Politics & Policy

Can They Keep Hanging On?

14 Senate seats.

For Democrats, gaining a 51-49 majority will require beating incumbents in Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, hanging on in Maryland and New Jersey, and winning in two of the following three states: Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia. Anything less and the GOP will stay in power.

Since last week’s update, Minnesota and Washington have gone from “leaning Democratic retention” to “likely Dem retention.”

Herewith, a look at the final 14:

ARIZONA: Republican senator Jon Kyl has not often broke 50 percent in his race against Democratic businessman Jim Pederson, but he has held a steady lead. A recent poll by SurveyUSA indicated that he’s still in front, though not by as much as he might like: 48 percent to 43 percent. Northern Arizona University had it at 49 percent for Kyl and 33 percent for Pederson. LIKELY REPUBLICAN RETENTION

CONNECTICUT: Democratic candidate Ned Lamont appears mired in the high 30s and low 40s in his insurgent bid to unseat Sen. Joe Lieberman, the man from whom he stole from whom he stole his party’s nomination in August. An American Research Group poll of likely voters put Lieberman on top, 49 percent to 37 percent. Two-thirds of Republicans plan to vote for Lieberman, rather than GOP candidate Alan Schlesinger, who gets about 8 percent of the overall vote. Lieberman has said that he will continue to caucus with Democrats. LIKELY DEMOCRATIC RETENTION

MARYLAND: Democratic congressman Ben Cardin received a big scare last week when a SurveyUSA poll of likely voters had him tied with Republican lieutenant governor Michael Steele at 46 percent apiece. Other recent polls have put Cardin ahead by anywhere from six to 15 points. Cardin remains the favorite, but Steele is showing genuine resilience. Celebrity endorsement watch: Boxer Mike Tyson and promoter Don King are both for Steele. LEANING DEMOCRATIC RETENTION

MICHIGAN: Republicans are reminding themselves that John Engler was supposed to get blown out in the 1990 gubernatorial election, according to pre-election polls–but that he won anyway, partly because the polls were wrong and partly because the weather dampened Democratic turnout. GOP candidate Michael Bouchard will need similar amounts of good luck to unseat Democratic senator Debbie Stabenow. Last week, a Zogby survey of likely voters suggested that the race may be closer than several other recent polls have indicated, with Stabenow at 48 percent and Bouchard at 44 percent. Be sure to check with a meteorologist before making your final bets. LEANING DEMOCRATIC RETENTION

MINNESOTA: Democratic nominee Amy Klobuchar is consistently scoring above 50 percent in the polls. The latest survey of likely voters, by the Star Tribune, gave her 55 percent, compared to 34 percent for Republican congressman Mark Kennedy. LIKELY DEMOCRATIC RETENTION

MISSOURI: Republican senator Jim Talent has a big money advantage going into the final weeks of this dead-heat campaign: More than $4 million in cash on hand, compared to less than $250,000 for Democratic candidate Claire McCaskill, according to the latest FEC filings (as reported in The Hotline). TOSS UP

MONTANA: Democratic candidate Jon Tester is on the verge of beating Republican senator Conrad Burns, but Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is taking no chances: Last week, he all but promised to put Tester on the powerful Appropriations Committee. In a Rasmussen poll of likely voters, Tester leads, 49 percent to 46 percent. LEANING DEMOCRATIC TAKEOVER

NEW JERSEY: Democratic senator Bob Menendez holds a single-digit lead in most polls, though a survey by Zogby puts Republican Tom Kean Jr. on top, 47 percent to 45 percent. The fact that Menendez isn’t running stronger–in a blue-leaning state, and during a good year from Democrats–demonstrates that Gov. Jon Corzine almost certainly made a mistake in appointing him to the position. Even if Menendez hangs on, the race has cost the Democrats resources that might have been put to better use elsewhere. TOSS UP

OHIO: GOP senator Mike DeWine is pro-life but otherwise not especially conservative; Democratic congressman Sherrod Brown tilts toward the left of his party. Although pundits say that Ohio loves its moderates, two recent polls give Brown a double-digit lead. LEANING DEMOCRATIC TAKEOVER

PENNSYLVANIA: Two weeks ago, supporters of Republican senator Rick Santorum were delighted to see a poll that had him trailing Democratic candidate Bob Casey Jr. by only five points. Last week’s Rasmussen poll of likely voters, however, suggested that Casey is in a much stronger position: 55 percent to 43 percent. LEANING DEMOCRATIC TAKEOVER

RHODE ISLAND: When conservatives hear that Democratic nominee Sheldon Whitehouse continues to hold a slim lead over GOP senator Lincoln Chafee, many of them think: Good riddance. LEANING DEMOCRATIC TAKEOVER

TENNESSEE: Pennsylvania was supposed to be the most interesting race in America this year, but it may in fact be this one in the Volunteer State, which still seesaws between Democratic congressman Harold Ford Jr. and GOP candidate Bob Corker. Last week, Ford promised that if elected, he would serve no more than two terms. In the five most recent polls of likely voters, Ford has led twice, Corker has led twice, and there’s been one tie. LEANING REPUBLICAN RETENTION

VIRGINIA: Democrat James Webb continues to worry Republican senator George Allen, whose dreams of a 2008 presidential run are all but officially kaput. The last two polls of likely voters, by Rasmussen and the Washington Post, give Allen a lead of only two or three points. LEANING REPUBLICAN RETENTION

WASHINGTON: Democratic senator Maria Cantwell is now polling at or above 50 percent–a sure sign that she’s going to beat GOP nominee Mike McGavick. For most of this year, Washington Republicans have talked about McGavick as their dark-horse candidate. These days, they’re more excited by their long-shot odds in Maryland and Michigan. LIKELY DEMOCRATIC RETENTION

 – John J. Miller is national political reporter for National Review and the author, most recently, of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

Most Popular

Shopping Superstitions

It’s the boss-bossiest time of the year, when Americans getting ready to open up their wallets to buy Christmas presents are lectured by illiterate halfwits about where and how to spend their money. The usual demands: Buy local, or buy from small businesses. This is pure nonsense, and you should feel free to ... Read More

Shopping Superstitions

It’s the boss-bossiest time of the year, when Americans getting ready to open up their wallets to buy Christmas presents are lectured by illiterate halfwits about where and how to spend their money. The usual demands: Buy local, or buy from small businesses. This is pure nonsense, and you should feel free to ... Read More

Palantir’s Eye-Popping Rally

Welcome to the Capital Note, a newsletter about business, finance and economics. On the menu today: Palantir shares skyrocket, a giant of labor economics passes away, Slack in acquisition talks with Salesforce, and Yellen’s plans for Treasury-Fed cooperation. The Palantir Bump: Politics or Product? Palantir, ... Read More

Palantir’s Eye-Popping Rally

Welcome to the Capital Note, a newsletter about business, finance and economics. On the menu today: Palantir shares skyrocket, a giant of labor economics passes away, Slack in acquisition talks with Salesforce, and Yellen’s plans for Treasury-Fed cooperation. The Palantir Bump: Politics or Product? Palantir, ... Read More

The 1620 Project

On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower arrived on the eastern coast of North America. She had weathered the slings and arrows of maritime misfortune for almost ten weeks at that point, but the passengers thought the discomfort of crossing a small price to pay for passage to the Promised Land. After all, these were ... Read More

The 1620 Project

On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower arrived on the eastern coast of North America. She had weathered the slings and arrows of maritime misfortune for almost ten weeks at that point, but the passengers thought the discomfort of crossing a small price to pay for passage to the Promised Land. After all, these were ... Read More

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More

Implications of the Flynn Pardon

President Trump granted a pardon to Michael Flynn, his former national-security adviser, today. Flynn had pled guilty to lying to FBI agents about conversations, during the 2016 transition, with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. Flynn’s pardon should bring to an end one gross violation of the ... Read More

Implications of the Flynn Pardon

President Trump granted a pardon to Michael Flynn, his former national-security adviser, today. Flynn had pled guilty to lying to FBI agents about conversations, during the 2016 transition, with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. Flynn’s pardon should bring to an end one gross violation of the ... Read More