Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sabato Predicts Big GOP Gains in November

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has been very timid about predicting any kind of GOP wave in November...until now.

They predict that the GOP will pick up 3 to 5 seats, and would favor even better if the election were held now instead of November...they believe the GOP would whittle the Dems down to 52 seats if the general elections were held today. This makes sense, as the GOP has strong momentum at the moment.

Though the magic number for the GOP is "10" to gain a majority (a 50-50 tie goes to the Dems due to to VP Joe Biden's affiliation, naturally). However, Sabato believes that it could be possible that if the Republicans get 9 seats (still theoretically possible, enough seats are in play), that they could woo Joe Lieberman to their side (or at least to caucus with them), and then hold the majority. Here are your races to watch going forward in the Senate...

Arkansas - Blanche Lincoln has lost all kinds of popularity in her state due to her vote on health care. 3 Republicans are battling to challenge her, and Sabato has this seat as a Leans GOP.

Illnois - Barack Obama's old seat is up for grabs, and is rated a Toss-Up. However, if the election were held today, Rep. Mark Kirk would probably win the seat. Given the troubles the Democrats are facing in this state due to scandals, and the wild primary they are going to have, this one may go red...which would be a little embarrassing to the President.

Indiana - Evan Bayh is up for reelection, and as it stands, this seat would be a Likely Dem hold. However, if popular Rep. Mike Pence gets into the race, as he is currently considering, that would greatly change the dynamics of this race.

Kentucky - Considered a Toss-Up because it is an open seat in a reddish-purple state. Both parties have primaries going, and the Podium has endorsed Rand Paul for this seat. This will be one of the more interesting races of 2010. If the election were held today, though, the Republicans would hold this seat.

Missouri - Another open GOP seat (Kit Bond's) that, if held today, would be a GOP hold. However, it's currently a Toss-Up. Roy Blunt has spent many years in the House and is a high-profile figure in the Republican Party. He is going up against Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, of the famous Missouri political family (her father was Governor, her mother was a Senator). This is one of those "all-star" matchups that has a lot of support lining up on both sides for a big fight.

Nevada - Harry "The Weasel" Reid has become so unpopular here that this is now rated as a Leans R by Sabato, and the GOP still has to settle their primary. Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian (son of the famous UNLV coach) are both polling ahead of the current Senate Majority Leader, and the GOP would love nothing more than to take this seat.

New Hampshire - Another open seat (Judd Gregg is not running for reelection) that the GOP would hold today, but looking towards November is still a Toss-Up. One advantage for the Dems is that they do not have to worry about a primary at this point, while the GOP has 3 candidates slugging it out. However, if the current frontrunner Kelly Ayote wins, the Dems will have a lot of trouble as she has a fairly good-sized lead over the Dem candidate, Rep. Paul Hodes.

New York - Wow, this one has disintegrated quickly for the Democrats. While it's still Likely Dem, this should've been a safe seat. Incumbent Kristen Gillibrand has failed to impress party leaders, so they thought they had a winner in Harold Ford, Jr., but now he has failed to ingratiate himself to the voters of the state with some of his recent comments that were less-than-flattering to New York City. However, the GOP does not have any official candidates for this seat as of yet. Rep. Peter King and former Gov. George Pataki have expressed some interest, as has Marc Mukasey. Recent polling suggests that if either Pataki or Rudy Guiliani (who has denied interest in the seat) ran, they would defeat Gillibrand.

North Dakota - Byron Dorgan's now-open seat is considered to be a Safe GOP, with Gov. John Hoeven carrying strong popularity and statewide name recognition in a state that is very red, despite Dorgan's status as a Democrat.

Ohio - George Voinovich's now-open seat is currently a Toss-Up, with the GOP holding the current edge if the elections were held today. The GOP is set with Rep. Rob Portman facing minimal competition in the primary. The Democrats have Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher both running. While this race also has a lot of "star power" in terms of the visibility of who is running, the primary may become very tough, which will only benefit the GOP.

Pennsylvania - Arlen "Turncoat" Specter is facing a strong primary challenge from Rep. Joe Sestak. However, party machinery in the state is not behind Sestak, which means that all he can do is seriously damage Specter, unless he can pull of an upset (which does not appear likely, according to recent polls). The GOP has rallied around Rep. Pat Toomey, who faces only token opposition. Polls are steadily showing more and more support for Toomey over Specter. This makes this seat a Leans GOP.

Texas - Nobody knows what is going on here, so we'll go with Toss-Up. However, it's probably going to be a GOP hold, because this IS Texas we are talking about here.

All things considered, if the elections were held today, the GOP would stand to gain 7 seats. What a difference a year makes.

(h/t Shad Plank)

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