The Campaign Spot

Looking at the Incumbents and Quasi-Incumbents in the Senate . . .

As noted, one of my rules of thumb for my election predictions was that any incumbent below 50 is in at least a little trouble, and an incumbent in the mid-40s is in real trouble. The more well-known and well-established the incumbent, the more trouble they’re in. I usually give those folks about one or two percent of the remaining undecided; that’s how I ended up getting Massachusetts right.

My last pick was California’s Senate race, reluctantly picking Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer over Republican Carly Fiorina, spurred in part by Boxer reaching 49.5 percent in the RealClearPolitics average.

But in between writing down the picks and now, she’s slid to 48.5 percent, a very tenuous position in my usual formula.

Looking at the RCP average for some other well-established incumbents, we see quite a few officeholders in trouble:

Patty Murray: 48.3 percent.

Michael Bennet: 46.3 percent.

Harry Reid: 45.3 percent.

Russ Feingold: 45 percent.

Blanche Lincoln: 35 percent. (Wow!)

A reader suggests that in West Virginia, Manchin should be considered an incumbent, because even though he’s not a senator, he’s a current statewide officeholder. He is at 50.5 percent, a relative powerhouse compared to the rest of this crew, but a position with little room for error.

Quite a few Democratic candidates in open-seat races are currently in statewide office, and thus could be argued to be quasi-incumbents (in the sense that voters went to the polls and elected them recently).

Democratic Senate candidate and Connecticut state attorney general Richard Blumenthal is at 53 percent.

Democratic Senate candidate and Illinois state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is at 41.5 percent.

Democratic Senate candidate and Missouri secretary of state Robin Carnahan is at 41.3 percent.

Democratic Senate candidate and Kentucky state attorney general Jack Conway is at 40.8 percent.

Democratic Senate candidate and Ohio lieutenant governor Lee Fisher is at 37.5 percent.

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