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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TX-Sen: Cornyn Funds the War, but Not Those Who Fought It

The first paragraph from this article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says it all.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, voted to approve $165 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but provided one of 22 votes against the domestic spending measure that is paired with the war spending bill.  The Senate bill would add about $50 billion through 2017 for veterans' education benefits.

John Cornyn provided one of just 22 votes against this bill which was an expanded version of the GI Bill, called the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Act, to increase education benefits for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Even Texas' other Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison voted for it along with many of the Republican Senators up for re-election this year who are trying to moderate their positions in an election year.

But not John Cornyn. Here's what he's had to say about this bill.

"The anti-war crowd is determined to use our men and women in uniform for their political advantage, even if our national security is jeopardized in the process," Cornyn campaign spokesman Kevin McLaughlin said.

And again on his reasons to oppose it.

The updated GI Bill would hurt re-enlistment rates because troops will be eager to take advantage of it.

The Austin American-Statesman replied to this line of argument on their editorial page today. Simply put...

While those arguments will no doubt be repeated often between now and November, they are as empty as the arguments that the World War II era GI Bill cost too much. How much is too much for people we ask to walk into bullets?

Supporting the troops is more than plastering a yellow decal on a car. Real support means a commitment of money. Mere money doesn't match the commitment we asked the troops to make.

President Bush is now threatening to veto the legislation. But Cornyn has already indicated he's willing to vote against overriding the veto. You should sign Rick Noriega's petition calling on Cornyn to vote to override that veto.

As Rick Noriega said...

"If that GI Bill was good enough for the Greatest Generation, why is it not good enough for the latest generation?

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TX-Sen: Second Poll Puts Noriega Within 4 Points

We've been watching this race for over a year, but I have to admit, as much hope as I held out for Democrat Rick Noriega to really make a contest out of it, I never really expected it to get this close this soon. But following up on Rasmussen Reports polling released earlier in the week showing Noriega only slightly trailing (though within the margin of error of) freshman Republican Senator John Cornyn down in Texas, a second poll this week shows effectively the same result. Here's the nonpartisan Research 2000 for Daily Kos:

AllMenWom.GOPINDDEM
Cornyn485343814511
Noriega444048134582

The fact that Cornyn can only managed to get about four in five GOP members to back him in his reelection bid -- about the same level of support from within his own party that Noriega receives despite the fact that the latter hasn't been on the scene for nearly as long -- speaks to the incumbent's problems.

At least in part, some of this discontent could be traced to the unpopularity of George W. Bush even in his "home" state of Texas. According to R2K, just 37 percent of Texas likely voters approve of the job Bush is doing as President while a whopping 63 percent disapprove. Even among Republicans, Bush's approval rating is a relatively weak 68 percent, with 32 percent disapproving. Unless Cornyn can figure out a way to solidify his base and get that number up among Republicans, he's going to have a heck of a time pushing his lead over Noriega outside of the margin of error.

Now before the Democrats get their hopes too high up, it's worth remembering that Cornyn has about 26 times more money in the bank than Noriega. Specifically, that's a $8,688,953 to $329,293 lead in cash-on-hand. Unless Noriega can up that number (and you can help him today through Act Blue), it's going to be awfully tough for him to make use of the political climate in Texas that might actually enable him to become the first Democrat since Lloyd Bentsen (yeah, that Lloyd Bentsen) to win a Senate election in Texas. At the same time, Noriega need not necessarily match Cornyn, only begin to get closer to him, given that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has about $20.5 million more in the bank than the National Republican Senatorial Committee and could help Noriega out if this race is still close in October. This could be a fun one.

Update [2008-5-9 15:3:49 by Jonathan Singer]: Noriega is liveblogging right now for those interested.

Thinking about DSCC Race Targets

I think this is a fair read of the lay of the land for Senate races we are challenging by DSCC chair Sen. Chuck Schumer. From MSNBC's FirstRead...

Here's the picture for the DSCC provided by Schumer:

Top targets: VA, NH, NM, CO, AK. (Schumer says they are ahead here.)

Second tier: OR, MN, ME. (These are blue states; Democrats are not ahead, but are competitive.)

Red-state seats in striking range: KY, NC, MS.

Good candidates with an outside chance: NE, KS, OK, GA, ID, TX. (Schumer says of Texas that he likes Noriega as a candidate and that incumbent Sen. John Cornyn is polling surprisingly low.)

The note on the fourth set about Noriega is actually from Schumer and included in the article so it's nice to see him pointing this race out in particular. There is good reason for this because the Texas Senate race is competitive, possibly as much or more so than other races listed in higher tiers. I use Maine for an example.

The latest Maine polling...


Pollster       Collins  Allen
Rasmussen           54     38    
McLaughlin (R)      54     31    
Critical Insights   54     34

Polling from the Noriega campaign conducted prior to the primary.


                        Cornyn   Noriega
Initial Head-to-head       42        22
Informed Ballot Positive   42        31
Informed Ballot Contrast   41        33

Maine is a lot smaller than Texas and Tom Allen represented half of Maine in Congress verses Rick Noriega representing 1/150th of Texas in the state house. And even with that and the fact that the Texas numbers are pre-primary it seems clear that Texas is well positioned to be heading on up those charts.

No offense intended to my friends in Maine and the good folks at Turn Maine Blue! We suffer from an embarrassment of riches this year.

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A look at the Senate races

So with eight months to go, I figure it's time for an updated 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 there is a serious challenger to the incumbent (or at least the incumbent's party, in cases of retirement), 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.  Note: Some of this may seem repetitive, with information you already know.  That's because I originally wrote this for the Bruin Democrats, many of whom don't follow the national races like we do.  Consider this a primer for both newcomers and political junkies alike.

There's more...

Diaries

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