US Senate Elections 2008
Yes its finally that time, US elections this evening. First lets look at the Senate races. The democrats currently hold 49 seats, with two independants caucusing in their favour. Consequently they need to look to pickup 9 seats to achieve a filibuster-proof majority, whilst the republicans need to pickup 2 seats to regain a majority.
Likely Democratic Swings
An open seat formerly held by a republican. Democratic former governor Mark Warner will be running against Republican former-governor Jim Gilmore. Warner was a popular governor, and flirted with a run for US president. Whilst governor Warner worked in a cross-partisan manner and left office with a high level of popularity. Demographically Virginia is trending democratic, due to increasingly large urban areas in northern virginia. Further Jim Gilmore only narrowly won the republican nomination with 50.3% of the vote. Consequently I have a strong democratic pickup here.
RCP Average: Warner 61.3 vs Gilmore 32.7
My Prediction: Warner 64.5 vs Gilmore 35.5
Incumbent Senator Pete Domenici isn’t running for re-election, leaving this an open seat. Tom Udall, the democratic candidate, is expected to beat Steve pearce, his republican opponent. I believe that Udall will be running above the democratic party identification bias of 8%, due to the popularity of New Mexico’s democratic governor Bill Richardson. New Mexico is also trending democratic at the moment, due to its increasing hispanic population, and strong anti-immigration rhetoric being pushed by the republicans within the last election cycle. Whilst many hispanic voters are catholics and can be considered social conservatives, this election cycle should see them firmly in the democratic camp, since economic issues are being considered more important.
RCP Average: Udall 54.3 vs Pearce 39.7
My Prediction: Udall 56 vs Pearce 43
With incumbent Republican senator Wayne Allard announcing he wouldn’t run for re-election we have another open seat, and another Udall, first name Mark, running for office. Neither he, nor his republican opponent Bob Schaffer had a primary challenge, and consequently the race here has been more competitive than New Mexico. A lot of similar issues to New Mexico present themselves here – demographic changes, democratic funding advantage, a strong democratic presidential campaign also in town.
RCP Average: Udall 50.8 vs 38.3
My Prediction: Udall 54 vs Schaffer 43
Ted Stevens has now been indicted for not revealing gifts that he was given. He was already running close in this election, but the polls have swung away from him after the court case’s result was revealed. Mark Begich his opponent is quite inexperienced, but the race hasn’t really been about him. Lets not forget that at his last election Stevens won 78% of the vote, to his democratic opponent’s 11%. I’m predicting a little above the RCP average, because news events are swinging Begich’s way.
RCP Average: Stevens 41.7 vs Begich 52.0
My Prediction: Stevens 41 vs Begich 58
In 2002 this was an open seat battle between former governor Jeanne Shaheen and John Sununu, which Sununu narrowly won. This year we have the same candidates, different overall electoral picture. In 2002 the republicans had a strong advantage in fundraising and identity due to the recent September 11th attacks. The fallout from republican congressional corruption, War fatigue, and most recently economic crisis have swung things to Shaheen. Consequently She’s ahead in line with democratic identification and presidential polling. I’m putting this quite a bit closer than RCP due to Sununu’s strong campaigning late in the day.
RCP Average: Shaheen 50.8 vs Sununu 41.2
My Prediction: Shaheen 52 vs Sununu 48
So we should see the democrats pickup at least 5 states.
Incumbent Elizabeth Dole is considered to have taken her re-election for granted early in the campaign, during the 2006 she was more focussed on chairing the National Republican Senate Committee, whilst being in the embarrassing position of losing control of the senate. Her seat should be safe, since its been in republican hands for 35 years, however, since the recent economic downturn her opponent, Kay Hagan, has been ramping up the polls. Furthermore democratic funding parity during the current cycle has wiped out an expected Dole advantage.
RCP Average: Hagan 49.3 vs Dole 45
My Prediction: Hagan 53 vs Dole 46
Incumbent senator Gordon Smith has had low approval ratings, and was considered an easy democratic target. However, he has fundraised well and his opponent, Jeff Merkley, faced a strong primary challenge. Consequently Smith has been holding his own for most of the race. That began to swing away during the financial crisis, when his vote for the bailout could be used as a whipping stick. I’m going above RCP since the race is swinging towards Merkley. and Obama is qutie a way ahead in oregon.
RCP Average: Merkley 47.8 vs Smith 42.5
My Prediction: Merkley 53 vs Smith 46
My dream of jesse ventura entering senate unfortunately didn’t happen, but Al Franken is a good enough. Unfortunately, polls seem to be swinging away from him again and towards Norm Coleman again in one of the most expensive senate races ever. Franken has been accussed of not paying his taxes, and clips of him swearing whilst on his radio show have been offerred as evidence that he is “out of control”. Franken has countered that Coleman voted with Bush over 90% of the time, and has focussed on policy such as healthcare improvements, though he has also been playing dirty with frequent mention of a lawsuit that alleges that a top donor funnelled money to Coleman’s wife. There is also the independance party of minnesota candidate, Dean Barkley running, who appears to be pulling support from Franken. This is a genuinely hard to predict race, but I’m going for a narrow Coleman win.
RCP Average: Coleman 42.0 vs Franken 39.2 vs Barkley 14.4
My Prediction: Coleman 43 vs Franken 41 vs Barley 15
Saxby Chambliss (great name) beat his 2002 opponent narrowly, but has been fundraising well. The race narrowed considerable whilst Obama was pushing resources into the state in an effort to force McCain to play defense. He has since pulled out, since it seemed unlikely that he would actually be able to pickup a win there. The interesting aspect of this is the voter registration drive, which will have a big impact on this race. It is generally expected that southern black democrats will be out in force this election, and Jim Martin, the democratic candidate is seeking to capitalise on that. Furthermore, Chambliss was a strong supporter of the bailout plan, and Martin has been using it at every opportunity. The democratic senatorial campaigns committee has been backing Martin to the hilt, which has levelled the fundraising gap that Chambliss achieved. I’m going against polling here and for a narrow Martin win – if this comes true, it will be a dark day for the republicans.
RCP Average: Chambliss 47.8 vs Martin 44.0
My Prediction: Martin 49 vs Chambliss 48
Few republican senators are associated with the incumbent policies than Mitch McConnell – their minority leader. His opponent, Bruce Lunsford, is running against these ties, and against the bailout, whilst McConnell is arguing that Kentucky will do better with a senator who is high-up in the republican pecking order. An interesting proposition, given Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, has stated he would make people pushing for porkbarrel projects “famous” by vetoing their legislation. At the moment McConnell is leading, but polling here tends to have a very high proportion of undecided voters. I believe they will swing towards safety in the form of McConnell, especially since Kentucky hasn’t been as subject to the strong Obama voter registration efforts.
RCP Average: McConnell 49.5 vs Lunsford 43.8
My Prediction: McConnell 53 vs Lunsford 47
A special election to fill Trent Lott’s vacated seat. Ronnie Musgrove, former democrat governor, goes up against Roger Wicker, former congressman. The state hasn’t voted for a democratic senator since 1982, and this seems unlikely to change, despite democratic headwind.
RCP Average: Wicker 50.0 vs Musgrove 39.7
My Prediction: Wicker 55 vs Musgrove 43
Initially a top republican target, Mary Landrieu looked vulnerable with low approval ratings, and a very narrow victory in 2002, especially since Louisiana has been swinging increasingly republican in presidential elections since 1992. furthermore a considerable number of democrats left the state after Hurricane Katrina. Landrieu’s opponent John Kennedy was formerly a democrat and switched teams in order to run for this seat. Early polling had him competitive, and even ahead for a while. Since the stockmarket crash, however, the election has increasingly swung towards Landrieu.
RCP Average: No Average, last Rasmussen has Landrieu 53 vs Kennedy 43.
My Prediction: Landrieu 57 vs kennedy 43.
Maine consistently votes democratic in Presidential elections, but both senators are female moderate republicans. this year’s incumbent, Susan Collins isn’t hugely associated with any Bush policy, and though her opponent, Tom Allen, notably voted against the invasion of Iraq whilst a member of the house of representatives, This election has seen little national attention, and should be a GOP hold.
RCP Average: Collins 55 vs Allen 40.4
My Prediction: Collins 57 vs Allen 43
The democrats couldn’t evict the republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Governor Rick Perry in 2006, and I am skeptical that they will remove John Cornyn now. Texas has become a republican stronghold, and that doesn’t look likely to change. Furthermore the democratic candidate Rick Noriega isn’t particularly well known, being only a state senator, and Cornyn has out-fundraised him.
RCP Average: No Average, last Rasmussen Cornyn 55 vs Noriega 40
My prediction: Cornyn 55 vs Noriega 45
I think all other senate elections will be held by their incumbent party, many of these candidates have large leads, so I expect a respectable 8 seat swing to the democrats.