Saturday, May 2, 2009

Updates on the 2010 Races

This site is all about projecting, so let's see how the parties are looking in 2010.

The United States Senate
Overall Projection: From Republican +2 to Democrat +5
There are a couple of possible scenarios in the macro-political landscape here. One is that, come election time 2010, President Obama is largely unpopular and the close races tilt to the GOP. The other is that President Obama is still widely popular and the Democrats continue to ride a wave into traditionally red states. It is too early to tell which of these scenarios will play out, but as I've written about before, the GOP has a major structural problem in 2010, namely that they have to defend a lot more swing seats. This is the natural by-product of the way the Senate is elected - the GOP had strong election cycles in 2000, 2002 and 2004, meaning that they had a lot of turf to defend in 2006, 2008 and now in 2010. They lost a ton of seats in 2006 and 2008 and are hoping to avoid a similar disaster in 2010. If the top side of my projection comes true, the GOP would shrink to just 35 seats in the Senate, making them near-irrelevant in the major decisions of the body.

Here's a breakdown of the key races:
The Toss-ups - 7 races
Colorado -- Sen. Bennett (D) is still a first-termer in a swing state and the polls continue to indicate a close race

Connecticut -- could Sen. Dodd (D) really get unseated? Depends how much people remember AIG come 2010. Forget running for President, he needs to run for his life.

Missouri -- Sen. Bond (R) is retiring and this is swing state number one. All the early potential match-ups are extremely close in the polls and you can bet both parties will pour money into this one.

Ohio -- Another open seat, although this one is in a blue-leaning state. Another expected big money fight.

North Carolina -- this one flips from my earlier projection of Lean Republican Hold to Toss-up. Early polls are mixed on whether Sen. Burr (R) is ahead by 0-3 points or behind by 0-3 points. Either way, all the potential match-ups are very close and as amazing as it would have sounded just a few years ago, North Carolina appears to be a blue-leaning state these days.

New Hampshire -- this one flips from Likely Republican Hold to Toss-up. We think Sen. Gregg (R) is retiring, although even if he stays, he will be target number one for the Dems in what is now a solidly blue state.

Kentucky -- this one flips from Lean Republican Hold to Toss-up in spite of Kentucky being about the most red state in the nation. Sen. Bunning (R) is a nut and an utter traing wreck and if the GOP leadership can't talk him out of running again, he is very much at risk of losing.

The Close Races that Aren't Quite Toss-ups -- 4 Races
Arkansas -- Sen. Lincoln (D) still leads by 8 to 10 points in the polls I've seen, but this is a red state and she will be a top pick-up target for the GOP

California -- Sen. .Boxer (D) should be a safe seat by Carly Fiorina puts a major cog in the wheel.

Illinois -- Sen. Burris (D) is still a disgrace and still very vulnerable. Even if the Dems unseat him in a primary, it will do a lot of damage.

Florida -- Republicans are likely to hold this seat with popular Gov. Charlie Crist (R) running, but it is an open seat in a swing state.

The Races That Probably Won't Be Close -- 11 Races
Pennsylvania -- the dynamic has totally changed and this flips from a Lean GOP Hold to a Likely Democratic hold. President Obama has made it clear he will support Sen. Specter (D) and he is popular with the general population there, just not the Republican party.

Alaska -- Sen. Murkowski (R) was in a tough fight last time and may face a primary challenge from Gov. Sarah Palin (R), but you have to figure this one still goes GOP.

Arizona -- Sen. John McCain (R) -- with Janet Napolitano out of the way, it should be clear sailing for the 2008 GOP Presidential candidate.

Delaware -- the race for Joe Biden's seat may attract some interest, but it is still a Democratic state.

Indiana -- Evan Bayh is still very popular in this now swing state.

Iowa -- leaning blue, but Chuck Grassley has been there a long time and is among the more moderate Republicans

Kansas -- the seat is open, but who can really imagine a Democrat taking it?

Nevada -- Reid is target #1 for the GOP, but he is a political survivor in a blue-leaning state.

North Dakota -- Sen. Dorgan (D) is a Democrat in a red state, but he is a popular Democrat.

South Dakota -- Sen. Thune (R) is probably safe in this reddish state.

Races That Won't Be Close -- 14 Races
These Senators will be easily re-elected:
Sen. Shelby (R-Alabama)
Sen. Isakson (R-Georgia)
Sen. Inyoue (D-Hawaii)
Sen. Crapo (R-Idaho)
Sen. Vitter (R-Louisiana)
Sen. Mikulski (D-Maryland)
Sen. Schumer (D-New York)
Sen. Gillebrand (D-New York)
Sen. Coburn (R-Oklahoma)
Sen. Wyden (D-Oregon)
Sen. Demintt (R-South Carolina)
Sen. Bennett (R-Utah)
Sen. Leahy (D-Vermont)
Sen. Murray (D-Washington)
Sen. Feingold (D-Wisconsin)

The House
The latest poll of polls has Democrats holding a 6% lead in the generic ballot poll. Democrats have continued to gain ground from a month ago when Republicans were actually even in this poll, but they still trail both the final polls and the actual results in 2008.

My current projection is: Republicans +4 to +10

This is a gain for the GOP to be sure, but hardly makes a dent in the Democrat's majority.

How Will the GOP Ever Recover?
Things look bleak for the GOP right now, to be sure. Dwindling membership, fewer and fewer elected officials at all levels of government and no path back to the majority in sight.

The GOP needs to reinvent itself, and come out with bold, fresh ideas. This will likely have to start happening at the state and local level long before it happens at the federal level.

It would seem like a long road back. But let's not forget how much trouble the Democrats were in just 5 short years ago and how quickly and completely they have rebounded, through a transformational leader and some smart politics.

So, despair not, my GOP friends. You just need the Republican version of Barack Obama to rise from the ashes. Until then, just say you are an independent at dinner parties.

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