Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First Look: Congress 2010

As promised, here is our first look at the 2010 congressional races. We'll begin in the Senate where there appear to be 36 seats up for grabs -- 34 seats that are on the regularly scheduled rotation and 2 that will require special elections to finish the term (New York for Hillary Clinton's vacated seat and Delaware for Joe Biden's vacated seat -- President Obama's former seat in Illinois was already on the schedule for 2010 as part of the regular rotation, as was Ken Salazar's.)

Let's look race-by-race:
Richard Shelby faces a run for a fifth term. Shelby won by over 30% in 2004, Alabama is a Republican state and Shelby remains popular.
Safe Republican Hold

Lisa Murkowski faces re-election for her second full term. While Alaska is a solid red state and Murkowski is reasonably moderate, she faces the prospect of a divisive primary challenge from Gov. Sarah Palin and the tarnished image of the Republican Party in Alaska following the Ted Stevens debacle. All in all, she is still likely to prevail.
Likely Republican Hold

John McCain faces re-election for a fifth term, assuming he seeks re-election. His most dangerous potential opponent, popular Gov. Janet Napolitano is now part of the Obama administration. Arizona is trending blue, but if McCain wants it, it's hard to see him getting beat.
Likely Republican Hold

Sen. Blanche Lincoln faces election for a third term. She is a moderate Democrat is a solidly red state and both her previous races have been decisive but relatively close (margins of 12% and 13%.) She still has to be the betting favorite but if Democrats face a mid-term slump, this could be a vulnerable seat.
Lean Democratic Hold

Sen. Barbara Boxer should be safe for a third term on the left coast, but faces the intriguing possibility of Arnold Schwarzenegger as an opponent. His popularity is well off its past highs, but he is always a compelling candidate and could put up a strong fight if it is a Republican year.
Lean Democratic Hold

Michael Bennett faces election for a first full term. As an unelected incumbent in a swing state, he has the benefits of office but the risk of a mid-term Democratic slump.

Chris Dodd's seat will be safe as long as Chris Dodd wants it -- Connecticut is about as blue as they come.
Safe Democratic Hold

Blue country for sure. Does Beau Biden jump in for the run he has been set-up for?
Likely Democratic Hold

Mel Martinez has announced his retirement and Jeb Bush has bowed out. Florida is a classic swing state and the possible nominee list on both sides is unclear.

Johnny Isakson is a red guy that's serving as senator in a red state. If Saxby Chambliss couldn't be beaten in the year of Obama, surely Isakson won't be beaten in a mid-term.
Safe Republican Hold

Daniel Inyoue is a long-serving, popular Democratic senator from a blue state. No risk for the Dems.
Safe Democratic Hold

Idaho is among the most red states in the nation. Michael Crapo, who ran unopposed in 2004 is likely to effectively run unopposed 6 years later.
Safe Republican Hold

The circumstances surrounding the Burris appointment were strange and the taint of Blago may linger, but this is still a solid blue state.
Likely Democratic Hold

Evan Bayh is popular in this red-leaning, but independent-thinking state. Could go bad in a very red year, but unlikely.
Likely Democratic Hold

Swing state fever! Chuck Grassley is extremely popular in the state. The only risk to Republicans is his age -- if he opted to bow out this would be open season, but otherwise the seat is safe.
Likely Republican Hold

I won't miss Sam Brownback when he leaves, I just hope I don't dislike the Republican who will likely win the seat more.
Likely Republican Hold

Kentucky + Republican incumbent = easy re-election
Safe Republican Hold

David Vitter is a Republican in a Republican-trending state. Post-Katrina exodus pushes Lousiana further right. The local Democratic party is very active there, but I don't see Vitter getting beat.
Safe Republican Hold

Barbara Mikulski is still Maryland's senator for life.
Safe Democratic Hold

Kit Bond is out, this is a swing state and the field is wide open.

Regrettably, Harry Reid is probably safe -- states don't kick out their Senator when leads the Senate too often (although it happened in 1994.)
Likely Democratic Hold

New Hampshire
New Hampshire is trending blue, but Gregg is a popular three-termer in what is still a swing state.
Likely Republican Hold

New York
Chuck Schumer is safe as safe can be. Kirsten Gilenbrand is a moderate in a solid blue state.
Both Seats Safe Democratic Hold

North Carolina
Richard Burr won a close race in 2004 (5% vs. incumbent Erskine Bowles) and Kay Hagan and Barack Obama both proved that the Democratic party is resurgent in NC. Still, it is a right-of-center state and 2010 won't be the year of Obama.
Lean Republican Hold

North Dakota
North Dakota is a right-leaning state, but Byron Dorgan hasn't had a close race in a long time.
Likely Democratic Hold

George Voinovich is a popular ex-governor who won decisively in 2004. Ohio is a swing state, this race will not be.
Safe Republican Hold

Republican in a super-Republican state. Coburn stays.
Safe Republican Hold

Ron Wyden won by 31% in 2004 and Oregon has only become more liberal.
Safe Democratic Hold

Arlen Specter is always at risk in the primaries as a very moderate Republican. He also has fought through cancer and may not be up to another term. Pennsylvania has also been trending Democratic. Specter should win if he is the nominee, but if he isn't, the seat would be up for grabs
Lean Republican Hold

South Carolina
Obama couldn't contend here, so unseating Jim Demint will likely prove impossible for Democrats.
Safe Republican Hold

South Dakota
John Thune eeked out a win over Tom Daschle in 2004. South Dakota is right-leaning and he won't have to fight a guy as popular as Daschle in 2010.
Likely Republican Hold

Bob Bennett is the safest seat in the US Senate.
Safe Republican Hold

Okay, maybe Jim Leahy is as safe as Bob Bennett
Safe Democratic Hold

Patty Murray is a perfect fit for left-wing Washington.
Safe Democratic Hold

They love Russ Feingold in Wisconsin.
Safe Democratic Hold

So, in total, I don't see the prospect for any dramatic shifts in the Senate. The most possible Democratic pick-ups are the open seats in Florida and Misouri, the most likely Republican pick-up is in Colorado. In all, the Democrats are likely to control 55 to 60 seats at the end of the 2010 cycle. Republicans just have too many of the seats up (18) in 2010 to make serious inroads. This is the last cycle that the Republicans have to play defense. In 2012, the Democratic gains will cycle around and the Democrats will have to defend more seats.

On the house side, obviously, all 435 seats are up for grabs in the last election before the 2010 census redistricting. The house has the potential for a much larger swing as Democrats have made gains in many traditionally Republican districts over the last 4 years. Of the 14 closest house races in 2008, 9 were won by Democrats, meaning those seats are vulnerable if 2010 is a Republican year (as history would tend to indicate it would be.) Republicans could very reasonably expect to pick up 10 to 15 seats in the 2010 cycle.

The 2010 elections are still a lifetime away, so expect a lot to change between now and then.

So much that I haven't talked about yet --
Up next: more on the stimulus package negotiations and vote, the Blago drama (God, that guy is fun to watch!), Obama cabinet updates and why the size of the House of Representatives needs to be expanded.

And you thought politics was going to slow down after the Presidential race?

1 comment:

Kansas Jackass said...

I'd be really surprised if Judd Gregg managed to win again, really. New Hampshire isn't a red state anymore, and if someone with money runs against him he'll go the same way Lincoln Chafee did.

Also, Thune probably will face a hard race. Congresswoman Herseth-Sandlin is more popular than he is, and since her seat is at-large, she represents the same geographic area he does. She'd make it tough.

As to my home state of Kansas, the only way it isn't a safe republican hold is if Governor Kathleen Sebelius runs. If she does, the seat's a pure toss-up.