« NYT on the Northeast Strategy | Main | This Makes No Sense »

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Todd on the Senate

Posted by DavidNYC

Chuck Todd says he thinks the Senate is more likely to flip control than the House, acknowledging that this is a minority view. While I'm inclined to disagree, his argument is worth mulling over. He does point out that, since the direct election of senators began, the House has never flipped without the Senate flipping, too. Interesting, but I'd be wary of falling prey to Hirdt's Law (because something hasn't happened in the past, it won't happen in the future).

Todd also has his new Senate race rankings out, available here. He thinks Brown's departure from RI-Sen is actually a net positive for Linc Chaffee (because Dems might now cast votes for Linc in the GOP primary), but I'm not sure I'm buying that - or the claim that "Brown's exit seems to have given Chafee a small perception lift." This strikes me as a little too much like talking about a baseball player's "intangibles," which as anyone who's ready Moneyball knows, is a load of B.S.

Chuck also thinks that a win by Pete Ricketts in the NE-Sen GOP primary would is the "nightmare scenario" for Ben Nelson. This isn't a race I've been following closely - can anyone tell me what Todd is talking about here? I wasn't aware that anyone considered Nelson vulnerable, despite Nebraska's redness.

One thing you can do on Todd's ranking page is offer your own rankings, in the left-hand column. Go for it.

Posted at 04:40 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate | Technorati

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


I've actually held this view from the beginning. I also think that the Senate is more important with another Supreme Court vacancy possible.

Posted by: njwatcher [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 3, 2006 05:03 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I disagree with Chuck on Ricketts. Yes, he's poured huge amounts of his own money into the primary, but all of the commercials he's been airing to win it are just making him look stupid. It's safe to say that he'll get the nomination though. Stenberg was the candidate last time and he's damaged goods. Nobody evens really knows who Kramer is, so Ricketts is in the clear. The nightmare scenario for Ben Nelson would've been if Mike Johanns had turned down the offer to become the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. If he had, he would've had the primary and the general wrapped up. Bottom line - Ricketts' ads are going to help him win the GOP nod, but there's no way he'll win in November.

While I think it is interesting that the House hasn't flipped without the Senate, I still think we're more likely to get the House. Six seats is a lot in the Senate. A little over a dozen in the House doesn't compare. It'll be close for both, but the House is coming first.

Posted by: StuckInRedNE [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 3, 2006 05:32 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

i have a feeling that bush is not that stupid to just pick johanns to be sec agriculture. Johanns definately did bush a favor after bush promised nelson minimal competition for his senate seat in return for a vote on something. I saw this on commander and chief, and it made me thing that this is definately what happened to Johanns. I mean why else would Rove let bush do this?

Posted by: yomoma2424 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 3, 2006 05:34 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

This seems to be an analysis based on historical example which ignores the ground truth: There is a smaller margin the House, and more competetive seats.

I can see the Dems gaining 10 seats in the Northeast alone, to say nothing of the rest of the country. I don't expect any House Dems to lose their seats as of right now, either. But in the Senate we'd have to run the table on seats that competetive right now (Santorum, Burns, Chafee, DeWine, Talent, Frist) as well as hold onto to all six of our vulnerable seats (Nelson, Sarbanes, Menendez, Dayton, Cantwell, Stabenow).

Perhaps some races will heat up (Kyl, Ensign, Allen - I expect that last to heat up significantly, as a matter of fact). But as of right now, the odds are significantly longer in the Senate based on the numbers alone.

Posted by: Craig McLaughlin [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 3, 2006 05:42 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

One problem. Rick Santorum has been consistnetly gaining ground on Casey for the past month. THe latest Keystone poll has Casey up by only 6 PERCENTAGE POINTS. Does anyone know whats going on here?

Posted by: SamKessler [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 3, 2006 06:33 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I concur with Craig McLaughlin that Todd is basing his opinion on historical example rather than numerical reality. The Dems have to sweep EVERY competitive seat (including Tennessee) to pull off a one-seat margin in the Senate. How on Earth can a professional like Todd see this as more doable than winning back 15 seats in the House where they can lose a quarter of competitive seats and still be holding the Speaker's gavel come November.

I do agree with him about Ricketts though. With Ricketts' warchest and Nebraska's cheap advertising, NE voters will be hearing an endless barrage of anti-Nelson rhetoric and much of it will stick considering the state's overwhelming Republican advantage. I've said from the beginning that Nelson is unlikely to win by more than five points. I'd love to be proven wrong, but running against the money man, Nelson will face a much stiffer challenge than most people are currently expecting.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 3, 2006 07:03 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I agree with Todd because the Senate is generally follows national mood much more than the House. Think 1980, 1986, 1994, 2000. All the close races broke for one party. There is no reason to think 2006 will be any different and if that happens we have a slim Dem majority.

I have always felt the House was tough because of the incredible gerrymandering. Think states like Michigan and Penn to name two where we should have close to 50-50 delegations but have lopsided Repub ones because of the way the lines have been drawn. I am not saying we can't overcome it but we have our work cut out for us.

Posted by: John Mills [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 3, 2006 09:20 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Nelson's not headed for a landslide, no, but he's still going to win. NE voters will certainly be barraged with anti-Nelson rhetoric, but Nelson has one of the highest approval ratings in the country. Nebraska elected him governor twice. He's the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, and Nebraskans are generally happy with the work he's doing. And while Ricketts may be pouring millions of his own money into his campaign, Ben Nelson's been right with him just from fundraising. Add to that the fact that Ricketts has to spend money on the primary, and the funds war is simply Pete Ricketts vs. Ben Nelson's supporters.

Ben Nelson is also going to win because Democrats in the NE-03 are finally going to a have a reason to go to the polls. Their reason is Scott Kleeb, the first Democrat who stands a chance in the 3rd in a long time. First of all, this is retiring Rep. Tom Osborne's seat. It's open, and now six Republicans are vying for it. Osborne is hugely popular in Nebraska, considering that he was the Nebraska football coach and led them to 3 national championships. The Democrat in those races barely made a mark at the polls. Now we have a great candidate that won't be overshadowed by a state legend. Democrats going to the polls in the 3rd will be something new this year, bringing in more votes for Nelson as well. That and Nelson's Lt. Governor, Maxine Moul, is running in the NE-01, where I live. She's popular and she's running against freshman Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who has grown into a lock-step GOPer with his votes in the House. Moul appeals to both the urban and rural parts of the district, while Fortenberry doesn't, and Moul is associated with Nelson, so that's going to bring in more for him that might now already be in his pocket. Jim Esch is running in the NE-02, which is basically just Omaha and a county or two around it. Esch also has a shot at rallying voters who might otherwise stay home.

Ben Nelson's staying in Washington for another six years. Pete Ricketts is headed back to Ameritrade with whatever of his fortune that he decides not to put into the race.

Posted by: StuckInRedNE [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 3, 2006 10:39 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I used to have an Ameritrade account, but i'd rather have my head chopped off than to invest using them. I liquidated as soon as I found out that repug was from Ameritrade.

Posted by: boyblue [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 4, 2006 03:23 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Well here's the thing about Nelson. He's a Democrat in a very conservative state. And, despite having been elected governor and senator a few times, it's important to remember that he also lost a senate race WHILE HE WAS A POPULAR SITTING GOVERNOR. His problem is not unlike Ann Richard's problem in Texas. We would most all agree that she lost her reelection to a demonstrably weaker opponent, but it's hard to be a Democrat in a Red state. Having Osborne at the top of the GOP ballot is not going to help Ben at all either. I don't know if Nelson will win or not, and certainly the national mood will be strongly in his favor, but it's easy to imagine the reasons why he could lose too.

Posted by: Ian [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 4, 2006 04:07 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Boyblue: Whom did you switch to? Sadly, I also have an Ameritrade account, but not by choice. I had a Datek account, but they merged with (or were bought by?) Ameritrade a few years back, so it wasn't by choice. Of course, I only learned about Ameritrade's GOP enablement very recently.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 4, 2006 04:16 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Ugh! I feel dirty! TD Waterhouse just merged with Ameritrade-- and my account is with Waterhouse! Ugh!

As for "the Benator," I think his chances of being ousted are about as good as Olympia Snowe's. Meaning, not at all. The most popular senators in America won't be beaten, despite statewide and/or nationwide trends. Nebraska is red. Maine is blue. But Nelson and Snowe are so beloved by their home constituencies, it won't matter. (Of course, I guess in a way, Nelson is secretly red, and Snowe is secretly blue. But, that's neither here nor there.)

Posted by: The Caped Composer [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 4, 2006 04:31 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

While the Nelson race could break differently, I think Nelson learned his lesson in his first senate run against now Senator Hagel. Basically Nelson was a popular former Governor who expected to cruise against a candidate who wasn’t widely known. His campaign did what they were supposed to do in such a situation but they didn’t see Hagel sneaking up from behind, the numbers tightened, Hagel captured the momentum and Nelson suffered his first and only electoral defeat (at least the only one of which I’m aware). Nelson and his crew won’t make the same mistake twice. The key in Nebraska as it is everywhere else is not to match ad for ad (that’s a media consultant mantra designed to ensure a comfortable retirement). The key is to have a strong, potent message which airs enough to counter your opponent. If you try to match ad for ad you’re just burning resources that would be better used on other forms of visibility, GOTV and organization.

Ricketts should win the primary fairly easily; Stenberg is a political runt whose only claim to fame is winning down the ticket statewide races based on his party affiliation. He’s lost every race where he, not his party has been the deciding factor. Kramer… who?

I’ve seen other posts which predict that the Gubernatorial and Rep Osborn will be the marquee in the general and that will translate into bad news for the Dems including Nelson. My prediction is that by the general the Gubernatorial race will be non factor. First, Rep Osborne has to get through the primary, he’s down right now and I don’t care how anointed you are if you’re running against a sitting governor who isn’t attached to a scandal you’re in a horse race. In this race the primary is viewed as the contest, not the general. Right now the general is more a formality (my apologies to Mr. Hahn, the Dem and I from what I've heard a great guy). As a result the “vote for coach” crowd should have it out of their system, and since the perception will be that there’s no chance of him losing, as a result no motivation. If he loses the primary, the effect should be the same and it may actually drive up the R’s negatives as the SOB who “Took Out The Coach.”

Either way the Nelson race should be the marquee race in the general, which means he’ll have the spot light and the free media. This should also boost the House Candidates. LT Gov Moul (Maxine), is a fantastic candidate who is extremely well known and respected in both the urban (Lincoln) and rural sections of the district, her fundraising is on track and she’ll have should have some coattails (though possibly limited) from Sen Nelson. The key is money to compete, as once the race tightens the Rs will throw tons of money at district.

Mr. Kleeb is a surprise and a bit of a mystery to me, my hometown and soul are in the 3rd and I had hoped for a better known, more experienced challenger. However he seems to have figured out that the NE 3rd is a retail politics district (despite being larger than some states)and his numbers last quarter were encouraging. Moreover the posts discussing the competitiveness of this district were 100% on, but for a snow storm in the Northwestern corner it would have gone Dem Sandy Scofield the last time it was a truly open seat (Rep Osborne’s first race was an anomaly).

Posted by: Pesudonym J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 4, 2006 05:06 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Democrats will hold on to all of their Senate seats- Maryland-Cardin,Minnesota-Klobuchar,New Jersey,and Vermont-Sanders as well as Florida,Michigan,Nebraska,and Washington. plus

win Republican Senate Seats in
1)Pennsylvania- Casey-D
2)Montana- Tester-D
3)Missouri- McCaskill-D

Rhode Island-Whitehouse and Ohio-Brown will go down the wire.

Tennessee- Ford will be the 6th Seat.

Arizona,Nevada,and Virginia will be surpise races.

Posted by: mrcharlesmburns [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 11:54 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment