Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Tuesday | October 22, 2002

State of the Senate races

I just received Charlie Cook's email newsletter, and after the weeks of giving Republicans the edge in the Senate, the National Journal columnist is suddenly giving Democrats a slight lean.

At this time in the election season, there is a certain rhythm, an ebb and flow, in which one party will have a bit of momentum for a week or two, then it shifts to the other side for a week or so. About two weeks ago, it seemed that Senate Republicans had a bit of momentum, but the last few days Democrats have seemed to have a very slight edge. And it's entirely possible that there will be one or two more shifts between now and Nov. 5. There are a half dozen really close races, and a half dozen more that are fairly close and could still flip. At this point, it's anyone's guess.
Cook notes that Dems have a good shot at taking GOP seats in Arkansas, New Hampshire and Colorado, while the race in North Carolina has become unexpectedly competitive. Democrats are endangered in Missouri, Minnesota and South Dakota. Cook seems to have written off the second-tier races (South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas and Iowa. He doesn't even mention New Jersey.).

I'd like to say that Cook's assessment is "conventional wisdom", since it tracks my own take on the race, but the "liberal" media continues to buy the GOP line that it will retake the Senate. Despite Rove's bravado and the mainstream media's willingness to swallow the bait, this race is the Democrats' to lose.

Consider, perhaps the surest takeover bet is Arkansas, a GOP seat. That would require Republicans to win two of the three endangered Dem seats. Missouri's Carnahan is probably a safe bet to go down in defeat, but I do believe SD's Johnson should pull through. And Wellstone looks better every day. Some say Bush's war vote was designed to damage MN's Wellstone, but if that was the case, it backfired disastrously. Wellstone's strong principled denounciation of the war resolution seems to have given him a strong boost in his race. That leaves Johnson, who will be bolstered by almost a week of non-stop campaigning with Senate Majority Leader Daschle. While SD trends conservative, I can't imagine the state's voters giving up leadership of the Senate (and corresponding pork) by ousting Johnson.

And if the GOP loses New Hampshire, which I believe is likely, then forget it. There's no way the GOP can take the Senate.

Posted October 22, 2002 08:04 AM | Comments (25)


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