No Democratic Senate Losses in 2006, 2008... and 2010?

The Cook Political Report's Jennifer Duffy (via First Read makes another interesting historical catch:

Not only did Democrats win the White House and pick up additional House and Senate seats, they also accomplished this feat: For a second-straight cycle, not a SINGLE incumbent Democratic senator lost. In fact, the Cook Political Report's Jennifer Duffy points out that this is the first time since at least 1908 (before the direct election of senators) that a party has gone through two consecutive cycles without losing a seat.

Accomplishing this feat in 2006 was remarkable. Accomplishing it again in 2008 was astounding. But is it possible that the accomplishment could occur a third time in 2010? Taking a look at the map for the next cycle, it indeed looks like a possibility.

The most vulnerable seat up for the Democrats in 2010 might be that of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. However, Nevada isn't the state it was a decade ago, when Reid won reelection by about one-tenth of one percent in his last narrow reelection bid, and it's not even the same state it was four years ago when George W. Bush carried the state by a 51 percent to 48 percent margin; on Tuesday, Barack Obama won the state by a strong 55 percent to 43 percent margin. And the man who was thought to be the Republican challenger to Reid -- Congressman Jon Porter -- lost his reelection bid last week, earning just 42 percent of the vote in his district.

Beyond Nevada, other potential vulnerabilities for the Democrats are highly speculative and very well might not develop.

  • In Hawaii, Republican Governor Linda Lingle is quite popular, but would have to knock off Dan Inouye, who has represented the state for more or less the entirety of its existence and who would be the sitting chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
  • Arkansas isn't always an easy state for Democrats. But are the Republicans, who couldn't even field a challenger to freshman Democratic Senator Mark Pryor this fall, really going to get their act together to try to topple Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln?
  • Depending on whom Rod Blagojevich taps to succeed Barack Obama in Illinois, the race in the state could be competitive. However, Illinois is a much bluer state than it was in 1998, the last time a Republican won a Senate race, and one could imagine that the White House will devote significant efforts towards keeping the seat in the Democratic column.
  • North Dakota could be a close race if Governor John Hoeven were the Republican nominee, but, again, the state is bluer than it used to be.
  • Colorado is a purple state, but given that the Democrats have been winning quite consistently in the state, and freshman Democratic Senator Ken Salazar won in 2004, unlike most other Democratic Senatorial candidates around the country, challenging him will be a tough row to hoe for the GOP.
  • Barbara Boxer could face a tough reelection campaign in California -- but only if Arnold Schwarzenegger were her challenger.
  • Finally, Wisconsin isn't a lock for Russ Feingold -- but neither is it a great target for the GOP.

It would be the height of hubris to assume at this point that the Democrats won't lose a seat in the Senate in 2010. That said, as you can see, it's not an impossibility that the Democrats will be able to go an unprecedented third cycle without losing a single seat.

Tags: Senate 2008, Senate 2010 (all tags)



Going for a hat-trick

This is a great streak and I hope it continues.

On a related note, none of the 22 Democratic Senators who voted against the Iraq war resolution in 2002 have been defeated in the elections since then (of course one passed away, four retired, and one is now Governor of New Jersey).  

I like to think they were rewarded for their patriotism, even if their votes weren't seen as such at the time.

by Mr DC 2008-11-10 04:31PM | 0 recs
Hawaii is the opposite of Iowa

In Hawaii, probably the only chance for the GOP is if Inouye has to retire for health or other reasons.

In Iowa, Chuck Grassley's seat is safe unless he gets tired of being in the minority and quits. In that case it is a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats (Tom Vilsack?). The Republican bench in Iowa isn't what it used to be.

by desmoinesdem 2008-11-10 04:45PM | 0 recs
If the Democratic Congress

does what it was elected to do in 2008 which is work on the economy, than they will not lose any seats in 2010.

If they go off on tangents the way the Republican Congress did in 2004 than they WILL lose seats.

Stick to what the Americans people want their Senators to do.

by puma 2008-11-10 04:59PM | 0 recs
Any appointee is going to have the Blago stench on him/her.  If Kirk runs, he'll be tough to beat.
Against anyone else, as long as it's not Seals or Jesse Jackson Jr., the Dems will be fine.
by esconded 2008-11-10 05:19PM | 0 recs
Re: IL-Sen

Kirk is not that popular. He's much like a Judy Baar Topinka - a moderate with little statewide appeal. The Illinois GOP is a disaster.

by elrod 2008-11-10 05:31PM | 0 recs

The Democrats can pick up a shit ton of seats if they run the right candidates.

Alaska: Out of reach
Arizona: Janet Napolitano or Gabby Giffords
Missouri: One of the Carnahan kids
Iowa: Chet Culver or Tom Vilsack
Louisiana: Mitch Landrieu (first brother-sister pair in the Senate?)
North Carolina: Mike Easley, Heath Schuler, Brad Miller
Kentucky: Ben Chandler
Ohio: Betty Sutton, Tim Ryan
Pennsylvania: Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy, Allyson Schwartz, (Chris Matthews would be another Franken-like tie)
New Hampshire: John Lynch (one of the nation's most popular guvs)
Kansas:  Clearly Kathleen Sebelius
Florida: Alex Sink

We have lots of opportunity and have the potential to add several new women to the US Senate.  

by Vox Populi 2008-11-10 05:24PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010?

In Kentucky it's been the speculation that Sen. Jim Bunning (R), will be challenged by Ben Chandler (D) 6th Congressional District in Central Kentucky. The 6th Congressional District includes Frankfort, Kentucky, the capitol of Kentucky, and the city of Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington KY is in Fayette County, which went for Obama this past election.

Ben Chandler was the second Kentucky congressman to endorse Obama early. The first was Rep. John Yarmuth (D-3CD), which includes the city of Louisville, Jefferson County which also went for Obama.

by Hempy 2008-11-10 05:39PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010?

Chandler would be able to clear the Dem field, but if he decided to stay in the House Lunsford might make another try (Bunning is more vulnerable than McConnell was), Yarmuth may consider it (although he's too liberal for statewide methinks), even Mongiardo might want a rematch.

by Vox Populi 2008-11-10 05:45PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010?

After beating Anne Northup TWICE, Yarmuth is safe in Louisville as long as he wants to stay.  He's also a well spoken worker.  He can probably rise in the leadership ranks if he stays.

Plus, it does not matter if he were secretly a blue dog, he cannot run for the Senate because he's from Louisville.  An ironic twist to Kentucky politics that being from the largest city is a huge negative.

Apart from Chandler, Crit Luallen may run, she's popular.  Also, Mongiardo, Lt. Gov. Dr. Dan, may take another stab at knocking off the senile old fart.

If Bunning doesn't run, popular SOS GOPer Trey Grayson will run, methinx.  Which is a more difficult challenge for our side.  That's where I think Lunsford may come in and try to buy himself the seat again, especially with how close he got.

by sydopus 2008-11-11 07:03AM | 0 recs
IA in play only if Grassley retires

No prominent Democrat will try to defeat him. His approval ratings are always around 70 percent. We had trouble recruiting candidates against him in 1998 and 2004.

On the other hand, it looks great for us as an open seat.

I don't know anyone who expects Grassley to retire (barring a health problem, and he seems healthy). However, he's been clashing with social conservatives in the past year:

Maybe he will get fed up enough, and bored enough with being in the minority, that he will quit.

by desmoinesdem 2008-11-10 05:46PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010?

Kansas:  Clearly Kathleen Sebelius

Don't be so sure.  She'd be running against Jerry Moran, who's almost certain to get no more than token opposition from the Republican field.  She's also taken a couple of hits for the Holcomb (coal plant) decision and her (out-of-state) campaigning for Obama.

I'm not saying that she couldn't win, but it's far from a done deal.

by Shocker Jim 2008-11-10 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010?

Plus, it's Kansas - one of the reddest states in the nation. With Sebelius, we have a chance, but I'm not sure how good it is.

by Angry White Democrat 2008-11-10 09:25PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010?

I was sure Bond was retiring, but apparently he's running in 2010 yet again.  MO is a very difficult and evenly divided state; you can't ever take it for granted.  Even with a special election added to the normal rotation in 2002, no one has gotten 60% in a Senate race there since 1994.  The 2000, 2002, and 2006 Senate elections were all extremely close, as were the 2000 and 04 Gov. races.  Robin and Russ Carnahan do seem to poll well against Bond, but it's hardly a sure thing, and so do Richard Gephardt, Susan Montee, and other Dems (Joe Maxwell?).  Even Mel would have a tough time unseating Bond if he were around today.  There won't be a presidential or gubernatorial race in MO in 2010 either; the Senate race will top the ticket.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-10 11:07PM | 0 recs
Re: No Democratic Senate Losses

What are the odds of an Inouye retirement?

by Nathan Empsall 2008-11-10 05:39PM | 0 recs
Re: No Democratic Senate Losses

They don't retire.  Inoyue, Akaka, Stevens, etc... they serve until they are beaten or die.

by Vox Populi 2008-11-10 05:43PM | 0 recs
Re: No Democratic Senate Losses

Pete Domenici and John Warner agree.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-11-12 04:20PM | 0 recs
This is assuming no retirements...

My own thoughts are the Dems will lose 1-3 seats

AR - Huckabee might make a run for it.  
CT - Dodd is unpopular now in the state, but provided Rell's decision not to run holds, he's probably safe.
DE - Remember this seat will be open in 2010.  Provided Mike Castle doesn't decide to run (I believe he's actually been close to retiring for several cycles), it's a safe seat however.
ND - If Dorgan retires, it's probably a loss.

I agree on CA, IL, CO, and NV however.

On the flipside, for the Republicans, I count one open seat which should flip our way (KS, with Sebelius), four unpopular incumbents (AZ, NC, FL, KY), two seats that should fall our way with retirements (PA, IA), and three that could work out for us (OH, NH, MO).  So we're talking about up to 10 seats falling our way if Obama is a marginally competent president.  

So, yeah, I'm pretty optimistic even if we lose a few

by telephasic 2008-11-10 06:08PM | 0 recs
LA-Senate missing from your list
ime to make a go at Louisiana, as well: Despite McCain's strong showing in Louisiana this year (R+19), Mary Landrieu won re-election with the widest margin of her three Senate victories (D+6). John Kennedy was a weak candidate against Mary in that he was neither credible nor likable after switching parties, but though Vitter originally had strong GOP credo among both social conservatives and big-money fiscal conservatives (he was jockeying to be veeped by America's Mayor before Guiliani's campaign unraveled and Vitter's phone number appeared on the DC Madame client list), he has seriously undermined his reputation among the Louisianans that represented his funding apparatus and GOTV base. Vitter proved in 2004 to have a surprisingly effective ground game, but what of the two entities that made that a success? Woody Jenkins lost disgracefully against Don Cazayoux in LA-06 in May, and the Louisiana Family Forum no longer has the same conviction towards Vitter's family values bonifides. Remember, Vitter won his Senate contest outright with only 51% with no other real Republican in the race; Chris John, the leading Democratic opposition in the jungle primary was gearing up for a runoff and neglected to bring Vitter down under 50%. That said, national Republicans may see fit to compensate for any funding shortfalls he may face, and he recently was able to raise $20K for his legal defense fund, whereas Larry Craig was only able to scrape together $4600. Vitter is also said to have had the pull to prevent the NRSC from giving up on Kennedy against Landrieu, and Vitter's statewide fundraising cabal the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority was active in Jindal's successful gubernatorial bid and Vitter's defense fund. On the other hand, he may face a spirited and organized primary challenger from within the GOP. Vitter should be a high-profile target of the DSCC this cycle because he reeks of Bush-era GOP excesses, and frankly, no sitting Senator of either party is willing to have their name on a bill co-sponsored by Senator David B. Vitter. If Vitter survives a primary challenge, he would be vulnerable in many areas where he has a natural advantage, provided a Democrat can chip away at him on character and economic populism (Central and North Louisiana) and efficient government and responsible spending (Acadiana and the West Bank). The North Shore is likely Vitter's strongest country, but urban Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta areas natural favor a Democrat. Formidable challengers would likely be centrist Democrats that can capitalize on issues around energy, coastal protection, domestic infrastructure, national security (read international competitiveness and emergency preparedness) and the Main Street economy. Vitter is limited in his ability to launch attacks on his opponent's character or values and has very little in terms of real accomplishments for Louisiana in the Senate to campaign on back home.
by dantsmith 2008-11-10 08:24PM | 0 recs
Re: This is assuming no retirements...

Dodd told the FEC he's not a candidate for reelection.  And Mike Castle is already laying out plans to run for the DE seat.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-10 11:10PM | 0 recs
Re: This is assuming no retirements...

It's believed that Dodd only filed those papers with the FEC so that he could transfer funds out of his senate campaign account and into his presidential primary campaign.

by Quinton 2008-11-11 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: This is assuming no retirements...

Ok, thanks for that clarification.  Not that an open seat in CT would worry me too much anyway.  Any chance Lieberman might retire in 2012?

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-12 09:58AM | 0 recs
In 2010, I expect a very tough challenge

for Senator Feingold. Congressman Paul Ryan is very popular and is seen as a very good conservative. Ryan has been sucking up to the Repub leadership in the house (one of the few Republic house members to side with the leadership) leading me to believe he is vying for the a run in 2010. It will have been 12 years for him in the house so he is due for a step up. He won my district with something like 70 percent of the vote and he campaigned closely with McCain. He may feel as if something is owed to him and I guarantee you this will be a race that Feingold can lose.

by SocialDem 2008-11-10 06:32PM | 0 recs
Also I would like to add

in 2012 Herb Kohl may be close to retiring. There is no Democrat with a statewide profile that I can think of that could fill his seat. Democrats should watch WI very closely because I think we could be in a for a few tough races in WI.

by SocialDem 2008-11-10 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: In 2010, I expect a very tough challenge

(one of the few Republic house members to side with the leadership on the bailout)*

by SocialDem 2008-11-10 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: In 2010, I expect a very tough challenge

What about Tammy Baldwin? She seems to be a formidable candidate for a state-wide race. I do realize that her sexual orientation may render her powerless at the state-wide level, but it's something to consider.

by liberalteen 2008-11-10 07:44PM | 0 recs
Tammy Baldwin

does seem like a logical choice. But I don't think she has he punch that Ryan would have. Ryan is widely known among Republicans as being a good conservative and he is still young enough to be a rising star. I think you are right about Baldwin's sexual orientation may render her run extremely costly.

by SocialDem 2008-11-11 02:20PM | 0 recs
There will be more 2010 races

due to vacancies between now and then, including:

Alaska - unless Begich pulls it out on the absentee count, Stevens seat will be up for a special election in 2010.  No way will he still be there.

Obama's potential raid on the Senate for cabinet officials could open up a variety of seats.

by Bear83 2008-11-10 06:54PM | 0 recs
Re: 2009 race

   If Tubes Ted is reelected and then expelled or forced to resign the special election will be in early 2009 not in 2010. That is the Lisa Murkowski rule: after her father appointed her to his senate seat the rule was changed so there couldn't be appointed Senators. This indirectly led to Gov. Mooselini, because she beat Frank Murkowski in the GOP Gov primary in 2006. Part of his unpopularity came from appointing his kid.

by Zack from the SFV 2008-11-10 08:39PM | 0 recs
No Democratic Senate Losses in 2006, 2008..

The big problem in Hawaii is not necessarily Lingle, or even that Inouye or Akaka will die in office, which they both surely will do barring a truly debilitating illness.  The problem is that neither they, nor the Democratic party in Hawaii, are grooming successors.

Here in Hawaii the Dems truly believe they can run the proverbial yellow dog (or more accurately poi dog) and get it elected and Lingle proves that's not true.  She a true moderate Republican and will win a Senate seat barring a miracle if Inouye or Akaka die in the next few years.  They are both in their 80s and it is almost too late for the Democratic party in Hawaii to do anything about it.

I'm a lifelong Democrat but I gotta tell you the party apparatus here in Hawaii and the entrenched office holders are systemically corrupt.  Yes, there are some good individuals but the system itself, defined and run by Democrats, is beyond pathetic.

Somebody on the national stage needs to get these politicos in the Hawaii Democratic party by the lapels of the Aloha shirts and shake some sense into them, soon.

by solar 2008-11-10 09:42PM | 0 recs
Re: No Democratic Senate Losses in 2006, 2008..

No chance for Abercrombie or Hirono?  Are there any state legislative leaders, or a mayor of Honolulu?

Lingle is the only Jewish Republican woman I know of holding office anywhere.  That she's in HI makes it that much stranger.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-10 11:13PM | 0 recs
Related diary--2010 Senate

I coincidentally posted this early Saturday morning.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-10 11:14PM | 0 recs
Delaware will be competitive

The Republican Party is decimated in Delaware.  Their two hopes for the future (Lt. Governor candidate Charlie Copeland and State Senate candidate John Clatworthy) both lost.  The only statewide Republican who won was Congressman Mike Castle.  

It has long been assumed that he will run for the Senate if Carper or Biden ever stepped down for whatever reason.   While there has been some talk recently that Castle will be content to retire in 2010 from the House after he gets some bipartisan measures passed in this Congress, it is my bet that he will be pressured to run for the Senate since he literally is the only Republican who can run a competitive race, and a competitive race (even if they lose) is what the DE GOP needs right now after a year of blowout losses.  

Castle would be going up against either Lt. Governor John Carney (who was defeated in a razor close primary election by Gov.-elect Jack Markell) or State Attorney General Beau Biden.   Governor Minner will appoint either Carney or a placeholder / caretaker Senator for Biden in the coming weeks.

by Delaware Dem 2008-11-11 03:27AM | 0 recs
Democratic gains this election cycle.

The only Democratic seat vulnerable is Salazar's, and he is in a similar situation as Landrieu, if there is a democratic wind at our backs he won't lose, I see 3 pickup opportunities possibly up to five for the Dems, MO Kit Bond is vulnerable, LA David Vitter is vunerable and Burr is vulnerable, then we can look to Bunning and Mel Martinez and Lisa Murkowski, but we will pickup at least 3 if Carnahan decides to run against Christopher Kit Bond.

by olawakandi 2008-11-11 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic gains this election cycle.

Robin Carnahan may indeed run, but you can never take a race in Missouri for granted! They poll within the margin if error.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-12 10:03AM | 0 recs
Boxer would cream Schwarzenneger

The notion that Sen Boxer is vulnerable to a challenge from Gov Schwarzenneger is laughable. Sen Boxer has been "misunderestimated" since she was elected in 1992 (upsetting both a well-funded SoCal Congressman and a popular Lt Gov in the primary and a well-knowns talk show host in the general).  In 1998 she beat a sitting Republican State Treasurer and in 2004 she pasted a two-term Republican Secretary of State.  Sen Boxer is battle tested and will be well prepared.  And let's not forget that California is deeply blue.

Schwarzenneger got elected promising to "end the crazy deficit spending" and "cut up the state's credit cards."  He did neither and, in fact, each budget he's signed has more borrowing than the last. Everything he promised to improve has gotten worse. Californians, who loved the characters he played and dreamt the Terminator would bring order to Sacramento, stupidly ignored his lack of political experience or executive preparation.  Californians are on to him now and his approval ratings are in the tank. With the massive state budget deficit requiring both spending cuts and tax increases, his standing will further worsen.  

As they say in Sacramento, Republican legislators don't trust Schwarzenneger because he's a liberal and Democratic legislators don't trust him because he's a Republican.  Everyone laughs at his incompetance.  He swings from one gimmick/slogan to the next. History will view his tenure in office poorly.  Politically, Schwarzenegger is finished.

by darrenfelipe 2008-11-11 08:49AM | 0 recs
Maybe, but maybe not

Your post reads like a press release from Sen. Boxer's 2010 campaign.  That's fine if that's what you believe, but I think you are underestimating the potential challenge that Gov. Schwarzenegger could present.  He won re-election in 2006 by 17%, in the same year that the GOP nationally was pretty much falling on its face.  He has the movie star thing working for him, as well as about $500 mil in the bank if he decides to really throw down.

Personally, I have my doubts that he wants to be a senator (he seems more like an executive-type personality).  Also, the state of politics nationally  in 2010 will impact the race, and its impossible to know what that effect will be.  Still, if the GOP managed to recruit Schwarzenegger into the race, you'd have to believe that this would be the super-duper, numero uno race in 2010.  It would be a battle of political titans, and I think the outcome would be anyone's guess.        

by Mose 2008-11-13 10:17AM | 0 recs


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