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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Red State Democrats Rising

As Barack Obama has risen in the polls nationally and in much of the state polling, we're seeing some pretty dramatic movement among downticket Democrats as well, particularly Senate candidates in red states.

GA-SEN Today kos alerts us to the remarkable fact that a new Research 2000 poll he commissioned confirms what Survey USA found last week: the Georgia Senate race between Democrat Jim Martin and Republican Saxby Chambliss is currently all tied up.

Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 9/29-10/1. Likely voters. MoE +/- 4%

Chambliss (R) 45
Martin (D) 44

Being that this is the third poll in a row to show this race within 3 points or less (within the MOE,) I agree with Kos, this is now a top tier race.

TX-SEN Another red state Democrat showing impressive gains is Road to 60 candidate Rick Noriega running against John "Big John" Cornyn of Texas. I've been waiting for this race to tighten and it looks as though it finally is (August numbers in parentheses.)

Rasmussen Reports, September 29, 500 LVs, 2008, MOE +/- 4.5%

Cornyn (R) 50 (48)
Noriega (D) 43 (37)

Rasmussen's pretty much the only pollster in polling this race, so I'd like to see other polls confirm this trend. I'd also like to see Cornyn drop, not rise, especially his favorability rating, which is currently at 57/30. His cheesy black and white ads can't really be helping him, can they? Whatever it is that's driving this race, it's apparent that at the very least Noriega is rising at a faster rate than Cornyn and it could just be a matter of whether Noriega has enough time to get his message out.

NE-SEN Last but not least, it's great to see some movement in Nebraska. The Scott Kleeb campaign has always said to be patient, as Scott works to get his name ID up, his numbers would rise. Interestingly, the place he's always done the worst simply because they don't know him is Omaha -- ya know, where the Democrats are. Now, we're finally seeing that movement.

Rasmussen Reports, September 30, 2008, 500 LVs MOE +/- 4.5%

Johanns 52 (56)
Kleeb 38 (31)

While 14 points is still a large hurdle to overcome, a 25 point lead dropped down to 14 points is a summer well-spent. And now the great news that Obama is actively competing for Nebraska's second congressional district can only help Scott. Expect this race to get tighter still as Omaha's voters learn they have a progressive Democrat to vote for down ballot as they vote for Obama at the top.

Among these three races we have what potentially could be our 61st, 62nd and 63rd seats in the Senate. Could it be that in shooting for 60 we were being conservative?

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TX-Sen: John Cornyn's New Ad- "The Cow Whisperer"

From the diaries. This ad is truly bizarre. And infuriating. What is up with people IN congress running AGAINST congress? What do you mean bring "some Texas common sense to Washington"!? Dude, you're IN Washington. Make Cornyn pay by giving to Rick Noriega today. - Todd

For as much money as John Cornyn has, he sure is spending it in the most bizarre ways, and on some of the most ineffective TV ads I can imagine. After mucking up his launch by running ads immediately after Hurricane Ike and running them for two weeks statewide with seeing a negative bump in the polls, his campaign unveiled their latest ad.

John Cornyn has moved from a canyon- to a field of cows.

No, I'm not kidding. Watch it.


And the best part- here's what the message of the ad is supposed to be according to Cornyn's latest twitter.

Just released a new ad which discusses the economic stabilization legislation passed last night. See it at www.JohnCornyn.com

I don't think cows have much to do with bailing out Wall Street and they are so distracting in the ad (which is titled "Cows"), between them and the black and white film noire, it's hard pulling out any message from this ad.

As Dean Rindy commented on the new direction of the campaign.

"I can't read their minds, but it does seem like a conscious decision to abandon the gauche technicolor Big Bad John cowboy-in-drag look that they went with earlier this year," Rindy said, referring to the campaign's much-publicized video.  "Bumptious macho John has been replaced by plain, sensitive, kind-of-sad John. He looks like a 55-year-old unmarried liberal arts professor, hanging out at the corner laundromat, trolling for sadder but wiser divorcees."

Maybe black and white cows and canyons aren't the best way to go to keep yourself from looking old, boring, and bland.

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Road To 60/Blue America Fundraising Push

Bumped - Todd

Bumped, Charlie Cook says that "The idea that Republicans could lose nine Senate seats is no longer implausible." 60 is within reach. Jerome

Last weekend, Blue America launched a fundraising contest for some of our great Democratic Senate challengers around the country: each donation equals 1 vote, even if it's just $1 and the candidate who gets the most votes gets $5,000 donated to his campaign. So far they've raised over $36,000 for 5 Senate challengers.

I noticed that three of the challengers on Blue America's list -- Mark Begich, Jeff Merkley and Rick Noriega -- are also on our Road To 60 ActBlue page, so Howie Klein suggested a promotion that could benefit both of our fundraisers. The first 20 people who donate $25 or more to any of those three candidates here at our ActBlue page AND vote over at the Blue America Act Blue page ($1 or more), will receive the book 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Fight The Right. The contest ends on Saturday, so between now and then, let's see if we can add at least 20 new donors to these three great senate challengers' coffers.

  • The beauty of the Blue America contest is that it rewards a candidate's ability to rally his base, and so far Rick Noriega has managed to out mobilize the others. Since Saturday, Noriega has raised more than $17,000 on the Blue America page alone. Noriega has always had a strong netroots and grassroots base -- that's how he got into the senate race in the first place. But no doubt there's another reason Noriega is inspiring such an outpouring at this point. He has spent the last week in his capacity as Lt. Col. in the Texas National Guard helping parts of Texas hit hardest by Hurricane Ike. Read KTinTX's diary about it -- including a video from Noriega himself -- HERE.
  • Jeff Merkley is the newest member of the Road To 60 Act Blue page. We decided to add Speaker Merkley in honor of both his true progressive principles AND the closeness of his race. He proved his values to us with his response to the White House's bailout proposal (you can watch video of him speaking out about it HERE.) We know that a Senator Merkley would not sit idly by and accept a taxpayer bailout proposal without demanding that there be true oversight and a stake in it for the taxpayers. If Wall St. is going to get bailed out, Main St. had better get something out of it too. And he proved the closeness of the race to us this week as well with a new poll showing him up 2 points and climbing. Gordon's gotta go and Jeff looks poised to send him packing.
  • Mark Begich has impressed me from the moment I met him in Austin. There was no pandering to the bloggers, just Mark being Mark, a Red State Democrat speaking to a group that likes its Democrats as ideologically pure as we can get them. But, remarkably, there was very little gap between us. Here was a guy who had figured out how to run and win in a place where Democrats rarely do -- especially as the Mayor of Anchorage where Democrats are notoriously weak -- without sacrificing his progressive principles. Here's a guy who is running on a platform of renewable energies in a state whose wealth depends on oil. Here's a guy who talks openly about Alaska being ground zero in the fight to stop global warming. How he's done it is by producing results as Mayor. Funny how competence and strength of principle can overcome partisan devotions. And we're seeing that in the polls, as Begich has been polling ahead of Ted Stevens even in the post-Palin polls. Mark begich appears to be one of our best chances at a pick-up but he, like the others, still needs our help as we enter the final 40 days.

All of which is to say that these are three great Senate challengers that I hope you will support between now and Saturday with a $25 donation (or more) to our Road To 60 ActBlue page and then also be sure to vote for them over at the Blue America Senate challenger contest. The first 20 donors will receive this cool book, 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Fight The Right. It's easy for our Senate challengers to get lost in the presidential mayhem so please donate today to these three great candidates.

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TX-Sen: Rick Noriega's Message Post-Ike

This is one of those videos in politics that I wish never had to be produced. But it's borne out of the tragedy of Hurricane Ike and the fact that Lt. Col. Noriega has been spending time the last week with his National Guard servicemen helping with relief efforts instead of campaigning.

Many have asked what it's like for a campaign to suspend. For Rick, it's personal, because he's done this before after Hurricane's Katrina & Rita. For the families affected, it's personal, because their life, family, and possessions have been disrupted directly.

It's also personal in the political arena, even though this in and of itself isn't a political issue. But what we expect from our elected officials and their vision of how government should serve the people does matter. What resources for prevention and recovery we expect of our government does matter. And the character of those we elect does matter.

When I came back to Texas nearly a year ago, to join in supporting Rick's campaign here on the ground, it was because I saw someone who in times of great need put service above self.

"Service above Self" is a message that resonates with me specifically because it is the motto of Rotary International, of which, I am a (rather young) Paul Harris Fellow, for service offered to the Hunger Plus program in high school. It's a message that everyday citizens understand because it is an ideal that embodies how we can make a better world by being better people.

Service matters. And it's why Rick Noriega is qualified to speak directly on so many important issues in this election. It's why as we begin to return back to an election that is less than a month and a half away, we remember his service and do our best to restore people's lives and people's hope in our government.

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