After Labor Day: Where Things Stand

Now that Labor Day has passed, the campaigns enter their final stretch.  Here’s a quick glance at where things stand going into the home stretch:

Republican Held Seats

Arizona - Despite dipping deep into his personal fortune, former Democrat State Party Chair Jim Pederson has been unable to cut into Sen. Jon Kyl’s solid lead.  Democrats were once hopeful of his chances.  Now, they’ve all but given up.  Safe Republican.

Missouri - This is the closest race of the 2006 cycle.  Sen. Talent’s biggest problems are of his own doing, as he abandoned his sponsorship of the Brownback-Landrieu cloning ban, thereby alienating the very powerful Missouri Right to Life.  In a state where cultural values have boosted Republicans of late, kicking the base in the groin is not a good way to get them to turnout.  Many will forgive him, with McCaskill being the alternative, but those who will not could well cost him the election.  Slight Lean Democrat

Montana - Far left favorite Jon Tester has put up a solid fight against Sen. Conrad Burns, but Montana is Montana, and Burns is an old survivor.  This will be close, but Burns has a proven ability to win the close ones.  Leans Republican

Ohio - By angering his base on a regular basis, most notably through his participation in the Gang of 14 agreement, Sen. Mike DeWine has made a bad situation created by the corrupt state GOP worse.  His far left challenger, Rep. Sherrod Brown, has not closed the deal with voters, but it is abundently clear that DeWine should at the very least be sending out feelers in the private sector.  A word of advice: don’t send any resumes to conservatives.  Leans Democrat

Pennsylvania - Sen. Rick Santorum Samuel Mudd made a damned if you do, damned if you don’t decision to support liberal Republican and current Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Arlen Specter two years ago.  Now, he’s having some trouble rallying those who put in hours and hours for former Rep. Pat Toomey in his primary challenge.  While it appears that many of those he angered are accepting him as the lesser of two evils (this blogger excepted), their lack of ambition to do any more than vote for him could well cost him in a close race.  Even so, he has managed to close a once huge gap to now be within stricking distance.  What’s more, with the Casey name, it is doubtful that the 50% mark for incumbents really holds any water in this race.  Slight Lean Democrat

Rhode Island - Republicans are unlikely to hold this seat, in no small part because the incredibly inept NRSC has actually said that it will concede Rhode Island should Republicans choose the GOP nominee.  As such, their GOTV efforts are geared toward turning out independents.  Way to build a Party, Liddy.  What’s more, incumbent Sen. Missing “Linc” Chafee, who currently trails Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, could well also jump ship if control of the Senate hinges on him.  Hey, he has already voted against Republican nominees for President and the Supreme Court.  Why not Senate Majority Leader?  If Chafee wins, Likely Democrat.  If Laffey wins, Leans Democrat

Tennessee - Last month, Republicans chose the only one of three possible nominees who would have any problem rallying the base.  With Republicans competing in a terrible national environment, Rep. Harold Ford just might pull off the upset.  Even so, Tennessee is Tennessee, and  voters would rather not have a Democrat Senate.  Slight Lean Republican

Virginia - Sen. Allen had this one locked up before making a stupid comment which has raised old allegations of racism.  Now, he’s running for reelection rather than for Senate.  If he were in a more competitive state, Allen would likely be finished right now.  Since he’s running in Virginia, he might be able to get away with his rookie mistakes.  Slight Lean Republican

Democrat Held Seats

Florida -  Rather than attacking Sen. Bill Nelson, state and national Republicans focused on attacking current nominee Rep. Katherine Harris.  Rather than eliminating the reasons for them doing so, Harris has buckled under the pressure and made errors, forced and unforced, left and right.  Nelson’s career should have finished this November, and there’s more than enough blame to go around for his chance to coast to reelection.  Safe Democrat

Maryland - Lt. Gov. Michael Steele’s chances hinge on the Democrat primary tomorrow.  Should slight favorite Rep. Ben Cardin win, it is highly unlikely that Steele will be able to buck a national Democrat tide, no matter how weak.  If liberal extremist Kweisi Mfume pull off the upset, Democrats will have trouble convincing any white people to vote for someone who is buddy buddy with Louis Farrakhan.  If Cardin wins primary, Likely Democrat; If Mfume wins primary, Toss-up

Michigan - Sen. Debbie Stabenow is one of only two Democrats facing real battles for reelection.  With the Michigan economy in the gutter and Gov. Debbie Stabenow facing likely defeat against self-financed challenger Dick DeVos, Stabenow will need to run as far away from Gov. Granholm as possible.  Such a declaration of independence would make it more difficult to tie challenger Mike Bouchard to the President.  Slight Lean Democrat

Minnesota - The Office Manager for the Hennepin County Attorney’s office has opened up a slight but significant lead over Rep. Mark Kennedy.  Rep. Kennedy, a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq, will likely get a 9/11 bounce to make up for this.  In light of the fact that Minnesota is a purple state, as opposed to the other GOP pick-up opportunities, I would maintain that this remains the strongest chance for stealing a seat.  Toss-up

Nebraska - If the NRSC had spent the $1.2 million that it spent attacking Rhode Island Republican nominee to be Steve Laffey in Nebraska, this race could have been competitive.  Unfortunately, the most inept Party leader in Washington - and with the leadership there, that’s saying a lot - did not do so.  As such, Sen. Nelson will cruise.  Hopefully, though, he’ll switch parties after the election.  Safe Democrat

New Jersey - Republicans maintain that they have an excellent shot to take down unelected incumbent Sen. Robert Menendez, and polls suggest that they are right.  New Jersey is New Jersey, though, and we’ve heard that tune before, in 2001, 2004, and 2005.  Democrats have pulled the switch-a-roo when necessary, and even when they didn’t, the state partisan advantage was enough to see them through.  There’s no reason to think that things will be different in a Democrat year.  Likely Democrat

Washington - Mike McGavick has risen sharply since he entered the race, closing to within a few points of Sen. Maria Cantwell.  He has the money to go dollar for dollar with Cantwell into November, but his chances still rest on Republicans fairing respectably nationwide.  In 2004, though, the Presidential, Gubernatorial, and Senatorial races all at one time appeared competitive, yet Republicans pulled out only one, and even that disappeared with the third recount.  Cantwell doesn’t have the advantage of a Presidential race, though, which will hurt turnout in King County.  Slight Lean Democrat

West Virginia - NRSC Chair Elizabeth Dole failed to recruit either of the two candidates who could have beaten Sen. Robert KKK Byrd.  Safe Democrat

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