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Author Topic: Some vague, scattered thoughts  (Read 733 times)
Vosem
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« on: November 11, 2011, 10:05:46 pm »
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I was going to do a Fix-style top 10 list, but then I kept going and finally ranked all of them. Whaddyall think?


Vosem's Line

1. North Dakota (D): Although Democrats have gotten their preferred candidate in former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, Heitkamp has been absent from state politics for twelve years, ever since her defeat in a bid for Governor in 2000. Polling has shown expectant Republican nominee, Rep. Rick Berg, leading generic Democrats by mid-single digits; Heitkamp, who puts a name to 'generic', almost certainly does worse in a state which swung heavily to the right in 2010.

2. Nebraska (D): Expectant Republican nominee, state Attorney General Jon Bruning, has made some missteps in recent weeks. Rather than the second-placer in the primary, state Treasurer Don Stenberg, Bruning's support seems to be going to third-place candidate, state Senator Deb Fischer. Although Bruning retains a mid-single digit leads in both the primary and the general election against expected Democratic nominee incumbent Senator Ben Nelson, Stenberg's lead over Nelson's is in the margin of error, and Nelson narrowly leads Fischer. If Nelson chooses not to seek reelection, the Republicans win the seat by default.

3. Wisconsin (D): Republicans are not a guarantee to pick this seat up they are facing a competitive primary between former national Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, former U.S. Representative Mark Neumann, and state House Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, whereas the Democrats have united behind Representative Tammy Baldwin. However, Baldwin seems to left-wing for Wisconsin, as Thompson (the favorite in the primary) holds a mid-single digit lead against Baldwin and second-place Neumann holds a lead within the margin of error; polling has shown Baldwin leading only Fitzgerald, who is in third place in the primary, and him by only narrow margins.

4. Montana (D): This race is set. It will go down the wire between incumbent Democratic Senator Jon Tester and incumbent Republican Representative Denny Rehberg. Polling has shown this extremely close, but usually with Rehberg in the lead; undecideds, too, seem to lean Rehberg.

5. Missouri (D): Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is seeking reelection in a state which has swung right since her election in 2006. Again, the Republicans are disunited, as former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman seems likeliest to win the nomination, with Representative Todd Akin running second and businessman John Brunner in third. Recent polling has shown all three in the margin of error against McCaskill; Steelman narrowly leading, Akin exactly tied, and Brunner just behind. Undecideds seem likely to favor Republicans in this race, however.

6. Virginia (D): Both the Republicans and Democrats have already made up their minds in this race, with Democrats running former Governor Tim Kaine and Republicans running former Senator George Allen. Polling has shown Allen and Kaine in almost an exact tie; the race probably leans ever so slightly to Kaine, who has led more polling. Both candidates have universal name recognition; opinions are unlikely to change and this one will go down the wire.

7. Nevada (R): Senator Dean Heller, recently appointed to the Senate, gets the honor of most vulnerable Republican. This race has close parallels with that in Virginia; the Democrats have already decided on a nominee, Representative Shelley Berkley; everyone has heard of both candidates and most have made up their mind. The race is almost an exact tie; more polls have shown Heller in the lead than Berkley, however.

8. Florida (D): Senator Bill Nelson was thought to be sitting pretty against a divided Republican field until popular Representative Connie Mack dropped into the field. Mack has come within single digits of Nelson in polling; however, he still faces a challenge in the primary from the 'Three Dwarfs' who were opposing Nelson until Mack's last-minute decision to run: former Senator George LeMieux, former Florida House Representative (not federal) Adam Hasner, and professor Mike McCalister. Mack is benefiting from an 'announcement bump' and it remains to be seen whether the Three Dwarfs (and the remainder of the Florida Republican Party) will unite behind Mack.

9. Hawaii (D): Polling has shown that in this solidly liberal state, likely Republican nominee former Governor Linda Lingle leads Democratic candidate former Representative Ed Case. The problem? Case is losing in the Democratic primary to Mazie Hirono, who leads Lingle in the mid-single digits. Additionally, this is one of the few states in which Obama remains popular; most undecideds seem to tilt Democratic. Lingle could make it close, but victory seems doubtful.

10. Massachusetts (R): Both parties have already made up their minds in this race between incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown and Democratic economics professor Elizabeth Warren. On paper, the race should favor Warren in this heavily Democratic state, and Warren briefly jumped into the lead in front of Brown after her announcement, but Brown has since regained a mid-single digits lead. Brown remains very popular and should be able to eke out a victory in a neutral year, although a slight Democratic breeze could certainly blow in Warren.

11. New Mexico (D): Both parties are undergoing very similar nomination processes in this leans-Democratic state. Democrats are having to choose between moderate, electable Representative Martin Heinrich, and liberal, less-electable state Auditor Hector Balderas; Democrats seem to be picking Heinrich. On the Republican side, the right is choosing between moderate, electable former Representative Heather Wilson, and conservative, tea-party favored John Sanchez. Republicans seem to favor Wilson as well, although undecideds tilt Sanchez; what really seems to guarantee Wilson's nomination is the running of conservative, tea-party businessman Greg Sowards, who will not win but will suck votes away from Sanchez. Polling has shown Heinrich leading Wilson in the mid-single digits, which seems about right. Like Massachusetts, a neutral year should see Heinrich, but a Republican breeze could blow in Wilson.

12. Ohio (D): The nominees in this race, too, are practically set. Democrats will renominate incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown, while Republicans are putting forth incumbent state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who if elected would be by far the youngest Senator. Polling has generally shown Brown with a high-single digits lead, more recently, in the aftermath of the defeat of Issue 2, Brown has expanded to a larger lead. This seems to be a temporary bounce, however, and most undecideds lean Mandel.

13. Michigan (D): Although much has been made of the Republican primary between more moderate former Representative Pete Hoekstra and conservative, tea-party businessman Clark Durant, in the end Hoekstra seems likely to romp to a victory in the primary. (Ironically, Hoekstra competed successfully for the mantle of conservative, tea-party candidate in last years' gubernatorial primary against then-incumbent state Attorney General Mike Cox, who also sought to position himself as a tea-party candidate; and also two more moderate candidates, one of whom won). Polling generally shows Hoekstra trailing Senator Debbie Stabenow in the high single-digits; although undecideds tilt Hoekstra, it is not to the same extent as they favor Mandel in Ohio. Stabenow is the favorite, but could nevertheless fall in a strong Republican year.

14. Connecticut (I): Senator Joe Lieberman (retiring next year) is one of the most...interesting...faces in modern-day American politics; originally elected in 1988 as a conservative, Southern-style Democrat, endorsed by William Buckley, Lieberman swung hard left to be chosen as Al Gore's running mate in 2000; he returned to the right during the 2000s, becoming an independent in 2006 and being one of the finalists in John McCain's search for a running mate in 2008 which ended in Sarah Palin, while simultaneously upholding the Democratic majority in the Senate. Lieberman was afterwards McCain's expected nominee for Secretary of State, had McCain won. The race to succeed him is just as chaotic as the man's career; Democrats are having a three-way battle between liberal Representative Chris Murphy; moderate former state Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, and Lieberman acolyte state Representative (not federal) William Tong. Murphy leads the primary; he and Bysiewicz are about equally strong in the general, with Tong far behind. The Republicans are having a battle between moderate former Representative Chris Shays and conservative, tea-party businesswoman Linda McMahon. Ironically enough, Shays would be a strong candidate in the general election, easily dispatching Tong and seriously challenging Murphy or Bysiewicz, but McMahon leads the primary by a large margin (losing to all three Democratic candidates in the general election). In the end, most likely Murphy will decisively win a battle against McMahon.

15. Indiana (R): Senator Richard Lugar has been one of the key players in Indiana politics since the 1960s, and faced no Democratic opposition in 2006. He won't have it so easy this year, as conservative tea-party members are upset with his moderate voting record, and have convinced state Treasurer Richard Mourdock to challenge Lugar in the primary. There has been scant polling of this primary, though what has emerged suggests a high-single digits lead for Lugar. Waiting in the wings is Democratic Representative Joe Donnelly, who hopes to face a bloodied Mourdock; again, only scant data exists, but it seems Mourdock leads Donnelly in the mid-single digits, whereas Lugar would enjoy a double-digit victory. In the end, a Lugar win seems likely.
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Vosem
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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2011, 10:06:24 pm »
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16. Arizona (R): Democrats have touted their get of former presidential doctor Richard Carmona to challenge the certain Republican nominee Representative Jeff Flake, even going so far as convincing Obama to personally convince Carmona to run. Signals of Carmona's strength seem varied; Carmona seems to have little enthusiasm and faces former state party chairman Don Bivens in the primary; Bivens has the support of most of the Arizona Democratic establishment, whereas Carmona is a Washington plant. However, national Democrats seem excited about Carmona's candidacy. Aged polling shows Flake easily defeating various potential Democratic candidates; it seems likely he holds double-digit leads as of now against both Carmona and Bivens. Again, data is scant in a race which is nearly certain to end in a certain candidate's victory (in this case, Representative Flake)...nearly.

17. Texas (R): The Democrats have united behind retired General Ricardo Sanchez, who was the top commander of American forces in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004; Republicans are less united, participating in a contentious three-way primary between (comparatively) moderate Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, conservative tea-party former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz, and in-between former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. Leppert, although originally one of the frontrunners, has failed to catch on; the battle is between Dewhurst and Cruz, with Dewhurst the clear favorite. Polling has shown Sanchez losing in the upper single digits against Leppert or Cruz, and double-digits against Dewhurst. Additionally, national Democrats have given this race little attention; but there remains a non-zero chance that a bloody Republican primary produce an unpopular candidate is combined with a strong nationwide Democratic wave which could see Sanchez narrowly swept to office.

18. Pennsylvania (D): Senator Bob Casey, Jr. is one of the luckier incumbents this cycle. In a swing state, nearly all credible opponents have declined to challenge him, leaving a bizarre collection of state legislators, unknown businessmen, and failed House candidates. The six main Republicans vying for the nomination are former state (not federal) Representative Sam Rohrer; businessman Tim Burns; businessman David Christian; tea-party activist Laureen Cummings; Marc Scaringi, a close friend of former Senator Rick Santorum; and businessman Steve Welch. Which of these will face Casey is unknown and doesn't matter but if you care, Rohrer probably has the best name-recognition from former failed statewide bids; very old polling seems to show Cummings ahead, however.

19. New Jersey (D): Little-known, ethically challenged Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez, like Casey, has benefited from better-known challengers passing on bids. Republicans are hoping state Senator Joe Kyrillos runs, but polling shows Menendez leading even Kyrillos by double-digits (though admittedly, most undecideds lean Kyrillos). Kyrillos is unsure about running and Republicans don't seem to have a clear Plan B other than to get better-known politicos to change their mind.

20. Maine (R): Although Maine is a fairly Democratic state, Republicans made large gains here in 2010, and long-time moderate incumbent Olympia Snowe seems like she will have little trouble dispatching likely Democratic nominee, former state Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap. Complications arise in the extremely unlikely event Snowe loses her primary to more conservative former selectman (in non-New England terms, co-mayor) of the small town of Lisbon Falls, Scott d'Amboise; however, polling shows Snowe leading d'Amboise with over 50%; and even if he is nominated, Dunlap's lead over d'Amboise is in just the high single digits, leaving d'Amboise a non-zero chance of beating him in the event of nomination.

21. Washington (D): Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell is facing Republican state Senator Michael Baumgartner in the general election. No polling has been conducted, largely because everyone knows Cantwell leads Baumgartner by a double-digit margin. However, the Republican candidate for Governor is leading, and depending on the environment, it is possible Baumgartner could make it close. However, he could not win. Period.

22. New York (D): Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand looks set to easily defeat Republican Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos.

23. Rhode Island (D): Popular Democratic incumbent Sheldon Whitehouse is being challenged by wealthy Republican businessman Barry Hinckley. Aged polling shows Whitehouse leading much stronger challengers by double-digits. Hinckley has zero chance; but he can self-fund, so he should probably do better than other sacrificial lambs.

24. Minnesota (D): As if to make things easier for popular Democratic incumbent Amy Klobuchar, Republicans seem unable to decide between former state Representative Dan Severson and a city councilman in the small town of St. Bonifacius, Joe Arwood. Severson seems on track to narrowly win the primary on his way to a demolishing by Klobuchar in the general election.

25. California (D): Although historically very popular, Senator Dianne Feinstein's approval has seen deterioration in recent years. However, Republicans seem likely to nominate dentist Orly Taitz, one of the leaders of the now-largely defunct 'birther' movement, which sought to prove President Obama was born in Kenya. Taitz will face a battle to hit 30% of the vote, and even if Republicans nominate someone more electable, this is California anyway the state is heavily Democratic and proved impervious to the 2010 wave.

26. Utah (R): Senator Orrin Hatch has been around forever, and has pissed off many people along the way. However, this is Utah; the strongest candidate Democrats could come up with is businessman and failed 2006 candidate Pete Ashdown. Hatch may face a challenger for the nomination state Representative Chris Herrod, state Senator Dan Liljenquist, and former state Representative Morgan Philpot are all considering it, and any could make it a race in the primary. But no Democrat will win the general election.

27. West Virginia (D): This state is pretty Republican at the federal level, but at the local level it is a rock-hard Democratic state. Senator Joe Manchin survived the 2010 wave by double-digits; he should be fine.

28. Tennessee (R): There have been rumors about a challenge to (comparatively) moderate Senator Bob Corker from the right; Iraq War veteran Zach Poskevich is challenging him, and country singer Hank Williams has publicly mused about the possibility. Polling, however, has shown Corker easily dispatching Williams, never mind the lesser-known Poskevich with a weird-sounding name. In any case, whoever the Republicans nominate will win by double digits.

29. Vermont (D): Thom Lauzon, Republican mayor of the small city of Barre, has been making noises about challenging (basically) Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, the Senate's only open socialist. Not like it matters; Sanders will romp to a second term.

30. Maryland (D): At least Republicans have a candidate, in Secret Service veteran Daniel Bongino, up to challenge Senator Ben Cardin. They're not so lucky in Delaware (#31).

31. Mississippi (R): No Democrat is up to challenging Senator Roger Wicker; the state has been trending heavily against them and potential candidates have all declined. Wicker is popular with all parts of Mississippi, but will do no better than 58%-40% - Mississippi is the most racially polarized state in the nation. It is about 36% African-American, the highest percentage in the nation; these always turn out and always vote Democratic, no matter what. Whites vote straight Republican, but they turn out slightly less. The margin isn't going to be so narrow in...

32. Delaware (D): Senator Tom Carper, the incumbent Democrat, is going to have to remind the GOP to get a candidate. They don't have one know.

33. Wyoming (R ): Polling has shown Senator John Barrasso leading the state's only important Democrat, former Governor Dave Freudenthal, by a 20% margin. Goes to show.
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Keystone Phil
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2011, 12:07:55 am »
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Regarding your Pennsylvania analysis: Cummings didn't lead in polling. She's unknown. And Rohrer only lost a statewide race once.
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rbt48
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2011, 09:32:05 pm »
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Thanks for the superb analyses, Vosem.  I enjoyed reading them thoroughly and I feel much better informed about what the 2012 Senate races are shaping up to be.
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Miles
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2011, 09:35:20 pm »
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Overall, good.
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« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2011, 06:13:10 am »
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Ranking Florida ahead of MA is somewhat of a stretch and ranking Hawaii ahead of MA makes  no sense.
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shua
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2011, 11:26:11 pm »
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Orly the frontrunner for CA primary?  Seems like if someone like Issa or DeVore entered, they could dispatch her easily. I have a hard time believing the party establishment wouldn't pull out all the stops to nominate a more credible candidate.
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