by Chris Bowers, Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 09:33:50 AM EDT
- Lean Party Switch: Colorado (Republican-held open seat). Gooooood luck to Colorado Republicans trying to hold onto this seat. Democrats got a top-tier candidate in Rep. Udall, while Republicans were stuck with a wingnut. In a state where Democrats now win virtually everything due to demographic trends and the fully operational, statewide vast left-wing conspiracy, Democrats are well poised to add to our narrowest of margins in the Senate.
- Already Competitive
Republican-held: Collins (ME), Coleman (MN), Sununu (NH), Smith (OR). The reason for the competitiveness of these seats vary, but they have two common threads: quality challengers have already declared, and all states were recently considered "swing" but are now decidedly trending blue. When it comes to specifics, Susan Collins is very popular, but she is facing a very popular Democrat in a state trending blue. Gordon Smith is reasonably popular, but is facing a primary challenge and would have found himself in the "lean party switch" category had Rep. DeFazio run. Coleman and Sununu are not particularly popular, but not so much that defeat is virtually guaranteed, ala Santorum.
Democratic held: Landrieu (LA). Landrieu only avoided being placed in the "lean party switch" category because Rep. Jindall will seek the Governorship. Still, she is not very popular, and much will depend on who Republicans find to challenge her.
- Potentially Competitive
Republican-held: Domenici (NM), Dole (NC), Cornyn (TX), Warner (VA). These are all states that can be made competitive depending on who Democrats can recruit. If Warner retires in Virginia, this seat immediately moves up to "already competitive," given recent Democratic statewide successes here. Dole and Domenici have approval ratings in the 50's, but are both in weak campaign positions due to senility (Domenici) and unpopularity in the Republican apparatus (Dole). Freshman Cornyn is just very unpopular, and has never appeared to be the brightest bulb on any string of lights. Still, Texas is pretty red, and it will still be tough to knock him off. Hopefully, Tancredo's presidential campaign and purple the state up a bit.
Democratic-held: Pryor (AR), Harkin (IA), Baucus (MT), Lautenberg (NJ), Johnson (SD). When it comes to Pryor, much depends on who Republicans recruit. In New Jersey, Lautenberg not very popular, but I'm not buying into Republicans being competitive statewide here again. Harkin is vulnerable on virtually every surface indicator, but Iowa is really trending blue. Baucus is in an unusual position of being a red-state Senator with an approval rating in the 60's, but some progressives are making noise about a primary. Johnson won by only a few hundred votes in 2002, and is now incapacitated. Normally, this would make a seat more competitive, but in this case the illness actually seems to have strengthened Johnson's position as no one is attacking him. How long will that last? The grace period might expire in a few months when South Dakotans get tired of only having one voting Senator.
- Keep An Eye On: Sessions (AL), McConnell (KY), Cochran (MS), Hagel (NE), Inhofe (OK). This is a slightly lower, all Republican-held tier. Hagel could retire, or could easily lose a Republican primary, which might open this seat up. Cochran could retire, doing the same in Mississippi. A number of high profile candidates are making noise about potentially challenging Sessions, but none have formally announced and the seat would be a longshot anyway (Alabama is not Virginia--it isn't even Arkansas or North Carolina). Inhofe is very unpopular and a total whackjob, but can Democrats really compete here? Finally, McConnell is going to be hit hard by several groups, and bluegrass Republicans are reeling, but what candidate could really give him a go?
- Currently not on the board
Republican held: Stevens (AK), Chambliss (GA), Craig (ID), Roberts (KS), Graham (SC), Alexander (TN), Enzi (WY). Some people might object to some of these seats being off the board, but I don't see it. For example, if we lose ID-01 to Bill friggin' Sali ina huge Democratic year, how can we win statewide against Craig in 2008?
Democratic held: Biden (DE), Durbin (IL), Kerry (MA), Levin (MI), Reed (RI), Rockerfeller (WV). Ditto what I said about the Republicans in this category.
Update: More on the Senate money race can be found at CQ Politics.