Your One-Stop Shop for Downticket Race Info! - Senate Edition

Taking a break from the top of the ticket presidential election cycle this year, it's important to remember that the executive branch ain't the only branch of government, and that we have some legislators to vote for as well. I'm joining a movement here in NC to help out a few of our own in this state, with the hopes of poaching off Elizabeth Dole's seat, and hopefully we can gain some serious seats this year nationwide. I've decided to highlight all important Senate races this year that we can win, as well as some of the most contested House races, but that will be in a later post. Here goes with the Upper Branch:

Senate Races

Alaska: (D)Mark Begich vs. ®Ted Stevens

This is an interesting race, and prior to 2007, it wouldn't even be considered something that the Democrats could win. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska has been in government for six decades, and a Senator for half of that, from the great state of Alaska. In 2007, however, the FBI launched a massive investigation into campaign fraud on his behalf, and even raided his home. His image has tanked in this heavily Republican state, and early polls suggest that Begich has a decent shot to usurp him. Begich will have to run as a conservative Dem, as he is already doing, and will have to hammer home Stevens' decreasing popularity, his age, and the corruption charges. He will also likely have to take an anti-Dem stance about drilling in ANWR, something most Alaskans like and think is very lucrative. In the end though, this will be a tough race to win for us. If Alaska was closer to the East, we could see results faster. If Begich wins this race it could signal a huge night for us.

Latest Rasmussen Poll: ®Stevens +1

Colorado: (D)Mark Udall vs. ®Bob Schaeffer

We know Schaeffer as a consultant for many Republican campaigns, including Bob Dole. Udall is part of the rising political Udall family (his brother is also in a tight Sen. race in NM), and has been around the consulting block as well. This is an open-seat race in Colorado, and a huge bell-weather for Democrats. Udall is leading in the state by three percentage points, as of the most recent poll, but Schaeffer is looking to make gun rights and socially conservative values a major theme in his campaign--two things Coloradans react well to, historically. Udall is running as a moderate Dem in Colorado, probably a good bet after a rejection of Republican leadership in the State. He is running a smart campaign backed by a lot of grassroots efforts in CO. This is one certainly the Dems could pick up.

Latest Rassmussen Poll: (D)Udall +3

New Hampshire: (D)Jeanne Shaheen vs. ®John Sununu

This is an almost certain pick-up for the Dems in New Hampshire. John Sununu is becoming rapidly more and more unpopular, and Shaheen is well-liked in the state amongst party leaders, as well as average voters. The national tide also favors her, and the strong Dem organization in NH could lead single-handedly to that state electing both Shaheen and the GE nominee. She is currently opening up a sizable lead in polling, but she shouldn't tone down her already-aggressive campaign against Sununu. Sununu's fundraising is also lagging, even though he is an incumbent, and Shaheen is getting a ton of money from the DNC to compete there. I think she'll win, hands-down. And so will our GE candidate. In fact, she could be the reason our GE candidate wins that state.

Latest Rassmussen Poll: (D)Shaheen +10

Minnesota: (D)Al Franken vs. ®Norm Coleman

This is an interesting race, because Norm Coleman has been a fairly popular incumbent in MN, especially amongst the more stringently rural base outside of the Twin Cities, and in the extreme South and North of the state. Al Franken, on the other hand, brings a ton of name recognition, and is talking to issues that a lot of mainstream Democrats in MN really pay attention to--the infrastructure problems (I-30W bridge collapse), the poor economy, and job creation, which are things that Coleman has an embarassingly poor record with. This will be a tough, tough Senate race to win, because of the incumbency factor, and because the RNC is shipping plenty of money Coleman's way. Franken has been steadily rising in the polls, and could very well poach this seat in November, if given enough time and party support. The DNC would do well to give this particular candidate plenty of assistance with organization and funding.

Latest SUSA poll: ®Coleman +9

Texas: (D)Rick Noriega vs. ®John Cornyn

This is a strange race, and I can offer no explanation why such a red state would have such a tight Senate race. I can't find anything to suggest that Cornyn, who is an incumbent no less, wouldn't win this state's election. But the polls are all close. Maybe with a little funding, and support from Dems across the state, especially in the cities, he can pull something off. I doubt he will though, as many voters in TX that are blue feel their vote counts towards nothing, and won't show up at the box because of it. That will hurt him in November.

Latest Rassmussen/Rasea poll: ®Cornyn +3

Oregon: ®Gordon Smith vs. (D)?

In this race, we don't even have a Democratic nominee yet, but Rass has polled potential matchups against each. This is a race where an Obama nomination can almost guarantee us a certain win. The races are tight against both, and Gordon Smith hasn't polled above 50% at all against each of the potential nominees, Jeff Merkley (45%42%) and Steve Novick (47%/41%.) Merkley is the likely nominee, by the way. This would be an excellent chance in a more liberal state for Merkley or Novick to align themselves with the national party and get plenty of national party money from it as well. The upcoming Dem primary in Oregon should boost Democratic Party organization in the State, as well as registration and party recruitment. Once 5/20 rolls around, Rass will do another set of polling, and I wouldn't be surprised if our Dem nominees were ahead. Something to consider: one month ago, Smith was ahead of both by a comfortable eighteen point advantage.

Latest Rassmussen Poll: ®Smith +3+6

Virginia: (D)Mark Warner vs. ®Jim Gilmore

This is almost a sure pickup for Dems. Polling has Warner ahead by 15-20 points, and that lead is only increasing as national tide favors Dems tremendously this year. This is a surprisingly not very close open seat race that was formerly held by Republican John Warner (no relation to Mark.) I have no qualms about us picking this one up--and a big win in the Senate, if we see it first, could signal that we picked up the State of Virginia. We talk a lot about how the top of the ticket effects the bottom--well here, the bottom could effect the top, as it could in Oregon and Colorado.

Latest Rassmussen Poll: (D)Warner +18

New Mexico: (D)Tom Udall vs. ®?

This is also a potential gain for the Udall family and Democrats, as support of Udall has increased steadily since the beginning of the year and fall of '07. Udall, in another open seat race, has a powerful political family and party backing him in-state, and he leads against both GOP nominees, by 14 and 20 against Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson, respectively. He and his brother in Colorado are garnering a lot of the same sort of attention that Barack Obama got in 2004--they are the rising young star family of the Dem Party, and perhaps the future face of things down the road. His brother in CO has expressed a slight interest in running for POTUS at a later date.

Latest Rassmussen Poll: (D)Udall +14/+20

There are others, particularly in Maine and Georgia, which are possible for us if we have a HUGE night this election, but are likely out of our reach. Even Elizabeth Dole in NC is starting to feel pressure at the polls. These 8 are our best chances, though, and some could be an absolute surity. If we win more than eight, then you can beat we'll have a Dem congress and White House. If we win less than three, it doesn't bode very well for our candidate.

Go Dems! Turn the country blue in '08!

(House races to come later.)

< Sensible justice - why this election matters. | Operation: Be Nice >


How many Senate Seats will Dems pick up this year?
Zero 0%
1-3 18%
4-6 45%
7-9 36%

Votes: 11
Results | Other Polls
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  • Display: Sort:
    A lot of us dems in Texas (none / 0) (#1)
    by sander60tx on Thu May 15, 2008 at 11:36:39 PM EST
    are excited about Rick Noriega... though I may end up leaving my vote for president blank (as I don't really want to vote for McCain or Obama), I will certainly do everything that I can to help elect Rick Noriega.  I, and many other dems in Texas, are VERY tired of not having any representation in congress.  That's right... because there's not a chance that either of our repub senators will listen to anything we say.  They vote lock step with the rest of their repub croonies.  I believe that John Cornyn is one of the best rubber-stampers in the congress.  So, I am very hopeful that we will turn Texas purple by electing Rick Noriega to the Senate!

    Thanks for the info! (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dalton Hoffine on Thu May 15, 2008 at 11:41:05 PM EST
    Noriega's the one I know the least amount about. I think he, Begich, the Colorado Udall, and prolly Merkley in Oregon (a true progressive if there ever was one, IMO) could use our help the most. If you all don't want to vote for Obama or send him any sort of financial assistant, these are a few great alternatives. Begich is more on the cusp than I thought. And Noriega getting elected in Texas could be huge.

    Awesome diary (none / 0) (#3)
    by eleanora on Fri May 16, 2008 at 01:21:56 AM EST
    ty so much! I'm kind of disappointed about Franken, he was tied with Coleman or even slightly ahead not long ago. Guess that taxes scandal did him some damage. I've heard from relatives in Alaska that Stevens isn't getting much support any more. Just anecdotal, but apparently the general opinion is that they need new blood and he's too corrupt. Plus he's getting older and they'd like to get someone new in there building seniority soon.

    I figure we pick up at least five Senate seats, but I'd love to see us get eight. I'm donating my little bit to Begich, Udall NM, and Franken. TY again, very cool :)

    Colorado (none / 0) (#4)
    by cmugirl on Fri May 16, 2008 at 09:27:45 AM EST
    How do you see the anti affirmative action measure that is on the Colorado ballot this fall affecting the top of the ticket?

    CO (none / 0) (#5)
    by Dalton Hoffine on Fri May 16, 2008 at 10:02:38 AM EST
    Is one of the closest battleground states this fall, in my opinion. The anti-affirmative action measure, as well as a gun measure, I believe, will be on the ballot and could bring out activist Republicans. Offsetting that, though, will be Udall, who is in an extremely tight race that will bring out the full Dem operation, if the DNC is smart and throws money that way.

    Overall, though, I think CO is one of our best chances to pick up EVs and a Senate seat, and it should be made a focus to ensure that is the case. This is one of the states out west, I think, where Obama at the top of the ticket does better than Clinton at the top.


    I see (none / 0) (#9)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue May 20, 2008 at 08:29:54 AM EST
    CO as a repeat of 2004 where the dems do well downticket but lose the presidential race there. Obama's problem with rural voters will drag him down just like they did Kerry.

    EDIT (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dalton Hoffine on Sat May 17, 2008 at 12:42:25 AM EST
    It has been called to my attention that Tom and Mark Udall are cousins, not brothers, in fact. Also, their family has been around for awhile--they are not a new political family, but indeed, they are a rising family.

    Many thanks for the correction info.

    Nice job, Dalton. Wondering how you (none / 0) (#7)
    by Joan in VA on Sun May 18, 2008 at 01:06:08 PM EST
    arrived at Obama nomination guaranteeing a win in Oregon? Especially since you later said the bottom could affect the top. I  certainly agree that Warner is the only hope Dems have for the top of the ticket in VA.

    Obama's PNW demos (none / 0) (#8)
    by Dalton Hoffine on Sun May 18, 2008 at 02:19:38 PM EST
    Are much better than Hillary's, as far as his target audience. I think this will boost Dem turnout and lead to Merkley beating Smith. It may happen with Clinton at the top, but I think with Obama at the top, it's a near certainty.