Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Senate Races Already Done

On Monday, I will be coming out with my final predictions for how the United States Senate will look after America votes on Tuesday. Before I do that, I just want to close the loop on the fact that there were indeed 33 Senate seats up for grabs this year and not just the 10 to 12 you've heard so much about.

While it is undeniably true that the ultimate balance of power in the Senate comes down to a handful of competitive races, you should at least get the names involved with the others and a one-liner for how they'll turn out. Here it is:

California: Incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein will easily hold her seat over little-known Republican Richard Mountjoy.

Delaware: Democrat Thomas Carper will defeat an obscure challenger, Temple University professor Jan Ting.

Florida: Bill Nelson will hold his seat for the Democrats over election-stealing Republican Congresswoman Katherine Harris.

Hawaii: Democrat Daniel Akaka, having survived a tough primary challenge from Ed Case, will cruise to an easy victory over Republican state Rep. Cynthia Thielen.

Indiana: The GOP's venerable Richard Lugar goes unopposed.

Maine: Republican Olympia Snowe will easily defeat Democrat Jean Hay Bright.

Massachusetts: Are you kidding me? Ted Kennedy gets reelected in a tsunami over Republican Ken Chase.

Mississippi: Regrettably, Republican Trent Lott will be returned to the Senate over Democrat Erik Fleming

Nebraska: We may not like DINO (Democrat in Name Only) Ben Nelson, but he will easily best Republican Pete Ricketts.

Nevada: We had high hopes for Jimmy Carter's eldest son, Jack, but when you can go to Carter's campaign web site and have to search forever for any reference to Republican John Ensign's opposition to a minimum wage increase, it's no wonder Carter's candidacy never got traction. Unfortunately, Ensign will retain his seat.

New Mexico: It was never a contest between incumbent Democrat Jeff Bingaman, who will beat Republican Allen McCulloch.

New York: The closest Republican John Spencer has come to Hillary Clinton in the polls is 30 points -- and even that seemed generous.

North Dakota: Kent Conrad is a popular Democrat in a very-red state and will win handily over the GOP's Dwight Grotberg.

Texas: Bush rubber-stamper Kay Hutchison will defeat Barbara Ann Radnofsky.

Utah: Orrin Hatch is the Republican version in Utah of Hillary Clinton in New York -- he ain't losing to Democrat Pete Ashdown.

West Virginia: Incumbent Democrat Robert Byrd will continue his lengthy Senate tenure after knocking off challenger John Raese.

Wisconsin: Democrat Herb Kohl will trounce GOP challenger Robert Gerald Lorge.

Wyoming: In the universe of red states, Wyoming may be second only to Utah, meaning that Democrat Dale Groutage never stood much of a chance against Republican Craig Thomas.

I've left these two for last because they're kind of special cases:

Connecticut: We're all pretty disgusted with Joe Lieberman and there's a lot of speculation about him bolting the party and causing the Democrats major problems if he wins -- that's not how it's going to happen. The same stubbornness that caused him to not accept the will of Connecticut Democrats, will make him adamantly against making us right about what a turncoat he really is.

He may still give us heartburn with his support of Team Bush on the Iraq war, but he will continue to caucus with the Democrats. So whether he or Ned Lamont wins, this Senate seat continues to contribute toward a Democratic majority.

Vermont: When it comes to the balance of power in the Senate, it's all about who you caucus (align yourself) with. Independent Bernie Sanders is more liberal than most Democrats, is enormously popular in Vermont and will destroy Republican Richard Tarrant on Tuesday. This counts effectively as a Democratic hold as Independent Jim Jeffords, who is retiring, also caucused with the Democrats.

So when you add up the 67 Senate seats that were not contested this year, with the expected results detailed above, we are at 47 seats for the Republicans and 40 for Democrats. With 13 races outstanding, you can see that the conventional wisdom that Democrats need to "run the table" on the rest to take control really is true.

I predict the Democrats will do it and will explain how tomorrow.