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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NH-Sen: Shaheen's Continues to Lead, Sununu's 43% Won't Budge

Earlier this week Markos made the correct point that the fact that both Mark Warner in Virginia and Tom Udall in New Mexico are blowing their Republican competitors out of the water in Senate head-to-heads might seem to diminish by comparison the fact that in New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen is holding on to a decent lead over unpopular freshman Republican Senator John Sununu. But just because Shaheen's lead is not as large as that of Warner or Udall doesn't mean that she's not sitting in a very good position to win in November. Here are the latest numbers from Rasmussen Reports, for example:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of New Hampshire voters shows hardly any change in the state's U.S. Senate race. Jeanne Shaheen (D) now leads incumbent Senator John Sununu (R) 50% to 43%. A month ago, Shaheen led 51% to 43%. The race is remarkably stable. Prior to the current poll showing a seven-point Shaheen lead, the challenger had enjoyed an eight-point lead in three consecutive monthly polls.

Any incumbent who is polling below 50% is considered potentially vulnerable. Sununu, facing a serious challenge from a former Governor of the state, is more vulnerable than most. This is the fifth Rasmussen Reports poll of the race and Sununu has never topped the 43% level of support. In each of the last two surveys, the challenger has hit the 50% mark.

The most interesting thing out of this poll: As noted by Rasmussen, Sununu has been unable to climb above 43 percent in any of the five surveys the pollster has conducted pitting him against Shaheen dating back to September. Indeed, Sununu has either come in at 41 or 43 percent while Shaheen has ranged from 48 to 51 percent. While Shaheen's lead at present is not statistically significant, the fact that Rasmussen's polling has remained so static for eight months speaks to the trouble faced by Sununu. Thinking back, the only incumbent during the 2006 cycle to consistently poll in the low 40s with very little movement was another hard right conservative who was out of touch with his Northeastern state -- Rick Santorum.

There is no reason to write this race off at this point -- there is yet a lot of work to do. But for now, this race has a decided tilt towards a Democratic pick up.

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Full Senate rankings: The map expands for Democrats

The presidential primaries are heading towards a not so climactic conclusion and so the time has come to focus some attention on the congressional races. I haven't updated the  rankings since January and a lot has changed in the past 5 months, starting with the resolution of contested primaries in Oregon, Nebraska, North Carolina and probably Minnesota. Both parties have gone through final recruitment pushes, with the GOP playing a tragicomedic farce in New Jersey and suffering through one more round of failures in South Dakota and Iowa.

The full rankings are available here, on my blog at Campaign Diaries.

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Senate Fundraising Roundup

It's still a little early before we're going to get the whole fundraising picture (campaign finance filings are not due until Tuesday, which will be a nice birthday gift for a political junkie like me), but a few numbers are beginning to trickle in slowly, and thus far this is what I've got.

  • In New Hampshire, former Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen brought in $1.2 million in the first quarter from 6,500 donors (4,000 of whom were first time contributers to the campaign). This bumped Shaheen's cash-on-hand to roughly $2 million, which is still quite a bit less than the $3.4 million her GOP opponent, freshman Senator John Sununu, had in the bank three months ago. (Read more on the money from DiStaso.) However, Shaheen does hold a sizable lead where it counts -- among the voters -- so this one remains a very good pick up opportunity for the Senate Democrats.

  • Yesterday I noted polling showing draftee Tom Udall leading quite comfortably in the New Mexico Senate race over either of his potential Republican opponents, Congressman Steve Pearce and Congresswoman Heather Wilson. Now, via email, comes word that Udall raised a healthy $1.3 million in the first quarter. Note that this is an improvement from last quarter when Udall raised $1 million -- which was enough to trump both of his GOP opponents... combined.

  • Via SSP comes news that former Virginia Governor Mark Warner raised a remarkable $2.5 million in the first quarter, bumping up his cash-on-hand to $4.4 million.

More as we get it...

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"Tossup" in New Hampshire Senate Race Looking Great for Dems

Both the Rothenberg Political Report and the Cook Political Report (.pdf) rate the New Hampshire Senate race between freshman incumbent Republican John Sununu and former Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen as a "tossup." For a race that could go either way, the polling sure looks good. Take a look at the two sets of numbers out this week:

Rasmussen Reports

Sununu (R): 41 percent (41 percent in February)
Shaheen (D): 49 percent (49 percent in February)

American Research Group

Sununu (R): 33 percent (51 percent in December)
Shaheen (D): 47 percent (41 percent in December)

While ARG has been remarkably adept as missing the mark during the Democratic primaries, and a net swing of 24 points over the past three months in this race is not likely, when you take the ARG poll along with the one from Rasmussen, you get a pretty good sense that calling this race a pure tossup at this point might understate the Democrats' chances at a pickup here.

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