Can Senate Republicans Count to 10?
Over at NationalJournal.com, political handicapper Charlie Cook weighs the odds of the GOP taking over the Senate come November. Cook’s assessment:
“A year and a half ago, it seemed impossible that Republicans would take back the Senate after losing control in 2006. Now it is certainly possible that the Senate will switch, but still fairly unlikely.”
1. Win the open seat in North Dakota. Byron Dorgan’s retiring; the current Republican governor is running. Easy enuf.
2. Win the open seat in Indiana. Evan Bayh’s retiring; former GOP Sen. Dan Coats has come out of retirement. Ditto.
3. Win Joe Biden’s old seat in Delaware. Not a problem — Republican Mike Castle’s the favorite.
ok, that’s three down (the three easiest pick-ups, most experts agree) . . . seven to go.
So here we go . . .
4. Win Barack Obama’s old seat in Illinois. That’s tricky; the race appears to be a dead heat.
5. Win the open seat in Pennsylvania (“open” in the sense that Arlen Specter is retiring — the voters’ idea, not his). Again, another dead heat.
6. Unseat Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas. Surveys show her losing by a 2-1 margin, thanks to an electorate that disagrees with the Reid-Pelosi Congress on most everything from health care to offshore drilling.
7. Unseat Michael Bennet in Colorado. This is a complicated state (Tea Partiers, Democratic infighting, blue-to-red pivoting) that’s worth checking into following its Aug. 10 primary.
8. Unseat Harry Reid in Nevada. Like Mark Twain, reports of the Majority Leader’s political death may have been exaggerated.
9. Unseat Patty Murray in Washington State. Out of sight and out of mind, it’s a “sleeper” race in that the incumbent Democrat trails both the GOP and Tea Party favorites. And, remember, few people predicted Tom Foley’s surprise and historic ouster in 1994.
That leaves us with the choice of a 10th seat. And that means unseating Russ Feingold in Wisconsin (a race not getting much attention as the state doesn’t hold its primary until September).
Or, wait for it . . .
10. Unseat Barbara Boxer right here in California.
As Cook notes, even with this kind of sweep the GOP could still fall short of majority status. That’s because the Republicans have at least five “open” seats that the Democrats would love to remove from the GOP column: Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio.
But, in the meantime, the Senate math is good news for California Republicans — at least, in the sense that the national party can’t treat the Golden State as the black sheep of the family. Do the math and you’ll see that California suddenly is relevant, if not downright crucial to the thought of a Republican Senate takeover.
Not that the East Coast doesn’t think we’re nuts, as shown by this George Will column which suggests that, if Barbara Boxer can’t be defeated in this kind of anti-incumbent climate, then the Golden State is perhaps forever blue.