Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006


Senate Predictions 2004

Since Dayton v. Kennedy currently has a readership that could fit into a phone booth, these predictions will probably not reach a wide audience. But they should. If I may toot my own horn for a minute, in August of 2002 I emailed Eric Black of the Star Tribune and correctly called the outcome of every U.S. Senate race. Well, make that every race with one exception -- New Jersey. Even I could not predict the Democrats would violate New Jersey election law, find a sympathetic liberal judge to uphold the skulduggery, and replace Torricelli on the November ballot in time to keep the seat Democratic. You may recall that almost everyone was predicting a status quo election to a 2 seat Democratic gain. Even the mighty John Zogby predicted a 3 seat Democratic gain. Mr. Black was kind enough to stroke my ego with "how did you do that?" Note to Eric Black: I would love for you to authenticate for my readers.

In any event, since this blog is devoted to a Senate race 2 years away, I thought it would be only fair for me to stick my neck out and see how well my crystal ball is working.

Of the 9 hotly contested Senate races: FL, LA, SC, GA, NC, SD, CO, OK, AK I predict the Republicans will win the following on November 2nd: Martinez in Florida, DeMint in South Carolina, Isakson in Georgia, Burr in North Carolina, Thune in South Dakota beats Minority Leader Daschle. I further believe that Coors will win narrowly in Colorado over Salazar and Coburn will win a bit more comfortably over Carson in Oaklahoma. Both would be Republican holds.

Barak Obama's liberal star will continue its meteoric ascent with a trouncing of Alan Keyes (our version of Mark Dayton). I further believe that Lisa Murkowski will accomplish the almost impossible: lose to a Democrat in an Alaska that will go for the President by 30%. If I am allowed one mulligan this would be it. It's just possible President Bush will drag Murkowski over the finish line as her favorables have been rising, albeit slowly, for the last several months. But her 46-47% approval ratings should make her the walking dead.

On Wednesday, November 3rd, the Republicans will have added 3 Senate seats if Murkowski loses. This brings us to Louisiana. Republican David Vitter has been polling close to 50% which is the threshold needed to avoid a runoff. The most likely scenario is that Vitter comes up just short and must face either Congressman Chris John or John Kennedy in early December. Louisiana has been a heartbreaker for Republicans each of the last 2 years with Republicans polling 49% in both a Senate and Gubernatorial runoff respectively. Moreover, LA has never sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate. That being said, I think Vitter is better than even money to win in December because of his enormous popularity and the increasing likelihood that he will face the more liberal Kennedy. Louisiana Democrats like their Democrats medium-well and Kennedy is a little too rare.

The Republicans will net between 3 and 5 Senate seats with the most likely scenario being a +4 by early December.

Not quite filiubuster-proof but we're getting there.

UPDATE: Charlie Cook of National Journal and one of the foremost political prognosticators has decided to go head-to-head. Actually, he doesn't know I exist so let's see how my predictions fare against one of the guys who gets paid big money to crunch the numbers. Read Below...

The Senate
In the fight for the Senate, the odds still favor Republicans retaining
their majority, but Democrats have expanded the playing field by a seat,
which may improve their chances. Democrats are certain to lose their
open seat in Georgia, while their four other open seats and the race in
South Dakota are all too close to call.
Every time it seems that Republican Rep. Jim DeMint appears on the verge
of putting away the open seat in South Carolina, he sticks his foot,
ankle and much of his leg down his throat, tightening the margin and
forcing the National Republican Senatorial Committee to go back on the
air to help drag him across the finish line. Given the state's strong
Republican tilt, DeMint has the slimmest of advantages over Democrat
Inez Tenenbaum, but this race should have been over weeks ago.
In North Carolina, GOP Rep. Richard Burr appears to be ever-so-slightly
ahead of investment banker and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff
Erskine Bowles, thanks to the small Republican advantage in the state.
Still, there is little question that Bowles has been the better
candidate and run the better campaign. Republican worries over Burr's
micromanagement of his campaign have made for a more difficult race than
it should have been, but the recently passed tobacco buy-out legislation
has given him a boost. Although this race isn't over, put a thumb on the
scale for Burr.
There is no question that Republican Rep. David Vitter of Louisiana is
exceeding all expectations, particularly mine, and is lapping both of
his principal Democratic rivals, Rep. Chris John and state Treasurer
John Kennedy, in the state's unique open primary. By most conservative
estimates, Vitter is averaging in the mid-40s, while John and Kennedy
are each around 20 percent. Democrats went to DEFCON 1 a couple of weeks
ago when polls warned that Vitter was in range of reaching the required
50 percent necessary on Nov. 2 to avoid a Dec. 4 runoff. National
Democrats ramped up their attacks on Vitter weeks earlier than they had
Kennedy has been a better candidate than most expected (myself
included), while Chris John has been something of an under-performer.
Having said that, it is interesting to note that the very same polls
showing Vitter with more initial support than Chris John and John
Kennedy combined also indicate that Vitter picks up very little
additional support in runoff match-ups. Both Democrats pick up a clear
majority of the other's support in a runoff contest. In short, it is not
accidental that no Republican has ever been elected to the Senate in
Louisiana, that 11 of the 12 statewide officials are Democrats and that
Republicans have won the governorship only under unusual circumstances.
Still, it would be a mistake to underestimate Vitter in this race, given
his already impressive performance. A runoff will be very close.
Don't keep Charlie's insight all to yourself!
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The Florida contest between Democrat Betty Castor, a former state
education commissioner and former president of the University of South
Florida, and Republican Mel Martinez, President Bush's former Housing
secretary, is basically tied. Many believe the outcome will be as close
as the presidential contest and will be dictated by which side gets
their voters to the polls.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, meanwhile, is in the
fight of his political life against 2002 GOP Senate nominee and former
Rep. John Thune. Recent polls are split on who is ahead, but this is
another race that will be won on the ground.
In terms of Democratic shots at picking up Republican seats, appointed
incumbent Lisa Murkowski in Alaska looks to be in pretty tough shape.
It's not over and it is certainly better to be a Republican than a
Democrat in that state, but very few polls have ever shown her ahead of
Democratic former Gov. Tony Knowles. While it remains a very close race,
it looks tough for her.
The race in Colorado between Democratic state Attorney General Ken
Salazar and Republican Pete Coors is close, but it appears that Salazar
has a tiny edge going into the final week. Like North Carolina, the
normal advantage afforded Republican candidates seems diminished this
year, and Coors is just now getting the hang of being a candidate. It's
not over, but put a thumb on the scale for Democrats.
Expectations that Republican former Rep. Tom Coburn would self-destruct
in the open-seat contest in Oklahoma have not come to pass. While Coburn
has made some unusual and unconstructive statements, the NRSC helped him
retool his campaign and the candidate has largely behaved himself,
giving him a slim advantage over Democratic Rep. Brad Carson. This race
isn't over, but the political demographics tilt slightly in Republicans'
Finally, there is Kentucky, the newest addition to the list of toss up
races. Democratic physician and state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo has pulled
within single digits of Republican incumbent Jim Bunning. Democrats'
enemy is time and whether the race tightened too late to get Mongiardo
over the top. Give the edge to Bunning, but this race is definitely not
a done deal.
For Democrats to capture a majority in the Senate, they have to win six
out of these last nine really close contests and win the presidential
race (with the vice president breaking the tie), or seven out of nine if
President Bush is re-elected. This is a tall order, but the addition of
Kentucky to the list improves their odds a bit.

UPDATE: Scott Elliott of Election Projection weighs in with a Senate projection identical to mine of last Monday, October 25. Great minds think alike...


  • At 10/25/2004 10:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello G.M.! I'm enjoying the blog. Added you to my links, so if a few of my readers make it this way, we'll increase your readership so it fits in a Kia Spectra.

    Cathy in the Wright

  • At 10/27/2004 03:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your senate read is pretty much right on. Although I cannot believe that a Republican is about to lose Alaska, W needs to make a quick trip up North and remind everyone he needs all the Republican Senators he can get. It may be worth it if SD goes for Thuene and say bye bye to Minority Leader Daschle.

  • At 10/27/2004 10:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Interesting blog. I hope that the GOP can pick up four seats like Rove says... I wish that President Bush 41 can fly to Alaska and help out there this weekend. I also heard that the GOP senate committee send a team of workers to help. I send some a small amount of money to Lisa Murkowski, and tried to send some to the Green party guy to siphon off some of the enviro-nut vote... but the Green guy would only take money from Alaskian addresses... My prayers are with Lisa M.


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