Senate 2008: GOP's Shot at Picking Up a D Seat Diminish Further

So much for the notion that Senate Republicans genuinely had a shot at putting the Democrats on the defensive anywhere in the country this cycle. Via Breaking Blue comes news of yet another survey out of South Dakota showing Democratic incumbent Tim Johnson up by a wide margin over his underwhelming GOP challenger. And earlier this week, Rasmussen Reports released new numbers out of Louisiana calling to question the Republicans' shot in Louisiana.

Senator Mary Landrieu, once viewed as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent this election year, has opened a significant lead over Republican challenger John Kennedy in her bid for re-election.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state shows the Louisiana Democrat attracts 53% of the vote while the Republican hopeful earns just 37% support. A month ago, Landrieu was leading Kennedy by only five percentage points, 49% to 44%.

When leaners are pushed, Mary Landrieu's lead over John N. Kennedy grows to 17 points, 56 percent to 39 percent -- not exactly the range of an endangered incumbent. Louisiana is still a tough state for the Democrats to prevail in, both because of the long term trends in the region away from the Democrats towards the Republicans and because of the demographic shifts in the state in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. However, the Democratic Party -- and this includes the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, the state party, activists on the ground -- have been working overtime in recent months to identify voters across the state, particularly those that moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge or elsewhere, an effort which has greatly increased the party's chances in the fall. Tack on the fact that the DSCC and the Landrieu campaign have been pummeling Kennedy in paid media, and you can see why this race appears to be moving back towards the Democrats.

And with the Democrats playing less and less defense between now and November, and the Republicans going on the defensive in an increasingly large number of states (who'da thunk it that Georgia and even Oklahoma would be tightening up at this juncture), the Democrats' shot at 60 seats in the Senate is becoming ever more real.

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GA-Sen: Martin within 5 Points of Chambliss

Today certainly is a day for interesting and surprising Senate polling. I noted earlier the numbers showing Andrew Rice down by just a single-digit margin against Jim Inhofe in Oklahoma. Now comes new polling from
Rasmussen Reports
pegging Jim Martin within 5 points of Saxby Chambliss in Georgia -- the second straight survey to show results in that neighborhood.

Jim Martin, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate after defeating Vernon Jones in a run-off primary election earlier this month, is now trailing incumbent Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss by just six percentage points. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the Peach State finds the incumbent ahead of his challenger 48% to 43%.

When "leaners" are included, Chambliss leads 50% to 44%.

Though the latest numbers could represent a temporary primary "glow" for Martin, the poll marks the lowest level of support for the incumbent since tracking of this year's election began. Last month, Chambliss had a 51% to 40% lead over the Democrat.

A poll released last week by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee showed Martin down 6 points, suggesting that Rasmussen's numbers here aren't likely too far off the mark. Now getting from 43 percent or 44 percent to closer to 50 percent will be no easy task for Martin; then-incumbent Democratic Senator Max Cleland received just 46 percent of the vote in 2002 in a race that was assumed to be much closer than that. Nevertheless, it does appear that the support given to Martin in the primary by Chuck Schumer and the folks over at the DSCC is paying off, if not in a race that's necessarily likely to flip at this juncture but at the least one that the Republicans are genuinely going to have to play defense in.

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Senate 2008: Oklahoma May Be on the Map

Color me surprised. I have had my eye on the Oklahoma Senate race for a while but haven't written too much about it given that although I believe GOP incumbent Jim Inhofe to be vulnerable and his Democratic challenger Andrew Rice to be credible, Oklahoma is an incredibly red state and the last time it held a Senate election concurrent to a Presidential election, back in 2004, a very able Democratic candidate (Congressman Brad Carson) lost to an underwhelming GOP candidate (now-Senator Tom Coburn). But maybe this contest isn't as out of reach as I had once thought.

Oklahoma Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Rice has narrowed Republican Senator Jim Inhofe's lead from twenty points two months ago to nine points today, according to a new poll conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Rice campaign. Inhofe now leads Rice only 50% to 41%, down from a 53% to 33% lead in June. Only 46% of Oklahomans say Inhofe is doing an excellent or good job, with 47% saying he is doing only a fair or poor job.

[...]

The poll of 600 likely voters was taken August 12 to 14 by the Benenson Strategy Group and has a 4% margin of error.

This is going to be a tough race for Rice to win, no doubt. As alluded to above, back in 2004 the trend for Carson looked great with the Democrat leading by a 44 percent to 39 percent margin in late September, and it appeared as though the Democrats had a legitimate shot at picking up Oklahoma's other Senate seat. In the end, however, Coburn pulled out a relatively comfortable 53 percent to 41 percent victory over Carson.

That all said, that Rice, who coming into the race was much less of a proven commodity in Oklahoma than Carson, is already pulling in the same amount of support in mid-August that Carson was able to garner in November 2004 is a good sign. What's more, with the Republicans on the defensive around the country, and environmental groups particularly aiming at Inhofe (in a way not too dissimilar to the efforts waged against the similarly anti-environment Richard Pombo in 2006), this could the type of race that flies under the radar only to come together as a real contest in the end. For now, chalk it up as yet another contest we need to be keeping our eye one.

Below the fold... an ad from the Rice campaign.

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KS-Sen: Roberts Gets Skittish About His Party Affiliation

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey out of Kansas shows incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts leading former Democratic Congressman Jim Slattery, who is a member of the MyDD Road to 60 Act Blue page, by a 56 percent to 37 percent margin (down from a 61 percent to 33 percent lead in the previous poll). But if you think these numbers say everything about this race, you had better think again. Roberts is indeed worried -- just look at what he won't be doing next month.

Sen. Pat Roberts (KS) is now the eighth Republican senator to announce that they will not attend the GOP Convention in St. Paul, Minn., next month.

Roberts spokeswoman told the Topeka Capital Journal today that Roberts will be campaigning that week, finishing up his 105 county statewide tour during the convention week.

Four others who've announced they won't be attending are -- Ted Stevens (AK),  Elizabeth Dole (NC), Gordon Smith (OR), and Susan Collins (ME). All are running for re-election and are in close races. (Collins may have the easiest race, but she's never been a close ally of McCain.)

Despite the fact that Roberts apparently holds a decent lead in head-to-head polling (though those numbers are at least in part reflective of the fact that his campaign has been on air in the state quite heavily in recent months) and that the Democrats have not won a Senate election in Kansas since 1932, Roberts is worried enough about his chances at reelection that he won't attend the Republican National Convention. Incumbents not worried about winning another term don't shy away from their party, particularly when they represent states seemingly heavily tilted in favor of their party. These actions speak loudly, indicating that Slattery does have a real shot at victory. If you'd like to help him out, head over to Act Blue today and make your voice heard.

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Use It Or Lose It 2008

Yesterday Sven at My Silver State posted a diary here on MyDD detailing the amount each member of the Senate Democratic caucus has given to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- the entity charged with seeking to grow the Democratic ranks in the upper chamber of Congress, with the goal this cycle or next of attaining a 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority. This listing came on the heels of reports that Joe Lieberman, who has endorsed John McCain for President, has contributed $115,000 to the DSCC this year (on top of roughly that same amount contributed during the previous calendar year).

The listing isn't a perfect measure for gauging members' support for the DSCC -- it does not include the amount members have directly raised for the committee this cycle, for instance -- but it is a good start towards seeing the extent to which individual Senators are willing to be team players in creating a significantly larger majority that would greatly increase the likelihood of progressive legislation getting through Congress in the next two years. Looking through the list, there are a few names that stand out:

  • Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, who is not up for reelection until 2010, has contributed just $15,000 to the DSCC through his PAC (not listed in Sven's post, but I'm told this is the accurate figure) despite the fact that he has more than $10.6 million in the bank in his campaign account.
  • Tom Harkin, who is up for reelection this cycle, has contributed $20,000 while his campaign cash-on-hand sits at $4.1 million. For reference, Harkin's GOP challenger has $293 in the bank, and the polling puts Harkin up at least 15 points.
  • John Kerry, who is also up for reelection this year, has given $32,000 to the DSCC ($30,000 through his PAC, plus a $2,000 check from his wife). He is currently sitting on close to $8.9 million in the bank (compared with less than $35,000 for his GOP opponent), and consistently leads by more than 20 points in the polls. In 2006, Kerry contributed $250,000 to the committee following that year's Use It Or Lose It effort.
  • Max Baucus faces the voters in Montana this year. Baucus has already contributed north of $600,000 to the DSCC, but still has $5.5 million in the bank at a time when his opponent has not yet filed campaign finance reports.
  • Jay Rockefeller is up for reelection in West Virginia this fall. He has contributed $350,000 to the DSCC, and may still need some of the $3.3 million he has on hand for his efforts this fall (though he is not considered vulnerable whatsoever at this juncture).

There are other names on the list, which is worth going through, but these names stand out as members who could potentially afford to contribute more to the effort to reach 60 seats in the Senate by making transfers to the DSCC.

So I am with desmoinesdem, Sven, and the others who would like to see another Use It Or Lose It effort this fall.  We here at MyDD are already doing our part to help out by contributing to candidates on the Road to 60 Act Blue page, but further effort could be used in politely -- politely -- asking members to dig a little deeper into their campaign accounts to help the DSCC expand the map and increase the likelihood of achieving a filibuster-proof margin in the chamber. Remember, this is money that they have raised, money that is under their control to use as they see fit (within the political context), so be respectful and do not make a demand. But if you ask nicely, it's just possible that they will see fit to transferring a bit more money to the DSCC, thus increasing the chances at a filibuster proof margin this fall.  

Here are the email contacts for Evan Bayh (info@allamericapac.com), Tom Harkin (link to contact form), John Kerry (support@johnkerry.com), Max Baucus (link to contact), and Jay Rockefeller (web@jay08.com). Be polite, be respectful, and we might just get something done.

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Diaries

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