A look at the 2008 Senate races, mid-October edition

Bumped - Todd

With the election less than 3 weeks away from us, it's time for another look at all the 2008 Senate races.  There are 35 seats up for election because of a scenario in Wyoming and Mississippi where both seats are up, due to the passing of Craig Thomas and the resignation of Trent Lott, respectively.  Obviously, quite a few of the races are considered "safe" for the incumbent.  So what are the competitive races?

Again, just to be clear, I don't do predictions.  Every time I do, horrible things happen.  So I won't even make an actual prediction on the Virginia Senate race, because doing so would effectively jinx Mark Warner.  So, I'll rank these in terms of tiers.  The top tier will be the races where the party holding the seat has a legitimate chance of switching (but I ain't guaranteeing anything).  The second tier are races that could become top tier races, but are not at this point.  Tier III are ones where a major event would need to happen for the seat to come into play.  And the safe seats?  Well, Mike Gravel has a better shot at winning the presidency than those incumbents have of losing their races.

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Senate rankings: Democrats have their 9th target

Posted on Campaign Diaries. You can also check the House ratings here.

Over the past two months, the Senate playing field has gotten much clearer, and the gap between competitive seats and sleeper races has widened.

On the one hand, Democrats have solidified their position in the top-tier. They have managed to catapult North Carolina into the toss-up category, finally reaching their goal of putting 9 GOP-held seats in play. As a series of stunning developments in Alaska left the GOP pinning its hopes on an indicted incumbent, there now are five Republican-held seats that are leaning towards Democrats. That is not to say that Democrats can take 5 seats for granted (in fact, they appear to have sealed the deal in only two contests), but a testament to the fact that Senate Democrats remain poised to have a strong night on November 4th.

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A Look at the 2008 Senate Races, September Edition

So with the Alaska primary and the conventions now over, it's time for another look at all the 2008 Senate races.  There are 35 seats up for election because of a scenario in Wyoming and Mississippi where both seats are up, due to the passing of Craig Thomas and the resignation of Trent Lott, respectively.  Obviously, quite a few of the races are considered "safe" for the incumbent.  So what are the competitive races?

Again, just to be clear, I don't do predictions.  Every time I do, horrible things happen.  So I won't even make an actual prediction on the Virginia Senate race, because doing so would effectively jinx Mark Warner.  So, I'll rank these in terms of tiers.  The top tier will be the races where the party holding the seat has a legitimate chance of switching (but I ain't guaranteeing anything).  The second tier are races that could become top tier races, but are not at this point.  Tier III are ones where a major event would need to happen for the seat to come into play.  And the safe seats?  Well, Mike Gravel has a better shot at winning the presidency than those incumbents have of losing their races.

This is meant to be a primer for both newcomers and political junkies alike, so some of the information may seem repetitive for you junkies out there.  Also see my previous August diary to see what things have changed since my last update.

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Doctors Come Out Against Endangered GOP Sens.

Throughout the entirety of the current Congress, Republicans have adhered to a strict obstruction whenever possible regimen in the hopes of thwarting any and all progressive change. While by and large the media have given the GOP a pass on the subject (save for a few stories here and there from McClatchy or The Washington Post), it was bound to be the case that the GOP's tactics would come back to bite them at some point.  

According to Congressional Quarterly (subscription required), for instance, the American Medical Association, a group that has overwhelmingly backed Republicans in the past (giving at least 61 percent of their contributions to GOP candidates since 1990), is now not only withdrawing support from Republicans but is going so far as running ads against endangered GOP Senators up for reelection this fall on the topic of harsh cuts in Medicare payments to doctors supported on Capitol Hill by those members.

The Senate vote has made for an easy talking point for Democrats and doctors. In the AMA ads, a narrator charges: "A group of U.S. senators voted to protect the powerful insurance companies at the expense of Medicare patients' access to doctors."

The ads name GOP Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas; John E. Sununu of New Hampshire; John Barrasso and Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming; Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee; Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran of Mississippi; and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Alexander, Cornyn, Sununu, Barrasso, Enzi, Cochran and Wicker all face elections this year. Sununu and Wicker are seen by Democrats as particularly vulnerable.

An AMA spokeswoman would not say what the association is paying to run the ads, but called the buy "significant."

Per the CQ article, this fracas is making particular waves in Texas, where the local AMA actually withdrew its support for GOP incumbent John Cornyn, and Mississippi, where Democrat Ronnie Musgrove is talking about the issue at all of his events. (Note that both races are being targeted in the MyDD Road to 60 effort). For those interested, a version of the ads the AMA is running in these races is available online here.

For those not entirely familiar with the GOP obstruction on this front, here's The New York Times' Robert Pear:

Doctors face a 10 percent cut in Medicare payments next week, following the Senate's failure on Thursday to take up legislation that would have averted the cuts.

Republican senators blocked efforts by Democrats to call up the bill, which was approved Tuesday in the House by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 355 to 59.

In the Senate, supporters fell two votes short of the 60 needed to close debate. The vote was 58 to 40.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said, "We have to pass this bill to avoid catastrophic cuts to doctors."

Dr. Nancy H. Nielsen, president of the American Medical Association, said the cuts would force many doctors to "limit the number of new Medicare patients they treat."

All in all, there is a simple narrative, one that we have heard over and over again in recent years (and indeed for the past several decades, at least since the New Deal): When push comes to shove and the Republicans have had to choose between the people and the special interests that fund GOP efforts, Republicans will almost invariably choose the latter.

By the way, nice work John McCain for not even bothering to show up for the vote -- particularly given that your support for the measure would have meant that the bill would have passed (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote to "no" for parliamentary reasons so that he could bring the measure up again in the future, so the bill actually had the support of 59 Senators).

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BruinKid's Senate race rankings

So with less than half a year to go, it's time for another look at all the 2008 Senate races.  There are 35 seats up for election because of a scenario in Wyoming and Mississippi where both seats are up, due to the passing of Craig Thomas and the resignation of Trent Lott, respectively.  Now obviously, quite a few of the races are considered "safe" for the incumbent.  So I'll rank these in terms of tiers.  The top tier will be the races where the party holding the seat has a real shot of switching.  The second tier are races that could become top tier races, but are not at this point.  Tier III are ones where a major event would need to happen for the seat to come into play.  And the safe seats?  Well, Mike Gravel has a better shot at winning the presidency than those incumbents have of losing their races.

Follow me below the fold for all the races.  This is meant to be a primer for both newcomers and political junkies alike, so some of the information may seem repetitive for you junkies out there.  Also see my previous March diary to see what things have changed since my last update.

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