15 seats in play in the Senate?

posted at 10:55 am on August 23, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The sense that the midterms could bring a realignment to both chambers of Congress continues to grow.  Both CQ Politics and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza see more Senate races moving into competitive positions, and almost all of them at the expense of Democrats.  Even the one race that Cillizza sees as potential good news for Democrats is based on a poll that has serious flaws in its methodology.

First, the more conservative take from CQ:

It’s hit that point in the election cycle where the competitive nature of Congressional races are shifting rapidly. Unfortunately for Democrats, the overwhelming majority of those shifts are in favor of Republicans.

The latest Senate race rating changes by CQ Politics includes five changes — in California, Washington, Wisconsin, Georgia and Iowa — that benefit Republican candidates. And Democrats can’t even catch a break on the sixth change, which moves Florida’s Senate race from Leans Republican to the more competitive Tossup category based solely of the strength of the Independent campaign run by Gov. Charlie Crist .

CQ adds Wisconsin, Washington, and California to its list of contested races, all of which are bad news for Democrats.  In all three, CQ notes, the Democratic incumbent was not thought vulnerable even in a bad year for Democrats.  The only one still leading in the polls is Barbara Boxer, who still can’t get close to 50%, and Fiorina has gotten within the margin of error in most surveys and even led in one.  CQ also moves Iowa and Georgia out of the competitive categories, saying that Chuck Grassley and Johnny Isaakson appear secure in their re-election bids — and even if they were vulnerable, Democrats won’t have the money to go on the offense.

Cillizza sees 15 Senate seats at risk of flipping in November:

The simple truth is that over the past six to nine months, the Senate playing field has expanded to the point where there are now (at least) 15 races where a party switch is a real possibility — if not a probability.

Most of that expansion has benefited Republicans, who have effectively taken advantage of a national playing field tilted in their favor to take previously non-competitive races like Washington and Wisconsin and put them on the target list.

Democrats have a few more opportunities as well — most notably in Kentucky where ophthalmologist Rand Paul‘s (R) uneven campaign has created an opening for state Attorney General Jack Conway. (An independent poll released Thursday showed the two in a statistical dead heat.)

The Kentucky race isn’t a slam-dunk for Republicans, but this poll isn’t a reliable indicator of the race, either.  Its weighted sample has a 16-point advantage for Democrats, 54.2% to 37.5% for Republicans and only 8.2% independents.  In 2008, in what most people would consider a banner year for Democrats, John McCain beat Barack Obama by a margin of 57/41 in Kentucky.  If it takes a 30-point swing in the sample to get Jack Conway into a statistical dead heat with Rand Paul, that tells us all we need to know about the “opportunity” Conway has in November.

On Cillizza’s list, only three other Republican seats appear: Florida, Ohio, and Missouri.  Florida won’t be won by a Democrat no matter what, and even if Crist wins it, he’ll caucus with whichever party takes power.  Ohio is winnable but close for Republicans, as is Missouri.  Both are traditionally red states, though, and with the economy tanking under Obama, Reid, and Pelosi, Democrats had better not expect to win either of them.  In both states, Republicans have experienced hands running for office, Rob Portman and Roy Blunt.  They’re not likely to make mistakes that will give their opponents an opening to exploit.

In order to take control, Republicans have to hold all of their seats and win most of the rest.  They have a good handle on the first five Cillizza lists: North Dakota, Arkansas, Indiana, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, plus some good news in Washington, Wisconsin, and Colorado of late.  It’s doable, but still long odds in winning control of the upper chamber.  Democrats, though, can’t rely on the odds and will have to start sinking their money into playing defense in these states.


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This makes me happy but I wish they would shut up about it already. The word “jinx” comes to mind…..

NJ Red on August 23, 2010 at 10:57 AM

A lot can happen between now and election day. I’m trying to keep my enthusiasm level at cautiously optimistic.

Yakko77 on August 23, 2010 at 10:59 AM

and the smell of setup only gets stronger…

ClassicCon on August 23, 2010 at 10:59 AM

Florida won’t be won by a Democrat no matter what, and even if Crist wins it, he’ll caucus with whichever party takes power.

I’m sure they’ll be happy to see him, if that happens…./

ted c on August 23, 2010 at 10:59 AM

And Democrats can’t even catch a break on the sixth change, which moves Florida’s Senate race from Leans Republican to the more competitive Tossup category based solely of the strength of the Independent campaign run by Gov. Charlie Crist.

That is disheartening.

and even if Crist wins it, he’ll caucus with whichever party takes power.

You think Crist will caucus with Republicans if they overtake the Senate? What a schmuck. Rubio needs to step it up!

conservative pilgrim on August 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM

It’s doable, but still long odds in winning control of the upper chamber.

I think the fact that the public, while disdaining Democrats, still has a strong disdain for the GOP and this may be borne out in some of these Senate races. I don’t see the R’s running the table and getting lucky. If so, it’s by the skin of their tea bag.

ted c on August 23, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Count it!

lorien1973 on August 23, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Florida won’t be won by a Democrat no matter what, and even if Crist wins it, he’ll caucus with whichever party takes power.

Then Crist, like all moderate republicans, will only balk at voting with republicans, but when the democrats want to try and negotiate with him, he’ll be all “Yes, master”

lorien1973 on August 23, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Rubio needs to step it up!

conservative pilgrim

Wait ’til Wednesday, my friend. Why spend a penny before that?

tree hugging sister on August 23, 2010 at 11:03 AM

They are setting the bar so high, in order to give Barry some good news on Election night.

Election night MSM Meme:

“It seems the Tsunami predicted for the GOP, turned out to be a trickling stream. The GOP only picked up 9 of the 15 seats predicted. This is good new for President Obama.”

portlandon on August 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Here in New Hampshire, Bill Binnie suddenly has stopped his negative campaign ads against Kelly Ayotte. Wonder why?

Del Dolemonte on August 23, 2010 at 11:08 AM

They are setting the bar so high, in order to give Barry some good news on Election night.

Election night MSM Meme:

“It seems the Tsunami predicted for the GOP, turned out to be a trickling stream. The GOP only picked up 9 of the 15 seats predicted. This is good new for President Obama.”

portlandon on August 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM

This.

But they are ignoring/underestimating the coming Dem disaster in state houses and governorships.

Bat Chain Puller on August 23, 2010 at 11:08 AM

They are setting the bar so high, in order to give Barry some good news on Election night.

Yuup.

The biggest Democrat electoral failure in almost 20 years will be spun as “a pure win for Democrats everywhere.”

Good Lt on August 23, 2010 at 11:09 AM

The only real question is at what time on election night day AP starts drinking.

TexasDan on August 23, 2010 at 11:10 AM

I remain confident that election night in November will be stunning, beyond even the delight that was November of 1994.

Vashta.Nerada on August 23, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Rubio needs to step it up!
conservative pilgrim

I have no worries about Rubio’s chances. Given what I saw of him in the informal debate with Crist a few months ago on (IIRC) Fox, any debates they hold this fall will be very entertaining, and not in a good way for Charlie/”Sweet Charlotte.”

irishspy on August 23, 2010 at 11:13 AM

Just a note on that KY Senate race:

In 2008, the exit polls showed a breakdown by party turnout of 47D-38R-15I. For the Dems to nearly double their turnout advantage this year would require something akin to a miracle.

I’ve discounted that poll on that basis alone.

JohnGalt23 on August 23, 2010 at 11:15 AM

I’m with ClassiCon on this one.Don’t start counting chickens.

DDT on August 23, 2010 at 11:21 AM

Democrats won’t have the money to go on the offense.

Sure they do:
MSM
George Soros funded organizations
Liberal PAC’s

They have more money than the GOP. The only way the GOP will match it is if the salt of the earth people start donating, which they have been doing to some extent.

True_King on August 23, 2010 at 11:21 AM

November may be the biggest party of the decade for real people. Wifey and I might have to book a room at the Angle victory party hotel.

Mojave Mark on August 23, 2010 at 11:23 AM

Just think….If the Conservatives and the Tea Partys can reach the record turnouts needed, we could literally sweep Pelosi and Reid out of power. If this thought doesn’t rally the masses, I don’t know what can be done.

(goose-bumps)

Rovin on August 23, 2010 at 11:23 AM

DEMOCRAT LOSSES NOT AS BAD AS ANTICIPATED

DEMOCRATS BREATHE A SIGH OF RELIEF: LOSSES MINIMIZED

TEA PARTY FAILS: DEMOCRATS LIMIT LOSSES

AMERICANS STILL TRUST DEMOCRATS BUT SEND A GENTLE MESSAGE

TEA PARTY GROUNDSWELL FAILS TO MATERIALIZE: DEMOCRATS DO BETTER THAN EXPECTED

mankai on August 23, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Just keep in mind what that old “Progressive” Uncle Joseph Stalin said once:

It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.

Fake8 on August 23, 2010 at 11:25 AM

Just think….If the Conservatives and the Tea Partys can reach the record turnouts needed, we could literally sweep Pelosi and Reid out of power. If this thought doesn’t rally the masses, I don’t know what can be done.

(goose-bumps)

Rovin on August 23, 2010 at 11:23 AM

and then what?

So short sighted…

ClassicCon on August 23, 2010 at 11:27 AM

If the nominee in Illinois was anyone but Mark Kirk they’d probably win in a walk against Alexi-but it is Mark Kirk.
Kirk has gone out of his way to alienate conservative and right-leaning moderates. It’s better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt(I’m paraphrasing from Proverbs.) Mark Kirk doesn’t know when to zip it.
He’s going to learn though on November 2-when those conservative votes he needs to win-go third party.

annoyinglittletwerp on August 23, 2010 at 11:30 AM

By the way, any “statistical dead heat” or close tally, even slight lead for the GOP candidate, on election night automatically goes to the Democrat. So don’t bother counting those.

Dongemaharu on August 23, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Wait ’til Wednesday, my friend. Why spend a penny before that?

tree hugging sister on August 23, 2010 at 11:03 AM

What’s happening on Wednesday?

@irishspy–

I’ve always assumed the polling will shift after Labor Day. That’s when people begin to pay closer attention to the local races.

conservative pilgrim on August 23, 2010 at 11:31 AM

It’s late but just how many billions in stimulus money do the dems have? The dirty dems will pull something even if only in enough races to keep the senate.

tim c on August 23, 2010 at 11:32 AM

mankai on August 23, 2010 at 11:24 AM

I agree. The pre-emptive bar elevation for the Republican gains is a means to allow the Democrats to win by losing, just not by losing as badly as originially thought. It’s deceptive. Everything with these guys is “expectation” based. They fancy themselves the soothsayers and predictors of just about everything then so very often refer to easily predictable events as “unexpected”—

ted c on August 23, 2010 at 11:36 AM

duh blockwquote massive fail.

ted c on August 23, 2010 at 11:37 AM

I keep hearing all this talk of taking the senate and realignment etc. and yet Obama’s still holding at 45-48% approval. Clinton was in the 30s in 1994. Bush was almost in the 20s in 2006. I just don’t see how this happens with Obama almost at 50% in 2010.

angryed on August 23, 2010 at 11:37 AM

mankai on August 23, 2010 at 11:24 AM

For the sake of this country, I hope not.

Seriously, this country can’t take much more. Not sure if the GOP will be able to undo the damage but we got to at least give it a shot because the Dems are poison right now.

Yakko77 on August 23, 2010 at 11:38 AM

angryed on August 23, 2010 at 11:37 AM

good point.

ted c on August 23, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Democrats won’t have the money to go on the offense.

You don’t need money when the MSM gives you free advertising every night on the news.

angryed on August 23, 2010 at 11:40 AM

I’m not sure all the money in the World will save the democrats butts this time. Just a feeling I have.No matter what happens the media isn’t going to give credit to the fact that the American people loathe Obama and his “ideas.” We shall see.

sandee on August 23, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Does anyone know of any other good campaign or election political blogs besides the fix, which is very good though leans left.

TimTebowSavesAmerica on August 23, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Obama almost at 50% in 2010

angryed on August 23, 2010 at 11:37 AM

He’s at or just above 40 and sinking.

jwolf on August 23, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Has anyone elicited a promise from the Senate Democrats to “power share” with the GOP if we end up 50-50 with a VP tie breaker?

myrenovations on August 23, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Real Clear Politics

Voter from WA State on August 23, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Your hosts at this blog have RCP listed as one of the Right channels.

JohnGalt23 on August 23, 2010 at 11:54 AM

This is brain-dead easy: “Tonight, voters affirmed President Obama’s centrist views of government by returning the Congress to a more moderate balance of power between democratics and Republicans. In the new Congress, Republicans will have a greater opportunity to work with the President moving forward”.

They need not account for those that lose and drop from the stage. Protecting the messiah will become the new objective.

slickwillie2001 on August 23, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Count all ducks on Nov. 02, at night.

If behind, work hard; if ahead, work harder.

Schadenfreude on August 23, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Voter from WA State on August 23, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Yep, know that one, along with the fix and the campaign spot. 538 is way too left to get much out of it. It would be great if there was a 538 that was politically sane.

TimTebowSavesAmerica on August 23, 2010 at 12:01 PM

By the way, any “statistical dead heat” or close tally, even slight lead for the GOP candidate, on election night automatically goes to the Democrat. So don’t bother counting those.

Nope. Bush/Kerry 2004, Scott Brown & Chris Christie 2009.

Dems aren’t omnipotent and invulnerable. Let’s make sure they know it in November.

Bat Chain Puller on August 23, 2010 at 12:13 PM

OT but related, in TX-23, Canseco(R) is polling ahead of Rodriguez(D) for the first time. That district went Dem after it was redrawn under the Voting Rights Act and a bunch of moveon.org money flowed in. It’s be sweet to get it back.

juliesa on August 23, 2010 at 12:16 PM

I’ll be in my bunk.

29Victor on August 23, 2010 at 12:17 PM

I want to win them all….but the one I am focused on is the 7th district in Wilmington, NC. For 140 years it has been controlled by democrats, and we are working hard to elect Ilario Pantano, a real American. We have some great events planned the next several weeks.
Each of us focus on Senate…but don’t take your eyes of the local congressional races, we want it all!

right2bright on August 23, 2010 at 12:18 PM

“It seems the Tsunami predicted for the GOP, turned out to be a trickling stream. The GOP only picked up 9 of the 15 seats predicted. This is good new for President Obama.”

Which would be a severe twisting of what was actually said, as 4 of those 15 seats are currently Republican-held, which means only 11 Dem seats.

It’s hard to get a +15 net in the Senate when only 11 Dem seats are seen as in play, but it could happen if Blumenthal, Gillibrand, Wyden, and several others unexpectedly implode.

teke184 on August 23, 2010 at 12:20 PM

I keep hearing all this talk of taking the senate and realignment etc. and yet Obama’s still holding at 45-48% approval. Clinton was in the 30s in 1994. Bush was almost in the 20s in 2006. I just don’t see how this happens with Obama almost at 50% in 2010.

angryed on August 23, 2010 at 11:37 AM

Clinton was in the 30′s in early 1994 but managed claw his way back to around 48% by the election. Obama’s somewhere in the 40′s right now, depending on who you listen to, but he’s sinking fast, not rising as Clinton was. He could well be in the 30′s by November. Couple that with the on-going anger at Reid, Pelosi, et al and it could be a very good November.

Trafalgar on August 23, 2010 at 12:21 PM

A swing of sixteen Senate seats in one year (including Scott Brown MA seat) would appear to be a record. It would be very sweet to have a 55 repubs-44 + 1 dem/independent, Senate advantage. Get out the popcorn, because if it’s anywhere close to this flip you will most likely see lib talking heads’ explode on November 3.

eaglewingz08 on August 23, 2010 at 12:22 PM

What’s happening on Wednesday?

conservative pilgrim

Just in case you’re SERIOUS ({8^P)…

The Florida Senate race is, at long last, officially down to three contestants. Marco finally has his challengers and can spend his money in the best, most efficient manner and markets possible.

Money spent on TV ads in the primary would have been a huge waste of effort and resources. best to travel about ~ as he did ~ meeting, greeting, getting known around the state and the country ~ heck, even a decent New York Times write-up, for crying out loud ~ while the other guys chew through their war-chests AND voter patience before August is even out.

tree hugging sister on August 23, 2010 at 12:24 PM

eaglewingz08 on August 23, 2010 at 12:22 PM

43 Dems and 2 independents. Bernie Sanders is a hard-left socialist who caucuses with the Dems while Lieberman is an independent who could flip depending on his plans to run in 2012.

teke184 on August 23, 2010 at 12:25 PM

It would be nice to actually beat some real Dems like Boxer and Sestak instead of just taking out RINOs and DINOs.

Speedwagon82 on August 23, 2010 at 12:25 PM

He’s at or just above 40 and sinking.

jwolf on August 23, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Rasumssen: 47% (as at 43% last week)
Gallup 44% (was at 41% last week)

angryed on August 23, 2010 at 12:31 PM

You think Crist will caucus with Republicans if they overtake the Senate? What a schmuck. Rubio needs to step it up!

conservative pilgrim on August 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM

The Democrat base has been gay baiting Crist for over 10 years. I doubt he wants to make them happy.

Speedwagon82 on August 23, 2010 at 12:32 PM

I doubt he wants to make them happy.

Speedwagon82

Crist will say and do WHATEVER it takes to keep him employed.

tree hugging sister on August 23, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Dear GOP,

Don’t f**k it up.

Sincerely,

The Wyz

Wyznowski on August 23, 2010 at 12:38 PM

I just don’t see how this happens with Obama almost at 50% in 2010.

angryed on August 23, 2010 at 11:37 AM

Fortunately President Obama won’t be on any ballots this November. African American turn-out will be dismal this year, and while the left isn’t going to disapprove of him to a pollster, they’re not donating or doing the ground work required in a mid-term election either.

I’m not sure why his numbers have bumped up in the past few days, but apart from states like CA and CT, the candidates running still don’t want President Obama anywhere near them.

BadgerHawk on August 23, 2010 at 12:40 PM

mankai on August 23, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Nah.

“The American people threw a temper tantrum last night…”

Akzed on August 23, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Be optimistic but never complacent. Remain always mindful that the Ass. Press, the old media networks, the NY Times, WashPost, PBS, NPR and Gallup-esque push-pollster lackeys of the DNC will try anything to reduce opposition voter turnout.

In the 2000 election the old media tried to fix the election outcome for Gore through discouraging Central US and West Coast votes by calling an early victory for the Tree. The other old media strategy, one starting now, is to reduce their DNC’s opposition turnout by lulling the opposition into a false sense of security.

Even with substantial gains by Conservatives in November there still are enemies within our midst. A slim majority gain will increase the selling price demanded by the quislings Collins, Snowe and Grahamnesty to vote for Democrat legislation. Therefore it becomes increasingly important to nullify through substantial majority an ability of those three RINO stooges to gain greater power or greater payoff for further treachery. Like any cancer Snowe, Collins and Grahamnesty will need to be removed eventually and replaced in future primaries (i.e. Bennettized) with those less mercenary to highest bidder. In some ways that process is already in place because as Conservatives give directly to specific candidates rather than indirectly to the GOP that makes it tougher for Snowe, Collins, and Grahamnesty (and until recently Specter) to mooch from the GOP coffers simply by tacking an R after their names.

viking01 on August 23, 2010 at 1:07 PM

“The American people threw a temper tantrum last night…”

Akzed on August 23, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Oh man that was fun! I want to see Couric do her best Cokie impression with, “What is going on here!?!”

txhsmom on August 23, 2010 at 1:21 PM

tree hugging sister on August 23, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Thanks. *blush* I admit I have not paid much attention to dates lately except Nov 2. :-)

conservative pilgrim on August 23, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Let’s say that the Repubs do take both the House and the Senate. What happens starting Nov 3rd? The work of Allah, Ed and all their readers will just get harder. Holding the establishment Repubs feet to the fire will be job one. They cannot just be the party that does the opposite of whatever Obama wants.

humdinger on August 23, 2010 at 1:49 PM

They cannot just be the party that does the opposite of whatever Obama wants.

humdinger on August 23, 2010 at 1:49 PM

So what you’re saying is that once the GOP controls Congress it should go along with the communist policies of Obama?

angryed on August 23, 2010 at 2:13 PM

Dayum!!! Kickin a$$ like i hate you donkeys!

abobo on August 23, 2010 at 2:31 PM

CA’s Carly Firoina Needs to Slap Meg Whitman awake: Meg’s stances are deflating the energy of conservatives in this state. For example, Whitman is going soft on Obamacare!

Mutnodjmet on August 23, 2010 at 2:49 PM

2011. The Year of Impeachments.

rayra on August 23, 2010 at 3:03 PM

For you people worried about things getting better for Democrats remember 2008. The Democrats can’t count on any event or singular stumble by the party OUT of power. Thus there is nothing any Republican can do to change the race for the other Republicans. The “let’s smear Paul and Angle” is one of the more laughable strategies I have ever seen. People don’t give a rat’s a$$ about the races they aren’t voting on. Did Al Franken (D-Mars) effect anything for Democrats in 2008 in other states? Other states didn’t even have any idea he was running or how wacked out he could be. Is there some miracle policy that undoes all the mistrust the Democrats have earned from HealthCare to the Stimulus, etc? No, it would be a check in their column and evidence that even a blind squirrel finds a nut. Nothing that would erase the balance sheet of Pelosi/Reid/Obama BS. We can’t say it is over but let’s at least stop worrying about people “blowing it”. There is not a nuke button that the Democrats can push or the Republicans push on themselves. They can cut their losses but please stop the complete handwringing. They are going to lose enough power to end one-party rule. First they have lost the House (see my above explanation). The Democrats have 23 out of 33 seats running in the Senate in 2012, we defend 10 seats, the Senate will REALLY cool off for Obama after this. Not enough power for us to overcome Obama’s veto and that is where we will stand on Nov 3.

Conan on August 23, 2010 at 3:57 PM

How “Mavericky” are the Republicans?

IlikedAUH2O on August 23, 2010 at 4:07 PM

If the Republicans try to go back to business as usual after this election, the voters had better kick them awake. 2012 will be the year that a lot of business as usual Republicans find out just how mad the voters really are at them. I don’t trust the incumbents farther than I can throw them.

hachiban on August 23, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Too bad John (“We gotta get the money out of politics”) McCain’s seat isn’t in play with J.D. Heyworth. So spending gobs of money is bad…..BAD! (except when it’s for McCain’s re-election). Republican voters in Arizona are like Charlie Brown, and McCain is Lucy holding the football for him. Say, what was that definition of insanity again?…..doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?

olesparkie on August 24, 2010 at 7:32 AM