lies straight from the pit of hell." A good choice for the Democrats would be Congressman John Barrow, who survived in 2012 despite a Republican effort to squeeze him out by redrawing his district so as to make it more conservative. Because Barrow can draw some crossover support from Republicans, he's the perfect candidate to run against an extremist like Broun.
(5/20/13) Barrow is out. I find this surprising. His district was re-drawn by Republicans so as to eliminate him; he survived in 2012 but is unlikely to do so in the more Republican-friendly year of 2014. Four Republicans, including three sitting US House members, have already declared on the GOP side, but so far the stage is dark for the blue team.
(7/23/13) Michelle Nunn is in. She makes this race competitive in a red state where Democrats are slowly gaining ground. The spoiler in this race may be the Libertarian Party. In the 2008 Senate race, they pulled 3.4% of the vote, forcing Saxby Chambliss into a runoff, which he won, more's the pity. I can see a scenario whereby Broun gets the GOP bid by splitting the slighty-less-crazy-than-Broun vote between the five (!) other Republicans who have already entered the primary. Then perhaps some conservative Georgians will vote Libertarian because they can't stand Broun, letting Nunn sneak across the finish line.
(3/10/14) As anticipated Broun is the front-runner, pulling nearly double the support of any other candidate in the GOP primary according to a new PPP poll. This won't be settled until a late July runoff, after which the nominee will have just a few weeks to get organized for the November election. Michelle Nunn is tied with Broun in the same poll, but I'm starting to like her chances.
(5/22/14) Good news, bad news. The good news is that the Republicans have been pushed to a runoff that will drag on all the way until late July before they will know whether their nominee will be David Perdue or Congressman Jack Kingston. Meanwhile two recent polls both show Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn with small leads over both Republicans. The bad news is that Democrats were hoping the GOP would nominate one of the three Tea Party Republicans in the race. Instead, it's either going to be Perdue, an "establishment" candidate, or Kingston, who's sort of half way between establishment and Tea Party. Hopefully conservatives will rally to give Kingston the nomination. If Perdue wins the runoff, he is favored to win the race in November.
(6/16/14) Kingston appears to be leading the runoff race. The other primary candidates were more conservative than either of them; it's no surprise that the supporters of those candidates are gravitating to Kingston rather than the less conservative Perdue.
(7/15/14) Polls of the GOP runoff show a closer race than they did a month ago. PPP is showing Nunn leading Kingston by 3 and Perdue by 5. This makes me wonder if some Nunn supporters won't vote in the Republican runoff and case a ballot for Perdue, as he's perceived as the weaker candidate against Nunn in November.
(7/23/14) Democrats got what we wanted: Perdue won a very narrow upset over Kingston. Hank Aaron is campaigning for Michelle Nunn, and polls show her leading and close to the magic 50% mark. I'm not ready to say Nunn is the front-runner, but I certainly can't give Perdue much of an edge.
(9/29/14) This is a very close race, and either candidate may receive the most votes on November 4. However, neither will receive the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. While it's not impossible for Nunn to win the runoff, it isn't likely. Republican state, republican year, better luck next time.

Hawai'i (Special)
Likely Democratic hold
Democrat: Brian Schatz (incumbent)
Republican: Former state representative Cam Cavasso
Overview: (1/3/13) The real race here is the Democratic primary. The late Senator Daniel Inouye made it clear that Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa was his choice to follow in his footsteps, but Governor Neil Abercrombie appointed Lt. Governor Brian Schatz instead. The ascendancy of Hawai'ian native Barrack Obama has not done the Republican party in that state any favors. For example, Democrats control the Hawai'ian state Senate 24 to 1. So whomever the GOP nominates is likely to have little name recognition.
(8/28/14) I'm glad Schatz defeated the much more conservative
Hanabusa in the Democratic primary. Despite the fact that Hawai'i may elect a Republican Governor this year, Schatz will cruise to victory in this race.
(9/29/14) A recent poll put this race at Schatz 62%, Cavasso 25%. I'd move to Hawai'i if I could.

Likely Democratic hold

Democrat: Dick Durbin (incumbent)
Republican: State Senator Jim Oberweis
Overview: (5/1/10) Illinois Republicans have long fumed that they can't seem to mount a serious challenge to the man that the magazine The National Journal ranked as "the most liberal Senator" a few years ago. America would be a better place if we had more leaders like Dick Durbin.
(7/6/11) Durbin has recently signaled a willingness to consider social security cuts as part of budget deal. I'm not sure what to think about what Durbin is doing, but the phrase "political suicide" comes to mind. Hopefully he'll come to his senses.
(2/18/14) Durbin has nothing to fear from likely opponent Jim Oberweis. Mr. Oberweis is known primaliry for losing Congressman Denny Hastert's House seat to an unknown Democrat in 2008. A poll last fall showed Drubin leading him by 15 points. The GOP's failure to field a strong candidate in this race may even help embattled Democratic Governor Pat Quinn win another term.
(9/29/14) 2014 will be a Republican year, yet a Chicago Tribune poll shows Durbin with a lopsided 23-point lead. I wish Democrats in other midwestern states could get their act together like Illinois.

Rating: Leans Republican pickup
Democrat: Congressman Bruce Braley (incumbent Tom Harkin retiring)
Republican: State Senator Joni Ernst
Overview: (2/5/13) Tom Harkin, a hero of mine, is retiring. He did not pick a convenient year to do so, as far as Democrats are concerned. Though it's still very early in the game, I think it boils down to this. If looney, looney Republican Congressman Steve King runs, he gets the nomination but loses the general election. If King doesn't run, moderate Republican Congressman Tom Latham will get the GOP nod and go on to win in November. Frankly, I'm already getting a bad feeling about this one. Latham is the odds-on favorite to be Iowa's next Senator.
(5/20/13) What a strange race. You'd think Iowa Republicans would be jumping at the chance to run for this open seat, but every potential top-tier, and even second-tier candidate has already declined. I always suspected Steve King knows he has a good thing going and wouldn't try to make the jump from the US House. Bruce Braley is proving to be a monster fundraiser. If he doesn't make any major mistakes, he's practically got this race sewn up.
(2/18/14) A poll of the GOP primary taken last fall for this race suggested that "social conservative activist" Bob Vander Plaats was the top choice of Republican voters. Vander Plaats has declined to run, leaving support split between several little known-candidates. This will be a fairly close race regardless of who gets the GOP nomination, but Braley has the name-recognition and fundraising advantages.
(6/19/14) State Senator Joni Ernst has made quite a splash, winning her primary in convincing fashion and pulling nearly even with Braley in the polls. Qunnipiac has this race as Braley 44% Ernst 40%. Among her many fine qualities, she opposes the Farm Bill, and she wants to abolish minimum wage, privatize social security, and prohibit same-sex marriage. I doubt Iowa will elect someone holding those positions, but it's clear Braley does not have this race in the bag and he needs to avoid any major blunders.
(8/28/14) Two recent polls show show Braley with a tiny lead. Both also show about 4% of the vote going to independent right-wing candidates and 1% going to a independent left-wing candidate. Hopefully, the more people hear about Ernst's extremist views, the more they'll decide they can't stomach her.
(9/29/14) Devastating news from the highly-accurate Des Moines Register poll: Ernst with a 6-point lead. I could counter by noting that early balloting indicates an advantage for Democrats, and I'm not ruling out a Braley victory. However, long story short, Iowans apparently want a Koch Brothers-fueled, Tea Party Senator who in no way reflects the view of Iowans.

Rating: Toss up
Republican: Pat Roberts (incumbent)
Independent: Greg Orman
Overview: (5/1/10) Might possibly retire, but it doesn't matter. Democrats haven't elected a Senator in Kansas since 1932, and lately the Democratic Party of Kansas seems to have fallen into a black hole.
(8/6/14) It's almost unheard of for Kansas voters to throw an incumbent Republican out of office, but the prospect looms large this year. Governor Sam Brownback's lame-brain tax cuts are bankrupting the state, and Democrat Paul Davis is a narrow favorite to replace him in November. Incumbent Senator Pat Roberts is hardly more popular than Brownback; currently he's attempting to dodge controversy over the fact that he doesn't have a home in Kansas. In this week's Republican primary, Roberts managed to poll only 48% against bat-spit crazy Tea Party upstart Milton Wolf and two other candidates who combined for 11%.  If Wolf had recorded 116K votes instead of 106K, or if Kansas had runoff elections, Democrats might be looking at a likely pickup of this seat as Wolf is pretty much unelectable, even in Kansas. A July poll showed Roberts at 38%, Taylor at 33%, Independent Greg Orman at 14% and Libertarian Randall Batson at 4%. The Libertarian takes votes from Roberts, but who the heck is Greg Orman? He seems to have raise $600K in just a few weeks without benefit of PAC support. Though he styles himself a "centrist," Orman seems to lean a bit to the left, although polls suggest he takes more support from Roberts than
Democrat Chad Taylor. Hopefully Taylor has a fighting chance against Roberts, if not, he'll be a target again in 2020 when the blue team's prospects might be better.
(9/3/14) So, the Democrat has dropped out in the hope that Orman will win. Orman, if he wins, has promised to caucus with
whichever party wins the majority in the Senate this fall. A recent PPP poll showed Orman with a 10% lead in a hypothetical two-man race. Good news for the blue team.
(9/29/14) Good news, Orman leads in every poll. Bad news, is he more likely to caucus with the Republicans, since they will win the Senate?

Rating: Likely Republican hold
Republican: Mitch McConnell (incumbent)
Democrat: Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes
Overview: (5/1/10) In 2008 McConnell was nearly beaten by third-tier candidate Democrat Bruce Lunsford. If the blue team had nominated a stronger candidate, they would have won. Too bad. In 2014 McConnell will probably have an easy time of it, assuming a sixth term is what he wants.
(11/22/12) I'd love to see a popular and attractive candidate like Ashley Judd run against Mitch McConnell. But the idea of a political novice defeating McConnell in a Republican-leaning year is kind of far-fetched.
(3/13/13) Mitch McConnell has the lowest approval rating of any Senator. That doesn't mean he's doomed. His "opposite number" on the Democratic side, Harry Reid, has long had similarly terrible approval ratings, but still cruised to victory in 2012. What I'm really trying to gauge is whether McConnell's going to lose this primary to a Tea Party upstart. The answer is, maybe. Meanwhile, Ashley Judd is getting a lot of press coverage over her potential candidacy. I like her, but enthusiasm for Judd seems limited among Democratic insiders. Apparently, they'd prefer Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. In her 2011 election, Lundergan Grimes defeated her opponent by the eye-opening margin of 61% to 39%.
(7/2/13) Alison Lundergan Grimes will be the most-talked about candidate of 2014. Yes, the odds are in McConnell's favor. But I like to look at it this way: In 2008 McCain beat Obama by 16 in Kentucky, but McConnell won by less than 5. That's a heck of a lot of McCain voters who wouldn't support McConnell even against a virtual no-name like Bruce Lunsford. I'd also like to think that McConnell's poor polling numbers against Grimes will convince a Tea Party candidate to jump into the Republican primary.
(7/23/13) Last year Mitch McConnell watched his friend Dick Lugar in Indiana lose his primary for election to a seventh term in the Senate by the lopsided margin of 61% to 39% to teabagger favorite Richard Mourdock, who went on to lose in the general election. McConnell now faces the same proposition in the form of businessman Matt Bevin. McConnell can pretend like he's not worried, but he apparently offered Bevin all kinds of bribes not to run. Bevin is a political novice, but on the other hand, McConnell's stature has fallen so far, he might not be all that hard to beat. Already not popular with voters, McConnell's fellow Senate Republicans seem to be growing weary of him as well, and voters are even less like to support a party leader whose clout is diminishing.
(8/2/13) Two polls show this race to be a toss up. The big question is, will poor numbers for McConnell cause conservatives to shift their support to Bevin?
(4/2/14) Nothing new here. The polls still show a deadlocked race, and McConnell still seems to be trying to lose, now saying, "it's not my job" to bring jobs to Kentucky.
(5/22/14) A friend pointed out a telling statistic regarding this race to me. 405K voters participated in this week's non-competitive Democratic primary in Kentucky, compared to only 355K in the contested Republican primaryA new poll shows Grimes with a one-point lead, and she is running a tireless campaign building support one voter at a time. That same poll also shows some disaffected conservatives gravitating to the Libertarian candidate, David Patterson. If Grimes doesn't win this race, it won't be because she did anything wrong; she's running a flawless campaign.
(7/15/14) Two polls in June showed Grimes with a small lead, and close to the 50% mark. McConnell keeps campaigning like someone who wants to lose.
(8/28/14) A recent PPP poll shows McConnell 44%, Grimes 40%, Libertarian David Patterson 7%. Ouch. McConnell seems to be a teflon-candidate when it comes to his constant verbal gaffes. At this point, McConnell has momentum and, barring a really major mistake, probably can't lose.
(9/29/14) Polls show this race will not be close. Grimes still ran a great race and I think we'll be hearing from her again.

Rating: Leans Republican takeover
Democrat: Mary Landrieu (incumbent)
Republican: Congressman Bill Cassidy
Overview: (5/1/10) Democratic fortunes in Louisiana have been on the wane for years. Landrieu is in for a tough fight.
(2/15/13) A bit of a surprise: Landrieu leads all potential challengers, and is near the 50% threshold which would make her a pretty safe bet for reelection.
(9/15/13) Bad news, Republican support seems to be coalescing early around Congressman Bill Cassidy. Good news, Landrieu is polling pretty well against him.
(11/24/13) I'm not an expert on the strange world of Louisiana politics. Apparently, Bill Cassidy thinks photoshopped images of Mary Landrieu as Benito Mussolini are the way to win friend and influence people. Landrieu leads by 7 in a recent PPP poll.
(4/28/14) A strange race. It may well be decided by a December runoff, and that might determine control of the Senate. A NY Times poll for the November "jungle primary" shows Landrieu 42%, Bill Cassidy 18%, other Republicans 9%, third-parties 3%, undecided 27%. So if Landrieu could pick up just one-third of the undecideds, she'd win outright in November and avoid the runoff. That's what we want. And with Cassidy getting support from only 18% of voters, it's a possibility.
(9/29/14) This race is very tough to call. Landrieu will likely receive the most votes on November 4, but less than 50% of the vote and so be forced into a runoff. A recent CNN poll show Landrieu leading by 6 among registered voters, but trailing by 3 among likely voters. On the other hand, who's to say who are the "likely voters" in the runoff? Suppose the Republicans already have a new Senate majority. Will this new majority, and its unpopular, extremist agenda actually give Landrieu an advantage? In any case, Cassidy is a small favorite here.

Massachusetts (Special, 6/25/13)
Rating: Likely Democratic hold
Democrat: Congressman Ed Markey (incumbent John Kerry retiring)
Republican: Businessman Gabriel Gomez
Overview: (1/3/13) Democrats would probably not be at any risk of losing this race if it were not for the fact that nasty, mean-spirited Senator Scott Brown is unemployed after being beaten in resounding fashion this past November by Elizabeth Warren. Conventional wisdom suggests that if Brown could win a special election for Senate in 2010, he could do so again in 2014. In the past four years however, Brown has lost has nice-guy image. He's also likely to face someone more competent than his 2010 opponent, Martha Coakley, who, among other things, ridiculed the idea that she should actually go out and shake hands with voters.
(2/5/13) Scott Brown isn't running. Game over.
(5/20/13) Early polls showed a close race, but Gomez is now trying to cope with a tax scandal. The most recent polls show Markey with an increasing lead. I'm not worried.

Rating: Leans Democratic hold
Democrat: Congressman Gary Peters (incumbent Carl Levin retiring)
Republican: Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land
Overview: (5/1/10) Levin is safe, but if he chooses not to run for a seventh term, this race will be a tossup. Michigan is trending red.
(3/13/13) Levin's out; another headache for the blue team. However, so far at least there is a curious lack of enthusiasm for this race on the GOP side.
(8/14/13) It looks like this race will Peters vs. Land, and the polls show a close race. I have to give Peters a slight edge due to the unpopularity of Governor Rick Snyder, who is running for reelection in 2014 and who may be a bit of a drag on the Republican ticket.
(1/18/14) Uh oh. Recent Harper and PPP polls show Land leading. Governor Snyder is also polling ahead of likely opponent Mark Schauer in that race. Peters better get his act together.
(6/19/14) Land may have gotten off to a strong start in this race, but she seems to be having, "not ready for prime time" problems. She has a hard time talking to the press. And saying that women aren't concerned about the issue of equal pay with men because, "they have a different lifestyle" is not usually the way to win in a blue state in the 21st century. All polls taken in the last several weeks show Peters ahead.
(9/29/14) Land turned out to be a disaster in "prime time" campaigning. Peters will win.

Rating: Likely Democratic hold
Democrat: Al Franken (incumbent)
Republican: Businessman Mike McFadden
Overview: (5/1/10) Franken is guaranteed to get a serious challenge, but strong approval ratings and stellar fundraising abilities make him a good bet for reelection.
(8/27/12) Former Governor Pawlenty hasn't shown any interest in running for Senate, but if he's got nothing else to do, why not? He would be a formidable candidate. On the one hand, he'd be starting from scratch against an incumbent who's a monster fund-raiser. But on the other hand, given the amount of cash America's billionaires are pouring into Republican coffers thanks to Citizens United, Pawlenty might have all the money he needs.
(11/22/12) Pawlenty has decided he'd rather be a lobbyist than a public servant, so we can forget about that challenge to Franken. If the best the Minnesota GOP can muster are candidates like Kurt Bills (who just lost to incumbent Senator Amy Klobuchar 65 to 30), then Franken is in a good position to win a second term.
(9/15/13) Several second-tier Republicans have declared against Franken. Polls show him with a comfortable lead against all of them.
(9/29/14) Wow, nothing to say about this race for a whole race. Well, no news is good news.

Rating: Likely Republican hold
Republican: Thad Cochran (incumbent)
Democrat: Former Congressman Travis Childers
Overview: (5/1/10) Cochran might retire, but there are simply not enough Democrats in Mississippi to win this race.
 (10/23/13) If Cochran runs again, he might well be the next Republican Senator to lose his primary to a tea party nut job. State Senator Chris McDaniel is half Ted Cruz, half secessionist. On the one hand, the Senate doesn't really need a guy who styles himself as the last living Confederate soldier. On the other hand, the more the south elects wackos like Cruz and McDaniel, the more the Republican party will marginalize itself in the rest of the country.
(1/18/14) Since Cochran declared that he is running, the only poll on the GOP side shows him with a significant lead over McDaniel. The recent PPP poll of the general election is interesting. It shows Democratic Attorney General trailing Cochran by only 2, and leading McDaniel by 2. While I certainly don't expect Hood to get into this race, what this poll suggests is that sometime in the next decade or so, it's possible that deep-red Mississippi could elect a Democrat to the Senate.
(3/2/14) Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post has a good summary of the reasons behind Blue Dog former Congressman Travis Childers' entry into this race. Democrats are hoping for a repeat of the 2010 Indiana race, in which Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock upset Senate titan Dick Lugar in the GOP primary, only to make himself so odious he lost that November to Democrat Joe Donnelly. Should Chris McDaniel beat Cochran, Childers has at least a fighting chance.
(6/16/14) McDaniel narrowly beat Cochran in the GOP primary, but failed to get 50% of the vote. McDainel is highly likely to win the upcoming runoff. Apparently the Tea Party isn't as dead as some establishment conservatives would like us to think. So it there any chance that after Cochran loses the runoff, his reporters will refuse to support McDaniel, or will actually support Childers, the Democrat? Some probably will. In another state, the bitterness of this Republican primary might help the Democrat win. But in Mississippi, probably not.
(6/24/14) Cochran decided to make a play for black Democrats to support him in the GOP runoff. Apparently it worked; despite polls showing McDaniel leading comfortably, Cochran won. Darn. I was looking forward to McDaniel vs. Childers. If Childers won, great, if McDaniel won, that's one more Tea Party nut alienating the majority of voters. Oh well, I guess the good news is that this seat will probably be open in 2020 when the Democrats just might have a shot at it. State Attorney General Jim Hood would be a good candidate for the blue team.
(7/2/14) On paper at least, there is a path to victory for Childers. A poll of McDaniel supporters shows 21% claiming they will vote for Childers and 16% claiming they will not vote. The Cochran campaign has to cope with the fact that their candidate seems, well, very old and confused.
(9/29/14) It was fun while it lasted, but the Republican candidate will win of course. I expect Cochran to retire in 2020, and the Democrats to mount a credible challenge then.

Rating: Likely Republican takeover
Democrat: State Representative Amanda Curtis (appointed incumbent John Walsh retiring)
Republican: Congressman Steve Daines (likely)
Overview: (5/1/10) Baucus is a safe bet, but health concerns make him a possible retirement candidate. If he calls it quits, this seat will likely go Republican.
(7/6/11) A six-term incumbent Senator usually wins a seventh term pretty easily. But combine Baucus' weak approval ratings with a red-state in a Republican year, and anything's possible.
(7/2/13) Schweitzer is "likely" to run. Polls indicate that the one Republican who could beat him is former Governor Marc Racicot, but I don't think Racicot will run. He retired from his lobbying job in 2009, and now doesn't appear to be doing much of anything. In other words, he's not the kind of person with a burning desire to fight for a Senate seat.
Congressman Steve Daines would probably be the strongest candidate for the GOP, but running in this race would mean giving up his House seat.
(7/16/13) So Schweitzer is out. To hold this seat, the Democrats will have to nominate a great candidate who makes no mistakes. They'll probably also need the Libertarian Party to save their bacon again. In 2012, I thought it likely that Democratic incumbent Jon Tester would lose his reelection bid. Tester won by 18K votes with the Libertarian candidate receiving 32K votes that would otherwise have gone almost entirely to the GOP candidate. Go Libertarians go!
(11/24/13) PPP has a new poll of this race, and the results are very discouraging, showing Daines leading Bohlinger by 15 and Walsh by 17. Daines has a net-negative approval rating, so this race isn't over yet but it's not looking good at all.
(5/13/14) Democrat Walsh is running ads designed to appeal to Republicans. Reminds me of Tom Daschle running ads showing him hugging President Bush in 2002. Daschle lost and I think Walsh will lose as well. Barring some dramatic change in this race, it's over.
(8/7/14) I've never understood plagiarism scandals. So Walsh failed to denote his sources in a old Master's thesis. What's the big deal? Any way, Walsh is out. Daines, already way out in front in this race, is now that much closer to victory.
(9/29/14) God bless Amanda Curtis. She's a fine candidate. She'll lose by about 20 points.

Rating: Likely Republican hold
Republican: Attorney and educator Ben Sasse (incumbent Mike Johanns retiring)
Democrat: Attorney David Domina
Overview: (2/18/13) Democrat Bob Kerrey did a good job running in the open seat Senate race in Nebraska in 2012. He was never going to win, but he threw enough of a scare into the Republicans to force them to waste money and resources propping up Deb Fischer's campaign. I mention this because Nebraska Democrats will probably be hoping to do something similar in 2014, now that another open seat race is at hand. There's the possibility that this will be yet another Senate race where a Tea Party nut snatches defeat from the jaws of victory for the GOP. But let's not kid ourselves. Republican Governor Dave Heineman will be term-limited out of office in 2014, and if he wants this seat, it's his.
(11/24/13) Um... doesn't anybody want this job? So far, no Democrats have announced, and the highest profile name for the GOP is Shane Osborn, a former state Treasurer. I love this quote: "
While he can’t say who or when, Nebraska Democratic Party chair Vince Powers believes his party will field a candidate for Senate." Wow, thanks Mr. Powers. Sound like Nebraska Democrats are really excited about this race.
(6/16/14) Democratic nominee David Domina impresses me as a very good guy. With luck, he'll lose this race by only 15 points. Sasse is actually quite moderate by today's Republican standards. We could do worse.
(9/29/14) Sasse is 42 years old. Robert Byrd was the first Senator to be elected to nine consecutive terms. Sasse could become the second.

New Hampshire
Rating: Likely Democratic hold  
Democrat: Jeanne Shaheen (incumbent)
Republican: Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown
Overview: (4/28/14) Unemployed former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has decided to fill his idle hours by carpet-bagging the Senate race in New Hampshire. Only a Republican tidal wave would carry him to victory. For the most part, he's just doing the GOP a favor by forcing Democrats to waste resources on what would otherwise be an easy reelection campaign for Shaheen.
(7/15/14) One week into his campaign, Scott Brown asked the Associated Press this rhetorical question: "Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. 'Cause, you know, whatever." Shaheen is polling double-digits leads against him. I doubted this was going to be a serious race; now I'm sure.
(9/29/14) Scott Brown made it closer than I thought he would, but Shaheen is going to win.

New Jersey: Special 10/16/2013 and full-term 11/2014
Rating: Likely Democratic hold  
Democrat: Newark Mayor Cory Booker
Republican: Businessman Jeff Bell
Overview: (5/1/10) Lautenberg will be 90 and is highly likely to retire. This race is a pure toss up.
(2/15/13) Lautenberg is out. The chances of a Democratic hold on this seat have probably actually increased. Cory Booker is a likely, and probably very strong candidate. Congressman Frank Pallone will likely enter the Democratic primary if he thinks he can beat Booker.
(6/4/13) Rest in Peace, Senator Lautenberg. So, Governor Christie has set a special election in October so that is doesn't appear on the same ballot as his gubernatorial race in November. Well, I'm sure the people of New Jersey won't mind the extra expense. Christie can also appoint a Republican to this seat for the next four months. Long story short, this thing is Cory Booker's to lose.
(10/23/13) Congratulations, Senator Booker. The New Jersey Senate race will probably be one of the biggest non-events of the 2014 election season.
(9/29/14) It's Booker versus some guy. Republicans might have made some noise in this race, but they didn't.

North Carolina
Rating: Toss Up 
Democrat: Kay Hagan (incumbent)
Republican: State House Speaker Thom Tillis
Libertarian: Sean Haugh
Overview: (5/1/10) North Carolina is the state that likes to replace rather than reelect its Senators. Hagan will need to get most of the breaks to win a second term.
(2/15/13) Hagan is polling pretty well; it looks like Republicans might not be able to beat her just because they have the wind at their backs in 2014. Cherie Berry, the world's most anti-labor Labor Commissioner, leads among potential Republican candidates.
(6/4/13) Bad news for Hagan, the GOP has a top-tier recruit in the form of State House Speaker Thom Tillis. Good news, Tillis is considered a "moderate" meaning he's ripe to get knocked off in the primary by Tea Party guy Greg Bannon. That's especially true if North Carolina Republicans face a crowded primary that includes other establishment candidates like Congresswomen Virginia Foxx and Renee Ellmers, thus splitting the "slightly less crazy than the Tea Party" vote.
(11/24/13) The news here is not good. Over the summer, Democrats built a narrative of confidence about this race, suggesting that Hagan was not only leading all potential opponents, but actually increasing her polling lead. Well, a recent PPP poll has thrown cold water on that; it shows Hagan more or less tied with the leading GOP nominees.
(5/7/14) Thom Tillis won this week's GOP primary by a wide enough margin to avoid a runoff. That's good for the Republican "establishment" and not so good for Hagan. The Tea Party may be disappointed in Tillis, but man, how can a candidate who says he wants to "divide and conquer" the poor somehow not be conservative enough?
(5/13/14) PPP is showing Hagan 38%, Tillis 36%, Libertarian Sean Haugh 11%. Haugh of course mostly draws votes off of Tillis, and if he gets even a fraction of the support this poll shows it could put Tillis in big trouble. Tillis won a highly-contentious primary race, and it hasn't helped his popularity. Tillis is at a 30/46 favorability spread, including only 51/23 with GOP voters. Good news for Hagan.
(9/29/14) Hagan is the last incumbent Democrat not in a blue state who still has a polling lead. A really big Republican wave could still take her out, but I expect her to win.

Oklahoma (special to fill the remaining two years of Tom Coburn's term)
Rating: Guaranteed Republican hold
Republican: Congressman Jim Lankford (incumbent Tom Coburn retiring)
Democrat: State Senator Constance Johnson
Overview (1/18/14) Open-seat races automatically go on my competitive list. As much as I didn't like Tom Coburn, there's a good chance he'll be replaced by someone worse. Coburn at least had the decency to try to end the NFL's tax exemption. A few years ago, Oklahoma had a Democratic Governor, one Democratic Congressman and a majority in the state senate. But those days are gone with the wind. Republicans now control both US Senate seats, all US House seats, all 12(!) state elective offices and nearly three-quarters of the seats in the state legislature. The good news? Um, Oklahoma Democrats have nowhere to go but up?
(9/29/14) Fifty years from now, Johnson might have a chance in this race. But not in 2014.

South Carolina
Rating: Likely Republican hold
Republican: Lindsey Graham (incumbent)
Democrat: State Senator Brad Hutto
Independent: Former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel
Overview (8/14/13) These days few Republican Senators are conservative enough to avoid Tea Party primary challenges. Lindsey Graham? Oh yeah, he's practically George McGovern. Please. State Senator Lee Bright has jumped into the GOP primary. Fortunately for Graham, the anti-incumbent vote is likely to be split between several candidates.
(7/2/14) With an independent Republican on the ballot potentially splitting the Republican vote, this race should be competitive. But state Senator Brad Hutto has raised virtually no money to support his candidacy.
(9/29/14) There's not a lot of enthusiasm for Graham, but when he raises $6 million and his opponent raises $90 thousand, there's not doubt what's going to happen.

South Carolina (special)
Rating: Likely Republican hold
Republican: Tim Scott (appointed incumbent)
Democrat: County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson
Overview (1/3/13) So, Jim DeMint says in his farewell speech that Congress should be "willing to set aside the pressure groups" as he leaves to head the most odious pressure group of all, the Heritage Foundation. Jim, you won't be missed. Well, Barrack Obama got 44% of the vote in South Carolina in 2012. But if you take a look at South Carolina politics, you'd never guess that the state has a lot of Democrats. Just as in other every state in the deep south, Republicans in South Carolina have gerrymandered everything to make sure they stay in power. As a result Democrats don't really have anybody to run in this race.
(11/24/13) Apparently, no Republicans want to take on Scott in the GOP primary. I'm not seeing a path to victory for the Democratic nominee in this race.
(9/29/14) Scott's lead has actually increased. Hey, it's South Carolina.

South Dakota
Rating: Likely Republican takeover
Democrat: Former Senate staffer Rick Weiland (incumbent Tim Johnson retiring)
Republican: Former Governor Mike Rounds (likely)
Independent: Former state Senator Gordon Howie
Independent: Former Senator Larry Pressler
(5/1/10) Tim Johnson is the ultimate survivor. In 2002, he won a second term in the Senate in what was a terrible year for Democratic incumbents. In 2008, he battled back from catastrophic illness to win yet again in red state South Dakota. He is a good bet to win another term in 2014, but if he calls it quits, this seat is likely to go Republican.
(11/22/12) Former Governor Mike Rounds may run. If he does, this race is probably over whether Johnson retires or not.
(2/11/14) Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that the Democrats have a path to victory. But if the campaign of former Republican Governor Mike Rounds were to stumble, that could change. The potential problem for Rounds comes in the form of Libertarian candidate Kurt Evans, who scored 11% support in a PPP poll last fall, and former Republican Senator Larry Pressler who is inexplicably running as an independent.  So say on election day, Weiland 47%, Rounds 46%, Evans 5%, Pressler 2%? Hey, you can't blame me for dreaming.
(5/7/14) I'm hoping the Democratic party will wake up and realize the door is wide open to win this race. A new PPP poll shows Rounds 38%, Weiland 28%, former Republican Senator (who endorsed Obama) Larry Pressler 15%, Tea Party guy Gordon Howie 4%. A key point: among the group that has heard of Weiland he leads 38% to 36% over Rounds.
(9/29/14) Rounds is not popular. Polls show that in a two-man race with little-known Rick Weiland, this race would be more or less tied. Democrats should have encouraged Larry Pressler to run as an independent from the right instead of the left. Oh well. File this one away as a good target for the 2020 election.

West Virginia
Rating: Leans Republican takeover
Democrat: Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (likely) (incumbent Jay Rockefeller retiring)
Republican: Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (likely)
Overview: (5/1/10) Yet another race where the Democrats are safe if their incumbent runs for another term, and in big trouble if he doesn’t.
(11/12/11) Rockefeller still has a net positive approval rating, and the Republican party has managed to defeat only 3 Democratic incumbent Senators in the last 4 elections. Still, if President Obama is reelected, then no Democratic incumbent is going to be safe in those parts of the country where he is deeply unpopular.
(1/3/13) West Virginia is a red state where Democrats still win all the statewide races. But if Rockefeller retires, this could be the big one for the West Virginia GOP. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito has already announced for this race and will more than likely be the nominee. I don't think she has this race in the bag however. In that most Republican of years, 2010, Democrat Joe Manchin had no trouble winning the open seat race for West Virginia's other Senate seat.
(1/25/13) The Democrats have plenty of good potential candidates in this open-seat race. But good is likely to not be good enough; the blue team needs a top-tier recruit or they're going to lose.
(9/13/13) Great news: Secretary of State Natalie Tennant is in. Here's why Tennant is a great candidate. Unlike here opponent she's already won statewide office. And as much as West Virginians may dislike President Obama, they tend to be ticket-splitters who strongly prefer to elect Democrats to statewide office. Case in point, 2012. President Obama received less than 36% of the vote. Democrats however swept the statewide races with the exception of a close contest for Attorney General. Tennant received 62% of the vote in her race. That is some major support from crossover voters.
(7/2/14) I've been holding off commenting on this one, hoping that Tennant's poll numbers would improve. They haven't. Barring a major change in this race, Capito will win.
(9/29/14) Like so many Senate races this year, this one's gone from "maybe the Democrats have a chance" to "Republican wins in a tidal wave."

Races unlikely to become competitive:

Alabama: Republican Jeff Sessions incumbent. Sessions is unbeatable.

Idaho: Republican Jim Risch incumbent. Also unbeatable.

Maine: Republican Susan Collins incumbent. Democrats thought Collins was vulnerable in 2008. They thought wrong.

New Mexico: Democrat Tom Udall incumbent. Udall has avoided any controversies that would tend to bring his approval ratings down, and the Republican bench in New Mexico is so thin you practically can’t see it.

Oklahoma: Republican James Inhofe incumbent. Inhofe will be 79 years old. Can't we please, please be spared another six years of the man who calls climate change the, "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people"?

Oregon: Democrat Jeff Merkley incumbent. Merkley is likely to get a serious challenger, but the Oregon GOP has proven totally inept for the last decade.

Rhode Island: Democrat Jack Reed incumbent. Blue-state Rhode Island is, if possible, becoming even more blue. Reed is one of the most popular, if least talked about, members of the Senate.

Tennessee: Republican Lamar Alexander incumbent. (5/1/10) To me, Alexander is defined by the infomercials from his 2000 Presidential bid. In these transparently phony "town halls" Alexander would rave about how we needed to take power away from Congress and give more authority to the President. And who would make a great President? Lamar! Tennessee Republicans frighten me. (11/22/12) I've heard a rumor that it's "very likely" that Alexander will face a primary challenge from tea party favorite Congresswoman
Marsha Blackburn. I'd like to believe it, because when tea party candidate win Senate primaries, Democrats win general elections. Former Governor Phil Bredesen would be a strong candidate for the blue team. But a competitive race here is still very unlikely. (9/13/13) Alexander has a primary challenger in the form of state Rep. Joe Carr. I doubt he's a big enough name to win.

Texas: Republican John Cornyn incumbent. Texas is slowly moving from red-state to purple-state, but Cornyn has nothing to worry about. As Republican Senators go, his crazy-quotient is fairly low.

Virginia: Democrat Mark Warner incumbent. Warner’s popularity makes him a good bet for a second term.

Wyoming: Republican Mike Enzi incumbent. (7/16/13) The sun may go red giant before the Democrats win a Senate race in Wyoming, but at least they can enjoy watching Enzi, Cheney and Lummis beating each other up and soaking up money and media attention that might otherwise be used to help Republicans in more important races. Former Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal will of course be "encouraged" to seek his party's nomination, but getting him to run for public office again is probably a pipe dream. (11/24/13) This race is so much fun. It's a comedy, a tragedy, and a farce that has the Cheneys fighting each other more effectively than they are against Enzi. Enzi is crushing Cheney in the polls. (1/18/14) Boo! What the hell, Liz Cheney? It's quite fascinating what a disaster Cheney's candidacy was before she gave up. Oh well, I'll have to look somewhere else for entertainment.


Sam said...

Kerry will have a dogfight on his hands in 2014. There are a number of strong potential challengers and he is not well liked in this state, even by democrats. It's a long way off and a lot will depend of the results of the 2010 election. Unlike other years. there will be quality, well-know republicans and independents in a position to make real run at him. While democrats still are the dominate force in the state, a shift is happening. Keep an eye on this one.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Sam, there's an old rule that no incumbent Senator with an approval rating over 50% loses a general election. I can't find a current approval rating for Kerry, but I think he's doing ok. Thanks for visiting.

Fr. J. said...

In response to Sam, there may or may not be a shift happening in Mass. It is very difficult to say at this point what trends will be enduring, if any.

2008 and 2010 were fluke elections which defied previous patterns. 2008 saw a charismatic African American in the wake of a grossly unpopular Republican president. Perennial red seats went blue. 2010 saw unrealistic hopes dashed by an intractable bad economy and unpopular legislation passed without regard to public opinion. So blue trends were beat back and some perrenial blue seats went red.

I just dont think we can project with confidence from the 2010 results anymore than we could rightly have projected with confidence from the 2008 results.

Date Stamp: Pearl Harbor Day, 2010.

Michael said...

New PPP poll shows Jay Rockefeller down 48-44 to Shelley Moore Capito. I think West Virginia needs to be shifted to "Races likely to be Competitive" and made a tossup.

Date Stamp: 10/8/11

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

I disagree, and I'll be glad to tell you why in detail. 1. Rockefeller beat his last opponent nearly 2-to-1, despite the fact that he was running on the same ticket as Obama, who is not popular in WV. 2. WV is one of the small states that relies on the seniority of its Senators to bring in needed federal dollars. Just consider how long they kept Byrd in office. 3. Is there indication that Capito wants to abandon her House seat for an underdog Senate bid? She didn't run against Manchin for Byrd's seat.

Michael said...

Though it's true Capito may not run, Rockefeller is not nearly as popular as he was in 2008. Polls had his approval at about +30 then and now the latest poll done by PPP puts him at +3. Earl Ray Tomblin started 33 points ahead of little known Bill Maloney just five and half months before the gubernatorial election and he won by only 2 and Tomblin was also more popular, +12 in approval rating. So even if Capito does not run this should be a competative race.

Date Stamp: 11/11/11

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Ok, Michael, you've convinced me. WV goes on the competitive list.

Anonymous said...

It's been a long time since I visited your site, I forgot how much I enjoy it.

I believe that the Republicans stand a serious chance of picking up a seat in the following states:

Alaska (because it's Alaska)
Louisianna (because it's Louisianna)
North Carolina (Perpetual Swing State)
South Dakota (because it's South Dakota)
West Virginia (Capito is a strong candidate [something that my party seems to be unable to find lately]

Additionally, there are a few other races that could go to the GOP provided they dont nominate some crazy Right-Wing nut job (as per usual these days) and most other things go their way

New Hampshire (If Shaheen retires)
Montana (I'm hopeful...but Montana confuses me)
Minnesota (Al Franken...grr)
Michigan (If Levin retires)
Arkansas (Provided there is actually a GOP nominee...)
Iowa (this will be a hard-fought battle)

And in my dreams...

Illinois (your evaluation about Durbin is very accurate...)

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Hi Joseph,
Thanks for your comments. Yes, the Democrats will get clobbered. The big question may be how many retirements we see. Republicans have done well the last few cycles winning open seats, but very poorly beating incumbents even in years and races where they had the advantage. Before the 2012 election, I was sure the GOP would get control of the Senate by 2014. Now it's not certain.

RockyRooRoo said...

Here's my early take on Dems in 2014, ranked by likelihood to flip:
SD Johnson (retiring? Rounds running) Likely R
WV Rockefeller (retiring? Moore running) Likely R
AK Begich (red state, freshman, midterm) Lean R
NC Hagan (swing state, freshman, midterm) Toss-up
MA OPEN (Brown comeback?) Toss-up
LA Landrieu (red state, popular, midterm) Toss-up
AR Pryor (red state, popular, midterm) Toss-up
IA Harkin (retiring?) Lean D
MT Baucus (retiring?) Lean D
MN Franken (swing state, freshman) Lean D
CO Udall (swing state, popular) Likely D
NH Shaheen (swing state, popular) Likely D
HI probably Hanabusa (blue state, appointed) Likely D
NJ Lautenberg (retiring? Booker running?) Likely D
MI Levin (blue state, retiring?) Likely D

RockyRooRoo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Rocky- this is a good analysis and I have no fundumental disagreement. In wv, I hold that democrats can find another candidate like manchin, and still have a good shot.

LexiconNinja said...

Although I reside in Seattle, I originally hail from Iowa and more specifically from the northwestern part of the state that Rep. King currently represents. He is extremely popular among Christian conservatives and they are the axis of Iowa's GOP. I suspect he will get the nomination if he runs (and I believe he will), however Braley will be positioned to beat him even in an off-Presidential year. I feel 60-70% confident the seat will remain in Democratic hands. The question is will the Iowa GOP read the tea leaves and offer King something else enticing to give Latham a shot? Even in a Latham vs. Braley fight, the more populous parts of the state (read: blue territory) could still save Braley in 2014.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Lex, your analysis for Iowa is great. I just don't want to predict a Democratic hold, and then wind up disappointed because King was teasing us about a run. BTW, I grew up in Ames, and my sister teaches in Storm Lake. And I live in Seattle. You should facebook friend me.

LexiconNinja said...

Well, Mr. Goodfriend, good news from Iowa: Latham announced today that he isn't running which will clear the way to the GOP nomination for Rep. Steve King (and perhaps a Bruce Braley slam dunk in the general election)? Assuming King wins the GOP nod, I'd wager Iowa has a 70-80% chance to stay on the blue team in 2014.

By the way, I friended you on Facebook. We should grab a beer some time in our rainy city and talk politics. None of my friends enjoy it as much as I do.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Holy smokes, Latham isn't running! I hadn't heard this before you told me. Thanks!

LexiconNinja said...

Eeek! Carl Levin's not running in 2014! Any strong Democratic candidates in Michigan? Otherwise the red team's got a pretty good shot. Any chance Jennifer Granholm would run? We need more cool ladies in the Senate.

derrick jo said...

Max Baucus should be the most vulnerable incumbent running for reelection.

derrick jo said...

I think South Dakota will be equally competitive as West Virginia.

derrick jo said...

I would say always expect the unexpected for these Senate races. It may seem safe now but it coud be competitive when the date nears. For example, in the previous cycle, Indiana and Maine.

derrick jo said...

I think the Maine senate race could be competitive but I will see who the tea party is going to put up first.

LexiconNinja said...

Baucus is retiring. Rumor has it former governor Brian Schweitzer is eyeing a run. He left office with pretty good approval numbers and would be a formidable foe to any GOP contenders...even in an off year. Not sure what the bench looks like in Montana for the Republicans.

derrick jo said...

told ya so
Max Baucus to retire: but i originally thought Bria Schweitzer would be a better candidate, if he wants it.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Yes, I hope Schweitzer runs, though it wouldn't surprise me if he didn't. Hopefully, the Libertarian party can give the Democrats an "assist" like they did in the '12 race.

LexiconNinja said...

The Iowa Senate race continues to beg for a Republican candidate. Today, Rep. Steve King officially passed on a run so that he can keep his current seat (and - according to him - the Republican Majority in the House after the next election).

There are no other "top tier" Republicans running. I wonder if conservative social activist Bob Vander Plaats will take a swing? It does appear the GOP has so far abandoned hope of winning this seat which is strange considering the right candidate would have a decent shot in an off-Presidental election year.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Yeah, I suspected King was bluffing. He may be an idiot, but (unfortunately) he's not the kind of idiot who seeks the nomination for a race he's never going to win. The silence on the GOP is a little strange though.

derrick jo said...

Watch out Mark Pryor, Arkansas Cook PVI : R14
As conservative as Alabama,if Michael Bloomberg attacks him from the left.Prepare to see 2010 dejavu again-Blanche Lincoln.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Derrick - Yes, Pryor is vulnerable to a good candidate.

derrick jo said...

If Alison Lundergan Grimes entered the Kentucky Senate race, it would sure be one bloody race. She may win if the race is about Mitch, if about Senate Democrats or Obama be prepared to lose.

derrick jo said...

However, my gut feeling is that Democrats will lose the Senate.

Republican Gains:
-West Virginia(Do not need to explain)
-South Dakota( Ditto West Virginia)
-Arkansas( Blanche Lincoln)
-North Carolina ( Somehow I got a bad feeling for this one)
-Louisiana ( Mary Landrieu may eke out a win?)
-Alaska ( If nominee is Joe Miller may reconsider. Democrats do not win elections in Alaska except something happens to the GOP there.)
-Montana ( Could be close)
-New Hampshire ( If Obama was REALLY that unpopular)

Long Shots:
-Oregon( 2010 race was close with a popular incumbent)

derrick jo said...

My hunch is that the main issue of 2014 GUN CONTROL a burden for Democrats. It could bring down incumbents from the red states.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

What's needed in KY is a Tea Party nut to knock off McConnell in the primary, then go down in flames in Nov.

LexiconNinja said...

Grimes is polling well now, but the McConnell machine (which is formidable in Kentucky) hasn't done much to target her yet. I'm hopeful she could pull off a "Heidi Heitkamp" on the red turf, but Heitkamp won by making her campaign personal in a state with a sparse population. I agree with Mr. Goodfriend, a Tea Party candidate could make this a good race for Democrats. The question here is whether McConnell is powerful enough to weed out opponents in his own party before facing off with the Blue Team.

derrick jo said...

New Jersey to get a Republican Senator in some 30 years.

derrick jo said...

Frank Lautenberg to be replaced by a REPUBLICAN !!!

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

RE New Jersey. Yeah, this is a headache. I presume that Christie will appoint a Democrat. But maybe not a good one. And what about the special election in November? Currently, Democrats were planning to stay home - Christie holds a 30 point lead over his opponent.

LexiconNinja said...

Anything could happen with NJ. The laws governing replacement of a Senator are somewhat contradictory as to when an election for the position should be held, although Christie does have the power to appoint at least a temporary seat-warmer. It will be more interesting to see who he picks: A Democrat appointment would strengthen his bipartisan standing, however it would severely anger the Republican Party - a gauntlet he must pass through to win the 2016 nomination.

LexiconNinja said...

Cory Booker just accelerated his path to the White House. Senator for NJ by the end of this year, potential VP pick (if Hillary runs) by 2016, and a launch pad for the Presidency in 2024. Meanwhile, Christie just angered Republicans by giving them one less obstructionist in the Senate. Plus he's going to have a hard time showing off fiscal conservative credentials in the GOP's 2016 primary after he just billed his constituents $12 million for a special election to avoid Democratic turnout for another election that he was likely to win anyway. Man, the GOP is just full of geniuses these days.

derrick jo said...

Sen. Johnny Isakson(R) Georgia, has acknowledged that Georgia is shifting towards being a purple state. He said that in a perfect storm the Georgia senate seat of saxby chambliss could be won by a democrat. Although it is very unlikely, my gut feeling is that only Roy Barnes can make it competitve although that is even a small chance. Georgia is the most competive state that hasn't gone for Obama. Democrats should try to wrestle back of control of Georgia before trying Texas. GEORGIA is the second largest state to be won by Romney/ Mccain. Come on Democrats.If Democrats want to win back the house, they have to begin inroads in states like Georgia.

derrick jo said...

Georgia 2012( presidential)
- White population (65%)
-African American ( 30%)
-Hispanic ( 4%)
If Democrats can win the Georgia state legislature, then they have a chance of redistricting the overly advantaged Republican House seats. It is easier to take Georgia than Texas, although Texas' 38 electoral vote is very tempting. However I feel they should try their efforts in Georgia First to see if their stategy can work as Georgia is cheaper to run statewide tham Texas.
BTW, other than Texas and Georgia are there other states where they redistrict after 6 years of the new redistricted house districts?

LexiconNinja said...

Schweitzer announced today he isn't running. I am not sure how Montana keeps its Senate seat blue now. Democrats better hope for a Heidi Heitkamp-type character who will campaign hard across the sparsely populated state. Retail politics would be their only hope. Maybe Reid should reconsider the filibuster nuclear option because the Republican chances of winning the Senate just went up.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Re Montana. Hopefully the libertarians will run a strong candidate and save our bacon like they saved Tester last year.

Brandon Day said...

Hey man I think that you should revise Kagan's seat to at least leans dem, given a great deal of polling that shows that she's at the 50% mark. I know NC has a slight red tilt but given the HIGH unpopularity of the Republican take-over of the state, I honestly cannot see her loosing her seat, without a major scandal/ACA flop/etc.

Just my humble opinion :)

slasher14 said...

In New Mexico, Udall is safe. There are a few Republicans talking about running but they're all third-tier. The GOP is focusing everything next year on holding the Governorship, and their strategy is to hold down turnout. They don't WANT a tight Senate race that might bring out the Dems. Susana even refused to be drawn into working for an anti-abortion vote in Albuquerque (which DID bring out Democrats, and cost the GOP control of the City Council.)

slasher14 said...

Udall will win in New Mexico because the Republicans are focused on re-electing Susana Martinez to the exclusion of any other considerations. There are 3-4 GOP candidates but they're all third tier or worse. The last thing the Republicans want is a tight Senate race to increase the turnout. Martinez even refused to be drawn into working for an anti-abortion referendum in Albuquerque (which did, indeed, increase Democratic turnout and cost the GOP control of the City Council.) Udall will cruise.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Thanks Slasher, a good analysis. I'm hoping that NM will stay on my 'not competitive' list; Democrats have enough problems.

LexiconNinja said...

Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D) was appointed today to Max Baucus' Senate seat (Baucus is now going to serve as Ambassador to China). This will probably help him more than hurt him as he will be running as an incumbent (albeit a very short term one). I am more curious to see if anyone runs as a third party candidate.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Lex, yes you're right. The libertarian party saved Jon Tester in 2012, and another strong lib party run may be Walsh's only hope.

LexiconNinja said...

Not really major news (or likely to affect overall Senate control), but Obama endorsed Schatz for the Hawaii seat today. We'll have to see if it has any influence on Aloha State voters. Last time I looked, Schatz had more money on hand and was *slightly* ahead of Hanabusa in polls (although the lead was well within the margin of error).

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

I don't claim to understand the Hawai'i race. Why would Obama make this endorsement? Both candidates have a lot of grassroots support; let the voters decide.

LexiconNinja said...

I don't know if Pryor is a magician, but Cotton has been taking a lot of heat for his vote on the Farm Bill earlier this year. He was the only member of Arkansas' congressional delegation to vote against it. I don't think that little maneuver is sitting well with farmers and ranchers in a state where agriculture is a $16 billion industry. Hopefully, Pryor can ride that pony to re-election.

Landrieu (LA) is running some pretty decent ads that portray her as a reasonable Democrat willing to stand up to Obama. I wouldn't be surprised if that is helping. Still, we are too far out for my hopes to be up. No summer stumbles, please.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Indeed I'm not getting my hopes up either. There are two competing narratives.
The first one goes like this: If the election were held today, Democrats would not lose the Senate, they would win several high-profile governor's offices, and break even in the house.
The second one goes like this: those race-by-race polls are meaningless. Polls also show that conservatives are out for blood, and Democratic voters can't be bothered to turn out this year. So get ready for the red team tidal wave.

LexiconNinja said...

Tillis won his primary outright in North Carolina. Looks like Hagan may be a goner. I do feel like the Tea Party has been out-muscled by the Establishment lately. Were they just a passing fad? The Democrats may not have the few blessings (semi-loony Tea Party candidates) they did in 2010 to maintain Senate control. Honestly, I think the only hope the blue team has is continual improvement of the ACA effect and possibly lower unemployment by November.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Hagan a goner? Not with the Libertarian candidate pulling 11% in the PPP poll.

LexiconNinja said...

You are such an optimist, Mr. G. I hope you are right. I never get excited (or horrified) about polling until about 3 weeks before the general election.

LexiconNinja said...

Can't wait for your analysis after today's many state primaries. Something of Kentucky, where Mitch McConnell trounced his Tea Party rival (Bevin), you may notice he got about 214,000 votes total. In the Democratic primary, Grimes got 309,000. Now, the GOP primary was certainly less unified, but if I were McConnell I'd still be worried: There were 355k total GOP voters in his primary and 403k in the Democratic one. Which party would you say is more energized in Kentucky?