Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Forgotten '08 Elections

Above, you will see a map of the 2008 Senate races. We're all so juiced about the Presidential race, it seems we've abandoned our favorite legislative body. There are some interesting things to be found in this map. It might suggest that the Democrats have a great chance of picking up a lot of seats; after all, there are 21 Republican seats up for election and only 12 Democratic seats. But, quite a few of the Republican seats are in firmly "red" states (plus, we ought not forget that incumbents are almost always favored to win). Based on this map and a brief look at the situation (i.e. the incumbent Senators and possible challengers), I think there will be a few races to watch. First, I think the only Democrats who could be said to be in any real danger are Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Johnson won his seat in 2002 by only 524 votes. If he runs (which is perhaps unlikely, given his recent health problems), he will face a tough challenge. If he doesn't, whoever runs in his place will face an even tougher challenge. And I simply do not trust southern voters enough to say that Landrieu is safe. Now, the Republicans.

I think John Sununu of New Hampshire could be in danger. New Hampshire, which went for Bush in 2000, swung to Kerry in 2004. New Hampshire is typically seen as the most conservative of the New England states (which isn't really saying much, I suppose), but I don't think Sununu should take that as insurance these days.

Tennessee will be an interesting race. I think there is a decent chance that Harold Ford, Jr. will take another stab at it. He ran a very impressive race against Bob Corker in 2006; I think he might have a decent chance against Lamar Alexander. Although, I think he would probably end up losing by a small margin.

Minnesota! If Al Franken does not win the Democratic nomination, I say this is a pretty sure bet for the Democrats. Minnesota has been trending Democratic these days, but Franken is too polarizing, in my opinion. I was going to suggest that Franken might have a hard time being taken seriously, but then I remembered that Minnesota is the state that elected Jesse "The Body" Ventura. So, hey, maybe Franken does have a shot.

Virginia will be interesting only if John Warner retires. If he seeks reelection, this race will not be worth watching. But, if he retires, it could be very interesting. Virginia is "turning purple" as they say. I would still consider it a relatively conservative state, but as we saw with the Senate election last November, Republicans can't be too cocky.

Along the same lines, Nebraska could be interesting if Chuck Hagel decides to retire or if he loses the primary. Since the entire Republican party seems to hate him, there is likely to be a vicious primary fight not unlike the one we saw in Pennsylvania in 2004 (where Arlen Specter squeeked out a victory against conservative Pat Toomey). If he secures the nomination, though, it's a sure victory for him in the general election.

Colorado might be worth watching, too. Wayne Allard (who?) is retiring, which always makes for interesting races. The likely Democratic candidate is from the mighty-influential and powerful Udall family. Political families seem to do well in the U.S.

Alaska. Oh, Alaska. You are the black sheep of the United States. Ted Stevens, or Mr. "The Internet isn't a big truck. It's a series of tubes!" if you'd forgotten, is seeking reelection at the ripe old age of 85. Perhaps he and Robert Byrd can challenge eachother to see who is more insane. Sadly, he is likely to win handily.

Delaware. It'll be interesting to see what Joe Biden does. He could retire to focus on his "presidential bid" (I put it in quotes because I don't think it deserves to be taken seriously), or he could pull a Joe Lieberman and run for both the Senate and President (well, Joe Lieberman ran for Vice President in 2000, if we want to get technical). If he does retire, his son, Beau, may run. No matter what Biden does, I think this is a safe hold for Democrats.

For the House, I predict only a few Democratic gains. Many of the races won by Democrats in 2006 were extremely close, and may very well swing back to Republicans. For instance, Patrick Murphy and Joe Sestak (representing, roughly, Bucks and Chester counties, respectively) will face tough races. However, Jim Gerlach (Ursinus' Republican representative) will also face a tough challenge, assuming Democrats can field someone more credible than Lois Murphy. It's too early to say with any certainty what will happen. The political mood of the nation in early November 2008 will decide these close races. While I think that bodes well for the Democrats, I'm not getting too confident.

So, early predictions: a 2-4 seat Democratic gain in the Senate, and a 5-10 seat Democratic gain in the House.

1 comment:

DC said...

Yeah, John Sununu is definitely in danger. His problem is that New Hampshire Republicans have always been heavily libertarian, and don't approve of the religious fundamentalism and violations of civil liberties of the current Republican party. Also, people from Massachusetts keep moving to the southern part of the state.