Amazingly enough, there are other races going on this year besides the Presidential nomination and general election contests. Weird, huh?
So, how about them Senate races? The Dems currently hold 51 seats. The Holy Grail would be a filibuster-proof majority of 60 or more, which is unlikely this cycle, but there’s still an outside chance. If they get into the upper 50s this time, though, they’d have a very good shot at 60 in 2010, when the map favors the Dems again.
Here’s my current scorecard, based on a combination of (a) polling aggregated at Pollster.com (the Senate race links are about 1/3 of the way down the page), and (b) my own sense of what’s possible.
Virginia (open): Gilmore (R) vs. Warner (D) Dem New Mexico (open): Pearce/Wilson (R) vs. Udall (D) Dem Louisiana: Kennedy (R) vs. Landrieu (D-i) Likely Dem New Hampshire: Sununu (R-i) vs. Shaheen (D) Likely Dem Colorado (open): Schaeffer (R) vs. Udall (D) Lean Dem Alaska: Stevens (R-i) vs. Begich (D) Tossup Minnesota: Coleman (R-i) vs. Franken (D) Lean GOP Mississippi (special): Wicker (R-i) vs. Musgrove (D) Lean GOP North Carolina: Dole (R-i) vs. Hagen (D) Lean GOP Oregon: Smith (R-i) vs. Merkley (D) Lean GOP Texas: Cornyn (R-i) vs. Noriega (D) Lean GOP Kentucky: McConnell (R-i) vs. Lunsford (D) Likely GOP Maine: Collins (R-i) vs. Allen (D) Likely GOP Nebraska (open): Johanns (R) vs. Kleeb (D) GOP
I chose these 14 races because they’re the ones Pollster.com has the polling on. There are, IIRC, 35 Senate races this year, with the special elections in MS and WY, but most of them are pretty safe. Of the 14 listed above, all but Louisiana are currently GOP-held seats. So, for example, if the Dems win 6 of these 14, that’s a net gain of 5 Senate seats.
My best guess, right now, is that they’ll win 7 of these 14, +/-1, for a net pickup of 5-7 seats. That would put them at 56-58 seats, assuming Lieberman continues to caucus with the Dems.
The ‘i’ after party affiliation means ‘incumbent.’
Some non-exhaustive notes:
Virginia: no way Gilmore’s going to win.
New Mexico: Udall’s leading both rivals by about 25 points.
Nebraska: Former Gov. Johanns is quite popular in Nebraska. Kleeb might’ve had a chance against a weaker candidate, but he’s toast against Johanns.
Colorado: Schaffer’s had his problems lately (which haven’t had time to find their way into the polls yet), so I’m a bit more confident of this than ‘leans,’ but I’m still not ready to say ‘likely.’
Alaska: Ted Stevens is mired in a scandal, and has been running behind in the polls. But he also has a primary challenger, and if the challenger wins, it’s a whole new ballgame in heavily GOP-leaning Alaska. So ‘tossup’ is a short word for a bunch of possibilities.
Kentucky: a poll just came out showing McConnell trailing, though within the MOE. But it’s just one poll, and McConnell’s no pushover.
Maine: Allen seems to finally be getting some traction in his race to unseat Susan Collins, but her lead’s still in double digits.
The ‘Lean GOP’ races: a lot of within-the-MOE leads, and a lot of weak incumbents (but incumbents nonetheless) facing challengers of varying skill levels in states of varying political leanings. I’d bet on the Dems to pick up two of these five, but damned if I could tell you which two.