Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More Senate handicapping

It seems that folks are starting to awaken to the realization that there ARE actually congressional elections this year, after all. Talking Points Memo provides this list of competitive Senate races, which you can compare with the RealClearPolitics list I mentioned here on Monday:

  • Alaska: Ted Stevens (i) vs. Mark Begich -- Leans GOP;
  • Colorado: Bob Schaffer vs. Mark Udall -- Tossup;
  • Louisiana: John Kennedy vs. Mary Landrieu (i) -- Tossup;
  • Maine: Susan Collins (i) vs. Tom Allen -- Leans GOP;
  • Minnesota: Norm Coleman (i) vs. Al Franken -- Tossup;
  • Mississippi: Roger Wicker (i) vs. Ronnie Musgrove -- Likely GOP;
  • New Hampshire: John Sununu (i) vs. Jeanne Shaheen -- Leans Dem;
  • New Mexico: TBD vs. Tom Udall -- Leans Dem;
  • Oregon: Gordon Smith (i) vs. TBD -- Leans GOP;
  • Virginia: Jim Gilmore vs. Mark Warner -- Likely Dem

    (Note: Republicans listed first; i=incumbent)

Several people commented to TPM that the race between Republican incumbent John Cornyn and Democratic challenger Rick Noriega should have been on the list, but the Lone Star State wasn't on RCP's list, either. Maybe Texans know something politicos don't ... but the politicos would never admit it.

In looking at this list, I would add that it's an understatement to say that races where one party hasn't yet designated a candidate "lean" toward the party that has. It's hard to be competitive when you don't have a name, a face and a platform to promote -- and a background to defend.

Also, as I said the other day, the number of these races that could go Democratic and what that would mean for Senate procedure is what has national Democratic leaders dizzy with nervousness over the continuing, and increasingly contentious, battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the presidential nomination:

Notice a trend? Republicans are in trouble. This is one of the underlying issues for Democrats who want to avoid a nasty, divisive floor fight between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at the party's convention in August: They know that if they can only keep from wandering in the desert of internecine party dissent, chances are good that they will reach the 60 members that will comprise a supermajority -- the Senate's promised land.