Road to 60: Begich Now Leads Stevens by 3 814 Votes

Via Atrios comes some exciting news: Democrat Mark Begich now leads Republican Ted Stevens by 3 814 votes in the Alaska Senate race.

Ted Stevens (R): 131,382 votes (47.12 percent)
Mark Begich (D): 132,196 votes (47.41 percent)

As of 12:31 AM, 11/13/08

Considering Stevens was once up by about 3,000 votes, this trend doesn't look too bad for MyDD Road to 60 endorsee Begich. There still remain more ballots to be counted, so suffice it to say that this race could still go either way.

Update [2008-11-12 21:46:50 by Todd Beeton]:MSNBC reports that more than 10,000 ballots are still to be counted today and that the Alaska Division of Elections will count 35,000 more next week.

Update [2008-11-13 1:59:16 by Todd Beeton]:H/t to Senate Guru for this update on the votes that were counted on Weds and what's yet to come:

The state Division of Elections tallied about 60,000 absentee, early and questioned ballots on Wednesday. The ballots broke heavily in Begich's favor, erasing the 3,000-vote lead that Stevens had after election night last Tuesday.

The state still needs to count at least 15,000 questioned ballots and an estimated 20,000 mailed absentee ballots that made it to the Division of Elections after election day last Tuesday.

More good news for Begich: the remaining ballots from his base of Anchorage will not be counted until early next week.

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GA-Sen: Republicans Stick with Same Lame Message

From Ben Smith comes the latest lame attempt by Republicans to try to use the image of national Democrats to try to hurt a down-ballot Democratic candidate, in this case Jim Martin in Georgia.

Asks Smith, "Is Chuck Schumer that well-known in Georgia?" I can't imagine the answer to that question is yes. I haven't been able to find any national polling on Schumer, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is presumably more well known to the public than DSCC chair Schumer, and Diageo/Hotline polling (.pdf) following the election found that only about a third of voters across the country knew enough about Reid to rate him favorably or unfavorably.

But even going beyond the issue of attacking politicians most voters are unlikely to know much about, the fundamental problem with this strategy by the Republicans is that the American people just aren't afraid of the idea of Democratic control over the government. Both John McCain and Senate Republicans tried to make the argument during the run up to the general election, and it didn't work then. Polling since the election shows that as many as three in five voters are content with the Democrats controlling both Congress and the Presidency. Why should we believe that all of the sudden this tack will finally begin to work?

Yes, showing a picture of Nancy Pelosi might make Republicans marginally more likely to go to the polls for what should be a relatively low turnout special Senate election in Georgia. But I just don't see her image, or that of Schumer, scaring up enough votes to justify spending money on television ads evoking their power on Capitol Hill.  

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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.

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Road to 60 Blocked: Wicker Wins Mississippi

It's a very good night for Senate Democrats, picking up several seats tonight, though 60 is not in the works as Roger Wicker has defeated Ronnie Musgrove in Mississippi. Still a chance to get to the high-50s, however.

Update [2008-11-4 22:8:5 by Jonathan Singer]: For at least the second time tonight, Fox News -- which, by the way, looks like a wake -- has had to pull back a call. The Mississippi Senate race has been uncalled. Nice work.

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Road to 60: Draft Udall a Success in New Mexico

CNN has called the New Mexico Senate race for Tom Udall, the fourth pick-up so far for Senate Democrats. Big props to the MyDD community for its role in the Draft Udall effort, helping to raise close to $5k to cajole the Congressman to enter the race after he had previously said no.

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