Thursday, July 13, 2006

Can The Democrats Regain Senate Control? Doubtful, But With More Races Are In Play, Here's A Roadmap

With four months to go until Election Day, the odds the Democratic Party will regain control of the Senate remain doubtful.

But things are getting interesting. Some races that three months ago looked out of reach are now toss-ups. Others have Democrats in striking distance.

It's enough to make some pundits take a second look at the map, and take into consideration the possibility that a larger than previously expected number of Democrats may be motivated to vote this November, while a larger than previously expected number of Republicans either switch loyalties or stay home.

Republicans currently have a 55-44-1 advantage in the Senate, so only a fantastic day by the Democrats will allow them to regain control. But support for the party has been waning, in part because support for President Bush and Vice President Cheney has been historically poor, Republicans have unsuccessfully substituted name-calling for policy in dealing with the increasingly unpopular Iraq War, and well-publicized negatives like the Jack Abramoff scandal have been tied to the GOP.

At the same time, a wide array of other negatives -- continued instability in the Middle East, the recent missile testing by the North Koreans, record-high gas prices, well-publicized layoffs announced by Ford and Disney -- lead some pundits to think voters are getting the "six-year itch," and will want to remove the Republicans from leadership in this, the sixth year of the Bush presidency.

A lot can change in the 115 or so days left until Election Day, but for Democrats who wish to remain optimistic, here's a roadmap for how the party is making things interesting.


In Pennsylvania, Democrat Bob Casey Jr. leads incumbent Republican Rick Santroum by a 52-37 margin, according to the most recent Rasmussen Reports poll. That's actually an improvement from the 23-point deficit Santorum faced last month.

In Montana, Democrat Jon Tester leads incumbent Republican Conrad Burns 50% to 43%, according to the most recent Rasmussen Reports poll. Tester, president of the Montana State Senate, has gained on Burns the last two months -- erasing a four-point lead -- as Burns' ties to the Abramoff scandal have eroded support.


In Rhode Island, incumbent Republican Lincoln Chafee is struggling to defeat his primary opponent, Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey. If Laffey wins, polls suggest the Democrats' nominee, former Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse, would win easily. If Chafee holds on, the race is seen as a dead heat.

Although Chafee remains personally popular in his home state, Whitehouse has gained a foothold by asking the state's traditional Democrat base to consider the issue of Senate control.

In Missouri, State Auditor Claire McCaskill is in a dead heat with Republican incumbent Jim Talent, erasing a three-point lead in last month’s polls. McCaskill has taken advantage of recent polls showing Bush's approval rating down to 39%; other Republicans in the state have also seen their popularity wane since 2004.

In Ohio, Democratic Congressman Sherrod Brown has been trading leads with incumbent Republican Mike DeWine. The most recent polls has DeWine holding a slight lead. DeWine has been hurt by being in the same party as extremely unpopular outgoing governor Bob Taft. (In the race for Governor, Democrat Ted Strickland leads Republican Ken Blackwell handily.) But DeWine has also been in trouble with local conservatives for opposing legislation to protect gun manufacturers from liability suits. Brown would be helped by better name recognition; 17% of voters are unfamiliar with him, according to Rasmussen Reports.


In Tennessee, Democratic Congressman Harold Ford trails three potential Republican opponents in polls, as he tries to fill the seat of departing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The most recent poll shows Republicans holding a four-point to nine-point lead -- not insurmountable, but Ford has not shown any improvement as the year goes on.

In Virginia, former Navy Secretary James Webb has shown surprising strength against incumbent Republican George Allen. Allen, who at one point was considered such a shoo-in that he could begin concentrating on a likely 2008 run for president, leads Webb 51-41 in the most recent poll, compared with an April poll showing Allen up by 20.

Webb is a former Republican who actually endorsed Allen in 2000, but defected from the party because of the Iraq War. He would also benefit from better name recognition; 17% of voters have no opinion of him. Helping Webb is the popularity of current Democratic Governor Tim Kaine, and former Democratic Governor Mark Warner.

In Arizona, Democratic state chairman Jim Pederson trails incumbent Republican Jon Kyl, 43-29. In April, polls had Kyl leading 42-31. The good news is many voters haven't made up their minds, and support below 50% for Kyl, like Ohio's DeWine, is not a show of strength. Pederson is spending millions of his money, and benefits from the popularity of Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano.

The bad news is Pederson -- like other Democrats looking to unseat incumbents -- is running out of time to sway voters.


Can things break for the Democrats? A gain of six seats seems unlikely. Analysts like the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato think two or three seats is more probable.

But six months ago, the only Republican who looked to be in serious jeopardy was Santorum. Four months from now, we may witness a shake-up not seen since the "Gingrich Revolution" of 1994.


Anonymous Terran1212 said...

Answer: candidates with guts

Saying "at least we're not the Republicans" just wont cut it anymore.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous bryant69 said...

We can't retake the senat.
Haven't you heard? The Republicans control the voting machines. The Democratic party is screwed. So why waste your time trying?


11:47 AM  
Blogger Ben C. Hammer said...

It's still something of a long shot, but I wouldn't count Jack Carter out. His opponent is not particularly well loved in Nevada.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous AndyA said...

Let's hope not too many other Dems have this attitude, or we really ARE screwed.

What do you suggest we do? Give up and roll over to be f*cked over by the GOP? Give up everything our ancestors fought so hard for and gave their lives for?

We need to be putting the heat on now, not giving up.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous bryant69 said...

And doing that will accomplish what?

Assuming they control the voting machines completely, as I am assured they do?


2:17 PM  
Anonymous AndyA said...

It will at least make the public more aware of what's going on.

Even a large number of Republicans don't want the GOP in office if they weren't honestly elected. Fraudulent elections mean our democracy has become a mockery, and most Americans do not agree with that.

If you're going to go down, you might as well do it fighting as opposed to just giving up. If our ancestors had given up, America would not have become what it once was.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Jet Netwal said...

Excellent round up, JABBS, as usual.Welcome visitors from Mark Warner’s site.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

Three little words. Never.Gonna.Happen.

Republicans will win/retain seats. Libs get excited every election and lose every election.

The recent election in CA was just a small example of what will happen in November.

Americans want decent,Christian,conservative representation. Not alley cats in heat with no morals…

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Interesting road map. Here in Washington, Maria Cantwell was supposed to be a sure thing for re-election. Her opponent, Mike McGavick, is a retired CEO who got a huge multi-million dollar bonus package when he left his company. It didn’t seem like he stood a chance, but now he’s almost in a dead heat with Cantwell. His new campaign slogan is “Mike!” Can you believe that shit? With a one-word slogan they can take a multimillionaire CEO and turn him into a populist Good Old Boy who wants to go have a beer with working people.

If this tactic can work in a liberal educated state like Washington, we’re all in trouble.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cantwell is her own worst enemy. please tell me how popular her position in iraq is????

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Whoop4467 said...

To Sandy - I do not know a decent christian conservative republican. I know a lot of deceitfull republicans that want us to believe they are christian and a conservative. I do not know many really true christian people that would call so many other Americans names, tell so many lies about many Americans, that would criticise others for even worse behavior than their own, that would take our tax money and literally waste over 50% of it, that would do everything they could to pit people against each other, that would use the idea of "terrorist" to terrorise the poupulation by doing all they can to control their behavior and their freedom of speech or the press, that would lead an entire nation into war under the pretense of "terrorism" when the real reason was to get control of their "OIL", that use spin, speech, and written propaganda that does nothing bur erode the democratic type of government. If republicans are so patriotic and so American, then why have so few of you not enlisted in the military to show your support of the "war on terrorism"?

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Sandy:
Ignorance is bliss, but not respected here.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

Three little words. Never.Gonna.Happen.

Republicans will win/retain seats. Libs get excited every election and lose every election.

The recent election in CA was just a small example of what will happen in November.

Americans want decent,Christian,conservative representation. Not alley cats in heat with no morals…

Another worshipper without a clue.

What "happened in California" was a rock-solid Gopper district got real wobbly. It was akin to a Bible-belt con almost knocking off Ted Kennedy.

And I's rather have an alleycat in Congress than a flag-waving thief, and Americans all over the place agree with me. If the dems had a cohesive message, there'd only be a worshipper-type here and there in Congress a couple of years from now.

But, Jesusistani, go on preaching. Every Jesusistani spewing this bile turns off another reasonable American.

12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sandy: I suppose increases these last six-one-half years in both childhood poverty and Americans without healthcare insurance, both a direct result of Bush/Republican policies, represent morality in your view.
How about war hawkishness and capital punishment, both favored policies of the right.
How about Dems fighting for women's rights in the workplace? Well, I suppose there are many Christians who believe the Bible teaches women to be always be enslaved by men. Are you one of them?
If you were true to your heart and soul, if you believed in REAL Christian principals and values, if you got your information from someone besides Ann Coulter, you would recognize Democrats far better represent these areas.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Can The Democrats Regain Senate Control?

I, for one, sincerely hope not. :)

11:03 PM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

I guess Trinity appreciates the Republicans continuing to mount and enormous deficit that will be dumped upon the backs of our children and grandchildren to pay.
Perhaps Trinity hasn't read the recent paper by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve which cites Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich for significantly balloning the deficit that has now pushed U.S. to the brink of bankruptcy.
I forgot. Mark Levin didn't include that discussion on his radio comedy hour.
I suppose Trinity also somehow finds merit in the completely disasterous policies Bushie Republicans instilled in the Middle East. I forgot, dah, Iraq is helping the situation.
Can the Republicans hold onto Senate Control?
For America's sake, for God's sake, for our sake, LET'S CERTAINLY HOPE NOT.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Liberal Jarhead said...

Good rundown. Those will be the places that Democrats from around the country should beam our support to. I suspect that Larry Sabato is right, it’s unlikely that all the close races will go the way we’d like them to, but it’s also unlikely that they’d all go the other way. If we can get half, that’s not optimal but it’s an improvement. Thanks, JABBS.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:29 AM  
Anonymous Sid said...

Interesting the race is tightening for Sen. Burns, who also was responsible for the sneaky measure that removed protections for America’s wild horses that had previously been in place since the Nixon administration.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Matt Browner-Hamlin said...

Great post JABBS. I’m optimistic and any gained seats, even if not a full-on majority, is a step in the right direction.

Sandy wrote:

Not alley cats in heat with no morals…

Yep, George “Alley Cat” Allen, who divorced his wife and beat his siblings are real signs of morality

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Scott said...

Conservatives and morals those are two words that do not belong in the same sentence. So-called Rightwing Christians have given Christianity a very bad name. They are neither right nor Christian. The GOP and the truth have nothing in common. If conservatives ever told the truth, no one in their right mind would vote for them. After all they have fought against everthing that is decent and good about America.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

The greatest president in U.S. history was divorced. (Reagan)

And everyone I know beat their siblings. (Some more playfully than others.)


Oh, more koolaid Scott??

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

p.s. “Conservatives have fought against everything that is decent and good about America”

You mean like killing babies, homosexuality, illegal aliens, flag-burning, too-lenient judges, etc…?

Yeah, I thought so….

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoop4467 --- Although I do not blindly agree with Sandy and her views - I consider myself a moral person (although not religious) and I have conservative views (not necessarily Republican) and all I really have to say is:

Take the blanket statements you just made about conservatives and turn them on yourself, how to you stand up to the accusations? The world isn't black and white and it certainly isn't blue and red.

You have fallen into the same political machine Sandy has fallen into -- the machine that says "Hey you know what, 98% of American agrees on 70% of the issues (such as, child molesters and murders should be punished legally for their actions and we don't want them to live next door to our little girls and boys)so we need to turn this into a competition some how. Hmm how do we convince people there are 2 sides and only one can be right while the other is violently wrong all the time and how to we make it profitable too? I KNOW! FOCUS ONLY ON THE DIFFERENCES!" Welcome to the dysfunctional society you are fueling simply by attacking Sandy (and Sandy attacking too) because she said she is a decent, Christian, conservative. Congrats to you -- your better Right? More Decient? More 'Christian'?

You make some huge generalizations in your arguments about why conservatives are bad people and are deceitful people who just put on airs of being Christian -- Show me some numbers about how distrustful Republications are versus Democrats and show me politically based military enrollment numbers because I think you will find that both parties are equally corrupt and both parties detract from this by convincing narrow sighted people, such as you, sandy, and sometimes me and everyone else, that we are too different to agree on anything because if we focused on what we agreed on and made legitimate compromises on what we don't, why would we need filthy rich mud slinging elitist on either side of the political spectrum?

Support your views with something other than rash generalizations. I know you are too smart to lump everyone into "them" and "they" because that's call hate -- For what other groups of people to you use "them" , "They" and "Their" for?


1:11 PM  
Anonymous whoop4467 said...

to Anomymous (Emily) - According to your response, my post may not apply to you. What I read and hear from conservatives on the internet and in the press is "they are ok and Democrats are not ok". They put on the pretense that they have morals and anyone who disagrees with them do not. Republicans (conservatives) use fake moral slogans to hide the real intent of their policies; 1. "No child left behind" that really leaves children behind. My wife is a retired teacher and she disagreed with that policy. My son and daughter are teachers and neither agrees with the policy. I teach physics at a community college and my students have very little math skills that should have been learned in grades 1-6.If you want proof of what I say about this, then you should volunteer to be a substitute teacher in a school near you for at least a month and do it in all grades. While you are subbing, then ask the full time teachers how they feel about this policy. 2. "Cear skies inititive" which supposedly means they are for clear skies but in reality the republican controlled congress give carte blance permission to companies to pollute our skies with impunity. Think "global warming" that republicans totally deny and do not believe the majority of scientist, but believe OIL company scientist who represent the worst polluters and whose companies donate large sums of money to conressman to buy their blind eye. 3. "Save the forest inititive' which supposedly means they want to save our forest, but again give carte blance permission to logging companies to do whatever they want with our forest.
4. "Land reclamation inititive" supposedly means our lands around surface minning will be cleaned up, but it means they have carte blance to leave the land anyway they choose. Usually is dumped into our rivers. 5. "You are with us or you are against us" which means if you do not agree with us in the way we interpret the law (NSA wiretaps, patriot act, listening to our phone calls, reading our e-mails), then you are un-patriotic, un-american or you love the "terrorist". This slogan also means no one can speak out against republican policy without being given some negative label, like Un-American, Un-Patriotic, Cowards, "Cut and Run" cowards, "Non-support of the Troops" and probably others. As I have asked others, why have so few of the over 59,000,000 that voted for Bush in 2004 not enlisted in the military to show support for the war on "Terrorism" that Republicans(Conservtives) so boastfull exclaim. If only a measly 1% of that 59,000,000 were to to enlist that would be over 590,000 additional new troops. Then our military would not be so stretched. So you tell me where is the Conservative patriotism? You tell me why those that have experienced combat or war do not want to go to war unless it is un-avoidable and those that have never even served in the military are gung-ho about going to war? Look at the congress and the exective branch and see who is gung-ho and who is reserved about going to war. How do you define hypocracy?
6. Conservatives say abortion is murder but support fertility clinics that destroy thousands of un-used embryos every year. Where is the outrage about this or is the abortion argument a political hot button to re-enforce the thinking that conservatives have the high moral ground instead of being a real moral issue or that they are ok and those that believe in the womens right to choose are not ok? 7, Where is the legitimate debate about the "death penalty" ( another political issue rather than a moral isssue) that is predominately administered to the poor and those of color. 8. The issue of "Gay Marriage" is another Conservative hot button political issue that is built up to be a high moral ground ploy as opposed to being a real "moral debate". Again the conservatives want to play the game of "I'm ok, but you are not ok" for political gain and not for a true moral solution. 9. Conservatives want all tax laws, all bankruptcy laws, all health care laws, all energy laws, all law suit laws, all education laws, all investment laws, all retirement laws, etc, etc to favor the wealthy and special interest. This very high moral grounds huh? 10. Conservatives want small government,but not the current administration. This is one that I fully support starting with killing the Department of Education. Education should be only a state responsibility.
Conservatives want very little for the average person.
11. Conservatives have me confused about their concern about "terrorism". If they have such a high moral ground on this, then why have our borders(except just this year, 5 yrs from 9/11), our ports, our transportation network and our first reponders have had so little attention.They have fought the "war on terrorism" with boastfull rhetoric but so little action.
12. Immigration is a hoot. Now talk about taking the high moral ground, this has a really easy solution. Enforce the laws allready on the books! Punish( or require all employees to have a verifiable SS#) companies that hire the illegal immigrants, make companies pay minimum wages and all proper taxes and provide normal benefits and the illegals want be coming here for the jobs because they will be done by legal ciitzens.

You asked for examples of where the Conservatives have an empty quiver of moral values. This is the ones I can think of today. I say that if you agree with the Conservatives on these issues then you have low moral values, but high political values. I do not think Sandy is not ok, I think she is blistfully confused about who in America have high morals and those who do not.

6:55 PM  

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