Friday, November 16, 2007

Landslide Senate Majority for Dems?

First Draft today points to an interesting poll coming out of Montana, a formerly Ruby Red state in the Ruby Red Mountain West Region.

Bush's approval ratings there are a dismal 32%, down from 45% last year. That's a big drop. Meanwhile, Democrats representing Montana like John Tester (elected to the Senate in 2006) and Senator Max Baucus (will be reelected in 2008) have very comfortable approval ratings.

This reflects a "blueification" of the Mountain West that has Republicans increasingly on the run.
(Witness: Ken Salazar's election to the US Senate in 2004)
(Witness: The 2008 Dem Convention will be in Denver)

If places like Colorado and Montana are going blue, then it can't be looking good for the Republicans in certain states in the Midwest and South.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post is an excellent handicapper of races and does a pretty good job not getting ahead of himself and predicting unlikely upsets. Every few weeks, he takes a look at how certain Senate battles are shaping up. In what was a particularly good week for Republican Senate candidates, there is only one Democratic incumbent or open seat that looks like has even an okay chance of changing parties, that of Senator Landrieu here in Louisiana.

Elsewhere, there are confirmed Republican Senate retirements occurring in Nebraska, Colorado, Idaho, Virginia, and New Mexico.

Colorado, Virginia, and New Mexico are as good as locks to go to the Democratic challenger. All three races, according to Cillizza, feature well-known and well-funded Dem candidates. Let us count those as three pickups for the Dem Party.

Nebraska still represents a pretty even bet of changing hands, but lets not count that right now.

As for incumbent Republicans in the Senate, there are reasons to believe that the races in Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Oregon, and Alaska will be competitive.

For the sake of discussion, let us say that because of recent state electoral trends and the strength of challenger candidates, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Oregon go for the Democrat.

Let us also assume that Ted Stevens of Alaska will eventually succumb to the pending indictment hanging over his head and that he will lose as well.

So, to go with the three open victories, that is now seven Democratic pickups in 2008.

Let us also pledge right now as Louisiana residents that Mary Landrieu WILL HOLD HER SEAT. She will face a tough race but god damn it she will keep her job. Louisiana Dems best be prepared to win a brawl.

That gives the Democrats control of 57 out of 100 seats in the Senate. That does not even count Joseph Traitorman (Asshole, Conn) who still somehow caucuses as a Democrat.

I stress that 57 out 100 still represents a fairly conservative estimate for the Democrats.

If one considers the enormous national tidal wave of anger toward anything that can be shown in the same camera frame as George Double You Bush, the amount of outrage toward Congressional Republicans (they're continued sex scandals, money scandals in Alaska, etc.), the fact that the DNC has out-raised the RNC for Senate Races by a 3 to 1 margin, that there might be a couple of extra surprises out there....

Senate Democrats could indeed hold 60-63 seats by the time all the votes are counted on Election Night 2008.

That is filibuster-proof.
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Too bad Senator Harry Reid is in charge. Am I alone in thinking he is an inept leader? Joe Biden should have been leading Democrats in the Senate for the last 20 years, I have no idea why he isn't. I'd also take Senator Leahy or Senator Feingold. Even Senator Durbin or Senator Schumer would be a far more powerful, less smarmy voice for Senate Dems.

This may warrant its own post one day but I'm thinking about it now.

Why do Democrats always pick their Senate leaders from vulnerable swing states? Harry Reid is a pro-life Democrat from Nevada. That state is probably safe for now, but it hasn't been in the very recent past. He replaced as Dem Sen leader a man by the name of Senator Tom Daschle, from Red State South Dakota. As you'll recall, in 2004 Daschle lost his job all together, embarrassing Democrats and adding major insult to injury on the night George Double You Bush was reelected.

This strategy of putting swing state guys in major leadership positions seems logical. We want to show these states that national Dems care. We want to highlight the footholds we got in these Red States and give them the power to bring home bacon.

But the strategy blows hard. It forces the rest of the Democratic caucus to be more centrist than it otherwise would be in order to protect and legitimize the Conservative opinions of some of these cats. (Think about the continuous passage of War spending bills, the Patriot Act, conservative court nominees, etc) With an actual safe Democrat bullying the party around, they might have actually put up a fight. Instead, Dems. had to play defense in order to protect a geographically vulnerable leadership.

The Republican Party does things much differently. Their leaders are guys that wouldn't generally be vulnerable to electoral challenge. Guys like Trent Lott from MS, or Mitch McConnell from KY, for instance. (While McConnell may indeed face a tough election fight because of his ties to an indicted governor..... just ignore that for a second) Trent Lott could set an agenda as conservative as possible and move from there because he knew he'd never have to worry about losing his seat. He could be forceful in holding a conservative position in the media as it came under attack from the left.

Harry Reid has to hem and haw in defending something along the lines of a Kucinich motion to impeach the Vice President in the House. He can't get behind it because he's really not supposed to be all that liberal in Nevada. That's why instead of defending MoveOn during the whole General BetrayUs thing, Dems got all flustered, changing the subject to an offensive Rush Limbaugh remark. Pathetic leadership...

Okay, I'm ranting....

The bottom line is that I think Harry Reid is inept and that somehow, in spite of awful leadership on the floor of Congress, the Democrats still have a pretty decent shot at capturing a filibuster-proof Senate majority in 2008. That's how bad the Republicans are viewed in America these days. I mean, have you SEEN the numbers in Montana, of all places?

2 comments:

Adrastos said...

Mary is used to being in close races. Her folks expect it and next year may be the closest since 1996.

Why not Biden? He's never been interested and he's widely disliked by his colleagues. He's notoriously disinterested in parliamentary procedure, which is the most important thing for a Senate leader. I'm not as hard on Reid as you: I'd give him a C+

E said...

I always heard that Biden was LIKED by his colleagues. Particularly, I always thought that he had a good reputation amongst moderate Republicans for his ability as a cloakroom negotiator. I heard someone compare him to LBJ in that regard....

Maybe I'm wayyy off. Ill look it up later...

Really? Reid as a C+? I think Conservatives love that the Dems have him out front... The man strikes no fear.