Monday | September 23, 2002
Senate races to watch
It is safe to say, with 6 weeks (or so) remaining before the November elections that control of the Senate will hinge on races in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas and South Dakota. There have been dueling polls in these races, and the numbers on the right side of this page can shift almost daily.
Of these races, Arkansas is perhaps the best pickup opportunity for Dems, with Strickland in Colorado gaining some recent momentum. Texas has faded recently as an unanswered barrage of negative ads from the Cornyn camp have eroded some of Kirk's support. Kirk needs to go back on the air soon to regain some of his flagging momentum.
New Hampshire has been fading, as the anti-governor mood sweeping the nation (which WILL decimate the GOP) takes its toll on Shaheen's candidacy. However, Shaheen has pulled off more improbable wins in the past (such as being elected governor of GOP-leaning NH), so she can't be counted out.
On the Dem side, New Jersey is a huge trouble given Toricelli's ethical problems. Despite lagging in most recent polls, the numbers show weak support for his opponent (Forrester). It's an "anyone but the Torch" mood. Toricelli can still win if he paints Forrester as too extreme for NJ, and manages to make the charges stick. If the election hinges on which candidate voters like better, the Torch is toast.
While initially weak in SD, IA, and MN, those incumbent Democrats all seem to have turned the corner and have slight (if tenuous) leads. Wellstone in MN may face some problems with the upcoming Iraq war resolution, but that remains to be seen. Carnahan has surged recently after doing the best to imitate a punching bag. It turns out she does have fight in her. Iowa's Harkin seems to be extending his lead against GOP challenger Gangske.
Note that MO is particularly important, as it is a special election. If Carnahan loses, Talent would be seated immediately and give the GOP a Senate majority for a lame-duck-post election session.
That leaves Oregon, which has remained under the radar thanks to the utter lack of polling on the race. However, many commentators from both the left and right have pointed to OR as the sleeper upset of the race.
Dems hoped to make North Carolina and Tennessee competitive. They should content themselves by watching the GOP spend valuable resources to guarantee victories in those states. The unexpected could happen, and I pray it does, but I won't be holding my breath. Another targeted senator, Maine's Susan Collins, has by all measures moved into the "safe" column despite an inevitable blowout victory by the Democrat's gubernatorial candidate.
Dems might be making South Carolina competitive -- it's a race that bears watching on the periphery until further polling emerges.
GOP efforts to make races out of Montana, Louisiana and Georgia have been equally fruitless, making this essentially a 10-state race.Posted September 23, 2002 03:34 PM | Comments (5)