Over in the Corner, Ramesh thinks I’m too rosy about the chances for Marco Rubio in Florida’s Senate race and Rob Portman in Ohio’s Senate race.
Presume all the standard caveats: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, don’t measure the drapes until you’ve won the office, anything can change in a New York minute, etc.
Rob Portman’s campaign led every poll from late September to mid-March; I can’t help but note that was during the peak of debate around the health-care bill. He’s currently sitting on $8.8 million in cash-on-hand; his Democratic opponent, Lee Fisher, has $1.2 million. Fisher has led polls in recent months, but never by more than 3 percentage points. Meanwhile, Obama’s job-approval numbers have been underwater in Ohio for quite some time. Fisher is on his third campaign manager this year; apparently it’s one of those jobs with a high turnover rate, like Spinal Tap drummer or number three in al-Qaeda.
It’s possible that the DSCC or the unions will dump enormous amounts of money into this race to help Fisher. But they’re probably going to be dealing with a lot of endangered Democrats across the country this fall.
Yes, Rubio has trailed by a few points lately. But he’s been off the airwaves for several months now. He’s sitting on a pile of cash and has enormous grassroots support, and Charlie Crist has the much more difficult balancing act, keeping enough of his old Republican supporters while winning over enough Democrats.
The reason Crist leads is because the Democrat is in the mid-teens in this race, and I have my doubts that either Kendrick Meek or Jeff Greene will remain at that abysmally low level through November. Once the Democrats have a nominee, one of two scenarios is likely to play out. One, Greene wins and spends millions upon millions trying to tear down Crist and win over wavering Democrats, eating away at Crist’s standing in the polls. Two, Meek wins, and does the same, but focuses on African-Americans. (Think Meek will be quiet if the DSCC fails to support the lone African-American Democratic Senate candidate this year*?) I suspect once Crist starts taking flak from both directions, you’ll see his Republican backers drift towards Rubio, and the Democrats shift back to Meek or Greene.
Is either race an absolute, 100 percent, take-it-to-the-bank lock? No, but for the Republicans to blow either one in what looks like a wave year for conservatives would be pretty surprising.
* Well, there is Alvin Greene in South Carolina, but it’s rather hard to imagine an all-out DSCC push on his behalf.