September 13, 2004


The fight for the Senate (Bruce Walker, September 13, 2004, Enter Stage Right)

[I]n Wisconsin, Russ Feingold may face real problems. His "reform" has proven a sick joke. Wisconsin, whose legislature is Republican, now consistently shows President Bush ahead. President Bush will be in Wisconsin - a lot - over the next two months. Feingold could lose. [...]

Conventional wisdom is that Senate Reid in Nevada is a sure winner, but he is running in a state which will likely go for Bush for a job that will be much less powerful if Republicans gain Senate seats. Conventional wisdom may be dead wrong: Reid, who barely won reelection last time, may lose this time.

If this happens, look for the dam to burst. If Reid has lost in Nevada, it will mean that Republicans have gained at least a net gain of five Senate seats (in addition to his seat) and being a Senate Democrat will matter very little in 2007. Two very weak Democrats, Murray in Washington and Boxer in California, will still be facing uncast ballots.

Arnold changes the whole situation in California and the decision by President Bush to always compete in California may well prove to be his craftiest move. If President Bush actually carries California, then he will have won by an undisputed landslide and Senator Boxer will lose to a respected and well known moderate Republican.

Patty Murray is also facing a very savvy Republican who knocked off a sitting Speaker of the House exactly ten years ago. Washington State Democrats are bickering and Washington is a winnable state. If Bush carries Washington, Nethercutt will win too.

This means Republicans may reach, or come close to reaching, their filibuster-proof majority if President Bush continues to do well in head to head polls against Senator Kerry. This will put Democrats on the horns of a dilemma and we are already seeing evidence of it in South Dakota. Senate Democrat candidates in states which President Bush will carry easily (which is most of the key races) will either need to stand by Kerry and go down in flames or disassociate themselves and insure a crushing Kerry defeat.

It seems unlikely that races further West will move because of early returns from back East, but if the presidential campaign does head towards a 56%-42% type split and the President makes the same commitment to carry Senate seats that he did in '02, then these are the seats to watch and they are winnable.

Actually, the best races to watch early in the night may be a few the GOP won't win--against popular incumbents Patrick Leahy in Vermont, Barbara Mikulski in Maryland, Charles Schumer in New York, and Evan Bayh in Indiana. If any or all finish under 60% it will be a sign that--as in '80 and '94--the identity and quality of the candidates is playing less of a role than is a national tide, one which will tend to sweep away more vulnerable Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 13, 2004 8:47 AM

A recent Rasmussen poll (yes I know Rasmussen is suspect) has Thune over Daschle 50-47. I'm actually more optimistic about SD than NC (where Bowles is maintaining a 7-10pt lead over Burr). Reid barely won in 2000 but his GOP challenger is little known and I haven't seen any polls with Bush significantly ahead in NV so his coattails may not be very large in NV.

Posted by: AWW at September 13, 2004 9:06 AM


Paula Hawkins.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2004 9:12 AM

An obvious forgery, oj. Or else the author is plagiarizing your writings.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at September 13, 2004 3:31 PM

Concerning Indiana, realclearpolitics has a poll showing Bush up by 24 points, 60-36. How exactly could Bayh come anywhere near 60% of the vote? With much more of a meltdown at the top of the ticket, how could he approach 50%?

Posted by: brian at September 13, 2004 9:40 PM