Monday, March 10, 2014

Senate Update: 2014 Election

There’s been a lot of chatter about the Republicans taking the Senate in November. That’s still unlikely, but the odds have been improving lately because the Republicans finally got their fringe under control – the primary challenges are failing and the lack of idiocy has left the focus on Obama’s failings. The Republicans need to pick up six seats to regain control of the Senate. As things stand right now, 13 states are key to whether or not this happens. Let’s examine the key races.

Alaska: Democrat Mark Begich is defending his seat in this conservative state. Begich got into office by defeating a Republican with a history of corruption. He won’t have that luck again. On the negative side, he has generally acted as a moderate, except on social issues -- he did, however, support Obamacare. The leading Republicans have slight leads in the poll over Begich (+1% or +6%). Prediction: Republican gain.

Arkansas: Democrat Mark Pryor is seeking a third term. He is a moderate with a generally so-con voting record. He did vote for Obamacare. The Republican, Congressman Tom Cotton, is a Tea Party type and a so-con, but he’s also a Harvard-educated attorney so he’s not your typical loon. He has a slight lead (+4%). Prediction: Toss up.

Colorado: Democrat Mark Udall is facing a serious challenge from Rep. Cory Gardner. Udall defeated a strong Republican opponent to win the seat, but has since voted for Obamacare, for the Stimulus, for background checks on gun sales, and some things that won’t play well with military voters. Gardner became the candidate when his opponent bowed out to give the party the best chance against Udall. It sounds like Gardner is in favor of immigration reform, which will play well with Hispanics in Colorado. Udall has a small lead in the polls (+4%). The problem here is that the Colorado Republican Party is whacko when it comes to social issues and rip each other apart for entertainment. There’s no way to tell how this will go at this point, but expect Tom Tancredo (Colorado’s version of Pat Buchanan) to probably ruin it for Gardner. Prediction: Democrats probably keep the seat.

Georgia: An open race to replace retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss. The Democrats are running the daughter of Sam Nunn, a popular pro-military moderate from the Reagan Era. She should do well. The Republicans are running Huey, Duey and Screwy who are competing to be seen as the most extreme. There is much talk that these fools will hand a safe seat to the Democrats. On the other hand, this will be a low turnout election and the Democrats aren’t going to turn out... of course, neither will our side. Prediction: Toss up.

Iowa: Democrat Tom Harkin is retiring. The Democrat will be Rep. Bruce Braley, who is a populist leftist. He voted for Obamacare, for the stimulus, and has a 100% pro-choice record. Unfortunately, that won’t hurt him in socialist Iowa, and he does lead in the polls (+6%). Also, the Republicans haven’t decided on their candidate yet, but the Iowa party is split between so-cons, Paulbots and everyone else and recent history suggests they don’t support each other. Prediction: Democrats keep the seat.

Kentucky: Our fringe wants to unseat Mitch McConnell, but that’s not happening. Their candidate, Bevins, is down by 42% to McConnell, but that’s not stopping them because they would be happy to have the Democrat take out McConnell so they can whine, “We told you so!” McConnell is tied with Democratic challenger Alison Grimes, but that’s not reliable because of the primary challenge. McConnell also has too much knowledge of Kentucky politics to lose in an off-year election with low Democratic turnout. Prediction: Republicans keep the seat.

Louisiana: Democrat Mary Landrieu is defending the seat here. She comes from a Louisiana dynasty, but the state has been shifting to the right more and more each year. She is also infamous for causing Obamacare by agreeing to the Louisiana Purchase. It’s not clear who the challenger will be yet, but they have all the momentum and they lead her in the polls by +5%. Prediction: Republican gain.

Michigan: Democrat Carl Levin is retiring. Seeking to replace him is Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, who supported Obamacare and Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who opposed the auto bailout. The polls are even (+0%). But a clue to this race is that 63% of Michiganites (including Tea Party Governor Rick Snyder) supported the bailouts and Snyder has also embraced the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. Prediction: Democrats keep the seat.

Montana: Democrat John Walsh is the incumbent, having been appointed to replace Max Baucus, who wrote Obamacare. The idea was to remove the Obamacare stain. But polls show Republican Rep. Steve Daines with a big lead (+14%) over Walsh. Prediction: Republican gain.

North Carolina: Democrat Kay Hagan is defending her seat. She voted for Obamacare and that is hurting her. But the Republicans don’t have a candidate yet, so it’s too early to tell what will happen. The lack of a clear front runner is a danger sign for the GOP. Also, North Carolina is trending bluer with each passing election. BUT, Hagan is behind in the polls (-7%). Prediction: Toss up, leans Republican.

South Dakota: Democrat Tim Johnson is retiring. Former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds is favored (+20%) to replace him in this very red state. Prediction: Republican gain.

Virginia: Democratic Sen. Mark Warner is a heavy favorite (+27%) in a state that doesn’t often throw out incumbents. Add the fact that Virginia is trending more and more blue and that the state GOP thinks becoming more extreme will help them and this should be a cakewalk for Warner. Prediction: Democrats keep the seat.

West Virginia: Democrat Jay Rockefeller is retiring. The race will be between Republican Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Natalie Tennant. Moore is perhaps the one Republican in the state who can win statewide and she leads in the polls (+14%). Moreover, West Virginia is slowly trending away from the Democrats because of their position on coal and their acceptance of gays and blacks. Prediction: Republican gain.

As an aside, the Democrats in these states are doing all kinds of conservative things now. For example, eight of them vote against Obama nominee Debo Adegbile because they knew that voting for a man who defended a cop killer loved by the left would not be good politics right now. They know they’re in trouble.

So what we’re looking at here is the Republicans should gain 5, with two toss ups they still might get. They also may lose one seat. So they do have a shot at getting the six they need. Of course, this all assumes that the Republicans don’t do anything stupid between now and the election, and you have to remember that certain people have a vested interest in Republican failure. Look for Talk Radio to try to suppress Republican turnout, for Ted Cruz to look to inspire Democratic turnout, and our attention-whore brigade (e.g. Palin, Tom Tancredo, Pat Buchanan, Newt, Santorum, etc.) to do their best to remind the public why the GOP scares them. Other than that, things are looking surprising good.


AndrewPrice said...

BTW, I wanted to turn off the word verification, but we got over 200 spam posts in 5 hours after that. So I had to turn them back on.

Anthony said...

I haven't paid much attention to the Senate races, but that is a very encouraging read.

I read an interesting article about Virginia politics over the weekend. Looks like there is tension between a black politician/pastor seeking to become the chair of the VA Democratic party and gay activists.

The politician/pastor in question doesn't support gay marriage but doesn't actively oppose it. That's not good enough for some gay activists.

Regardless of how it turns out (a bunch of activists vote on the 15th) I don't think this will be a big deal (too inside baseball) though its possible down the line a dispute along similar lines will turn into something bigger.

*Shrugs* Or maybe not. Blacks aren't big on gay marriage, but in modern times I've never heard of a politician losing the black vote because he took too soft a line on gays so I don't think its an issue many are passionate about.


Activists are working to thwart Jones’s election at the party’s central committee meeting March 15 — setting up a highly unusual battle for a sitting governor, whose choice for party chairman is rarely challenged.

They have been lobbying the governor’s senior staff, collecting hundreds of petition signatures and lining up committee members to vote against Jones. They have pressed on even after Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D), who in January became a hero to activists by refusing to defend the state’s gay marriage ban, backed Jones.

Anthony said...

*Sigh* Forgot to post the link. Here it is.

tryanmax said...

Anthony, I tend to agree. So long as the GOP remains hostile to all minorities in general, there will never be a political split which drives either blacks or gays from the Democrat party. That said, I still believe it is only the lack if a friendly retreat that keeps those groups aligned. It'll be interesting to see what happens as the more inclusive, libertarian aspects of the GOP emerge.

Kit said...

So we might gain a few seats despite the best efforts of the Fringe?

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, On the one hand, I agree that this is encouraging. It looks like we have a real chance to capture the Senate. Six months ago, there was no way. So in that respect, this is extremely good news in that we are making progress.

On the other hand, these victories will all be in deep red states, and it will result in a razor thin majority if it works. So we still are not a national party. AND, it will only happen because of low voter turnout. So that's not a ringing endorsement.

In fact, compare this to what you would think should happen if I told you only that it was "an off-year election where the party of the most unpopular president in history, the party that just forced through a bill the public HATES and is adamant they want repealed, is forced to defend 23 seats." You would think that anyone hoping for six wins would be viewed as a major pessimist. Instead, that's the optimistic case here. That speaks volumes.

Unfortunately, a victory might be enough to convince a lot of people that we don't need to fix the party. "We just need more turnout!!" That would be a huge mistake.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, on the gays v. blacks, there won't be a schism within the Democratic Party because both sides are only in the party to get their own goals. They never have cared about the others, but they understand that. They are just fellow travelers.

If you want to cause chaos, give the gays gay marriage and watch them walk away from politics. That would be worth 3% nationally to us and tens of millions of dollars in lost fund raising to the Democrats each year. That would also call into question the fundamental principle holding the Democrats together -- that they will support each other's causes just enough to get them.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, As long as the right does its best to appear hostile to minorities, they will keep driving more and more people away -- not only minorities but young whites (males and females) who refuse to associate with bigots. The right is essentially guaranteeing the future will belong to the Democrats because of their tantrum.

Right now is a critical time. Up to now, only blacks, feminists and Jews have really been won over completely to the Democratic cause, i.e. only de minimus support for our side -- they have Democratic identity permanently engrained in their cultures. But we are on the verge of pushing gays, Hispanics, young women, Muslims, and Asians into that same category with our actions and our rhetoric. That will be the end of conservatism in the US.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That seems to be the case. BUT let me point out that these numbers are the result of two things: "the establishment" has crushed the fringe primary challenges and the fringe has been shut up because the establishment has been fighting back by mocking them as lunatics and failures who have only managed to help the Democrats.

The result has been that the fringe has been in retreat, which has let the news cycle turn to Obama and his constant failures and away from the latest GOP attempt to burn some witch at the stake. Those things together have allowed these numbers to improve.

So now we need to see if this continues or if the fringe sets out to ruin the election, which I think they will try.

Kit said...


Interesting article from the Washington Post on the 2016 GOP primary field and the importance of those listed as "somewhat conservative".

Kit said...

The Washington Post bit is about an article by a political scientist named Dr. Henry Olsen. Here is Mr. Olsen's article in full: LINK

Currently reading and it is quite fascinating. Going into more history than you usually see.
Key Passage from Page 1:

REPUBLICAN VOTERS fall into four rough camps. They are: moderate or liberal voters; somewhat conservative voters; very conservative, evangelical voters; and very conservative, secular voters. Each of these groups supports extremely different types of candidates. Each of these groups has also demonstrated stable preferences over the past twenty years.

The most important of these groups is the one most journalists don’t understand and ignore: the somewhat conservative voters. This group is the most numerous nationally and in most states, comprising 35–40 percent of the national GOP electorate. While the numbers of moderates, very conservative and evangelical voters vary significantly by state, somewhat conservative voters are found in similar proportions in every state. They are not very vocal, but they form the bedrock base of the Republican Party.

They also have a significant distinction: they always back the winner. The candidate who garners their favor has won each of the last four open races. This tendency runs down to the state level as well. Look at the exit polls from virtually any state caucus or primary since 1996 and you will find that the winner received a plurality of or ran roughly even among the somewhat conservative voters.

Another important passage: "They (Somewhat Conservatives) like people who are optimistic about America; the somewhat conservative voter rejects the “culture warrior” motif that characterized Pat Buchanan’s campaigns. They are conservative in both senses of the word; they prefer the ideals of American conservatism while displaying the cautious disposition of the Burkean."

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I agree with much of what he said. I think there are four parts to the party: RINOs (5-10%), Religious Right (10-15%), Libertarian Right (10-15%), and the base (65%). The ones you hear the least from are the base as no one speaks for them, but they decide the elections. The base also is much closer to the public in terms of their views than any of the other three.

This time, the base is going with a moderate. I think they have considered Christie, but Christie is from the RINO wing and that grates on them, so they are looking for Jeb Bush.

Kit said...

If Jeb Bush does not run, who do you think could grab the mantle from Christie?
Ryan? Walker? Jindal?

AndrewPrice said...

Right now, I think it's either Bush or Christie, with Ran Paul as the likey VP. There is an outside possibility of Rubio.

Kit said...

Who would you prefer? Bush or Christie?

AndrewPrice said...

I would be most unhappy about either, but in all honesty, Bush would be the better president. Christie is a true RINO whose philosophy is premised on attacking Republicans and then pandering to Democrats. 4-8 years of him would leave the party in tatters. Bush at least doesn't attack his own side and he has done some smart things.

tryanmax said...

This is an old saw of mine, but I feel even stronger that Republicans need to seriously consider putting distance b/w themselves and the conservative moniker.

What has happened to the conservative brand is simple blowback. Talk radio was successful in the 90s and early 2000s at equating "liberal" with the far left fringe. It was merely inevitable that left-oriented media outlets would associate "conservative" with the far right fringe.

Where luck was on the left's side was in that conservatives played along. Talk radio wouldn't--nay couldn't--abandon the conservative label and so have defended it as the left associates it with fringier and fringier elements. Somehow, it never occurred to them to draw a line and say "what the left is calling conservatism is not conservatism." By somehow, I mean ratings.

Meanwhile, liberals were all too happy to shift to being "progressives" while "liberal's" cachet was restored. What other term "conservative" could retreat into, I'm not sure. Certainly talk radio would crucify anyone trying to adopt a new moniker, but it just might provide the distance necessary to disassociate talk radio from the GOP.

tryanmax said...

And thankfully, Jeb is not his brother.

Kit said...


"Jeb Bush... has done some smart things."
Can you name some examples? Not skeptical, just curious.

AndrewPrice said...

The idea of another Bush makes me sick, but at least this one has a record of competence and conservatism... unlike his idiot brother.

You are absolutely right about the "conservative" moniker. I would add that conservatives have accelerated the problem by competing to be "the most conservative" or "the real conservative." Add in the constant attacks on "moderates" and what you have is a party that advertises itself as extremist. It should come as no surprise then that the public views the party as extremists... which is not a virtue.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, You are killing me, asking me to praise Bush. But the biggest thing he did was totally revamp the Florida schools and take them from the bottom to somewhere in the middle. He also effectively ended affirmative action in the admissions process for state schools. I understand he ran solid budgets, vetoed lots of spending that wasn't needed, and did some political smart environmental stuff with the Everglades. He also had huge big tent appeal.

Kit said...

Interesting Jeb Bush Trivia: His wife is a Mexican-American.

Kit said...

"You are killing me, asking me to praise Bush."

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I have nothing against him personally except that he's a Bush. In fact, I'm fairly certain that if he had been President instead of his retarded brother, then there would be no Obama today and conservatism would not be in total collapse.

BUT... he is a Bush. And after the last two did their best to wipe out conservatism, I find it very, very, very hard to think that he won't ultimately prove just as bad.

Kit said...

An interesting wrinkle. Apparently George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton are close friends.

Which could make things interesting if both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush become their party's candidates.

Kit said...

A Washington Post article on Romney's donors and where they are leaning. Jeb Bush is apparently #1 followed by Scott Walker at 2 and then Paul Ryan at 3. Christie is number 4 and Rand Paul is Number 5.

Koshcat said...

Interesting analysis but still awful early to tell. I was happy to hear Gardner was going up against our ghost senator instead of Ken Buck again. Cory has developed a good reputation in Washington so far and very popular with NE Colorado. I think he will do well in southern CO and the western slope but the real money is in the Denver suburbs.

Otherwise I don't know what will happen or who will be the first to pop off that rape isn't really a big deal or there are too many Mexicans at the local Dairy Queen but I will be surprised if it doesn't happen.

I nominate you to run for governor.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I'm telling you, I'm sensing something with regard to Jeb Bush. I can't prove it yet, but there seems to be movement.

Kit said...

What kind of "movement"?

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, This is all very early, but it strikes me as encouraging that we are this close right now. Hopefully, things will continue like this or improve.

I like Gardner too and I really hope he wins. He would be great, and Udall needs to go.

Let's hope that no one gives us the foot-in-mouth moment, though sadly, I think we know it is coming. Some people just can't resist.

Thanks for the nomination! LOL! My wife-to-be says that too.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I can't say. As I said, I don't have any evidence yet. All I know for sure is that I'm seeing lots of stars starting to align.

For example, things like the fundraising point you found suggest that Bush is running and is the insider favorite. I've also seen him appear in a lot of political places you wouldn't expect if he wasn't being considered as an important candidate.

It just seems that everywhere I look these days, Bush is being mentioned as the alternative to Christie by the insiders

Kit said...


Rustbelt said...

Andrew, even if a 51-49 majority says we haven't rebounded to national status yet, we have to start somewhere. It only takes an election cycle or two to ruin years of good work- and then take even more years to rebuild. But we at least need a starting point.
Also, it would be encouraging as the Mummy Reid would no longer be calling the shots. Reid's been protecting Obama- and, by extension, the Democratic Party- by never allowing bills from the GOP House to come up for a vote. If the tables turn- and Dingy Harry rues the day he changed the Senate rules- Obama will be forced to take Andrew Johnson's nickname of 'Sir Veto.' That would allow the Republicans, in 2016, to claim the do-nothing White House is what's keeping them from fixing the economic mess. Well, it's a thought.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, All true.

My point above was that while a 51-49 victory would be a good thing, it should not be misinterpreted as meaning that things are going well.

The temptation (especially from those on the fringe who don't want any change at all) will be to say, "Well, see, we didn't change and we still won 51-49, so everything is fine as is. Let's scream some more!" That's wrong. This victory, if it happens, will be pathetically small compared to what it should have been. Moreover, it's taken truly special circumstances even to squeak this out -- most unpopular president in history, people furious about Obamacare, fringe silenced. So expecting this victory to repeat itself without serious change to the brand will be foolish.

tryanmax said...

What kind of "movement"?

Am I the only one who read that and thought "bowel"?

AndrewPrice said...

Nope, that was my first thought too! LOL!

Anthony said...

I'm about as far from an insider as it gets, but I would be deeply shocked if Bush got the nomination. Granted, if not the best guy for the job, he is one of the better guys, but the Bush thing is hugely problematic.

*Shrugs* But on the other hand if someone put a gun to my head and told me to name the 2016 Republican candidate Bush is a name I'd be as likely to throw out as any other.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, As I've said, I have no proof. This is just "a sense" at this point. And that sense is based on seeing his name appear too often in things that not only suggest that he will run, but that he has a strong support network.

Also, let me add this. As I look back over the years, I've come to realize that the nomination process is a bit misleading. It looks to me like the nominee gets chosen long before the process begins and the primaries are just to shake off the stragglers who don't realize they already lost. Further, the guy who wins the nomination is always the guy who gets the support of the insiders lined up a year or so before the nomination.

That's why seeing Bush's name atop things like insider fundraiser lists suggests to me that there's something more than meets the eye going on behind the scenes.

Like I said though, at this point, this is all just a sense... nothing concrete.

El Gordo said...

Andrew, I don´t think you have been that hard on W. before. Retarded? Granted, he made some real mistakes, but blaming him for Obama seems to me a bit like saying the US "created" the Taliban.

The base may be more moderate than the fringe but they make mistakes, too. While I am still convinced we would be better off with a President Romney, I´m not at all sure McCain wouldn´t have been worse than W. They usually give us the predictable "nice" candidate with the most name recognition. And Christie isn´t all that likeable. That favors Jeb, alas.

AndrewPrice said...

El Gordo, My invective is probably too much, but that's the kind of mood the Bush family puts me into.

I do honestly blame him for Obama. Bush destroyed conservatism and left it for dead. If Obama hadn't proven to be just as bad (only in the other direction), conservatism would be dead today and we would be looking at permanent Democratic majorities. In many ways, Obama's biggest achievement is rescuing conservatism.

And yeah, the base makes mistakes. I would argue that they make a lot of them -- Bush Sr., Dole, McCain. Romney was the first good choice they had made in a long time and then he got destroyed by his own right flank.

Agreed on Christie and Bush.

El Gordo said...

I admit, you have a point. If Obama had been a slightly more liberal version of Clinton we´d be in deep trouble. It´s too bad that we have to rely on the incompetence of liberals. And the GOP on the Bush family to spawn heirs to the throne ....

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