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:
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
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.)
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