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Tags: Senate Republicans

Jay Rosen on the Phony-Baloney ‘GOP Needs to Govern’ Assertion



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The astute media critic Jay Rosen — who as far as I know is neither a conservative nor a Republican — goes full J. Jonah Jameson on reporters’ lazy assertions that the GOP congressional majority needs to “show it can govern.” Rosen sets up several phrasings of this truism– from the U.K. Telegraph, The New York Times, and NPR Congressional reporter Ailsa Chang — before knocking them down:

These are false statements. I don’t know how they got past the editors. You can’t simply assert, like it’s some sort of natural fact, that Republicans “must show they can govern” when an alternative course is available. Not only is it not a secret — this other direction — but it’s being strongly urged upon the party by people who are a key part of its coalition.

The alternative to “show you can govern” is to keep President Obama from governing. Right? Keep him from accomplishing what he wants to get done in his final two years and then “go to the country,” as Karl Rove used to say, with a simple message: time for a change! This is not only a valid way to proceed, it’s a pretty likely outcome. Rush Limbaugh, certainly a player in the coalition, put it this way. The Republicans, he said, emerged from the 2014 election with

the biggest, and perhaps the most important mandate a political party has had in the recent era. And it is very simple what that mandate is. It is to stop Barack Obama. It is to stop the Democrat Party. There is no other reason why Republicans were elected yesterday.

Republicans were not elected to govern. How can you govern with a president that disobeys the constitution? How can you govern with a president that is demonstrably lawless when he thinks he has to be?

Limbaugh represents the populist wing of the party. How about the establishment? In a widely-cited editorial called “the Governing Trap,” National Review magazine was even more explicit.

(Apologies for the double blockquote.)

“Now keep in mind that for NPR correspondents like Chang, a ‘factual basis’ is everything,” Rosen writes. “They aren’t supposed to be sharing their views. They don’t do here’s-my-take analysis. NPR has ‘analysts’ for that. It has commentators who are free to say on air: ‘I think the Republicans have to show they can govern.’ Chang, a Congressional correspondent, was trying to put over as a natural fact an extremely debatable proposition that divides the Republican party. She spoke falsely, and no one at NPR (which reviews these scripts carefully) stopped her.”

The whole post is worth a read, not least because Rosen ends his posts with a really cool text warmer: an icon depicting his tiny NYU-smartypants glasses. I hope the can of worms Rosen has opened here will crawl toward other examples of assertion journalism that even careful thinkers about the news don’t notice. Reporters routinely call reinflation of house prices a “recovery” of the real estate market, the T.A.R.P. and/or stimulus an “economic rescue package,” Obamacare a “health care reform,” and so on, as if these are objective terms rather than nomenclature cooked up by particular beneficiaries in order to deny that there are two sides to every exchange.

Tags: House Republicans , Senate Republicans , Useless Republicans , 2014 Midterms

The Hard Lesson: Statewide Poll Averages Are Usually Right.



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The great revelation of the phenomenally popular Nate Silver is his observation that the polls — particularly the state poll averages — are usually right. Right before Election Day 2012 I went through the recent history of polls, and there were some glaringly bad cases, such as Zogby’s results in 2004 and the mess at Research 2000. But pollsters have attempted to account for low response rates, the possibility that some groups may be less inclined to talk to a pollster, cell-phone-only households, and so on. Conservatives — probably including myself in the past — may have developed a too-skeptical view of modern polling, and built the habit of looking for reasons they could be wrong, rather than recognize that the election isn’t going the way we hoped.

The notion that the polls are usually right, and the bigger the lead, the more certain they are, is pretty obvious. If you lead by 4 points or more, you’re in really solid shape. If you lead by 2 to 4 points, you’re in pretty good shape, but not quite a lock. If you lead by 0 to 2 points, it’s shakier.

By the time you get to just a 2-percentage-point lead in the statepoll averages, you have a 75 percent chance of winning the state.

The fact that it is possible for there to be an upset does not mean you should expect, count on, or fear upsets.

With that in mind, the Campaign Spot 2014 Midterm Senate projections:

SENATE

Let’s get the Republican holds out of the way:

Kentucky: Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell is going to win. But you knew this already.

Georgia: Here’s the good news for Republicans. David Perdue has led 6 of the past 7 polls, by 2 to 4 points, and that last one was a tie. The bad news is that with Libertarian Amanda Swafford getting anywhere from 1 to 6 points, hitting that 50 percent threshold is a tall order. So look for this one to end on Election Night with Perdue ahead, close to but not at 50 percent, and a heavy favorite for the lower-turnout runoff. Of course, this means Republicans will have to wait until January to claim this seat.

Kansas: The biggest lead for either candidate in the past four polls: “independent” Greg Orman by 2 points. But only one poll had Roberts ahead, and it had a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points, and it had both candidates polling in the 30s. The polls point to a very narrow win for Orman, and that’s my prediction. Having said that, note that on the above chart, a polling average lead of just seven-tenths of a percentage point translates to only a 60 percent chance of winning.

With Kansas lost, Republicans need seven, not six seats, to win control of the Senate.

On to the Republican takeovers:

Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota: Congratulations, Senators-elect Steve Daines, Mike Rounds, and Shelley Moore Capito.

Suddenly Republicans only need four seats to control the Senate.

Arkansas: Republican challenger Tom Cotton is going to win.

Three.

Alaska: This one looked safe for the GOP for most of October, and then one poll came along showing incumbent Mark Begich ahead by 6, spurring some eager Democrats to declare the race over. Then two more new polls put Republican Dan Sullivan ahead. Yes, Democrats are promising an epic get-out-the-vote effort here — they’re promising one in Arkansas, too — but Alaska’s a pretty Republican state and Begich won only 47.8 percent against Ted Stevens after Stevens was convicted on seven charges of corruption, and with the Obama wave at his back. Sullivan’s the pick.

Two.

Colorado: Democrats seem way too eager about a modest improvement in the early voting numbers. The big turnout boost from Colorado’s new vote-by-mail system is actually working quite well for Republicans; their registered members are outpacing Democrat-registered voters by about 111,000 votes out of 1.25 million so far. As the New York Times’ Nate Cohn lays out, Udall needs about a million fairly Democratic voters to cast ballots by Tuesday.

One.

Iowa: Arguing against GOP hopes is Professor Michael McDonald, who studied the early vote and predicted we won’t know on Election Night who won Iowa. Arguing in favor is the fact that the Democratic advantage in early votes is smaller than in 2010 and 2012, and Ernst’s 7-point lead in the Des Moines Register poll, which was fantastically accurate the past two cycles. Ernst is the pick, but note McDonald’s unnerving warning of a long, drawn-out fight about late-mailed ballots, Election Day voter registration, and provisional ballots.

With the pickup of Iowa, Republicans would win control of the Senate. That leaves . . . 

Louisiana: This one doesn’t get resolved until December, but the polling has been remarkably consistent — Landrieu wins the initial round by a few points in the high 30s or low 40s, and then trails the runoff to Bill Cassidy by a significant margin.

Add it up and it’s a 52-seat Republican majority.

On to the Democratic holds:

New Hampshire: This is probably the shakiest prediction, and it should be close, but Shaheen has led more polls than Brown throughout the autumn.

North Carolina: The polling here has been maddeningly consistent for those who want to see Republican Thom Tillis win — Kay Hagan led by a couple points from September through today. She will probably finish in the mid-40s, Tillis a point or two behind, and Libertarian Sean Haugh picking up a few percentage points.

Virginia: Ed Gillespie did not do badly, and knocking off an immensely wealthy incumbent Democrat in Virginia like Mark Warner was always going to be difficult. But Warner has rarely polled below 49 percent.

Michigan: An oddity this year, as this Senate race looked close into September and then Gary Peters just built a solid, often double-digit polling lead.

New Jersey: Yes, Cory Booker has mediocre numbers for an incumbent Democrat, but GOP challenger Jeff Bell has rarely polled higher than 40 percent.

New Mexico: Allen Weh, who trailed by a large margin for much of the year, will probably settle in to the traditional mid-40s for a Republican in a Senate race in this state. Perhaps GOP governor Susana Martinez’s big win will help him a bit. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gary King, who declared Martinez “does not have a Latino heart”, is a dumpster fire of a candidate.

Oregon: Monica Wehby’s inability to make it a close race ranks among the biggest disappointments for Republicans’ Senate hopes this year.

Tags: Senate Republicans , Midterms , Polling

What’s Separating the GOP’s Leading Candidates from the Trailing Ones?



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Sean Trende sounds the alarm for Republicans that even with some good polls floating around, they’re underperforming:

In this sense, I think the large number of undecided voters — who almost certainly disapprove of the president by large margins — are a potential red flag for Republicans. At this point, what more can Republicans do to convince them to make up their minds? Mark Warner has been stuck in the high 40s/low 50s for several months now. In theory, Ed Gillespie should be making a race of it by now. Yet he remains mired in the high 30s (although he has closed the gap somewhat). There seems to be a substantial chunk of the Minnesota electorate that isn’t prepared to commit fully to Al Franken, yet isn’t excited about Mike McFadden.

If these voters ultimately opt disproportionately to stay home, it would transform an electorate where the president has a 42 percent job approval into one where he has a 46 percent job approval. This probably wouldn’t be enough to save the Senate: Democrats who trailed would still lose, albeit by small margins. But it would probably cap Republican gains in the House, and would probably transform an opportunity for a huge GOP night in the Senate into a modest wave of six or seven seats.

Is this what separates the GOP candidates with solid and consistent leads from the ones without? Is it that these low-motivation, Obama-disapproving voters see something in Cory Gardner in Colorado, Tom Cotton in Arkansas, and perhaps Joni Ernst in Iowa that they don’t see in Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Terri Lynn Land in Michigan? Or Gillespie and McFadden? Or Pat Roberts in Kansas and Scott Brown in New Hampshire? Yes, they’re all different candidates, running in different states and in different electorates.

Presuming Election Day follows the current polls — and obviously, polls in close races can be wrong — some will shoehorn the evidence to fit a narrative that “authentic conservatives” like Gardner, Cotton, and Ernst won while “establishment Republican” candidates like Tillis and Land lost.

To do this, you have to really blur your definitions of “establishment” and “conservative.” Gardner was first elected to office in 2005, and Cotton is a congressman.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to classify a first-time candidate, like Oregon GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby, as part of any “establishment.” Georgia GOP Senate candidate David Perdue has never run for office before — but he’s been a successful executive, so Georgia Democrats are running the Romney playbook against him. (If you’re a successful businessman, do Obama-disapproving, low-motivation voters automatically perceive you as part of an “establishment”?)

And the man everyone classifies as part of the “establishment” — Senator Mitch McConnell — is looking pretty solid in Kentucky.

The shortest explanation is that the GOP Senate candidates who are doing best are just plain good candidates: good life experiences and résumés, good on the stump, good on television, good in debates, good at the little stops shaking hands and meeting people, and (mostly) good in interviews. Chalk it up to charisma, chalk it up to instinct, chalk it up to luck — and perhaps note that it helps to have a flawed opponent.

Life for Republicans would be a lot easier if nomination of an “authentic conservative” — or, for that matter, an “Establishment Republican” — guaranteed victory on Election Day. Unfortunately, the candidates in either category have to be good at campaigning.

Tags: Senate Republicans , 2014

The Easy Way for Republicans to Count to Six



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In today’s Morning Jolt:

The Easy Way for Republicans to Count to Six

The Republicans need to pick up six Senate seats to control the chamber. Let’s count to six.

The GOP wins Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. One, two, three. I know there are some folks spinning the chances of Republican Mike Rounds losing in South Dakota, but he has yet to trail a poll.

Four: In Arkansas, the latest poll puts Republican Tom Cotton up by 8 points. Pryor has not led a poll this month.

Five: In Alaska, Republican Dan Sullivan has not trailed in any poll since early August.

Six: In Colorado, Cory Gardner led nine of the last ten polls. Tuesday the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling released a survey putting Gardner up by 3 points, Udall only leading women by 4 points, and “Udall continues to struggle with his approval numbers, as only 37% of voters think he’s doing a good job to 52% who disapprove.”

Let’s add another. Seven: In Iowa, Joni Ernst led five of the last six polls, and the sixth is a tie.

We’ll get to some of the other Republican pickup opportunities in a moment, but let’s take a look at the big three seats they’re defending.

Kentucky: Democrats are excited by a Survey USA poll — conducted over a weekend — putting McConnell up by just one point. But the last time Survey USA polled Kentucky, at the beginning of the month, Alison Lundergan Grimes led by 2, so this survey represents movement in the GOP direction. That poll was the only one in the past 15 surveys to show Grimes ahead.

Kansas: Democrats were so, so, so excited about this race, and admittedly, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is not out of the woods yet. But he’s led three of the last four polls, and the one that had him trailing was PPP. That survey noted, “By a 52/35 margin, voters in the state would rather Republicans had control of the Senate than Democrats. And among those who are undecided there’s a 48/25 preference for a GOP controlled Senate.”

Georgia: Keep in mind, if no one gets 50 percent, this one goes to a runoff. You know how many times a poll has shown Democrat Michelle Nunn with 50 percent? Try none. (For what it’s worth, Purdue hit that level of support in a few polls.) In 2008, Democrats cheered that their Senate candidate, Jim Martin, kept Saxby Chambliss from hitting 50 percent and forced a runoff. But then, in the December 2 election, without Obama on the ticket, Chambliss won big — 57 percent to 42 percent. This year’s runoff election in Georgia would be held January 6, 2015! How confident should Democrats be that they could sustain enthusiasm for several months?

None of the Democrats’ pickup opportunities look like sure things right now. Could Republicans lose one of those seats? Yes. Could they lose two? Conceivably, but unlikely.

So let’s imagine the bad scenario, where Republicans lose Kansas, and Georgia, and subtract two. We’ve gone from seven to five.

Back to the Republicans’ pickup opportunities.

Louisiana: This one is almost certain to go to a runoff. Mary Landrieu is polling exceptionally badly for an incumbent in the first round — 36 percent, 41 percent, 36 percent – and Republican Bill Cassidy is winning all the runoff polling.

Add a Louisiana win, and Republicans go from five to six — controlling the Senate again.

Then there’s North Carolina, where Kay Hagan keeps leading by a small margin. Maybe that $6 million in television ads from the NRSC does the trick and Tillis wins.

Then there’s New Hampshire, where Jeanne Shaheen’s hanging on, leading by three here and there, trailing by one over there. Scott Brown traditionally outhustles his opponents, and maybe he gets a bit of momentum in these final weeks.

So in the worst-case scenario, losing Georgia and Kansas, and not winning North Carolina or New Hampshire, the GOP still picks up Senate control by winning the runoff in Louisiana.

Somebody’s in a good mood this morning.

Tags: Senate Elections , Senate Republicans

The Great Big End-of-September Midterm-Election Roundup



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A really long excerpt from the Morning Jolt today, to get you in the midterm mood . . . 

The Great Big End-of-September Midterm-Election Roundup

We’re weeks from Election Day. I have bad news and good news for Republicans.

I am told by some campaign consultants that for much of the past two years, Republican donors have felt a malaise. You see it in both the individual campaign fundraising numbers, the committee fundraising numbers, and the spending by outside groups.

A lot of wealthy Republican donors – or even a not-so-wealthy Republican donors – are asking if it’s worth it. They dug deep to help out their favorite candidates in 2012, and watched their guys lose – Romney, of course, but also a slew of seemingly winnable Senate races. They’re not sure their donations do much good. They’re increasingly wondering if the American political system is a lost cause, if the electorate has become addicted to Democrats’ vote-buying spending programs, too tuned out to care about scandals, oblivious to serious problems and getting their political views shaped by Hollywood and pop culture.

This doesn’t even get into the issue of fearing an IRS audit or being publicly demonized, like the Koch brothers.

Of course, this depression, malaise, and hesitation can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

After being burned by the surge in Democrats’ get-out-the-vote efforts in 2012, pundits, pollsters, and prognosticators are understandably jittery about projecting GOP victories. When things looked grim for Obama’s reelection in 2011 and early 2012, his campaign simply went out and registered more voters among demographics likely to support the president.

One big push was among African-Americans . . . 

The campaign has, for example, a major initiative aimed at turning barbershops and beauty parlors into voter registration offices. This week, Kimora Lee Simmons’ E! Network reality show, “Life in the Fab Lane,” carried a campaign ad at the bottom of the screen reminding citizens to register to vote . . . 

And while Obama’s campaign talks little about its field efforts, there’s a quiet buzz of excitement about the shape of new voter registration. One junior Democratic staffer doing last-minute registrations in a swing-state suburb Monday told Politico that though his area was about 10 percent black, new registrants that day — the final day to register — were about half black.

Early statistics provide tentative support to the notion of a black voter surge disproportionate even to the massive turnout expected across the board in November.

And another key group was Latinos, particularly in Nevada, Virginia, and Florida:

For almost every battleground state on the map, Obama’s team can marshal data, showing they’ve registered impressive numbers of new voters and increased the weight of Latino and black voters in the electorate. Where Republicans anticipate less enthusiasm from minority voters than in the 2008 election, Obama’s team expresses total certainty that there will be more non-white voters at the polls this year than ever . . . 

A Latino Decisions poll at the start of October found Obama leading Romney among Nevada Latinos by 63 points — even more than his national lead. As both parties work to run up a lead in early voting, the Obama campaign said Thursday that “two in three Nevada early voters are women, young people, African-American or Latino.”

Obama’s using comparable math in other states, like Virginia, where a winning Obama coalition would rest heavily on the state’s expanding Latino and Asian vote, an already-significant African American population and strong support from women in Northern Virginia. In Colorado and Florida, too, the president hopes a similar formula applies.

It worked wonders for Democrats, as we saw. The turnout rate among blacks exceeded that of whites for the first time.

After 2012, Democrats boasted that the terrific hyper-micro-targeting, get-out-the-vote operation was now fully operational, and would assure victory everywhere and forever, or at least until Republicans could start winning a significant number of minority votes. Of course, there was a hitch in that theory: Can you get the voters of the Obama coalition to show up when Obama wasn’t on the ballot? They didn’t for Jon Corzine, Creigh Deeds, Martha Coakley, nor a slew of Democrats in the 2010 midterms.

But the first test run, in 2013, offered a bit of a hiccup. First, Democrats wrote off the gubernatorial race in New Jersey against Chris Christie. Then the Virginia governor’s race offered another imperfect testing ground, Based on the enormous fundraising advantage, and the unpopularity of the government shutdown, Democrat Terry McAuliffe should have won in a landslide, and led in the polls all summer long. But one month before Election Day, Healthcare.gov debuted and promptly melted down – and the political environment changed rapidly. Terry McAuliffe, big-time favorite, eked out a victory by 2.5 points.

Was that a sign that the Obama turnout machine can work, even in a bad political environment? Or does McAuliffe’s thin margin indicate that he had built up enough of an enormous advantage to hold on? Or was Ken Cuccinelli – the Northern Virginia state attorney general who had built up a reputation as a social-conservative crusader – a uniquely bad candidate for the circumstances of that year?

Even if the Obama turnout machine can still work . . . how much does it help in states with limited numbers of African-Americans and Hispanics? Some of the Southern states – Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina have somewhat sizeable African-American populations. Only Colorado has a sizable Latino population. But beyond that, it’s some deeply white states: Alaska, Iowa, Arkansas, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota . . . 

And will these groups of voters show up for just any candidate? Can you get African-American voters to come out in huge numbers for Michelle Nunn? Can you get Hispanic voters to come out in huge numbers for Mark Udall?

There’s this ominous indicator: “Democrats have invested several million dollars in both North Carolina and Colorado for this ground game. Republican spending in those states so far has tended to focus on broadcast advertisements and direct mail.”

For what it’s worth, there are some fissures between the organizations claiming to speak on behalf of Hispanics and the most endangered red-state Senate Democrats:

“The advocacy organizations want people to vote, and I want people to vote, but if you’re a Latino in North Carolina, and the president delayed his decision to help Kay Hagan in her election, why would you go vote for Kay Hagan?” said Gary Segura, Latino Decisions co-founder. Hagan, a Democrat, is in a competitive race against Republican Thom Tillis.

Anyway, on to the indisputable good news for Republicans: In just about every Senate race that matters, last week brought at least one highly regarded poll showing exactly what a Republican wants to see.

In Alaska, Dan Sullivan has led the past four polls.

In Arkansas, Tom Cotton has led 11 of the past 13 polls.

In Colorado, Quinnipiac put Cory Gardner ahead, 48 percent to 40 percent.

In Iowa, the Des Moines Register poll put Joni Ernst ahead, 44 percent to 38 percent. NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell is openly calling Democrat Bruce Braley “a terrible candidate.”

In Louisiana, a runoff between Democrat incumbent Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy is virtually assured. Cassidy led the last four polls of the runoff.

Those five, just right there, along with the expected GOP wins in Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia, would give the GOP a eight-seat pickup. Republicans could lose in Kansas and still keep the Senate. In Kansas, voters are still digesting the fact that the Democrat dropped out and getting to know “independent” Greg Orman. No one has polled this race in ten days, and the GOP is pulling out the stops to save Pat Roberts.

And we’ve got more races to go . . . 

In New Hampshire, CNN had Scott Brown tied with Jeanne Shaheen.

In Michigan, Republicans can be frustrated that Terri Lynn Land hasn’t led any poll recently. But Democrat Gary Peters’s share of the vote is actually declining from the mid-40s to the low 40s, with a lot of undecideds left out there.

In North Carolina, Thom Tillis can’t quite get the lead over incumbent Kay Hagan, but she’s consistently in the mid-40s or even low 40s – a very precarious spot for an incumbent.

Beyond Kansas, Democrats hopes for picking up a GOP seat are evaporating. In Georgia, David Purdue has led four of the past five polls. In Kentucky, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has led every poll since June.

In the House, everybody’s expecting a small gain for Republicans. Larry Sabato:

We talked to senior Democrats and Republicans involved in the House contests to inform this report, as well as some of our fellow analysts and journalists (all were given anonymity so they could speak freely). We asked each source to give his or her best guess as to what the net change in House seats would be on Election Day. The guesses were generally in the range of a five-to-eight seat GOP net gain — the same as ours — with a low guess of Republicans adding two seats to a high guess of Republicans adding nine.

So 235 to 240, maybe 245 House Republicans? A nice total, probably pretty close to the natural ceiling for the GOP.

We can go over the gubernatorial races tomorrow. But the bottom line is, the ingredients are coming together for not just GOP control, but potentially a big, big year for Republicans. But it requires everybody to get active and give 110 percent between now and Election Day.

Tags: Midterms , Senate Democrats , Senate Republicans

Four Senate Democratic Incumbents Look Really Vulnerable



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If I wanted to help GOP Senate candidates and had limited resources, I would be pouring my efforts into Colorado, where Cory Gardner is trailing a little too consistently considering the quality of the candidate and the overall GOP environment . . . 

 . . . Iowa, where Joni Ernst is very close, but not quite there, and a new poll puts her down by 5 . . . 

 . . . and Michigan, where Terri Lynn Land has a one-point lead in the latest poll, but has otherwise trailed slightly.

Note that only Gardner is running against an incumbent. An incumbent senator in the mid-40s or lower is probably in deeper trouble, because the voters have known that senator for at least six years and the opinion is probably tougher to change. Right now, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado is at 45.5 in the RealClearPolitics average.

Surprises can happen, of course. Senator Harry Reid finished with 45.3 in the RealClearPolitics average in 2010, and won reelection with more than 50 percent of the vote. But that year Russ Feingold of Wisconsin finished with a RCP average of 45 percent, and finished with 47 percent to Ron Johnson’s 51.9 percent. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas finished with an abysmal 35 percent in the RCP average and got 36.9 percent on Election Day. In Colorado, Michael Bennet finished with 46.3 percent in the RCP average, but his Election Day finish with 47.7 percent was enough for a narrow victory over Ken Buck.

Here’s the current RCP average vote percentage for some of the vulnerable incumbent Senate Democrats this year:

Mark Begich of Alaska: 42.7 percent.

Kay Hagan of North Carolina: 42.5 percent.

Mark Pryor of Arkansas: 42.2 percent.

Mary Landrieu of Louisiana: 38.7 percent (in an open primary).

Polls put Republican Senate candidates Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Thom Tillis (North Carolina), Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and Bill Cassidy (Louisiana) slightly ahead right now. For a challenger, if you’re enjoying a small lead in September over an incumbent polling in the low 40s, you’re in a pretty good place.

In case you’re wondering, here’s how some safer senators are performing:

Mark Warner of Virginia: 51 percent.

Jeff Merkley of Oregon: 50.3 percent.

Al Franken of Minnesota: 50 percent.

Dick Durbin of Illinois: 49.7 percent.

Cory Booker of New Jersey: 49 percent.

Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire: 47.7 percent.

There’s been some buzz among conservative blogs that Durbin and Booker are vulnerable. I suppose that depends upon how you define “vulnerable.”

UPDATE: Stu Rothenberg, moments ago:

While the current Rothenberg Political Report ratings don’t show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats. But I wouldn’t be shocked by a larger gain.

That’s a scenario easy to picture: Republicans keep the red seats they’re defending (Kentucky, Georgia, and some would argue Kansas), take care of business in the three safe pickups (South Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia), and then clean up in the four red-leaning, Democrat-held seats listed above, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. That adds up to a seven-seat gain; Iowa, Colorado, and Michigan would be the most likely pickups after that.

Tags: Senate Democrats , Senate Republicans

Rothenberg: Cory Gardner ‘May Be the Best GOP Challenger in the Country’



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The midweek edition of the Morning Jolt features a curious memory lapse by Charlie Crist, a diagnosis of the comics industry’s rut, and then this reasonably cheery assessment of the GOP’s odds in the midterm elections:

Rothenberg: A GOP Gain of At Least 6 Senate Seats ‘Seems Very Possible’

Not much that Roll Call’s Stu Rothenberg writes in his latest column is all that surprising, but it’s nice to have our impressions confirmed by somebody outside the vast right-wing conspiracy.

Aside from a largely dismissed (on both sides of the aisle) New York Times/Kaiser Foundation April poll showing Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., with a double-digit lead over his challenger, Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, surveys in the state have shown the race close for months. Some have had Pryor ahead, while others have shown Cotton leading.

My own reporting on the race leads me to believe that the contest is a statistical dead heat, though with Cotton holding a small advantage. (Not all of the polls, public and private, show this, of course.) . . . 

Barack Obama carried Iowa twice, so Democrats ought to have a narrow but clear advantage to hold retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s open seat. But the combination of an interesting Republican nominee, Joni Ernst, and Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley’s early missteps has smart Democrats fretting about the contest.

Polling shows the race extremely close now, and while Braley, a trial lawyer and four-term member of Congress, was expected to be the better campaigner in the contest, that has not been the case.

Finally, he notes, Colorado’s Cory “Gardner may well be the best GOP challenger in the country, and we are moving the race to Tossup/Tilts Democrat, which better reflects the overall competitiveness of the contest.”

What does this all mean? It means that if Republicans work their butts off for the next four months, and avoid any stupid mistakes, they’ll take the Senate.

Gardner’s in the hunt!

Tags: Senate Republicans , Cory Gardner

Just Don’t Pull a Duke, GOP Senate Candidates



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week . . . 

Nate Silver: Republicans Are ‘Slight Favorites’ to Win Control of the Senate

The good news for Republicans: Nate Silver, the former New York Times, now ABC-affiliated statistics guru who a lot of lefties believe has near-divine attributes of clairvoyance, updated his assessment of the 2014 Senate races:

We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber. The Democrats’ position has deteriorated somewhat since last summer, with President Obama’s approval ratings down to 42 or 43 percent from an average of about 45 percent before. Furthermore, as compared with 2010 or 2012, the GOP has done a better job of recruiting credible candidates, with some exceptions.

The caveat: Nate Silver also wrote that Duke had a 92.9 percent chance of beating Mercer in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Above: Nate Silver, hard at work in his laboratory.

Silver notes:

Especially in recent years, Democrats have come to rely on groups such as racial minorities and young voters that turn out much more reliably in presidential years than for the midterms. In 2010, the Republican turnout advantage amounted to the equivalent of 6 percentage points, meaning a tie on the generic ballot among registered voters translated into a six-point Republican lead among likely voters. The GOP’s edge hadn’t been quite that large in past years. But if the “enthusiasm gap” is as large this year as it was in 2010, Democrats will have a difficult time keeping the Senate.

When I say that, I’m a wishful-thinking over-optimistic spinning partisan hack. When he says it, it’s Science™!

For what it’s worth, the Democratic grassroots takes Nate Silver extremely seriously:

For the last few months, FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver has been largely absent from the political forecasting scene he owned in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

But that hasn’t stopped the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from sending at least 11 fundraising emails featuring Silver in the subject line over the past four months, even as Silver was building the foundation for his new website that’s launching Monday and was not writing regularly.

It’s all part of a digital fundraising game that will increase in intensity as the election draws nearer, as candidates, political parties, and other groups bombard their email lists with messages designed to draw contributions.

Silver’s latest take could get Democrats fired up and determined, or it could leave them dispirited and panicked. Monday morning, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a memo declaring, “Nuh-uhhhh!”

Tags: Senate Democrats , Senate Elections , Senate Republicans , Nate Silver

How High Is the Price to Repeal the Medical-Device Manufacturer Tax?



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Amy Otto:

The GOP needs to fight against the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, not the medical device tax. Yes, I know the medical device tax hurts companies and, thus, people. We get it. Basic economics. But it doesn’t matter. We are already the party who is known to defend corporations from taxes — and we need to be the party that defends people. . . . Further fighting the Medical Device tax hands Obama his post-shutdown talking points: “the GOP shut down the government to get tax breaks for big business” and our brand will remain the same losing one it’s been for some time. It’s a trap.

Of course, later on Otto writes, “it would have been easier to just let Obamacare fail on its own and not watch party poll numbers drop, but good people defend other Americans when they are about to get run over by a train wreck.” Some would argue that the device tax is bad policy, and bad policy is worth fighting, no matter how the president will attack you afterwards.

But in this fight, we have one party that has been fighting the device tax tooth and nail, and the other party has largely fought to keep it. A few Democrats have opposed the device tax, and say they want to repeal it, but they’re not willing to take on their leadership over it and say, vote for a continuing resolution that included it. As Harry Reid said, “Some of the biggest supporters for doing away with the stupid tax — I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that — doing away with that tax have told me they won’t support that on CR.”

Either way, in that light . . . why would medical-device manufacturers ever give another dime to another Democrat?

In fact, why would any medical company donate to Democrats?

Tags: Obamacare , Senate Republicans , Senate Democrats , Harry Reid

Save the Earth, Recycle the Opposition’s Filibuster Arguments



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The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt features unprintable words about San Diego mayor Bob Filner, new fundraising numbers in Virginia’s Senate race, a thought on stereotyping after the George Zimmerman trial, and then this thought on the “nuclear option” before the Senate . . . 

Save the Earth; Recycle the Opposition’s Old Arguments on the Filibuster

Ah, filibuster debates. So predictable.

Every Republican who wants to keep the filibuster and the current rules in place, just cite the arguments of this guy:

What [the American people] don’t expect is for one party — be it Republican or Democrat — to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet.

The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that the majority chooses to end the filibuster. If they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.

We need to rise above the “ends justify the means” mentality because we’re here to answer to the people — all of the people — not just the ones that are wearing our particular party label.

If the right of free and open debate is taken away from the minority party, and the millions of Americans who asked us to be their voice, I fear that the already partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything. That doesn’t serve anyone’s best interests, and it certainly isn’t what the patriots who founded this democracy had in mind. We owe the people who sent us here more than that – we owe them much more.

Those words are from then-Senator Barack Obama, speaking April 13, 2005.

Then again, maybe they can point to the arguments of this other guy:

The filibuster is not a scheme and it certainly isn’t new. The filibuster is far from a procedural gimmick. It’s part of the fabric of this institution we call the Senate. It was well-known in colonial legislatures before we became a country, and it’s an integral part of our country’s 214-year history. The first filibuster in the United States Congress happened in 1790. It was used by lawmakers from Virginia and South Carolina who were trying to prevent Philadelphia from hosting the first Congress.

Since then, the filibuster has been employed hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times. It’s been employed on legislative matters, it’s been employed on procedural matters relating to the president’s nominations for Cabinet and sub-Cabinet posts, and it’s been used on judges for all those years. One scholar estimates that 20 percent of the judges nominated by presidents have fallen by the wayside, most of them as a result of filibusters. Senators have used the filibuster to stand up to popular presidents, to block legislation, and, yes, even, as I’ve stated, to stall executive nominees. The roots of the filibuster are found in the Constitution and in our own rules.

That, of course . . . is Senator Harry Reid of Nevada back in 2005.

Come on. We all know that any Senate Majority Leader with more than 50 votes but less than 60 votes is going to want to get rid of the filibuster, and any minority leader is going to want to keep it. Neither party has held 60 or more U.S. Senate seats since 1979. Democrats came close in the 111th Congress (the delay in Al Franken’s swearing-in, and the deaths of Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd, all complicated the Democrats’ effort to control 60 seats) ; the Republicans had 55 in the 109th Congress. For the foreseeable future, most Senate majorities will have between 50 and 60 votes.

If you’re Harry Reid, the current intolerable situation means you need to hold your 53 votes together, keep Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine on board, and then get five Republican senators to go along. That may not be easy, but it’s hardly “Mission: Impossible.” Put simply, pick five out of the following: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Susan Collins of Maine, Jeffrey Chiesa of New Jersey, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. As we all know, John McCain of Arizona, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Orrin Hatch of Utah have been known to buck the party line, depending on the issue.

The 60-vote threshold makes sense depending upon the piece of legislation or the importance of the nominee; it’s usually a bad idea to have a sweeping change rammed through, over sizeable objections, by a bare majority. Call us when the minority demands 60 votes for renaming a post office.

Don’t listen to me, listen to Thomas Jefferson: “Great innovations should not be forced on a slender majority.”

Or for a more modern assessment, try Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

Back in 1993, when Hillary Clinton first tried to reform the nation’s health-insurance system, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned about the difficulty of getting such a gargantuan bill passed: “The Senate has its own peculiar ecology,” he told me. “Something like this passes with 75 votes or not at all.” Moynihan was then chairman of the Finance Committee, the Senate’s natural choke point for big social-engineering schemes. He was worried that the Clintons, especially the First Lady, were being stubborn, trying to jam their bill through with a bare majority rather than build a bipartisan consensus.

Of course, if you subscribe to President Calvin Coolidge’s belief that “it is more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” the filibuster is a beautiful, noble tool.

Tags: Harry Reid , Barack Obama , Senate Republicans , Senate Democrats , Filibuster

Democrats Still Seeking Anybody to Run Against GOP Senate Incumbents



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Nate Silver sends a chill down Democrats’ spines by declaring:

Our best guess, after assigning probabilities of the likelihood of a G.O.P. pickup in each state, is that Republicans will end up with somewhere between 50 and 51 Senate seats after 2014, putting them right on the threshold of a majority.

One reason Democrats may find 2014 so daunting is that at this (still early) date, quite a few Republican incumbent senators have no Democratic challengers — not merely no big-name or well-funded challengers, but any challengers at all. The few Republican incumbents who do have declared challengers are mostly looking at gadflies and amateurs, operating on shoestrings or less. While there’s still time for bigger-name, better-funded, veteran candidates to jump in . . . knocking off a longtime incumbent is rarely a last-minute venture.

In Alabama, where Senator Jeff Sessions seeks his fourth term, Democrats have . . . well, no one yet.

In Georgia, where Senator Saxby Chambliss is retiring and six Republicans will be competing in a bare-knuckle primary for the open seat, Democrats have . . . first-time candidate Branko Radulovacki, running on the slogan “Dr. Rad for Senate,” and John Coyne, who has no website.

In Idaho, where Senator Jim Risch seeks his second term, Democrats have . . . no declared candidates yet.

In Kansas, where Senator Pat Roberts seeks his fourth term, a self-declared “Moderate” candidate and an independent candidate have filed papers, but Democrats have no declared candidates yet.

You’re probably familiar with the race in Kentucky, where Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell will take on a legitimate first-tier challenger, Kentucky secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes. Hey, good job, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, you found one!

In Maine, where Senator Susan Collins seeks her fourth term, Democrats . . . are still looking for a challenger. No declared candidates yet.

In Mississippi, where Senator Thad Cochran seeks his seventh term, Democrats have . . . no declared candidate yet.

In Nebraska, where Senator Mike Johanns is retiring, two Republicans have announced bids: former state treasurer Shane Osborn and former assistant state attorney general Bart McLeay. At this point, no Democrat has filed papers to run.

In Oklahoma, where Senator Jim Inhofe may or may not seek his fifth term (he hasn’t announced yet, and he’s approaching 80), the Democrats have a declared candidate! You can peruse insurance executive Matt Silverstein’s bare-bones website here. So far it is clear that he has a beautiful family and dog.

In South Carolina, where Senator Lindsey Graham seeks his third term, there are two Democrats that have declared bids, lawyer Larry Pavilack and businessman Jay Stamper. As of March 31, Stamper had raised $14,000.

Also in South Carolina, appointed senator Tim Scott will seek election to finish a term ending in January 2017. At this point, no Democrat has declared a Senate bid for this seat, although it’s quite possible one of the Democrats could shift to this race.

In Tennessee, Senator Lamar Alexander seeks his third term and faces at this point only one Democratic challenger, Larry Crim. (The Nashville Scene mocked his self-published, self-promotional newspaper here.) According to FEC records, as of March 31, Crim’s bid had not raised any money but spent $896.

In Texas, Senator John Cornyn seeks his third term. GreenPapers lists Tim Day as a Democratic challenger, but this site identifies him as an independent Senate candidate; he ran in 2012 as a Republican for Congress in the state’s 14th congressional district. He has apparently also filed papers to run in the 14th district again.

In Wyoming, Senator Mike Enzi seeks his fourth term and faces a GOP primary challenge from Thomas Bleming (and perhaps, soon, Liz Cheney). At this point, no Democrat has filed papers for a Senate bid.

Most of these are very red states, and obviously even the best-known Democrat would start as an underdog. But you never know when an incumbent might develop health issues, become entangled in a damaging scandal, or suddenly have some terrible YouTube gaffe that jeopardizes his chances for reelection. While most incumbents will cruise safely to reelection, a party can capitalize on unexpected swings of fortune by having a credible candidate in place as an alternative. With all due respect to the little-known candidates above . . . most of them don’t appear to be credible candidates.

A party’s task of winning elections is helped when they get their best candidates on the field. But in most of the red-state Senate races, Democrats are still looking to get any player on the field.

Tags: Senate Republicans , Red State Democrats

The Post-Akin GOP Outlook for the Senate . . . Doesn’t Look That Bad!



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Argh. What are the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and grassroots Republicans and conservatives, supposed to do, now that Todd Akin has exponentially complicated the effort to defeat Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, and win the three (or four, if Romney doesn’t win) seats needed to take over the Senate?

All they have is Nebraska, where state senator Deb Fischer holds an 18-point lead over Democrat Bob Kerrey in a seat where incumbent Democrat Ben Nelson is retiring, and North Dakota, where Rick Berg is up 9 on in a seat where incumbent Democrat Kent Conrad is retiring . . .

and Montana, where Rep. Denny Rehberg has a small but consistent lead over incumbent Jon Tester . . .

and Wisconsin, where Tommy Thompson has an increasing lead over Tammy Baldwin to fill the Senate seat occupied by the retiring Herb Kohl . . .

. . . but they have to make up the likely loss in Maine, where either a Democrat or a Democratic-leaning independent is likely to replace Sen. Olympia Snowe . . . and they need to keep Sen. Scott Brown in office in Massachusetts, where the latest poll has him . . . er, only up by 5 . . .

. . . and they have to hold Indiana in a presidential year, when Rasmussen has Republican Richard Mourdock slightly ahead . . . and make sure that Sen. Dean Heller keeps his consistent lead in Nevada . . .

and . . . hey, wait a minute . . . Connie Mack looks pretty competitive against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson in Florida . . . George Allen remains neck-and-neck with Tim Kaine in Virginia . . .

. . . what’s this? Could incumbent Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown really be tied with GOP challenger Josh Mandel in Ohio, as Rasmussen suggests? And what’s this eye-popping suggestion that in Connecticut, “former wrestling executive Linda McMahon holds a narrow lead over Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at Connecticut’s U.S. Senate race. A new telephone survey of Likely Voters in Connecticut shows McMahon with 49 percent of the vote to Murphy’s 46 percent . . .”

Gee, suddenly the outlook for Republicans in the Senate races doesn’t look so bad anymore, does it?

Tags: Connie Mack , Dean Heller , Deb Fischer , Denny Rehberg , George Allen , Josh Mandel , Linda McMahon , Richard Mourdock , Rick Berg , Scott Brown , Senate Republicans , Tommy Thompson

Obama: Let’s Escape Partisanship by Blaming Senate Republicans



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It’s nothing new, but there’s something striking about how easily and effortlessly Obama can blame partisanship and pointing fingers in one breath and then blame Republicans in the next, and never recognize any contradiction between the two actions.

Once you escape the partisanship and the political point-scoring in Washington, once you start really start listening to the American people, it’s pretty clear what our country and your leaders should be spending their time on. Jobs.

Moments later:

None of this matters to the Republicans in the Senate — because last week they got together to block this bill. They said no to putting teachers and construction workers back on the job. They said no to rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our airports. They said no to cutting taxes for middle-class families and small businesses when all they’ve been doing is cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans. They said no to helping veterans find jobs.

I take it the president will be taping attack ads against Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, both Democrats who voted against his jobs bill.

Tags: Jobs , Obama , Senate Republicans

Democrats Lacking Top-Tier Challengers In Most Senate Races



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It’s obviously early in the 2012 cycle, but the good news for Republican chances to retake the Senate is that they already have big-name, experienced candidates gearing up in just about every state that is expected to feature a competitive race. Democrats are gradually increasing their numbers, but some members of their party are already worrying about slow recruitment: Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., wants members of his party to stop waiting for recovering Rep. Gabby Giffords and begin a Senate bid sometime in the next month.

The biggest name isn’t always the best name; just ask Floridians about their Senate primary last year. But an early entry by a popular House member or lawmaker who has already won statewide helps put Republicans’ minds at ease; they can rest assured that barring some surprise twist – like, say, Christine O’Donnell beating Mike Castle in Delaware! – they’ll at least have strong enough candidates in place to make the Democrats earn any Senate wins this year. If you put as many good candidates in as many states as possible, you’re in position to maximize your wins if your party has the wind at its back on Election Day.

First, in the four seats of the retiring Senate Democrats…

Daniel Akaka of Hawaii: Right now, former Rep. Ed Case and State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim are in on the Democrats’ side. The GOP outlook depends heavily on the interest of former two-term Gov. Linda Lingle.

Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico: Democrats have their big name, Rep. Martin Heinrich, with a few other state officials making noises. The GOP has former Rep. Heather Wilson, as well as a few others.

Kent Conrad of North Dakota: Republicans have Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, who is currently the only candidate who has filed papers.

Jim Webb of Virginia: Republicans have former Governor and Sen. George Allen as well as Jamie Radtke and a few other local figures; Democrats have former Gov. and DNC Chair Tim Kaine.

Elsewhere, 16 Democrat incumbents are currently seeking reelection in 2012. Republicans do not yet have prominent challengers to Dianne Feinstein of California, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Herb Kohl of Wisconsin. (There’s some speculation that Kohl might retire.) Republicans are still looking for a top-tier candidate to run for the open seat in Connecticut, where Joe Lieberman is retiring. Of course, in a presidential year, most of those states will be difficult territory even for a strong GOP candidate, with the possible exceptions of West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The states with Democrat incumbents and at least one promising GOP challenger:

Bill Nelson of Florida: Republicans have several candidates, depending on how broadly you define, ‘big-name’: Florida State Senate President Mike Haridopolos, former state Rep. Adam Hasner and former Sen. George LeMieux.

Debbie Stabenow of Michigan: Former Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis and Secretary of State Terri Lee Land are considering bids.

Claire McCaskill of Missouri: The GOP options include former state senator and state treasurer Sarah Steelman, as well as former congressional candidate Ed Martin.

Jon Tester of Montana: Rep. Denny Rehberg, who has won multiple times statewide (since his congressional district is the state).

Ben Nelson of Nebraska: Two big names for Republicans: State Attorney General Jon Bruning, state Treasurer Don Stenberg.

Sherrod Brown of Ohio: At least two promising options for Republicans: State Treasurer Josh Mandel and former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania: Obviously not an easy state for Republicans, but if Dicks Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack is serious about his interest, the he would have the financial resources to give Casey a real race.

There are several states where the GOP chances of victory are pretty small, but they’ve still got interest from a promising candidate or two:

Ben Cardin of Maryland: Obviously a tough state even in non-presidential years, but one of the GOP candidates is Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Eric Wargotz. You may scoff at his 36 percent in last year’s Senate race against Barbara Mikulski, but that’s the highest share of the vote any Republican has gotten against her since 1986.

Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota: None so far, although local Republicans are hoping to see a Michele Bachmann bid.

Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island: He’s not a ‘big name,’ but keep an eye on entrepreneur Barry Hinkley, founder of the software firm Bullhorn.

Bernie Sanders of Vermont: Obviously, this is a very tough seat for the GOP to win, but they have a promising candidate in state Auditor of Accounts Tom Salmon.

Three Republicans are retiring and creating open seat races:

Jon Kyl of Arizona: Republicans have Rep. Jeff Flake, who so far enjoys the field to himself. No Democrat has filed papers; obviously, many Democrats are yearning for a bid by Gabrielle Giffords. Rep. Ed Pastor is reportedly thinking it over.

John Ensign of Nevada: Both parties are likely to nominate an incumbent U.S. House member: Republicans have Rep. Dean Heller; Democrats have Rep. Shelly Berkley.

Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas: Republicans have a small army of candidates: Former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, current Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, and former secretary of state Roger Williams.

As revealed this weekend, Texas Democrats are likely to nominate retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

Finally, at this point, seven Senate Republicans are seeking re-election; none of them have attracted what most would consider a “top tier” challenger.

Dick Lugar of Indiana: He’s likely to face a tougher challenge in the GOP primary from Richard Mourdock. For the Democrats, there has been talk that Rep. Joe Donnelly may run for Senate, particularly with his House district’s new lines looking less favorable to him. But Donnelly is reportedly also mulling a gubernatorial bid. So far, no Democrats have filed for this race.

Olympia Snowe of Maine: Like Lugar, she has primary opponents already (Scott D’Ambrose and Andrew Ian Dodge) but no Democrat opponent yet.

Scott Brown of Massachusetts: Right now, the biggest-name challenger for the Democrats is Robert Massie, who ran for Lieutenant Governor in 1994. Several members of the state’s House delegation have been mentioned as potential candidates, but none have filed papers yet.

Roger Wicker of Mississippi: No Democrats have filed for the seat yet. 

Bob Corker of Tennessee: No Democrats have filed for the seat yet.       

Orrin Hatch of Utah: The only Democrat who has filed for the seat is Chris Stout, a Salt Lake City accountant.

John Barrasso of Wyoming: No Democrats have filed for the seat yet.  

Tags: NRSC , Senate Democrats , Senate Republicans

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