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Sunday, June 25, 2006

class of 2000 in the forefront.

(Cross-posted at Ponies & Pachyderms)

On November 7, 2006, 33 seats in the United States Senate will be up for grabs as those Senators last elected in 2000 are up for re-election.

At this point, the United States Senate is composed of 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats, and 1 Independent. Out of the 33 contested seats, 17 are Republican, 14 are Democrat, and 1 is an Independent (former Republican Seantor Jim Jeffords of Vermont).

To continue to hold the majority, the Republicans need to win 50 seats. For the Democrats to attain a majority, they need to win 7 (7 Republican, or 6 Republican and the 1 Independent).

According to the United States Senate 2006 Elections entry on wikipedia:

The market-based outcomes of an independent public trading exchange suggests as of June 7, 2006, that the most vulnerable Republican seats are Pennsylvania, Montana, and Ohio, respectively and are likely to switch control. In addition, the same market suggests that in Rhode Island and Missouri, the chance that the Republicans will keep the seat is less than two out of three. For the Democrats, two seats (Minnesota and New Jersey) fall below the two-out-of-three threshold of safety, but are still deemed likely by the public market to be retained by the Democrats.

The entry also notes that a number of Senators will be retiring - including Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton (D), Tennessee Senator Bill Frist (R), Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords (I), and Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes (D).

Noteable incumbents planning on running for re-election include Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut), Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Bill Nelson (D-Florida), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), George Allen (R-Virginia), Conrad Burns (R-Montana), Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), John Ensign (R-Nevada), Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania), and Jim Talent (R-Missouri).

What will happen? We'll just have to wait and see (meanwhile, make sure to keep an eye on sites like Politics1 and the Daily Kos for current US political goings on...)



Idealistic Pragmatist said...

To continue to hold the majority, the Republicans need to win 50 seats. For the Democrats to attain a majority, they need to win 7 (7 Republican, or 6 Republican and the 1 Independent).

Um, I don't think this is actually what you meant. The Republicans need to win fifty seats, but the Democrats can attain a majority with only seven?

Secretary of Voyeuristic Intentions said...

The Vice President casts the tie-breaking vote (Lord Cheney...). So technically until 2008, if the GOP won 50 seats, they'd hold a majority (on paper at least).

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the Democrats take back either the Senate or teh House and put some balance back in American politics. No more of this right-wing crazy control!

Jim said...

I observe U.S. politics very closely--much more closely than I do Canadian politics--and I very much doubt that the Democrats will be able to take back the Senate this year. The mathematics of it are pretty tough.

First of all, like you said, this is a referendum on the class of 2000. The Senate Democrats did very well in 2000--I think they picked up six seats that year (Carnahan in Missouri, Dayton in Minnesota, Cantwell in Washington, Carper in Delaware, Nelson in Florida, Stabenow in Michigan) while only losing two (Robb in Virginia to Allen and Ensign in Nevada to Bernstein). So, naturally, the Democrats have more seats up in 2006 than Republicans, which makes taking back the Senate that much harder. However, they face what I would call likely pick-up opportunities in Pennsylvania and Montana (Santorum has been consistantly down in the polls against Democrat Bob Casey for like a year; Conrad Burns is getting more and more unpopular in Montana due to his obvious corruption). I'm still a bit up in the air on Ohio--it didn't look like a great opportunity a few months ago due to an intra-party disaster when certain elements of the national Democratic Party tried to force out Sherrod Brown's primary opponent, Paul Hackett--but the polls are starting to get very favorable for Brown.

Rhode Island is a very interesting case. Sen. Chafee (R) is one of the very last Republican moderates in the Senate--he consistantly opposed the Iraq War (the only one on the Republican side to do so), for instance. But he has also made less than popular votes in favor of the nominations of John Bolton and Samuel Alito for the UN and the Supreme Court, respectively--conservative ideologues out of touch with heavily liberal Rhode Island. Still, Chafee is facing a vigorous primary challenge from Cranston mayor Steve Laffey, and apparently it's pretty tight. If Laffey wins the primary, the general election will be a slam dunk for Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. If Chafee survives the primary, this is still a potential pick-up for the Democrats, as polling is very tight in this race.

Democrats are also taking a run at George Allen with former Reagan Admin. Navy Secretary Jim Webb, atJon Kyl with businessman Jim Pederson, at Frist's open seat with conservative Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., and at Ensign with Jimmy Carter's son, Jack Carter. These are all second tier contests where I would say the Republicans are favored for the time being but there is potential for the Democratic candidate to reverse that.

Democrats aren't playing a lot of defense. I think incumbents like Byrd and Stabenow will be fairly safe. Nelson in Florida could have been very vulnerable, but the Republicans are running Rep. Katherine Harris, one of the least appealing candidates possible (Harris was the Secretary of State/Bush 2000 campaign official who intervened in the recount process to ensure a Bush victory, as you may recall).

As for New Jersey, the polls always seem to indicate that the Democrats are in danger in that state--we saw it in 2004, we saw it again in 2005 during the Governor's race--yet the actual vote results show up to be more favorable for them. Given that Menendez is leading in the polls by a slim but decent margin, and that the only thing propping up his opponent is the fact that his dad was a well-liked moderate Governor, I think the Democrats will be okay here.

I'd recommend bookmarking Swing State Project if you want to keep a closer eye on key 2006 races. I'm a contributing editor there.

daveberta said...

Thanks for the linkage Jim - it should be an interesting pre-election period and midterms!