Sunday, February 17, 2008

How Are the Senate Races Going?

There are 15 interesting races, 14 of which are for Republican-held seats.

Clear Democratic Leads (3)

New Hampshire - Except for two outliers from disgraced (by their record in the primaries this cycle) polling firm ARG, all of the polls of this race show Jeanne Shaheen (D) holding a substantial lead over John Sununu (R). On 2/11/08, the Granite State Poll put her lead at 54%-37%, while Rasmussen has a 2/13/08 poll that shows her up 49%-41%.

New Mexico - Tom Udall (D) leads Heather Wilson (R) 58%-30%, and Steve Pearce (R) 53%-31% in NMSU's 2/11/08 poll. He consistently out-polls both GOP congresspeople by wide margins.

Virginia - Mark Warner (D) leads Jim Gilmore (R) 53%-38% in Rasmussen's poll of 1/3/08. Those figures are virtually unchanged from Rasmussen's 10/30/07 poll and reflect the general consensus that Warner has a massive lead.

Polling Toss-Ups (4)

Alaska - It feels a little presumptive to label this race a toss-up, especially since the presumptive challenger, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, has yet to declare his candidacy. Still, Research 2000 showed Begich (D) leading Ted Stevens (R) 47%-41% on 12/3/07-12/6/07.

Colorado - Polling in this race has been consistently close. Bob Schaffer (R) had a statistically insignificant lead of 44%-43% over Mark Udall (D) in Rasmussen's 2/11/08 poll.

Louisiana - SurveyUSA released the only public poll for this race on 12/13/07. At the time, Mary Landrieu (D) led John Kennedy (R) 46%-42%.

Minnesota - Al Franken (D) and, to a lesser degree, his primary competitor Mike Ciresi (D), has closed the gap on Norm Coleman (R). Minnesota Public Radio has the most recent poll, which showed Franken leading 43%-40%, while Ciresi trailed 43%-38% (1/29/08).

Races That Still Need Some Work (8)

Idaho - Larry LaRocco (D) is the best candidate we could have hoped for in a state like Idaho (OK, there's Cecil Andrus, but he's 76), but he's not yet in striking range of Jim Risch (R), trailing him 48%-34% in Myers Research's poll of 11/13/07-11/19/07.

Kentucky - Mitch McConnell (R) will face one of two wealthy businessmen, Greg Fischer (D) and Bruce Lunsford (D). There is no polling (that I'm aware of) on either match-up, but I think we can assume that McConnell will start with an edge over his challengers.

Maine - Susan Collins (R) maintains a stubborn lead over Tom Allen (D). SurveyUSA's 11/5/07 poll is representative in pegging her lead at 55%-38%.

Mississippi - We have no reliable polling on this race, but I'm guessing that Roger Wicker (R) has a modest lead over Ronnie Musgrove (D) and a more comfortable margin over Ronnie Shows (D).

North Carolina - Elizabeth Dole (R) is vulnerable, but holds a substantial early lead over his two potential opponents, Kay Hagan (D) and Jim Neal (D). Rasmussen's 12/26/07 poll put her lead at 55%-35% over Hagan.

Oklahoma - It might be that the only reason this race is on the list is because I love Andrew Rice's (D) biography. Still, Tom Coburn's 2004 race was kinda close, so maybe there's hope. Anyway, Jim Inhofe (R) led Rice 60%-28% in Tulsa World's 12/16/07-12/19/07 poll.

Oregon - Aw, crap, those Novick-ites are gonna come back, aren't they? Anyway, SurveyUSA's 11/5/07 poll showed Gordon Smith (R) leading Jeff Merkley (D) 48%-39%, and Steve Novick (D) 45%-39%. However, those polls did not include independent candidate John Frohnmayer, who I expect to take more Democratic votes than Smith votes.

Texas - Since Mikal Watts' withdrawal, Rick Noriega (D) has just about locked up the Democratic nomination. Now it's time to get to work, given that Research 2000's 9/24/07-9/26/07 poll showed him trailing John Cornyn (R) 51%-35% (Rasmussen's numbers from September '07 were similar).

We just need three races to move up into the toss-up category for a 60-seat majority to be a realistic possibility.


Kevin said...

About the Oregon race...

Frohnmeyer won't be a significant factor for two reasons.

1. His fundraising numbers are, to put it charitably, anemic. At his current pace he simply can't compete, regardless of his message.

2. Frohnmeyer's niche thus far has been to run to the left of the Dem candidates. So much so that Novick was apparently prompted to stake out a pro-impeachment plank after Frohnmeyer did.

Gordon Smith has won election after election by running to the political center. Thus that is likely where this election will once again be won or lost.

Of the candidates running against Smith, Jeff Merkley is head and shoulders the most viable. His progressive creds are very firmly established. But he's also in the strongest position to appeal to the political center. Having foreign policy expert and former weapons analyst for the Pentagon/Congress/NATO on his resume is going to strongly appeal to the political center.

Merkley is also far and away the strongest fund raiser, which will be absolutely critical to competing with Smith in the general.

clark said...

Kevin, for some reason politically active people from Oregon like you really love replying to blog entries that google alerts tells them about. That's great, but only about eight people in the world read this blog regularly and all of them live in Arizona. Your time would be better spent talking directly to voters in your state rather than shot-gunning your message into the blogosphere. Best of luck to you and your candidate.

LP said...

Though Udall is a large favorite in New Mexico, I'm not sure we can use the NMSU poll as a viable poll. It had an extremely small sample size.

It will be interesting to see if SurveyUSA does another poll on the race; they did polls immediately following Domenici's retirement, and those showed Udall with a large lead.