Outlook 2006

Over at NRO, John Miller summarizes the competitive 2006 Senate races. So I’ll take the opportunity to do likewise.

Safe Dem (11)
California
Connecticut
Delaware
Hawaii
Massachusetts
New Mexico
New York
North Dakota
Vermont
West Virginia - If Gale Catlett enters and Byrd continues deteriorating publicly, this could get interesting. If not, KKK stays put.
Wisconsin

Likely Dem (4)
Florida - Rep. Harris’s primary asset was supposed to be her fundraising ability. So far, she’s not doing well. If the Party unites now, Harris could be competitive, but it will be difficult to undo the damage that has been done by the estbalishment’s desperate public attempts to find somebody else. At this point, some in the GOP may be hoping that Harris loses the general election if only to maintain their credibility.
Michigan - Sen. Debbie Stabenow is among the Senate’s leading fundraisers. GOP candidates Keith Butler and Jerry Zandstra have failed to catch fire. The reentry of Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard offers the GOP a chance, but with just a year left, he has a lot of catching up to do.
New Jersey - Tom Kean, Jr. is unlikely to unite a deeply divided GOP. A Pennacchio upset in the primary could energize the base, but so far he has yet to declare his candidacy. Either candidate would face a steep uphill fight.
Washington - Sen. Cantwell remains semi-vulnerable, but her strong fundraising has helped pad her lead in this rather blue state. Last year, it looked briefly as though Rep. Nethercutt had a shot at Sen. Murray. Then she blew him away. This race could well be very similar.

Lean Dem (3)
Maryland - If a recent poll is correct, Mfume could upset Cardin in the primary. If he does so, this is a toss-up. If not, this becomes “Likely Dem”.
Nebraska - When GOP recruiting goes this badly, it usually means a loss. This may become competitive because of the state’s GOP bent, but the situation is less than ideal.
Pennsylvania - Junior Casey is thumping Mudd, but it is difficult to overstate the advantages of incumbency.

Toss-up (3)
Minnesota - Rep. Mark Kennedy is the GOP’s best challenger this cycle. The race will hinge on turnout, so it is critical that the President start acting like a conservative to motivate the base.
Ohio - Recent polls show DeWine to be second only to Santorum in terms of vulnerability. Luckily for him, he has two left-wing loons battling it out in the Dem primary. If he gets a primary challenge from former Rep. Bob McEwen, he may not survive. Even if he does, it will serve to widen the rift between him and conservatives.
Rhode Island - The missing Linc has two potential fights on his hands. This one will be fun to watch, as each of the four candidates fires away at the other three. Politics at its best? Worst? Either way, it’ll be very entertaining.

Lean Rep (3)
Arizona - Sen. Kyl led easily in the last poll, but Jim Pederson held him to 50%. It’s not panic time, and Kyl remains a solid favorite, but as Jon Corzine has shown, money can buy happiness.
Missouri - The Dems recruited a strong candidate, but the state is moving right. If Sen. Talent doesn’t make the same mistake Gov. Blunt has in aggravating his base by endorsing embryonic stem-cell research, he should be able to keep the seat.
Tennessee - The Senate isn’t the Governor’s mansion. If former Rep. Ed Bryant gets the nod, “Senator Bryant” is all but a certainty. Van Hilleary would have an advantage as well. The only way Ford really has a chance is if Bryant and Hilleary split conservatives in the primary and give the nomination to the uninspiring Bob Corker.

Likely Rep (1)
Montana - Sen. Conrad Burns has the good fortune of facing an opponent who will emerge from a bitter primary. Democrats need unity to win national races here, and they don’t have it.

Safe Rep (8)
Indiana
Maine
Mississippi
Nevada
Texas
Utah
Virginia
Wyoming

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