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2010 Senate Races (colors are from 2004 races for the time being)
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News from the Votemaster            

Thompson Won't Challenge Feingold for Senate     Permalink

Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson (R) has announced that he will not challenge Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) in November. Polls had shown that if Thompson had decided to run, he would make it a very competitive race. Now Feingold can breathe easier since he has no serious challengers. Together with the statement by former New York governer George Pataki (R) that he will not challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), it now seems very unlikely that the Republicans can capture the Senate in 2010. Best case scenario for them is winning Democratic seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, and Pennsylvania while not losing any of their own seats (see below). Even if they manage to pull a hugely unexpected upset in one or two seats, that would not be enough. They need to pick up 10 Democratic seats without losing any of their own to take control and that is extremely unlikely with Thompson and Pataki sitting this year out.

Crist's Campaign Chairman Quits     Permalink

As if disastrous polls were not bad enough, the person running the senatorial campaign of Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL), former senator Connie Mack, has now quit. The reason given for his resignation is Crist's veto of a bill passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature that would tie teacher's pay to their students' test scores. But surely he is aware that the most recent poll shows former state house speaker Marco Rubio with a 23-point lead over Crist in the Republican primary. The poll also shows that if Crist were to drop out of the Republican primary and run in the general election, he would get 32% to Rubio's 30% and the Democrat Kendrick Meek's 24%. But Crist has repeatedly said he is a Republican and will not run as an independent. However, in the face of certain defeat, politicians are often surprisingly flexible, even on their core principles. Crist's problem is that the Florida filing deadline is April 30. Florida law is different from Connecticut's, so he can't pull a Lieberman and lose the Aug. 24 primary, THEN decide to run as an independent. He has to decide within two weeks. In theory, an independent candidacy by Crist ought to give the Democrat a decent shot at winning, but the Democrat is so weak and badly known that even with the Republicans split, the Democrat probably can't win. Ironically, the reason the Democrats fielded a third-tier candidate in a swing state that Obama won by 7% is that all serious Democrats in the state perceived Crist as unbeatable so they didn't even bother trying. Now Crist can't even get his own party's nomination.

Democrats Support Gays but Oppose Homosexuals in Military     Permalink

George Lakoff has an interesting piece on framing and wording of poll questions. In a recent NYT poll about "Don't Ask Don't Tell," 79% of Democrats said they were in favor of letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the armed forces while only 43% were in favor of letting homosexuals serve openly. Huh? This merely enforces the well-known (among pollsters) phenomenon that the exact wording of the questions really matters. You can get very different responses depending on the wording or order of the questions. At the very basic level asking: "Will you vote for Smith or Jones?" gets a different result than asking: "Will you vote for the Democrat, Smith, or the Republican, Jones?" The moral of the story is that the devil is in the details.

Poll: 34% Think Obama Has Raised Taxes     Permalink

A new CBS/NYT poll shows that 34% of the respondents think Obama as raised taxes despite the fact that this statement is simply not true. In fact, the stimulus bill passed last year cut taxes for 98% of the taxpayers and taxes are now at a 60-year low. Many people are unaware that during the administration of the (conservative Republican) Dwight Eisenhower, the top marginal tax rate was 91% (vs. 35% now). The moral of this story is that a lot of people are woefully ignorant of both facts and history.

Rundown of Vulnerable Republican Senate Seats     Permalink

The previous report here looked at vulnerable Democratic seats in the Senate. It is likely that unless something fairly radical changes pretty fast, the Democrats will lose perhaps half a dozen of them. However, the Republicans also have some vulnerable seats that the Democrats could capture to offset some of these losses. Here is a quick rundown of them.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Candidate unknown

Kendrick Meek

When Mel Martinez retired from the Senate earlier this year, Gov. Crist appointed a placeholder, George LeMieux, to serve out Martinez' term and then retire in 2010. After some hesitation, Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) decided to run for the job. Initially he was the favorite. However, there is going to be a nasty primary between former state House majority leader Marco Rubio (R) and Crist. Conservatives are backing Rubio, forcing Crist to tack to the right during the primary, which is Aug. 24. This means even if Crist wins, he has little time to tack back to the center. But recently polling has shown that Crist will lose the primary to Rubio. For Democrats, the race is wide open with the only announced candidate so far being Rep Kendrick Meek, who is not well known in the state. If it ends up Crist vs. Meek, Crist will win handily. Rubio vs. Meek might be closer.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Candidate unknown

Candidate unknown

Jim Bunning is the only senator who is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. While he was a great pitcher, he was hardly a great senator. His age and lack of fundraising drove him from the 2010 race, so the Republican establishment picked a succesor, Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Only their plan was messed up by the son of Rep. Ron Paul, Rand Paul, who entered the race, forcing a nasty primary. The Democrats also have two contenders, Lt.Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, and Attorney General Jack Conway. Thus we have two primaries with four possible outcomes of who the candidates will be.


Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
David Vitter

Charlie Melancon

David Vitter is the only Republican ever elected to the Senate from Louisiana since direct election of senators began. He will certainly be under a cloud in 2010 because he was a frequest flyer at the establishment of the late D.C. madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Count on his Democratic opponent to bring this up. So far the only announced Democrat is Rep. Charlie Melancon and the Democratic establishment is behind him.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Roy Blunt

Robin Carnahan

Four-term senator Kit Bond (R) has decided to call it quits. He will be 77 at the end of another term and he's not interested, so we have an open seat in a key swing state. The other Missouri senator is a Democratic woman, Claire McCaskill. Robin Carnahan (D), the current Missouri Secretary of State and a member of a Missouri dynasty is running and is the favorite. Father Mel was governor. Mother Jean was senator. Brother Russ is a congressman. Needless to say, the Carnahan name is pretty well known in Missouri. A serious primary challenge seems unlikely. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is the almost certain Republican nominee at this point. He, too, has dynastic tendencies. His son, Matt Blunt, was governor from 2005 to 2009. Missouri is the Democrats' best chance for a pickup.

New Hampshire

Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Kelly Ayotte

Paul Hodes

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) was going to become Secretary of Commerce and then he changed his mind. He abstained on the stimulus bill (which was de facto the same as voting for cloture) but took a lot of heat for it from NH Republicans. Then he withdrew and said he wouldn't run in 2010 either, creating an open seat. Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) is running and is unlikely to be challenged by any other Democrat. Republicans lucked out when Kelly Ayotte, the state's Attorney General said she would run. However, she was appointed to the AG job and this is her first actual run for public office. The GOP establishment quickly rallied around her. However, she is being challenged from the right by Ovide Lamontagne, which could lead to a nasty ideological primary but Ayotte is by far the favorite for the nomination.

North Carolina

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Richard Burr

Candidate unknown

Richard Burr is a one-term senator in the famous cursed seat. It has flipped parties in each of the past five elections. To make it worse, in 2008 he watched in angst as his Republican colleague Elizabeth Dole went down to defeat at the hands of state senator Kay Hagan (D) at the same time as Beverly Perdue (D) was elected governor and Barack Obama won the state's electors. While the Democrats' strongest candidate, Attorney General Roy Cooper, decided against a run, their #2 choice, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D), jumped in, but so did former state senator Cal Cunningham (D). If the two Democrats bloody each other enough, Burr might be able to break the curse.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Rob Portman

Candidate unknown

Sen. George Voinovich is retiring after two terms in the Senate, creating an open seat in a swing state. This will one of the most bitterly fought races in 2010. Former congressman Rob Portman (R-OH) is the likely nominee for the Republicans. He was also director of the budget during the Bush administration, which will be a handicap as the Democrats will accuse him of causing the recession. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher is running as is Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. Fisher, a terrible campaigner, is nevertheless the choice of the establishment. Brunner is an insurgent, but polls show them fairly close.

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Recent Headlines (clickable)

Apr16 Thompson Won't Challenger Feingold for Senate
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