You really cannot understate the advantages Republicans have in this year’s battle for the control of the Senate.
Both parties are bashing each other for voters in nine states states Mitt Romney won as he was busy losing by millions of votes. Meanwhile, all the structural advantages — older, whiter turnout; the party that holds the White House tends lose seats in the sixth year of his term; low approval rate for the president — favor the right.
At least one poll suggests that Democratic turnout could resemble the disastrous 2010 election. Republican candidates have taken the lead in two states the president won two years ago — Iowa and Colorado. Most models are showing the GOP as a slight favorite to take the Senate — though nowhere near the certainty that 538 predicted Obama’s reelection. Gamblers — who usually are the best at predicting the unpredictable — see about a 69 percent chance Mitch McConnell will be the Senate Majority Leader as of next year.
However, the generic House polling data shows no consistent GOP surge, as there was in 2010.
State polling has been somewhat scattershot with minority voters likely being under-sampled, suggesting that we could see a sequel to 2010 when the averages said Democrats would lose Senate seats in Colorado and Nevada then won both easily. But you don’t have to be a poll truther to be optimistic.
Republicans are stomping out fires in places they never expected to be spending any money this late in the year.
Every Republican in the world has been shipped to Kansas as part of an last-minute effort to save the seat of incumbent Pat Roberts.
And, in what was expected to be an easy pickup in South Dakota, a scandal has engulfed former governor and current nominee for Senate Mike Rounds. The three-way race to replace Senator Tim Johnson has now become the most unpredictable race in the nation, bringing some much-needed attention to the most unconventional candidate of the cycle — Democrat Rick Weiland.
A Democrat winning a red state in an off year would be a remarkable achievement, though you’d have give an assist to Rounds’ lousy ethics and former GOP congressman Larry Pressler running as an independent. Still, a populist like Weiland would be a fine addition to growing caucus of progressives in the Senate.
For months, Republican aimed to broaden “the map,” as people who pretend to know about politics call it. Republican hopes of upsets in Michigan, Oregon, Virginia and New Hampshire have nearly disappeared.
With some luck and cagey strategy, Democrats have expanded the map in Kansas and South Dakota. But there’s one state where President Obama won where the party has missed a chance to pick up a seat.
Susan Collins is what passes a moderate Republican these days, but she votes reliably with Republicans, even on issues like the minimum wage and equal pay.
Author Stephen King wants his fellow Mainers to know that Collins is a vote against the middle class and he’s done every thing he can to support Democrat Shenna Bellows — including cutting this ad:
The 39-year old Bellows has been called “the Elizabeth Warren of civil liberties” and would join Ron Wyden and other Democrats who intent on reining in the surveillance state. The DSCC has endorsed her but with so many vulnerable seats to defend, her race has not been a national priority for anyone except groups like Blue America.
“Shenna is running the kind of campaign that makes progressives stand up and cheer,” Howie Klein writes. “She’s outraising Collins more than three to one in small-dollar donations, according to OpenSecrets, and she hasn’t taken a nickel of corporate PAC money.”
This is a state where Democrats could easily win and make a huge statement about the future of the party. Republicans are on their heels in Kansas and possibly soon in South Dakota. It would be nice to add Maine to to that list.
Regardless, Weiland and Bellows are the kind of candidates worth electing any year.