Sorry to say, but things still look rather bleak. Democrats look poised to take the House, and if election night is a “tsunami” for Democrats like 1994 was for the Republicans, they will almost surely pickup the Senate too. However, three weeks is still a long time in politics, so no point in getting too depressed until after the ballots are counted.
I’ve now taken Florida out of the competitive list, so that the Senators who will be returning to D.C. in January 2007 include Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Tom Carper (D-DE), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), John Ensign, (R-NV), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Trent Lott (R-MS), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Craig Thomas (R-WY). And, of course, Independent-in-name-only Bernie Sanders will be the new Senator from Vermont.
Here are the others:
Arizona: Senator Jon Kyl’s smallest lead in the polls in the last month has been five points. Jim Pederson is going to have to make up a lot of ground in the next three weeks to have any chance. Leans Republican.
Connecticut: Looks like the conventional wisdom was right and I was wrong. Joe Lieberman is positioned to beat Ned Lamont quite handily. Most of the recent polls have Lieberman up by double digits. Leans Lieberman.
Maryland: One early poll had Michael Steele up by one point. Since then, it has been all Ben Cardin. With this a blue state and the trends now going the Democrats’ way, this one Leans Democrat.
Michigan: In most polls, Senator Debbie Stabenow now leads by double digits. For Republican Mike Bouchard, it’s all over except the crying. Leans Democrat.
Minnesota: Representative Mark Kennedy has run a fairly solid campaign, yet he still trails Democrat Amy Klobuchar by a wide margin. There are two explanations for this. First, Klobuchar is no slouch. Second, Minnesota may be the state where Bush’s and the GOP’s negatives are having the biggest impact. Leans Democrat.
Missouri: State Auditor Claire McCaskill has committed a blunder that could prove fatal. Her campaign ran a commercial (go here) featuring an Iraq War veteran, Josh Lansdale, saying it took six months for him to get a doctor’s appointment. “Politicians like Jim Talent don’t have to wait six months for a doctor’s appointment,” he intones. Yet Lansdale has been unable to prove his claim, and McCaskill has been getting heat from Veterans groups for running the ad. Polls previous to this incident had the race neck-in-neck. This incident should mean it is Talent’s to lose. Leans Republican.
Montana: Senator Conrad Burns had a very good debate against his challenger, State Senator Jon Tester. Will it be enough? The polls seem to have tightened a bit recently, suggesting that Burns might pull off a comeback. Big emphasis on might. Leans Democrat.
New Jersey: This race looked to be turning Tom Kean’s way when it was revealed the Bob Menendez, while a Representative, had funneled grant money to a nonprofit renting office space in a building he owned. One poll at the time showed Kean ahead by five. Looks like it was a fluke, as the five polls taken since then have shown Menendez ahead, albeit under 50 percent. At present, it appears that New Jersey voters don’t care about corruption. Leans Democrat.
Ohio: The polls are all over the place on this one. Some recent ones have Senator Mike DeWine tied with Rep. Sherrod Brown. Others have Brown in the lead. Unfortunately, none of the recent polls show DeWine with more than 44 percent. Nor did the New York Times report that the national GOP is pulling out of Ohio (subsequently denied by GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman) inspire much confidence among Republicans. This one Leans Democrat.
Pennsylvania: For a while, Rick Santorum looked to be closing the gap with Bob Casey. Then some polls in early October showed Casey’s lead back to double digits. The most recent one, however, has it back down to five. I won’t count Santorum out yet, as he is a tenacious campaigner, but it’s not looking good. Leans Democrat.
Rhode Island: Given the choice between a Democrat pretending to be a Republican and a genuine Democrat, Rhode Island voters look increasingly like they want the real thing. Attorney Sheldon Whitehouse has led Senator Lincoln Chafee in every poll since mid-August. Chafee’s loss might mean that the GOP loses control of the Senate, but it won’t mean much difference in terms of policy. Leans (to the real) Democrat.
Tennessee: Democratic Representative Harold Ford is running a very good campaign, putting him in the running in this increasingly red state. Republican Mayor Bob Corker is going to have to kick it into high gear in the final three weeks to prevail. Polls are nip and tuck. Tossup.
Virginia: For a while, it seemed like George Allen was doing everything to lose this race. From the Macaca incident to questions about his mother’s heritage, Allen’s campaign seemed to fumble the ball constantly. Things appeared to have calmed down as of late, and no poll since early September has shown Jim Webb with a lead. Leans Republican.
Washington: Maria Cantwell’s lead over Mike McGavick continues to look solid. Leans Democrat.
If the tossup race in Tennessee goes the GOP’s way, and every other race holds to form, then the GOP will lose four seats. All things considered, keeping a 51-seat majority wouldn’t be all that bad. But with only three weeks left, it also means the Republicans have no margin for error.