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The unexpected 2012 Senate gains helped us dramatically when it comes to holding the Senate in the next cycle, as we have a 55-45 cushion heading into a midterm where we have a lot of red-state Dems facing various challenges when it comes to holding their seats. One of the most important political stories over the next couple of years will be to ensure a Democratic majority in the Senate heading into the next Presidential election, due to the fact that we cannot risk complete gridlock at the end of Obama's 2nd term. We'll most likely lose a couple of seats, but looking at the upcoming Senators up for election, there's still about a 2/3 chance we'll be successful.

Below the flap we'll go over which races I think will be competitive, which races lean one way or the other, and which races are noncompetitive.

In 2014, 20 Democratic Senators and 13 Republican Senators will be up for reelection. First, we'll go over the group of Senators who will not face a seriously competitive race. When the roundup is done, I believe we will have 6 seats that are currently tossups to defend (AK, AR, LA, NC, SD, WV) as opposed to one seat (ME) that we look good to pick up.


Delaware: The Republican bench is incredibly thin there. Michael Castle, the best candidate on the GOP side in 2010, looks unlikely to run, and there are no other legitimate Republicans of his stature who can win against an incumbent in a Democratic state.

Illinois: Despite some retirement rumors, I believe Richard Durbin will run again, and there are no Republicans who can take him on in a heavily Democratic state.

Massachusetts: Kerry or no Kerry, Brown or no Brown, this state will end up in the Democratic column.

Michigan: If Carl Levin runs again, this is a safe seat. If Levin retires, Michigan could become competitive, but I believe Levin will run one more time.

New Jersey: A Lautenberg retirement opens up the seat for Cory Booker, who I believe will pass on the 2013 NJ governor's race and hold the seat. The GOP has a thin bench here and Christie isn't running for Senate.

New Mexico: Unless Steve Pearce or Susana Martinez run, Tom Udall won't get challenged (and I don't think they're running; Udall creamed Pearce in 2008 and Martinez will probably run for reelection as Governor in 2014).

Rhode Island: Jack Reed is an institution in this state; he will easily win reelection.

Virginia: With Mark Warner's announcement that he will stay in the Senate and run for another turn, this seat goes from competitive to safe, as Warner is the most popular politician in the state.


Alabama: There are no Democrats in Alabama with the stature to take on Jeff Sessions; Alabama is a solidly GOP state at all levels.

Idaho: Jim Risch, the former governor of Idaho, will probably not face a top-tier challenger in this deeply red state.

Kansas: Unless Kathleen Sebelius leaves the HHS Department comes back to Kansas to run for Senate, Pat Roberts is safe. I don't think Sebelius will run.

Mississippi: Thad Cochran or not, there are no real Democratic challengers to make this seat interesting.

Nebraska: Mike Johanns is relatively popular there, and I don't see a significant challenge to him.

Oklahoma: This state is so Republican that Inhofe, or any other Republican, could eat a baby kitten on live TV and they'd still win,

Tennessee: Unless Lamar Alexander retires and Phil Bredesen, the very popular former Democratic governor runs, I can't see a competitive race here.

Wyoming: Unless Dave Freudenthal, the only strong statewide candidate we've got runs, this state is Safe R.

Now for the seats that lean for one party or the other. First, the Leaning Democratic states:

Colorado: Mark Udall is building a very strong base of support as a first-term incumbent. Although the Republicans have a decent bench here (Mike Coffman, Scott Gessler), Udall is favored in a state that is trending blue and hasn't gone Republican in a Presidential, Senate, or Governor's race since 2004.

Iowa: Although Harkin is always strong, his reelection campaigns seem to be relatively tight. Tom Latham would be a formidable opponent; the DSCC would like to see Steve King get out of what will be a bloody primary. Even if Latham makes it out of that primary, Harkin is a strong favorite for reelection in a lean-blue state.

Minnesota: Despite the fact that Franken won only 42% of the vote in the closest race in the country in 2008 which took 6 months to resolve, he has done a tremendous job laying low and doing the work required of him as a Senator. As a result, Franken's popularity has improved significantly and he is a solid favorite for reelection against Phil Kline or Michelle Bachmann.

Montana: The two strongest candidates are actually on the Democratic side (Sen. Baucus and former Gov. Schweitzer). The only way this becomes really competitive is if Baucus barely wins a bloody primary. That's the only reason I have it leaning D instead of safe.

New Hampshire: Democrats did a very good job cleaning out the GOP bench in New Hampshire, placing Jeanne Shaheen in a very strong position. Charlie Bass will most likely be Shaheen's challenger, but she starts a solid favorite because the only other NH Republican with any political capital can't run against her (Sen. Ayotte).

Oregon: Rep. Walden has been rumored to run against freshman senator Jeff Merkley, who faces approval ratings between 45-50% However, Merkley kept his head low, kind of like Franken, and is a favorite for reelection even if Walden runs due to the state's Democratic lean.

Now, the Republican held seats that currently Lean Republican:

Georgia: Saxby Chambliss had to win in a runoff last time, and he's less popular than his Republican colleague Johnny Isakson. Georgia is an interesting case, because the state is Republican, but trending away from them slightly as Cobb and Gwinnett County look more like Atlanta every year. Kasim Reed might make a very interesting challenge should he go for the seat, but Chambliss will be favored.

Kentucky: This is an incredibly fascinating situation. Minority Leader McConnell is not popular with the Republican base, and could get primaried if he makes too many deals with the President. The Democrats have a relatively strong bench, led by Crit Luallen. If Luallen runs and McConnell loses a primary, this seat switches to tossup; otherwise McConnell is still favored. If the Dems nominate Ashley Judd, McConnell will almost surely win, and the state will be Lean Republican even with a Tea Party standard bearer.

South Carolina: This is a similar situation to Kentucky. Lindsey Graham is really unpopular with the Tea Party and is dangerously close to getting primaried. If Graham gets primaried and runs as an Independent, this seat might move to Tossup with a decent Democratic candidate as Graham and the Tea Party standard bearer will split the GOP vote. If Graham survives a primary, this seat moves to Safe Republican.

Texas: John Cornyn is also not a big favorite among the Tea Party, and there are a lot of Texas Republicans who might want to target him in a primary. Democrats are lining up DNC keynote speaker Julian Castro to run; no matter what happens on the Republican side, whoever makes it to the general will be favored due to Texas' Republican lean. If Castro chooses to run for Governor, this seat moves to Safe R.

Now for the Democratic tossups:

ALASKA: Mark Begich is another Democratic freshman who has kept his head low and done the proper job of a Senator. Despite the fact that Alaska is trending towards the Dems, Begich will face a coin-flip reelection if Governor Sean Parnell runs against him, which looks like a distinct possibility. Begich can rely on local popularity himself to buoy him in a red state that is starting to turn purple.

ARKANSAS: The Pryor name is still popular in Arkansas, but Republican Congressman Tim Griffin is gunning for this seat. Although Bill Clinton delayed Arkansas's move to the right, it eventually joined its Southern relatives and became hardcore conservative Bible-toting territory. This is perhaps the most challenging seat for us to hold next cycle.

LOUISIANA: Mary Landrieu is in a similar situation to Pryor, but she's got a couple of advantages over her northern neighbor. Landrieu is much more popular with Democrats in Louisiana than Pryor is in Arkansas, as her name has a legacy. She also has more experience winning hard-fought statewide campaigns. The Republicans look to run Jay Dardenne or one of the five Congressmen against her, but due to Landrieu's local popularity and some population growth finally returning to New Orleans after Katrina, Landrieu has a 50/50 chance to survive.

NORTH CAROLINA: Kay Hagan is another freshman Democrat who doesn't make waves and fits her state very well as a moderate. The danger for her is that this is an off year electorate, she's not fully entrenched, and the state still slightly leans red at the federal level, although it is trending towards us. Several Republicans are exploring a run against Hagan; their primary will tell a large part of the story regarding how difficult a challenge Hagan faces.

SOUTH DAKOTA: Next to Arkansas, this will be the hardest state for us to hold, due to the fact that Senator Johnson is probably retiring and former Republican governor Mike Rounds is almost certain to run in either circumstance. Democrats will have to recruit former Congressman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin to give us a shot to hold the seat in the case of a Johnson retirement. A Rounds-Johnson race is even; a Rounds-Herseth race is leaning Republican.

WEST VIRGINIA: This race is all dependent on whether Jay Rockefeller runs or retires, and whether Shelley Moore Capito runs or not. A Rockefeller-Capito race starts relatively even, with a slight advantage to the Democrats. If Rockefeller retires the race is a complete tossup, with Capito giving the GOP an edge against most of the Democratic challengers, including Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Until we know Rockefeller and Capito's status, I rate this as a tossup, probably leaning towards the Dems.

Now on to the Republican tossups:

MAINE: This is the only apparent tossup held by a Republican at the present time, due to the state's blue lean and the Tea Party's attempts to destroy all vestiges of moderate Republicanism. Susan Collins is in a very precarious position like her old twin, outgoing Senator Olympia Snowe. If Collins runs and survives the primary, the race leans Republican against Chellie Pingree or former Gov. John Baldacci. If Collins loses her primary or retires, this seat will go to the Dems.

Originally posted to dpinzow on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 03:49 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good stuff (10+ / 0-)

    But I'm doubtful Obama will get anything done after the next midterms anyway.  Not unless there is a wave election that hands us control of the House.  Basically, a lot needs to get done--or at least mostly done--next year.

  •  I disagree with your Massachusetts analysis (7+ / 0-)

    If Kerry takes a Cabinet position and there is a special election, it's Lean R if Scott Brown runs in the special election.   If Khazei or Lynch are the nominees in the special or even the 2014 election, then it's a Tossup without Brown, Likely R with Brown.

    If Kerry retires, it's a Likely D against a generic Republican, and Lean D against Brown or Tisei.    If Capuano is the 2014 nominee then it's Likely D against Brown or Tisei(and Safe D otherwise).

    We do have a number of Conservadems in Massachusetts, and one of them is Steven Lynch, who voted against one of the Obamacare bills but then voted for the final Obamacare bill in the House.

  •  Very tough for the Dems (12+ / 0-)

    be lucky to keep loses down to 2 or 3.

    •  I definitely agree with that (9+ / 0-)

      Arkansas and South Dakota look especially grim, and Louisiana would be in the same boat, but Landrieu is an exceptional campaigner

      •  I think Arkansas is ok (0+ / 0-)

        Assuming Pryor runs again. He seems to be popular there and adept at reading the electorate. My guess is Landrieu hangs on again with 52%. I just think we have another of other vulnerable seats and I don't see a single good pick up opportunity for us as things stand. If Collins doesn't run in ME, that looks like a decent shot for us or maybe the Tea party knocks off Saxby Chamblis in GA and opens a window of opportunity. It's very early and a lot can happen, but preliminarily, it looks like a tough map.

    •  The only really good thing is how well (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We did this time... Gives us that much more of a chance to hold on, but it will no doubt be a tough fight.

      Now unless whoever we nominate in 2016 is a complete disaster that really should be a big year for us undoing 2004 and 2010.

      Mind you 2016 is going to be an incredibly important election for all sorts of reasons.. Do we keep the progressive momentum, or is the country doomed to swing back to conservatism which would no doubt undo all the good of the preceding 8 years....

      hope springs eternal

      by ahyums on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 12:22:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Swig Mcjigger, mightymouse

      BUT we don't know what the state of the economy will be.  If it improves somewhat, incumbents everywhere may find it easier to win.

      But right now if I had to bet we would lose the Senate.

      Remember, though, that in past elections all of the close Senate seats have tended to break in one direction.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:20:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ACA also kicks in over the next 2 years (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Especially in 2014.  It will be a rough start considering HHS is still writing the regs and how poorly the exchanges are getting off the ground.  Young workers not insured by their employer will be hit with much higher premiums.

        Some of ACA is good.. especially for the uninsured and poor..  But it will negatively impact many other segments of the population.

        But, you are right about the economy.  It really depends on the state of the economy in 1.5 years.. if it's not doing any better than it is now, it will be a bad mid-term for Dems.

  •  Michelle Bachmann could not get elected (10+ / 0-)

    unless Democrats do something really stupid like say cutting Medicare and Social Security.  She almost lost her own district and it is far redder than most of the rest of the state.  A conservative can win statewide in Minnesota but not a wingnut.  A liberal can win statewide in Minnesota too. I wish we still had one in the Senate.

    •  Franken and Klobuchar are pretty liberal (5+ / 0-)

      I think they're better than the two senators who represent me in New York, even though they're Dems (Schumer and Gillibrand)

      •  Klobuchar is not at all liberal (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, Mark Mywurtz, tle

        The only things she talks about are how bipartisan she is and how much she wants to help out corporations.  Oh and the debt.  She really wants to cut that debt.  

        I think Eric Paulson would have a better shot at Franken but I don't know if he is interested in running.  He's in a moderately Republican district now and he runs positive fiscally conservative messages (remarkably similar to Klobuchar's messages come to think of it).  

        •  You're that green party guy, right? (0+ / 0-)

          Democrats aren't good enough, according to you. Third party, rah rah rah, right?

          But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

          by Dbug on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 12:44:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm NOT a green party guy at all (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tle, mightymouse

            I support a number of moderate democrats.  I have to agree with greenbell--Klobuchar is not a liberal.  Maybe on social issues she is, but she is pretty fiscally conservative, rarely ever says anything controversial in support of anything progressive despite her tremendous political capital, and she's particularly bad on some big environmental issues.  There are a number of other democratic senators I'd happily trade her for.  

            To me, she mostly serves the purpose of blocking that seat from an insane teabagger idiot....but an advocate for us, she's not.  

    •  Franken is safe, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, Nulwee, bontemps2012

      The blue vote in Minnesota this time around pretty much sets this one up to be safe.

      "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" James Madison 4th US President

      by padeius on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:29:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cite for Tim Johnson's retirement prospects? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, Nulwee

    I haven't heard anything about that.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by Ponder Stibbons on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 04:30:57 PM PST

    •  Poor health (5+ / 0-)

      Although he ran in 2008, not too long after having a stroke. Apparently he's still affected a little bit by that stroke

      •  Yes, he's affected quite a bit by the stroke (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, meralda, Lujane, FG, Nulwee, bontemps2012

        He got a big sympathy vote last time since his stroke was very recent. But Rounds is going to be different because he's so well liked and no one will believe he's taking advantage of Johnsons disability and difficulty in speaking.

        I think Johnson can win if he runs but I think Herseth/Sandlin will be a big underdog if he doesn't and she steps up. Not only that if Herseth/Sandlin doesn't run it's my opinion Rounds will beat anyone else easily. She'll be our last best hope.

        America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

        by cacamp on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:48:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  If he retires unless (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, bontemps2012

      there is someone in SD like Heidi in ND it will go GOP.

      "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" James Madison 4th US President

      by padeius on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:31:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's where poaching is the key to all success. (0+ / 0-)

        Rick Berg was a delight to run against.

        Smarmy finances. Authoritarian creep on the stump. YouTube vid of him taking credit for 30,000 drones for public and private use in America.

        He was like Rudy Giuliani without the success as federal prosecutor or working as mayor after 9/11. Imagine that !

        Getting Heidi elected was hard work.

        Berg was the best part of it.

  •  Holding Virginia for Democrats just got better: (6+ / 0-)

    the Virginian Pilot reports.

    Said Warner: "I loved being Governor, but I have a different job now -- and it's here, in the United States Senate."

    Warner's decision effectively makes  Terry McAuliffe the likely Democratic frontrunner for the 2013 gubernatorial nomination.

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

    by TofG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 04:38:04 PM PST

  •  Why do people think Maine is a potential pickup? (5+ / 0-)

    Because the state leans democratic presidentially? Look at Susan's performance in 2008 against Tom Allen (not a Some Dude---had been in Congress as long as Collins at that point).

    Our high water mark against Collins, in a Democratic wave year with a candidate approximately as good as Pingree or Baldacci would be, was a 20+ point blowout.

    I'm not saying that it's impossible to take out Susan Collins. It's just that---relative to the other opportunities, including that turtle-looking guy in Kentucky we came 6 points from beating last time... you know, the Senate Minority Leader? The one with underwater approvals in his own state?---why does Susan Collins always migrate to the top of everybody's potential pickup list?

    Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

    by Zutroy on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 04:42:49 PM PST

    •  The Tea Party wasn't looking to actively primary (11+ / 0-)

      "moderate" Republicans in 2008...they chased Snowe out of her seat and are probably going to do something similar to Collins

      •  For a long time, I thought Snowe was under threat (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, Nulwee, bontemps2012, mightymouse

        as well. The only conservative challenger that materialized before she dropped out was Scott D'Amboise, who never amounted to anything in the primary. Only after Snowe said she wouldn't run did people from the Republican bench step in---and considering how poorly D'Amboise did against them, I'm beginning to think Snowe was never in any real danger. As much as it would please us, these things don't always end up like they did in Delaware.

        Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

        by Zutroy on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:45:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I really doubt (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that will matter.  Collins has approval ratings in the high 60's.  Northern New Englanders (I am a native one) have tended to love politicians like Collins (see Jim Jeffords, eg)

        The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

        by fladem on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:22:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, Susan's not going anywhere (5+ / 0-)

      unless she retires (which isn't likely IMO). And I don't buy that she'll be vulnerable to an intraparty challenge. There just aren't any viable candidates on the R side who a) could unseat her; and b) would be willing to take on the fight.

    •  My guess is Collins follows Snowe's example... (5+ / 0-)

      ...and quits. And if she quits, Chellie Pingree will be the next Senator from ME. Count on it. She was already going to go for it this year once Snowe retired, but backed out once King (who she's friends with) got in.

      •  Why wouldn't Collins just switch parties. She'd be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        a quintessential Blue Dog, but tolerable.

        "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

        by TofG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:09:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What's her incentive to do so? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lujane, Nulwee, IreGyre, fladem

          She's facing no actual pressure from Republicans. It's all just speculative, and considering how Snowe's main nemesis (D'Amboise) never amounted to anything, I don't put as much stock in the speculation as I used to.

          The other thing is that Maine's Republicans really just aren't as combatively conservative as, say, Indiana's or Nevada's. After watching what happened to Castle and Murkowski, I too believed the Tea Party could put pressure on any incumbent anywhere, but now I see that was a little naive.

          Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

          by Zutroy on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:52:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gee, have you never met Paul LePage? (4+ / 0-)

            Tea Party members are belligerent assholes, regardless of the state they're from.

            •  Yes, I have. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lujane, Zack from the SFV

              Can you name any other Maine Republican besides Paul LePage that is so combative? For that matter, can you name any of them that have openly voiced that they have a problem with Collins' moderacy?

              I never said teabaggers aren't as bad in some states, and I don't know how you interpreted that from my comment. I said there aren't as many of them in some states. Given what I've observed about the rest of the Maine Republican bench, I'm not inclined to think LePage is any more than a flash-in-the-pan who got lucky because Eliot Cutler played spoiler. I'm also not inclined to jump to any conclusions about Collins being in any primary danger simply because LePage managed to slide into the Governor's Mansion.

              Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

              by Zutroy on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:37:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  How about their outgoing state chairman? (0+ / 0-)

                You know, the one afraid of roving gangs of blacks sneaking into Maine to vote?

                Collins will be in danger. If the teabaggers want her gone, they will go after her.

                •  Yeah, like how they knocked of Orrin Hatch, right? (0+ / 0-)

                  And kept George Allen from making it to the general election? And kept Tommy Thompson from making it to the general election? And remember how Lamontagne beat Kelly Ayotte in that 2010 primary?

                  Hey, a friend of a friend of a friend told me they saw a couple of Republicans in Pendleton murmuring to each other about a right-wing conspiracy theory... maybe Greg Walden is in primary danger!!!11

                  Seriously, the Tea Party isn't omnipotent.

                  Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

                  by Zutroy on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 12:06:45 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  She wouldn't be a blue dog (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lujane, Nulwee

          When Senators and Congressmen switch parties, they significantly change ideologies. For example, Virgil Goode started out as a conservative Democrat but became one of the most right-wing Republicans of all time.

          Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

          by MrAnon on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:05:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Collins (0+ / 0-)

          reminds me a great deal of the first politician I ever worked for, Robert Stafford.  Stafford was to the left of about a third of the Democrats - but he had personal ties to the party that meant he would never leave it.

          The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

          by fladem on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:24:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Why would Collins retire? (6+ / 0-)

        Snowe retired because of her personal aversion to Senate partisanship, and there's no indication the Collins just as irritated---merely speculation based on the notion that Snowe and Collins are similar. In addition, the notion that Snowe was danger in the primary turned out to be overblown, so I doubt that will suddenly change in Collins' case. Finally, she's suddenly the senior senator from Maine as of January.

        Seems to be wishful thinking... and, if people are going to engage in wishful thinking no matter what, why is it directed at a benign and popular centrist... when there's this guy from Kentucky who is at the top of the Republican ladder in the Senate.... and has underwater approval numbers...

        Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

        by Zutroy on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:05:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hopeful thinking maybe, the only (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, Zack from the SFV, scamperdo

      way this seat goes dem is when she retires.  If she gets any kind of static from the right, she will run as an independent and get 60% of the vote.  She can then join Angus in which ever caucus has control of the senate to get some work done for her State.

      Maine is loyal and they really like her, just like they liked Olympia.  They will not vote her out of office and the party label means nothing.

      "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" James Madison 4th US President

      by padeius on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 07:59:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Walden certainly isn't going to run in Oregon (6+ / 0-)

    He's been named the NRCC Chairman, so he'll be busy on that front through the next election. So take Oregon off the board; that's a lock for the Dems.

    I don't get the worry about Arkansas. Sure the GOP has made lots of gains there, but as long as Pryor's got that last name, he's untouchable (probably the only Democrat in Arkansas, along with Mike Beebe, who can say that).

    •  Walden wouldn't beat Jeff Merkley anyway (4+ / 0-)

      Gordon Smith could take a run at his old seat, I suppose, but I haven't heard anything to that effect. And then there's Chris Dudley. (CLANG!!)

      PS - I actually met Chris Dudley recently--he is a nice guy, but I'm really, really glad John Kitzhaber is our governor, lest we have a Scott Walker type takeover here.

      And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

      by Pale Jenova on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:55:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Merkley is safe in Oregon. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" James Madison 4th US President

      by padeius on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:32:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think that the GOP will have a tougher fight (5+ / 0-)

    on their hands than they think right now. They just picked Jerry Moran R-KS to head the RSCC and Ted Cruz R-TX as his second in command. These two are quite tea stained and I can see them recruiting more of their ilk. We could probably pick up some really iffy seats is they pick the wrong (read too right) candidate.

    One can only hope . . .

  •  Native American vote in South Dakota is vital (10+ / 0-)

    For some reason democrats in South Dakota have not worked hard on the reservations for the last two losing elections. First Dashele lost when he betrayed Indians in a deal to give land to the state. Then for some reason (probably because she won so easily before) Herseth/Sandlin didn't campaign hard anywhere and seemed to forget about the reservations. She lost to an inexperienced teabagger, Noem, who is now well ensconsed and will be hard to beat.

    In Johnsons last run he got a wake up call when the Pine Ridge reservation (Shannon County) was the last to report. Johnson trailed badly and everyone thought he was toast but the PR results came in overwhelmingly democratic and pushed him over the top. Since then he has given the Indian vote credit for his win and has done good things for the tribes in the senate. So he knows the stakes in getting out the vote in Indian Country.

    My hope is that the Democratic Party will also understand and pitch in on voter registration and gotv this time. They need to start early and provide resources. If they don't Johnson or Herseth/Sandlin are goners. No democrat can win in SD without a major push from the Native vote.

    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:39:42 PM PST

    •  I think this is an important point in all the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nulwee, Virginia Victory, cacamp

      states that are either toss-ups or leaners:

      My hope is that the Democratic Party will also understand and pitch in on voter registration and gotv this time. They need to start early and provide resources.
      There's no reason not to start registering voters now for 2014, and I mean all of us.  It's so easy to either register online or at least get the application online that we all should be talking it up with those who aren't registered, especially in those states.

      The other thing we should be doing is helping people get the IDs they will need, since many of the voter ID laws will be effective for upcoming elections.

  •  If we can make KY & TX (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Pale Jenova, mumtaznepal, Lujane

    competitive that could help a seems to me that Mitch ("There's not enough money in politics") McConnell should be highly vulnerablle if, for no other reason than his insanely ludicrous and out-of-touch notion that there needs to be MORE money in politics, not less. That should be THE primary issue of any Democratic challenger, the fact that McConnell is a bought-and-paid-for political prostitute to the monied elites whose only complaint about campaign financing is that he's not getting MORE money.

    If San Anontio Mayor Castro can be convinced to make a run in Senate, Democrats might actually stand a chance to win statewide office for the first time since...whate...1990?

  •  Interesting review... thanks (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pollbuster, mumtaznepal, Lujane, fladem

    equally interesting because I read a similar early review on RedState the other day...

    And it is interesting to see the different takes on the races as well as the convergences.

    It is certainly a good thing we picked up 2 seats in the Senate this cycle as it is critical to our chances of retaining control of the Senate following this next cycle. 6 seats will be a lot harder to lose then 4 seats were this time and had we lost 2 seats instead of winning 2 then 6 seats is a heck of a lot harder to lose then 2 would be!

    And of course looking just a little further ahead the 2016 campaign is our big chance to pick up some seats though I doubt we'll win back the 6 seats we lost in 2010.

    The redstate guy seemed to theink Chambliss in Georgia would get primaried from the right.

    I am also curious why you right off Ashley Judd so quickly. Name recognition is incredibly important and she's got it in spades.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:47:51 PM PST

    •  Ashley Judd is a loyal Kentuckian (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mumtaznepal, VirginiaBlue, Lujane, IreGyre

      She is a devoted fan of Kentucky and she would definitely be the "anti-Mitch".

      I think she can win if she could pull off the debates.

      •  If mcconnell were primaried (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mumtaznepal, Lujane, IreGyre

        Ashley would have a chance if she wanted to run.

        "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" James Madison 4th US President

        by padeius on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:05:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The money would flow in for Ashley Judd, and (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lujane, Nulwee

          it would become a nationally-watched race.

          McConnell is not popular in Kentucky.

          "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

          by mumtaznepal on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:22:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  He has $8 million (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Nulwee, padeius

            And it's not like Kentucky ad time is expensive.

            He's also a leader in the party and he's in a red state.

            It's a nice rosterbation exercise, but there's no way that guy loses in anything but a wave election.

            •  Tell that to Dick Lugar. (0+ / 0-)

              You are pretty much right on, lots of money and a pretty hefty ground machine, He is pretty much going to be a Senator until he decides to retire or dies.

              "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" James Madison 4th US President

              by padeius on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 12:56:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Asheley Judd is a well-respected feminist, and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VirginiaBlue, Lujane, Nulwee

      she would pull every Tea Party woman's vote in to her, believe it or not. That is how much she and her mother are loved in Kentucky.

      "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

      by mumtaznepal on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 07:36:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  but is she a good politician? (0+ / 0-)

        I had a quick look at her wikipedia (sorry) bio, and her good works and devotion to charitable causes show well.  However, I can imagine the Repuke noise machine digging up all her past celebrity dirt and issues.

        "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

        by chingchongchinaman on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 05:31:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  the best defense... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, Nulwee

    not only should we look at defending seats, but what red races might be competitive with a push?  or if not competitive, at least close enough to divert GOP resources from the battlegrounds?

    50 states, it's not just for presidential elections.

    We also collectively need to be thinking the same thing about the house.

  •  fears (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You had better hope the Supreme Court resignations occur in the next two years, because consent by the Senate may be difficult to come by after the mid-term elections!

    •  SCOTUS retirements will occur; unfortunately.... (0+ / 0-)

      .....the first one will most probably be on our side, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Breyer could be next also.  You can bet that Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy will hold on for dear life past 2016.  We're stuck with Roberts and Alito for decades, of course.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 05:33:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm going to help Franken, Merkley and Begich (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, Zack from the SFV, Nulwee

    All of us with a little discretionary income can help Democrats where it's needed, and where we feel good about it. Right now, those three are the ones for me.

    Eradicate magical thinking

    by Zinman on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 07:11:36 PM PST

  •  Alaska is not a tossup (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, Nulwee, fladem, chingchongchinaman

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, and lord knows we will fight the good fight up here, but it doesn't look good.  

    The fact is that this state is deep red.  The last two elections won by Democrats statewide were against an indicted felon and a convicted felon.  

    Begich will fight hard, but unless the Tea Partiers primary themselves out of the race (And they might), it's at least lean Republican.  

  •  As far as Colorado.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoradAnne, Lujane, conniptionfit, Nulwee

    ...Coffman, I mildly worry about, though I feel his victory this year was pyrrhic.  He would be damaged goods in a statewide race.  And Gessler?  Don't make me laugh.   As SOS, he's been a lightning rod.  The supression efforts would be hung like an albatross around his neck.  He'd be toast in a nanosecond in a race like that.  The ones I would worry more about are Cory Gardner or Jane Norton.  Gardner represents a conservative district but comes off well and Norton is that one candidate that has the "maybe if we'd gone with her" feeling due to losing the 2010 primary to Ken Buck.

    If you listen to fools, the Mob Rules

    by CO Democrat on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 07:29:10 PM PST

  •  Kentucky is a democratic state according to (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CO Democrat, Lujane, Nulwee, IreGyre

    voter registration, and it disappoints me repeatedly that there is never national support here.  

    Democrats would have a great chance in this state, if we ever saw an ad or two.

    Instead we have the hated Mitch McConnell (he IS hated here) and the Tea Party extremist dangerous Rand Paul.

    The democratic strongholds of Louisville and Lexington could switch this state.

    "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

    by mumtaznepal on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 07:31:24 PM PST

    •  The last time Kentucky (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      voted for a dem was for clinton and before that was 76 for Carter, so how blue is Kentucky?

      "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" James Madison 4th US President

      by padeius on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:10:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dem voters outnumber GOP voters in registrations, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, IreGyre

        and we tend to have a Democratic Governor and legislature.

        Not true blue, obviously, but as with Texas, definitely opportunity.

        The urban areas are democratic, even progressive, the rural areas are Tea Party.  

        Appalachia still buys votes for every race due to extreme poverty and drug abuse.

        "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

        by mumtaznepal on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:13:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Registration may not mean much. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mumtaznepal, Lujane

          Unless you know how to cultivate those bases in Louisville and Lexington.  It was done here in Colorado, and I wasn't sure it could be, so sure, it could happen.  But how do we overcome the problems in Kentucky?

          If you listen to fools, the Mob Rules

          by CO Democrat on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:18:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My impression of Kentucky is that we are fighting (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lujane, IreGyre

            rural racists and Appalachian vote buying.

            More and more progressives are moving here, to the exurbs around Louisville and Lexington (I am one).

            Definitely a chance, but we are fighting a staunch GOP and racist vote in Appalachia. Hate the rich, too.

            We are pretty blue dog here.  I think more obviously progressive candidates would do better.  We need to fight the uneducated false assumptions about Democrats.

            We just lost Dem. Ben Chandler to a Tea Party fool for the Lexington Congressional district, though.  I might be wishful thinking and full of it.

            But Rand Paul scares a lot of people here.  And McConnell isn't liked at all.

            "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

            by mumtaznepal on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:29:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Again, if they're that scary... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

     do we fight them?

              Didn't Chandler get tarred over ads for being anti-coal?  WHich might not have been true.

              If you listen to fools, the Mob Rules

              by CO Democrat on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:53:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Check out this very interesting take on Appalachia (0+ / 0-)

              A diary from a couple days ago laid out a long-term strategy for making more progressive inroads in the coal country.   The key graf is here:

              ...people in coal-mining regions care about the same things that people everywhere else care about. The difference is people in places like Appalachia have a stronger cultural and economic attachment to coal -- one that the "agents of climate inaction" know how to exploit and that most environmental and climate advocates have no idea how to honor.

              What coal companies and allies have done so well in mining communities is to frame every climate, public health and environmental policy implemented by the Obama administration as part of a "war on coal" that threatens the economy of the region. However, if policies to protect clean water or stop the dumping of mine waste into streams are disaggregated from the "war on coal" frame, they're actually nearly as popular in Appalachia as they are elsewhere in the country.

              The author argues that it is up to grassroots issues activists to lead the way because candidates will always be risk-averse.  He or she cites a group I hadn't heard of - Kentuckians For The Commonwealth - as providing a model for how to do it.

              Worth a read, in this context.    

        •  sounds kinda like MO, although here now..... (0+ / 0-)

          .....we don't have a Dem legislature.  The KY Dem machine needs to get cranking to build up that urban base, obviously, the same way that STL and KC tend to carry Dems in MO, when Dems win, that is.

          "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

          by chingchongchinaman on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 05:34:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  fwiw, dems could probably do really well if (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, mightymouse

    the senate can get alot accomplished the next 18-23 months.  people want to see action 'n' moving forward 'n stuff.

    seriously, Lord? legalizing weed finally gets momentum two weeks before Twinkie production stops? kind of a dick move there, Yahweh...

    by bnasley on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:02:52 PM PST

  •  Holding on? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, Mark Mywurtz, Berkeley Fred

    challenging or not, strategy should be hold the 20 and pick up a couple more.

    do not see the benefit of a strategy that concedes aan thing before it starts.

    shoot for the moon and if need be, settle for less.

    mittens=edsel. no matter how much money is spent to promote it, if the product sucks, no one will buy it.

    by wewantthetruth on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:07:14 PM PST

  •  And here's how you do it (5+ / 0-)

    You run a NATIONAL campaign with a STRONG NARRATIVE that is compelling enough to motivate people to vote that might otherwise not.

    A campaign that helps a wide swath of fragile Senate targets and boosts us enough to take the House.

    Of course, my favorite theme would be, It's Time to Put the Adults Fully in Charge, but I also like The Job's Only Partly Done, Let's Keep This Country Moving Forward.

    And of course, much will depend on the political landscape in early 2014, but it's not too early to start working toward that goal. (Or at least after the inauguration!)

    I'm glad to see OFA and a few other progressive organizations working toward this goal. Yea, team!

    And hey, did you hear? It's Hip to be Lib!

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:07:45 PM PST

  •  Thoughts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Berkeley Fred

    So at best we pick up 3 seats (ME, KY and one via Teabaggery)
    At worst we lose 6 seats (AK, AR, SC, LA, NC, WV)
    I predict no seat change in 2014 (on the off chance that Dems do as well as they did in tosss ups/lean senate races as they did in 2012

    We only think nothing goes without saying.

    by Hamtree on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:15:03 PM PST

  •  I am actually optimistic about Begich (0+ / 0-)

    Not confident, not complacent, still very cautious but nevertheless optimistic

    Admittedly I haven't been following his career very closely but he's struck me as someone with quite a lot of substance and gravitas who will be able to develop a personal vote back home. He also comes from a prominent state political dynasty and the name recognition may also help him to some extent

    I wouldn't use Begich's 2008 performance as a yardstick to judge his competence or electoral viability. Ted Stevens, though corrupt and indicted, was somewhat of an institution in Alaska in the same way that Robert Byrd was in West Virginia or even Ted Kennedy was in Massachusetts. People may have felt uneasy about his ethics but he nevertheless had a solid and extremely loyal personal vote which remained firm and intact. Don't forget Stevens had served as the state's senator since 1968 and he apparently was known for his constituency services, at least in the earlier part of his career. I remember reading an account of a very liberal Democrat in Alaska recounting glowingly how he had helped her personally with some sort of local issue she was having. I'm sure that she was not an exception and there are probably several in the state who would have similar testimonies. His nickname was "Uncle Ted", which I think is the way a lot of Alaskans saw him

    Note that Ted Stevens is apparently the longest serving incumbent to be defeated. "Institutions" like Ted Stevens are usually comfortably re-elected without any difficulty. Look at how hard it has been to unseat Alaska's other "institution", Rep Don Young, despite all his ethical issues and personal problems. Begich's victory should not be seen as anything other than a major upset and probably a testament to his abilities as a candidate

    Factor in as well that the Republicans probably got a boost from Sarah Palin being on the ticket there and you realize what a remarkable feat Begich's victory was

    I think Begich probably has a better chance of survival than Kay Hagan in NC or some of the other incumbents. If Parnell runs, he will be formidable but not insurmountable IMO

    •  That's a very good summary of Begich (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I agree, he's got a tough race, but if any Democrat can win in Alaska, it's him. (Much like Pryor in Arkansas, he's got a family name he can draw on as well.)

      Beating Ted Stevens, even a convicted Ted Stevens, is no small feat (even Don Young didn't go down despite the corruption swirling around him). Underestimate Begich at your peril.

    •  Stevens wasn't just indicted (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      he'd been convicted, though was appealing the conviction, of 7 felony counts during the month before the election.

      Begich may have beaten a beloved institution, but he also beat a convicted felon. Make of that what you will.

  •  Good summary n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  How do we help the Tea Party ??? (0+ / 0-)

    Take a look at these toads as though they had been set up by Dems as a false front.

    That's how it has worked.

    The Senate has another 4 or 5 Democrats in it, courtesy of this pack of dweebs.

    The Republican Party, generally, is a damaged brand, courtesy of this pack of dweebs.

    Paranoid white goof-balls ??? Of a certain age.

    How do we help them fulfill their dreams ??? Primaries await. They are iconoclasts with battle axes in the trunks of their SUVs. How do we assist their efforts to go forth seeking rape and plunder ???

  •  Why so negative on Ashley Judd? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm wondering, like others here, why you dismiss her.

    She would be able to raise more money than other Democrats.

    She would pull in low information voters in rural areas who won't pay attention to any other Democrat.

    A non-politician who has never held office is exactly the right choice to run against an insider like McConnell. It would be a populist outsider campaign, and that has major appeal across party lines.

    I'd say there's about a 90% chance McConnell will say something stupid and sexist that will swing even more female swing voters to Judd.

    She would mobilize the considerable number of people in Appalachia opposed to mountaintop removal mining. That won't win her the region, but it will give her an enthusiastic base of support there that a conservative pro-coal Democrat won't have.

    She has taken some very liberal stands, but that doesn't matter as much as people think it does. Most people vote based on overall impressions, not on issue statements.

  •  Great Diary (0+ / 0-)

    And I agree that holding the Senate in 2014 is critical to not only Obama's agenda in his last two years but also to long term Democratic control of the Senate.  Like others have mentioned, it's likely Democrats will wipe up in 2016. If they can just hold onto control in 2014, they could ensure control for the rest of decade.

  •  Creativity--Not Timidity! (0+ / 0-)

    Don't call any GOP seat "safe." Find a creative, interesting candidate to cost them big bucks. Ashley Judd challenging in Kentucky! And Maine is doable!

  •  looking at this (0+ / 0-)

    makes me very thankful we picked up a couple of seats this time around...

    this looks like a hard cycle. it would be a real bummer to lose the Senate going into Obama's final two years. a real bummer.

  •  Democrats will hold the Senate (0+ / 0-)

    Democrats will  hold the Senate depending on much of the people's agenda they accomplish.  In other words, voters voted for a set of changes and they want them implemented.  

    Democrats got a second chance.  They need to learn the lessons of Obama's first 4 years:

    *  If you campaign big, go big when elected.  

    * Some compromise is good.  Compromising before you get to the table is a recipe for making no one happy.  

    * Screw the Republicans.  Take your case to those who put you in office.  The Republicans are going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new direction.  

    Follow those rules and Democrats will pick up seats.  Follow the course of Obama's first 2 years, and Democrats lose seats.  

  •  Love to read speculation two years out (0+ / 0-)

    However, look at how much changed in the two years between the '10 election and the '12 election.  Several Senators retired, some safe seats (Indiana) were lost, and some that were thought to be in play (Michigan, Washington) fell out of play.  Add to this the good chance that there will be resignations and deaths.  

    I do agree that holding the Senate is vital to getting things done in the last two years of Obama's presidency.  I think it is less vital to the party and the country than winning back governorships in purple to blue states like Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and especially Wisconsin.

  •  awfully early... (0+ / 0-)

    Jeez, I guess it really is the perpetual campaign. I would say the Dems, on the face of it, are in much better shape than they were going into 2012 in terms of $ of seats to defend.  They will likely lose a couple when all is said and done, but I see some real opportunity for pickup in the 4 GOP lean seats and in surprise Dem pickups? SC and Georgia...

  •  Hope to see the OFA in action defending seats (0+ / 0-)

    as they stated they will be more visible in local races

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