Defense, Offense, and the Republican Delusion of Senate Gains

Conventional wisdom today is that the GOP stands to gain a good number of Senate seats this November.  In fact, Nate Silver’s 05/12/10  “current numbers only” analysis has Republicans in the top eight takeover slots.  Extending that analysis to before health care reform, through the Democrats playing defense for a year to pass that historic legislation, and forward to the summer and fall when Democrats will go fiercely on the offensive on various issues like jobs and financial reform, paints a very different picture.

Republicans are in for a surprise as the Obama political machine moves into attack mode for the last six months of the 2010 campaign. 

Let’s begin with two gimmes for the Republicans; North Dakota and Delaware. 

What about Arkansas?  Well, on April 29, Charlie Cook had the race as a toss up, with most other major pollsters placing it in the “leans Republican” column.   That was, of course, before Blanche Lincoln turned against Wall Street by introducing a provision Robert Reich called “right now the biggest battle in bank reform.”  Lincoln wants to end taxpayer-insured Wall Street banks’ very profitable derivative trading businesses.   Lincoln also has over 5 times more cash on hand than any of her Republican rivals.  She will side with the little people against Big Business during these next six months, and Arkansas will not be turning Red.

Indiana?  Again, most pollsters have it in the toss up category, and Research 2000 polled Democrat Brad Ellsworth behind Republican rival Dan Coats by only one point as recently as February 24th.  A fluid race, for now.  But Coats’ fundraising is best described as embarrassing, and his numbers will tank as the Democrats go into campaign war.    

Nevada?  Very recent polling has Harry Reid over front running GOP rival Sue Lowden 42 to 35.  And with Harry at about the half way mark to his goal of $25 million to defend his seat, (Lowden raised $500,000 in the first quarter of 2010), that Nevada Senate seat will continue to be a bright blue in 2011.  Go Harry, go!   

Pennsylvania?  Every major pollster but Silver has this one as a toss up (Silver does, of course, know the uselessness of “strictly current number” polling this early on).  Democrat Specter led Republican Toomey 53-33 in May of last year (you remember; before Democrats took dive after dive to pass that historic health care reform).  He’s now down 33-35, but has almost twice the cash on hand as Toomey.  Of course Specter might lose to Joe Sestak in the upcoming primary.  Sestak is under Toomey by only one point in the latest poll, 28 to 29, and also has substantially more cash on hand.  Toomey’s worst enemy?  Neither Specter nor Sestak.  It’s the Tea Partiers, whom Toomey will be scrambling to distance himself from as his numbers go more and more negative.  

Colorado is in every major pollster’s toss up column.. And they consider Illinois substantially less likely to turn Red.  Democrat Bennett has about 3.5 million cash on hand to top Republican rival Jane Norton’s $600,000.  Money?

Did I mention that the DSCC has $17 million to the RSCC’s $15 million cash on hand? Or that the DNC has about 15 million cash on hand to the RNC’s under $9 million – the RNC’s “worst cash flow in a decade”?   Or that late money follows early money as we count down to November’s election?

So, the Republicans take Democratic Senate seats in North Dakota and Delaware.  Meanwhile, Democrats are poised to take Republican seats in New Hampshire, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky and Florida (if Crist caucuses with the Democrats.)  By 2011 Democrats will again have that filibuster-proof majority.  How are we going to take those seats?  You might believe me if I explained it.  But why spoil a surprise?






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