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SSP's Competitive Senate Race Ratings (6/15/08)

by: James L.

Sun Jun 15, 2008 at 6:45 PM EDT

Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R
VA (Open) LA (Landrieu)
NM (Open)
CO (Open)
NH (Sununu)
AK (Stevens)
MN (Coleman)
MS (Wicker)
NC (Dole)
ME (Collins)
OR (Smith)

Races to Watch:  

     KS (Roberts)
     KY (McConnell)
     NE (Open)

     NJ (Lautenberg)
     OK (Inhofe)
     TX (Cornyn)

Today's Ratings Changes:

  • Mississippi (Wicker): Likely Republican to Leans Republican

    After former Mississippi AG Mike Moore passed on the race to replace retired Sen. Trent Lott, few were bullish on this contest as a Democratic pickup opportunity, even after former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove jumped into the fray. But recent polls suggest that Musgrove's statewide profile is giving him an early advantage over interim Sen. Roger Wicker, who previously represented Northeast Mississippi in the House. Coupled with Barack Obama's presence on the ballot energizing the state's large African-American constituency (roughly 37% of the population), Musgrove picked the perfect year to try a statewide comeback. What's more, the lack of party identification on the special election ballot could hurt Wicker with "low-information" GOP voters.

    Still, Wicker's huge early financial edge cannot be discounted, as it has allowed him to get on the airwaves early in order to raise his name recognition in Southern Mississippi. Wicker's biggest weakness (his lack of a statewide profile) also represents room for growth.

    This will be a tightly-watched contest, and it won't be the GOP lock that some had assumed it'd be after Haley Barbour worked around the law to push the special election to November.

  • James L. :: SSP's Competitive Senate Race Ratings (6/15/08)
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    Too Conservative
    I would say your rankings are too conservative.
    I would put NM as likely D. Udall has twice the money of his opponent, and is/has been polling ahead by double digits for the whole race.
    I would put NH and CO as leans D. Shaheen has been polling 7+ points ahead, and isn't too far behind in fundraising. In CO Udall has been polling ahead from the start and has double the fundraising as Bob.
    I would than put AK, MS-B and MN as tossup's. Begich though behind in fundraising has been polling ahead of Stevens by a few points, in MN Franken is only polling a few points behind, and in MS-B polls show a statistical tie.

    Way too conservative
    Even John Ensign expects more Democratic wins than SSP shows here.

    The two Tossups are in states that turned blue in '06. For them, electing a Democratic Senator to replace the Repub they've got now is simply unfinished business.

    Do we forget so soon? New Hampshire voters in '06 turned out both Repub members of the House, and threw out half the members of the state Lege to replace them with Democrats. Something has happened to give them buyer's remorse? The way things are looking up in Iraq? The improving economy? The leadership shown by the Fearless Leader in the White House and his Fearless Footpads in Congress?

    Colorado in '06 elected a Democratic Governor, turned another House seat Democratic, and changed control of the Lege from Repub to Dem. Wasn't there a Senate seat too, or was that '04? Anyway, I see a trend in Colorado, just like NH. Not a tossup, a trend.

    Putting Colorado and New Hampshire in the Lean D column where they belong gets us to a D pickup of 4. I read that Ensign hopes to hold 45 seats, so I guess that gets us in line with his forecast.

    But so many others seem to talk about 5 or 6 seats being the likely D gains. We get that by winning 1 or 2 of the four seats listed as Lean R. Well, if 2 of the 4 are going to go Democratic, that's sort of like the results from tossing a coin. So those four seats are Tossups.

    Maine and Oregon are Lean R at worst, and maybe Tossups too already. And the overall prospects for Dems look good in both states. Obama seems to be surging in the polls in Oregon, and now he's sent a couple hundred Fellows to work the state. And Maine is getting Fellows. I know Ms Collins is slippery, but I don't see how this is gonna be a good year for slippery. (That goes for Ms Dole too!)

    In wave year elections, the contested races tend to break the same direction, leaving only one or two for the losing party. (The way Corker defeated Ford in Tennessee while we took 6 others. BTW I'd say the wave had not yet reached the South in '06, but in '08 it has swamped a couple of districts in Louisiana and Mississippi already.) Since I believe this is another  wave year, I expect we will win 8 or 9 of the 10 Repub-held seats listed, and maybe a couple more from the races to watch -- to which I must add ID (Open).

    [ Parent ]
    I don't disagree that this year could be big...
    ...despite a chart that some call conservative.  But when making these ratings, I ask: what is the state of the race today?  Take Colorado for instance -- Schaffer and Udall have been neck and neck in the polls for the past year, and Udall is starting to open up a slight lead in the latest Rasmussen polls.  But is that enough to say the race is Leaning Dem at this point?  Aside from not putting all my eggs in one pollster's basket (esp. when that pollster is Rasmussen), I'd have to say that while I believe that Schaffer's candidacy could potentially self-destruct, it hasn't yet.  But I really do believe as we let the events unfold, the Democratic advantage here will become more obvious (especially if Schaffer's CNMI/Abramoff ties become a big distraction as the campaign heats up).

    As for Maine, should we call it a Tossup even though Collins has lead Allen by 15-25 points in almost every poll for the past year?  I think it's great that Obama is sending a couple hundred organizing fellows to Maine, but that doesn't make this race a tossup -- at least, not in my book.  I sure as hell hope that Allen can make this a tossup, but we just have to wait and see if he can get some traction here.

    For me, I can't just assume that everything will go right for guys like Allen -- I'm going to have to see some tangibles before I have a reason to push the needle to the left.  Just because a race might be listed "likely" or "safe" today doesn't mean we're writing the obituary for the Democratic candidate.  A LOT can and WILL happen that will dramatically change these charts many times over from now until election day.

    [ Parent ]
    I'm with you
    I've yet to see one poll where Frankin was actually ahead of Coleman, and Collins and Smith have been well ahead of the Democrats in just about every poll, although, the Dem in Oregon did get a primary bounce, but is now trailing outside the margin of errors.

    Colorado, although we keep hearing how out of touch the Republican is in Colorado, Udall is barely polling outside the margin of error in the polls as is our former Governor in New Hampshire.

    I would say that Louisiana is probably a toss up. Yes, I know, let me hear about all the registration drives, blah blah, fact is, Kennedy is polling damn close to Landrieu.

    Alaska, until the primary is finished, even though Stevens isn't being as seriously challenged as Young, anything could happen, and I don't even think the filing deadline has past, but it may have.

    We can wish to see a wave election, and I agree, I think we're going to do really well this year, but until the polls start to actually reflect how we feel, we shouldn't be rating these races based on our 'gut.' No offense to Mr. Colbert, but that just isn't the way it should be done.

    [ Parent ]
    Calling Maine at this point in time a "Toss-up" is a little silly, I agree, and while by traditional standards, MN would be considered a "Toss-up" (close polling for several months now), I can see how one justifies its Lean Rep status.

    However, with Alaska and Mississippi, I disagree for several reasons, especially with the former. Begich has never trailed Stevens in any polling, if Stevens gets raided any time between now and election-day, he almost certainly becomes toast. It's hard to call a race that we consistently lead in "lean Rep". In Mississippi, depending on the poll, it has shown him both ahead and behind significantly (Research 2000 consistently showing him behind), and with high AA turnout as is likely the case this time around, Musgrove and the DSCC should have the profile and resources to win on election day.

    [ Parent ]
    I would categorize . . .
    . . . Mississippi and North Carolina in the same bracket as Oregon and Maine.  The former two have unknown and unpopular incumbents, respectively, but are very red states.  With the latter two, the reverse is true.  All things being equal, I'd say that it balances out, such that they all have the same likelihood of flipping.

    is not a likely Republican.  Lean would be much more accurate.

    I agree completely
    James, unlike with a tiny handful of your House ratings, I think you are right on the money with all of the ratings.  A few comments:

    Alaska: While the great polls might make some think this race is a toss-up or perhaps even leaning our way, this race is still definitely a GOP leaner.  We cannot forget Stevens' longtime popularity in the state.  No matter what the polls say now, I still respect how tough it will be to knock out Uncle Ted.  

    Minnesota: Along with Alaska, the two are probably the most likely to move to pure toss-up, but Minny is not there yet either.  I think the needle will move as the Playboy story goes away and more voters turn their attention to Coleman's rubber-stamp record in th eSenate.  

    Mississippi: Even though I continually harp on how much I love this race, I think that ultimately it may be in the GOP-leaning category the entire campaign solely based on the state's red make-up.  If we do win it, it will be one of those massive-upsets the media likes to tout the morning after.  

    Oregon: I think this race will move closer to us as the campaign develops, but it definitely ain't there yet.  Merkley needs to get his name out there.  

    Conservative forecasting, but totally accurate at this time.  

    It will be very interesting to see how much Musgrove
    raises in Q2.

    If he can haul in 1 or 2 million and Wicker doesn't pull another huge haul then this might just be a tossup.

    my predictions
    wipe = 20+ margin
    strong = 10-20 margin
    weak = 5-10 margin
    bare = 0-5 margin
    even = margin right around 0
    * = flip

    Alabama: R wipe
    Alaska: even to bare D
    Arkansas: D wipe
    Colorado: D bare
    Delaware: D wipe
    Georgia: R strong
    Idaho: with the news abour Rammell, R bare to even
    Illinois: D strong to D wipe
    Iowa: D strong to D wipe
    Kansas: R weak
    Kentucky: R bare
    Louisiana: D bare
    Maine: R bare to R weak
    Massachusetts: D weak to D strong
    Michigan: D strong to D wipe
    Minnesota: R bare to R weak
    Mississippi (Cochran): R wipe
    Mississippi (Wicker): R bare to D bare (effectively even but very dynamic)
    Montana: R WIPE LOL...okay, I'll be serious, D wipe
    Nebraska: R weak to R bare
    New Hampshire: D bare to D weak
    New Jersey: D weak
    New Mexico: D weak to D strong
    North Carolina: R bare to even
    Oklahoma: R strong to R weak (though I'm hoping and hoping that Rice beats Inhofe)
    Oregon: R weak to even
    Rhode Island: D wipe
    South Carolina: R wipe to R strong
    South Dakota: D strong to D wipe
    Tennessee: R wipe to R weak
    Texas: R weak to even
    Virginia: D strong to D wipe
    West Virginia: I really don't know.  I've just heard practically nothing about this race.
    Wyoming (Enzi): R wipe to R strong
    Wyoming (Barrasso): R wipe to R strong

    Note that, given that this is such a good D year, we should at least be aiming to avoid wipes even in the most difficult of races.  On the other hand, our safe races (Michigan, Illinois, etc.) should be wipes instead of just strongs--at least, we should work (albeit low priority) to make sure they are wipes instead of just strongs.

    Notice that I'm differentiating between wipe and strong, to make room for some additional information about the strength of our incumbents, as well as how well we're making inroads into red territory.

    party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

    make Alabama R wipe to R strong

    party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

    [ Parent ]
    What is this news about Rammell? Did I miss something? I oh so try to pay attention!

    [ Parent ]
    Missed this myself
    Didn't know either but he is running as an independent.


    Can't find any polls.

    [ Parent ]
    it's not just that he's running as an independent
    It's that he really, truly seems to be intent on running as hard as he can, and even if not winning, causing Risch to be defeated.  If not for that statement, I'd have put it more towards the R side.

    But think about it: What CAN the Republican Party tell voters not to defect from their official candidate?

    party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

    [ Parent ]
    West Virginia is a D wipe
    Rockefeller essentially has a job for life.

    My blog
    28, New Democrat, Female, TX-03 (hometown CA-26)

    [ Parent ]
    I mostly agree
    with these cautious rankings. But I would put OR into the 'lean R'-column. Even CQ rates this race as lean Republican.  

    33, living in Germany  

    Just saw that poll on rasmussen
    Quite shocking really.  Especially considering Roberts has a 60% approval rating in the same poll.

    [ Parent ]
    I don't think Slattery will win but I'm looking at Kansas as a way of getting some of the others, NC, OR etc, by bleeding their coffers dry so to speak. Stretching the playing field we have talked about so much.

    [ Parent ]
    A bit off topic, this Rasmussen poll is a sign of the times...
    More than half of Americans wouldn't care if we nationalized all U.S. oil.  Hilarious.

    Should the government nationalize all the oil companies and run them on a non-profit basis?

    Yes 29%
    No 47%
    Not Sure 24%


    I wouldn't call it "don't care"
    I'd see the "not sure" category as "I have little or no clue what you're talking about" or "I don't understand the economics of it" category.

    Then again, with the Bush administration running the show, nationalizing them might be even worse...

    party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

    [ Parent ]
    Cash on Hand
    Cash on Hand balances are not very even at this point in the election cycle and perhaps should be fed into the calculation of where we are now.

    LA- Landrieu has almost a 3-1 edge at $4,564,081 to $1,623391 (data as of 3/31).  I see the money as what brings her back to the Senate.

    CO- Udall leads by a few points and also by $2.1 million.  Shaffer is advertising so the money is already a factor.  Money pushes this to Lean D.

    NH- Just the opposite of the first two.  Sununu has $4,313,762 to Shaheen's $1,837,538 and is outraising her to boot by $4.0 million to $2.5 million.  The money pulls the race back to even.

    AK-  Stevens enjoys an early edge at $1,318,721 to Begich's $204,207.  Given legal bills and uncle Ted's tenure this is tighter on the cash front that it "should be." An edge to Stevens but not a knockout.

    Republicans hold huge edges in Texas ($8,688,953 to $329,253), NC ($3,157,666 to $317,311 as of 4/16), Kansas ($2,986,794 to $286,125), Minnesota ($6,960,612 to $3,491,479), and Maine ($4,630,275 to $2,568,924 as of 5/21).  Lautenberg has a humongous lead in Jersey ($4,123,000 to $446,075 as of 5/14).  These numbers may be bogus as they show Rob Andrews barely denting his own money even though he seemed to outspend Lautenberg in a vain attempt to keep things close.

    let's also remember
    that with all these CoH on figures, we have to include the DSCC vs NRSC CoH figures, which I am too lazy too look up.  Anyone got them off the top of their heads?

    [ Parent ]
    Isn't it something like $50m v $5m?

    [ Parent ]
    Through April. (May numbers should be released today or soon)
    - - - -DCCC v. NRCC
    Cash On Hand - $45,270,000 v. $6,730,000

    - - - -DSCC v. NRSC
    Cash On Hand - $37,600,000 v. $19,400,000

    [ Parent ]
    This doesn't really fit here
    But the Out of Wack index got a article done on it in one of the largest news blogs in Minnesota


    Hopefully Crisitunity sees that!

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