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July 05, 2002

Will the Dems Hold the Senate?

Despite my confidence that Bush will lose in 2004, I am far less optimistic than MaxSpeaks that the Dems will romp in the fall. Max, playing off a Carville/Begala/Schrum memo from April lays out all the issues that are breaking for the Dems. It's all true, but the particularity of races up for grabs still makes things uncertain. This is going to be more nationalized election than usual, but with Bush's personal popularity up but support for his policies shaky, it makes for a weird political environment, although the Dems should hold the Senate and maybe pick up a seat or so. Here are my estimates now on states up for grabs (but I wouldn't put money on most of them since I haven't really studied each race yet). These are listed in decreasing order of confidence:

North and South Carolina: Both stay in the GOP column; Dole is using her star status well and South Carolina is not going to replace Thurmond with a Democrat.

Georgia: Max Cleland hold this seat for the Dems

Iowa and Louisiana; Incumbent Dems Harkin and Landreiu hold their seats.

Montana: Dem Baucus voted rightwing on the tax cuts last year, which probably will hold his seat for him in this GOP-leaning state.

Tennessee: Lamar Alexander should win the primary and the general election, although the budget meltdown in the state could create unexpected havoc in any prediction.

South Dakota: GOPer Thune knocks out Tim Johnson; the state was a solid Bush state and nationalizing the election will help Thune.

New Jersey: Dem Torricelli should hold on, but his personal sleaze and a Green party challenge to absorb the disgust on the progressive side could Naderize this one - but probably not.

New Hampshire: Sununu probably wins the primary and pulls out a win, keeping the seat in the GOP column.

Minnesota: Wellstone holds on, since if Norm Coleman hasn't opened up a lead yet, I think that national politics will push Minnesota to keep a Dem in the Senate.

Texas: Dem Ron Kirk will pull this one off; the black and latino turnout for the Kirk-Sanchez lineup on the Democratic side will be very strong. This would be one of the sweet and most talked about victories in the fall if it happens.

Arkansas: Dem Mark Pryor should push incumbent Tim Hutchinson out of office, based on Hutchinson's too-conservative voting record for the state.

Missouri: Hard to get a read on this one, since Carnahan has not been tested in a real race (a bizarre situation for a strange ascension to office), but I hope national trends lets her hold on.

Colorado: In a rematch from six years ago, GOPer Wayne Allard should go down to the wire with Dem Tom Strickland. Allard is so conservative that I will give a slight nod to Strickland.

While these results would give Dems a two-seat pickup, we have a number of crucial races happening in states where Bush won in 2000 - Arkansas, Colorado, Texas - where Bush campaigning will make a difference. And Wellstone is up against a tough opponent in former Democrat Norm Coleman. So even with the Chafee switch possibility (I don't buy a McCain switch Jeff), there is still serious danger of Majority Leader Trent Lott.

Posted by Nathan at July 5, 2002 10:12 AM

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Don't be so sure about TN going Republican.

The Repubs have a fight between the "moderate" Alexander, and the more "conservative" Bryant. It is getting ugly, and each candidate brings issues to the general election. Bryant is running pretty hard to the right to win, and while TN is hardly MN, it's voters are not all dittoheads. If Bryant wins, Clement will be able to position himself as the "sensible center" candidate. If Alexander wins, there is a good chance that some of the hard core rightists will stay home, and Alexander is not the most inspiring of candidates to begin with.

The Dems, however, are inspired. There were irregularities, particularly with regards to minority voters, in 2000. The Dems around here have not forgotten that, and are motivated.

Add in the fact that only one Dem is running, and thus no primary fight and plenty of money for the Fall, and Clement has a decent chance at the seat.

Posted by: kevin at July 5, 2002 08:42 PM

Sounds good and I hope your right. I'd love to see all the tossups (NH, CO, TN etc.) move Dem, so there would be a real margin of error against conservative Dems like Miller. Adding another Dem on the Judiciary committee would be good.

Posted by: Nathan at July 6, 2002 07:27 AM

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