Dem 55
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GOP 45
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  • Strongly Dem (45)
  • Likely Dem (7)
  • Barely Dem (2)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (2)
  • Likely GOP (0)
  • Strongly GOP (43)
  • No Senate race
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups : IN MA ME
GOP pickups : (None)

News from the Votemaster

Sen. Jay Rockefeller Will Not Run for Reelection in 2014

In what has to be the best news for the Republicans this year, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has decided to hang up his hat and not run for reelection in 2014. Had he decided to go for it again, he would have won easily, given his combination of money, seniority, and connections.

Despite being from one of the wealthiest families in the world, he went to dirt-poor West Virginia as a poverty worker when he was a young man. He later decided he could do more for the people of West Virginia by being in politics. So he ran for the state House of Delegates and won in 1966, then served as Secretary of State. In 1976 he was elected to the first of his two terms of governor and in 1984 he won the first of six elections to the Senate. Despite his great personal wealth, he has always been a fairly liberal senator and sided with his party on most issues, including health care, taxes, and programs for the poor.

West Virginia used to be a very blue state. Jimmy Carter carried it twice, as did Michael Dukakis, and Bill Clinton (twice). Since 2000, it has gone for the GOP. Nevertheless, (Blue Dog) Democrats can carry the state. All six statewide officers (governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Commissioner of Agriculture, and Attorney General) are Democrats, as are both senators. All the Republicans control are two House seats.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) has announced her intention to run for Rockefeller's seat. She also comes from a political family: her father served two terms as governor. He also served 3 years in federal prison for corruption. Moore is a moderate conservative, much in the mold of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Even though she is by far the Republicans' best candidate to pick up this seat, she is virtually certain to be primaried by a tea party candidate, presenting yet another opportunity for the Republicans to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (think: Christine O'Donnell's Senate race in Delaware in 2010).

What happens next depends on what both parties do. Any one of the statewide officers could make a run here, with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin having the best shot since he is widely known in the state. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) ran for the Senate while governor and won, so Tomblin could do it, too. He would have to bash President Obama during the campaign and carry around a lump of coal to lovingly pet during campaign appearances, but it would be doable. Of course, there could be nasty primaries in both parties. The DSCC could take sides in the primary (or better yet, before the primary) to try to reduce the amount of fratricide but the NRSC can't do that to help Capito. The far right is likely to run a candidate no matter what the NRSC wants.

The bottom line is this. If Capito gets knocked off in a bloody primary and the Democrats can settle on one candidate quickly, the Democrats might be able to hold the seat. Otherwise, it is likely to be a GOP pickup. Given how many vulnerable Democrats are up in 2014, this is a seat the Democrats can ill afford to lose.

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---The Votemaster
Jan11 Sen. Jay Rockefeller Will Not Run for Reelection in 2014
Dec20 Senate Races 2014 - Part 2
Nov30 Senate Races 2014
Nov23 How Well Did the Pollsters Do?
Nov23 The Season's Almost Over
Nov22 Happy Thanksgiving
Nov21 Iowa Governor Wants to Kill the Ames Straw Poll
Nov21 Jim Messina Tells How Obama Won
Nov21 Massachusetts Democrats Panicking over a Special Election
Nov20 Conservative Republicans Fight Back
Nov20 Saxby Chambliss May Face a Primary Challenge
Nov20 West Tosses in the Towel
Nov20 Eliminating Loopholes Won't Get Us Off the Fiscal Hill
Nov19 Obama's Pollster Dumps on Gallup
Nov19 Rural White Voters Having Trouble Understanding the Election
Nov19 Republicans Want to Avoid More Bitter Primaries
Nov19 Republicans Are Attacking Charlie Crist Already
Nov19 Even after Recount, Allen West Refuses to Concede
Nov19 The End is Near
Nov18 Marco Rubio Now Campaigning in Iowa
Nov18 Republicans Are Warming to Immigration Reform
Nov17 Republican Attacks on Romney Continue Unabated
Nov17 Obama Campaign Was Data Driven
Nov17 Final House Results Are Coming In
Nov17 Congressional Gender Gap Grows
Nov16 Republicans Condemn Romney's Remarks about Gifts
Nov16 What Kind of Candidates Will Jerry Moran Recruit in 2014?
Nov16 Bennet May Take Over DSCC Chairmanship from Patty Murray
Nov16 How Did the Democrats Make Gains in the Senate?
Nov16 Five House Races Still Undecided
Nov15 Senate Republicans: Candidates Matter
Nov15 House Republicans Elect a Woman to Leadership Position
Nov15 Polling Cell phones Is Increasingly a Problem
Nov15 Results of the Poll Taken Here on Nov. 5
Nov15 Gerrymandering for Beginners
Nov15 Immigration Reform Could Help the Democrats in 2014 and 2016
Nov14 Exit Polls Showed Expected Results
Nov14 How Can the Republicans Win Elections Again?
Nov14 Republicans Openly Lobbying for Kerry as Secretary of State
Nov14 Michael Bloomberg To Become a Political Force
Nov14 Jerry Moran Expected to Lead NRSC
Nov14 Final Senate Results
Nov13 Polling for 2014 Gubernatorial Races Has Started
Nov13 Polling for 2016 Democratic Caucuses Has Started
Nov13 Polling for the Iowa Republican Caucuses Has Also Started
Nov13 Goode Didn't Swing Virginia
Nov13 Final Election Results
Nov12 Fight Breaking Out Between Conservative Pundits and Republican Politicians
Nov12 Congress Now Turns Its Attention to the Fiscal Hillock
Nov12 Congress Begins to Address the Voting Process