The state of the Senate race

posted at 8:31 am on November 3, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

We’re coming down to the wire in the 2012 election, and being a presidential year most eyes are trained on the race to the finish between Mitt Romney and President Obama. But control of both chambers in the legislative branch are on the line as well, and as we all know, Congress can do a lot more (or a lot less) in terms of effecting change than the chief executive. Last night, The Ish took a look at the state of the House races and didn’t see much of a change on the horizon. That’s not terribly surprising, given how each state gerrymanders their districts. But the Senate runs on a harder to bump, state by state basis and has some potential volatility built in. Today we’ll take a quick look at what’s coming up there. (Don’t take this as “final predictions” which we’ll be doing closer to Tuesday.)

Of the 100 seats in the Senate, there are less than a dozen that we really need to bother looking at. The GOP is sitting on 42 which are either not up for reelection or so safe that it’s not worth discussing. The Democrats have 44 in those same categories. (And I’m sorry to say to my fellow New Yorkers, our seat in this mix is in that category. It’s just not on the table.) For the record, that Democrat number includes Sanders and Lieberman, who are technically independent, but caucus with the Dems. It also includes Angus King in Maine, who will almost without a doubt follow suit and may soon make some of you pine for the days of Olympia Snowe, who was successfully hounded out of the running.

Still technically in the “leaner” category, but quickly sailing over the event horizon of reasonable chances are three others:

Nebraska: This one should go to Deb Fischer, bringing the Republican “comfortable” total to 43, but we’ll pretend for now that Bob Kerry still has a chance.

Florida: I know people are still holding out hope for Connie Mack, but Bill Nelson holds varying leads in every poll you can find not conducted exclusively among people with the surname of Mack. But much like the presidential numbers, these shift on a daily basis. The Democrats could still take a beating up and down the ticket if the turnout is seriously large.

Pennsylvania: Tom Smith has run a great race, but even Rasmussen has him losing to Bob Casey, bringing the Donkey Party to a likely buffer of 46. This leaves us with a rather shockingly juicy group of eleven seats which may still be in contention, some more than others.

THE FINALISTS (In alphabetical order for lack of any other ranking)

Arizona: This one won’t be a blowout, but Jeff Flake is still up outside the margins in Rasmussen’s last numbers and he should sneak in over the finish line.

Connecticut: This is Linda McMahon’s second bite at the apple, but every late poll has Chris Murphy looking like he’ll send her packing in back to back tries.

Indiana: One of the media’s favorite races. I haven’t spoken to a single non-invested party who thinks this would even have been a race if Lugar was running, but Richard Mourdock managed to trip over his own shoelaces with the finish line in site and Ras has Joe Donnelly up by a slim margin in the final week. It could still go either way, though, and this one is definitely too close to call.

Massachusetts: The race most likely to start a flame war on any blog, Scott Brown became a GOP Rock Star of sorts when he seized a seat in Taxachusetts. But despite Elizabeth Warren’s best efforts to take herself out of the race repeatedly, Obama has some long coattails in the Kennedy’s home town and most polling outlets weren’t holding out much hope for Brown. But just this weekend we saw another shift, and incumbency always carries a certain advantage. Brown may still hold on to this one.

Missouri: Another odds on favorite to fan flame wars, Todd Akin managed to take one of the most likely GOP pickup seats and put it back in play. Rasmussen currently has Claire McCaskill up by nearly double digits, and not one other outlet shows a lead for Akin with three days to go.

Montana: I have no idea why I don’t see this race on the morning talk shows more often. Jon Tester is being challenged by Republican Denny Rehberg and there’s no use linking any single poll on the contest. Everyone has it as pretty much a fifty fifty shot. That’s a GOP pickup waiting to happen if you can turn out a couple hundred extra people in a few precincts.

Nevada: Much like Arizona, I’m not sure if this should be a toss-up race. Even NBC gives Dean Heller a pretty good shot at winning and the rest of the pollsters follow suit. He should deny Shelley Berkley’s bid unless something goes seriously amiss.

North Dakota: Republican Rick Berg should nail this one down pretty early on Tuesday night and send Heidi Heitkamp looking for other employment.

Ohio: Another high strung, tight wire act here. But the consensus of pollsters has Sherrod Brown leading Josh Mandel outside the margins. Sorry, sports fans, but Josh has some tough sledding to pull this one out.

Virginia: George Allen has overcome some early polling deficits and is now in a nail biter with Tim Kaine. It’s not a given by any means, but the momentum seems to be on Allen’s side coming into the home stretch.

Wisconsin: This is shaping up to be another incredibly close one, like most in Wisconsin. Tammy Baldwin (D) and Tommy Thompson (R) have been trading the lead back and forth for a while. This is another one that may just come down to coat tails.

All in all, there is the possibility of a wave in either direction with this many close races. But looking at the trends this week, it may turn out to be something of a split much like the House races. There’s really only three races where I would bet large on the Republicans right now and a couple where I’d wager on the Democrats. This doesn’t stack up like a high chance of the GOP retaking the Senate, but there’s plenty of reason to break out the popcorn on Tuesday.

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SbCons, once again, ruining what could been a wave ekection for the right.

After tey’ve blown this Sentate opportunity, Will SoCons learn a thing or two about the fine line between policy and politics?

Probably not.

Until they zip their mouths about social issues and take their fight underground, they will cntinue to sabotage any change for the change they seek.

rickyricardo on November 3, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Why do you let so many threads die after you present your data and/or open ended argument?
rogerb on June 14, 2012 at 11:37 PM

Which threads are those?
libfreeordie on June 14, 2012 at 11:44 PM


libfreeordie on August 2, 2012 at 11:38 AM

you do have a tendency to abandon them once you can’t touch bottom, so too much effort isn’t warranted.
rogerb on August 2, 2012 at 12:38 PM


Boy, you nailed yourself on that one. I guess this thread is about dead, too.
rogerb on November 3, 2012 at 10:23 AM

rogerb on November 3, 2012 at 4:17 PM

First time was back in June.

And then and now is all hawkdriver, btw.

rogerb on November 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM

I missed that one.

If there was any remaining doubt in anyone’s mind after that, there shouldn’t be now.

Looks like hawkdriver picked up a strong scent back then. The troll stepped right into the trap you set in this thread. It’s now beyond all reasonable doubt.

he’s still posting in other threads today after abandoning this one:

Trolls like to find a way to thumb their nose at you and push the envelope if they think they are getting away with something.

Apparently this one thinks it has some kind of free pass from the management. Trolls sense these things, right up until the rope runs out.

farsighted on November 3, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Men talking about abortion is potentially costing us 2 seats. Men need to STFU about abortion, especially as republicans.

milcus on November 3, 2012 at 8:43 AM

No! They should learn how to defend their positions without painting a target on themselves and everyone in the vicinity with an R label. It isnt that hard if one has actually thought about the issue and had discussions with people who disagree at some point in one’s life.

aikidoka on November 3, 2012 at 9:18 AM

Needs to be seen again. Well said.

kim roy on November 3, 2012 at 5:18 PM

rickyricardo on November 3, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Not familiar with this guy. A troll right?

smoothsailing on November 3, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Why do liberals get to have the most extreme views on abortions and conservatives aren’t even allowed to talk about it? So many commenters here said akin is extreme. Wrong! Obama voted for infanticide 3 times!!!!! You can’t get anymore extreme than that. Social conservatives will never shut up about life. We will defend it until the end!!!

sadsushi on November 3, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Talk about life all you want.

The problem occurs when someone like Akin makes a statement that isn’t true-Women can’t get pregnant from rape. At that point he became an ignorant, superstitious animal. By association, he makes the whole Pro-life movement look like a bunch of ignorant, superstitious animals. Image to liberal-someone lights a match-pro-lifer cowers in corner in awe of such a miracle. He made fire! Must be god! That is the level of mental competence a statement such as Akin’s reveals.

Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin have written on this topic. Go ahead and talk about life, but it would be most advisable to avoid the topic of rape. If you can’t stay away from it, at least try to avoid foaming at the mouth quality statement such as Akin’s.

talkingpoints on November 3, 2012 at 5:30 PM

In the places where these guys live, everyone speaks a certain way and they know what each other mean.

But when you put clumsy speech up on the MSM with the liberal megaphone blaring out that rape must be the will of God, when really you mean that Every Baby is a Child of God, you marginalize the whole pro life movement, and take away mens rights to have an opinion, wrongly I might add…

Tis better to say less, your friends all know what you mean.

Fleuries on November 3, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Hmm… just realized why Jazz’s piece is total ca-ca.

ZERO mention on the impact of their respective O-care vote on each Senator’s future.

How a House Rep voted on O-care did matter… and the ‘rats suffered a historic ass-whooping in 2010 for their votes.

Now, 2 years later, the Senators who brought O-care to life are going to escape a similar judgment from the voters?

This analysis ain’t worth diddlysquat.

CPT. Charles on November 3, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Not familiar with this guy. A troll right?

smoothsailing on November 3, 2012 at 5:20 PM

No, unless you consider anyone who doesn’t agree with you 100% to be a troll.

JFS61 on November 3, 2012 at 9:45 PM

rogerb on November 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Nope Dude, all you.

hawkdriver on November 3, 2012 at 10:14 PM

rogerb on November 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM
Nope Dude, all you.

hawkdriver on November 3, 2012 at 10:14 PM

I’m still laughing.

hawkdriver on November 3, 2012 at 10:14 PM

JFS61 on November 3, 2012 at 9:45 PM

FWIW, I consider that one a troll.

hawkdriver on November 3, 2012 at 10:15 PM

You know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and expecting a different response. Mourdock was not locked in a cave during Akin’s self-immolation, and yet he decided to talk about rape in anything other than the most negative terms in full view of the television public. Ergo, you could say that’s even worse than Akin.

KingGold on November 3, 2012 at 9:19 AM

“Even when life beings in the horrible circumstance of rape…” Yep, that Mourdock was just being a pollyanna about the good parts of rape.

I said it before, but only an idiot could read that as any kind of dismissal or acceptance of rape itself. Clearly, he is focusing on the aftermath of a horrible event.

It doesn’t surprise me when the Democrats try to twist his comment into something that will help them. But it’s disappointing when supposed Republicans accept their spin at face value.

What we’re seeing is yet more evidence that supporting imperfect GOP candidates is strictly a one-way street. Conservatives are supposed to be loyal to every Republican candidate, but RINOs feel free to side with the Democrats against any conservative they think is “extreme.”

A baby is a baby regardless of how it was conceived. The extreme position is to say, “ah, just kill it.”

tom on November 3, 2012 at 10:45 PM

What’s hilarious is that on any metric, considering the enormity of the economic crisis that cascaded into his term from the Bush years Obama’s a remarkably successful President. Huge aspects of the economy, especially throughout 2009 were reacting to and correcting for overvalued property markets. What policies would have prevented that correction for over value? Abolishing NPR? You are the folks who are not evaluating the President on objective metrics. The constant emphasis on dog eating, him being a Kenyan, “anti-colonialism” and that he dared to say “if I had a son he’d look like Trayvon” all speak to the ways conservatives are intensely focused on the symbolics of a Barack Obama presidency and it drives them up the wall.

libfreeordie on November 3, 2012 at 9:49 AM

1) Obama was in the Senate — and in the majority party with majority control — during this economic crisis that you want to blame Bush for
2) And guess who had control of the House at the time of this economic crisis you want to blame Bush for? Why, it was the same party that controlled the Senate, and that Obama belonged to!
3) And guess who warned multiple times about the problem of overvalued property markets that could lead to economic disaster, but was ignored. Why, it’s the same Bush that you want to blame for the economic crisis!
4) But guess who it was that actually had the power to fix the housing bubble? That would be the House and Senate, both controlled by Democrats, both ignoring the warnings from President Bush. Which party does Obama belong to, again?

Typical liberal: you blame the problems on the one guy who a) tried to warn everybody and b) did not have the power to actually fix the problem. All while giving a pass to the people who were warned and could have taken steps to fix the problem, but would rather let it all blow up and then blame someone else.

tom on November 3, 2012 at 11:10 PM


Not only should they know it is coming and be prepared, they should know the libs, lefties, and MSM will try to use their answer to discredit them in the view of independent female voters who may be overall sympathetic to the pro-life position.

The problem is not their belief that human life begins at conception. I’d wager there are people that vote Dem believe that, some Catholics for example.

Their problem is not being prepared to answer the question(s) in a way that doesn’t alienate potential political allies, that does not give their political enemies a weapon to bludgeon them with, and that can be used to dominate the campaign. Stating they are pro-life, leaving it at that, and deftly moving on to another issue is one way. Stating that they must wait and see what legislation is proposed, so they can read it carefully before rendering an opinion, unlike what Dems did with Obamacare, is another. And so on and so forth.

Liberals and lefties are very good at evasion. They have to be. Republicans, not so much, especially those new to the game/process.

farsighted on November 3, 2012 at 3:10 PM

I think they probably do have an answer prepared, but either flub the answer or think their answer sounds better than it really does.

Akin, for example, probably meant to talk about “legitimate accusations of rape” instead of “legitimate rape.” That’s a good example of flubbing a prepared answer. And he apparently believed some old claims — which were made by actual doctors — that a woman being forcibly raped was unlikely to become pregnant. So that made his answer sound reasonable in his own ears, but … not so much to others.

For all the griping about politicians lying or giving slick and insincere answers, this is exactly why they do it. Try to give an honest answer to a hard question, and you can pay for it politically. Democrats are used to lying about what they believe, because they know they have to. Conservatives are not going to be as good at dissembling.

tom on November 3, 2012 at 11:35 PM

rickyricardo on November 3, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Not familiar with this guy. A troll right?

smoothsailing on November 3, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Writes like a drunken troll. That or his thumbs are too big for his phone.

Timothy S. Carlson on November 4, 2012 at 6:03 AM

I think if Romney wins, a number of those flip republican – because if Romney wins, it means the state polling had been having a ridiculous democratic bias to it, and the sample for a senator is the same as that for a president.

Arssanguinus on November 4, 2012 at 6:58 AM

How can Romney be up six in Florida and the Senate race favor the Democrats? I seems that some of the late Presidential polls and the Senate polls are not in sync.


“The final Susquehanna Polling & Research Poll (Pennsylvania) shows a 47-47% tie heading into the Tuesday election.

In the last three statewide contests, Susquehanna had an average margin of error from the actual result of one point, making them Pennsylvania’s most accurate pollster.”

If Smith has run a strong race against Casey and the top of the ticket is tied my guess is the senate race is closer than conventional wisdom allows.

Viator on November 4, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Again, outside of Missouri who was promoting Akin?

NotCoach on November 3, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Besides Mike Huckabee who isn’t exactly a leader of large coalitions.

NotCoach on November 3, 2012 at 9:54 AM

There’s Mike Gallagher, who has even less clout than Huckabee…

Myron Falwell on November 4, 2012 at 12:47 PM

How can Romney be up six in Florida and the Senate race favor the Democrats? I seems that some of the late Presidential polls and the Senate polls are not in sync.

Viator on November 4, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Could it be possible that people will just refuse to vote for a senator while voting for Mitt? That’s the only option I can think of… and that would apply to a foregone conclusion like Missouri**.

Then again, Ras has the Ohio POTUS and Senate races within similar margins, so it may be more of a pollster issue. Remember that most RCP averages for the POTUS race have been tainted by polls that assume the entire GOP base will think Election Day is November 6th.

**(Or those people are lying deliberately to pollsters out of shame for Achin’ but might vote for him ANYWAY because they… just… can’t… vote for Claire.)

Myron Falwell on November 4, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Remember that most RCP averages for the POTUS race have been tainted by polls that assume the entire GOP base will think Election Day is November 6th 7th.

FIFM. Derpy derp. :\

Myron Falwell on November 4, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Prime example of why I may read JS, but give him no credence.

It also includes Angus King in Maine, who will almost without a doubt follow suit and may soon make some of you pine for the days of Olympia Snowe, who was successfully hounded out of the running.

Snowe was just as evil as the progressives that she sided with time and time again when conservative principles hung in the balance. With friends like that, who needs the opposition? Driving out the RINOs is always a good thing no matter the short term costs. Just as the reign of Oboobi was a good thing for waking America up and a dose of punishment for turning away from our founding principles.

AH_C on November 4, 2012 at 12:58 PM

To die lib free, what a nice way to go.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on November 4, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Another way.

If you have to go to the land of the great sprit, to go liberal free makes the trip so much nicer.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on November 4, 2012 at 1:15 PM