Monday, November 3, 2008

U.S. Senate Races to Watch

The presidential election is not the only thing happening November 4. There are a number of races at all levels of government happening throughout the country. Of particular interest are U.S. Senate races as Democrats try and gain nine seats--enough to claim a 60 vote filibuster-proof majority. What follows is a run-down of those toss-up senate seats with my prediction of what the Senate will look like when the smoke clears.

Alaska (Republican Seat)
Matchup: Ted Stevens (R) vs. Mark Begich (D)
Predicted winner: Begich
Observation: Stevens is likely headed for prison. Hard to cast votes from a jail cell. 'Nuff said.

Colorado (Open Republican Seat)
Matchup: Bob Schaffer (R) vs. Rep. Mark Udall (D)
Predicted winner: Udall
Observation: Colorado is trending blue all the way. Udall is a well-respected name in the West

Kentucky (Republican Seat)
Matchup: Mitch McConnell (R) vs. Bruce Lunsford (D)
Predicted winner: McConnell
Observation: Senate Minority Leader in serious trouble. Hangs on by a finger nail; Kentuckians like the earmarks.

Georgia (Republican Seat)
Matchup: Saxby Chambliss (R incumbent) vs. Jim Martin (D)
Predicted winner: Chambliss
Observation: Incumbent hangs on in surprisingly close race. If Chambliss loses, it will signify a rout for Obama and Dems.

Louisiana (Democratic Seat)
Matchup: Mary L. Landrieu (D) vs. John Kennedy (R)
Predicted winner: Landrieu
Observation: Only Democratic seat in jeopardy no longer in jeopardy.

Minnesota (Republican Seat)
Matchup: Norm Coleman (R) vs. Al Franken (D) vs. Dean Barkley (I)
Predicted winner: Coleman
Observation: 3-way race makes prediction difficult. Coleman hangs on in nail-biter.

Mississippi (Republican Seat)
Matchup: Roger Wicker (R) vs. Ronnie Musgrove (D)
Predicted winner: Wicker
Observation: Mississippi is still deep red. Musgrove will come close though.

New Hampshire (Republican Seat)
Matchup: John E. Sununu (R) vs. Jeanne Shaheen (D)
Predicted winner: Shaheen
Observation: In a normal year, Sununu hangs on. 2008 is not a normal year.

New Mexico (Open Republican Seat)
Matchup: Steve Pearce (R) vs. Tom Udall (D)
Predicted winner: Udall
Observation: Sibling tandem in U.S. Senate? Yep.

North Carolina (Republican Seat)
Matchup: Elizabeth Dole (R) vs. Kay Hagan (D)
Predicted winner: Hagan
Observation: "Godless" ad will backfire on Dole.

Oregon (Republican Seat)
Matchup: Gordon H. Smith (R) vs. Jeff Merkley (D)
Predicted winner: Merkley
Observation: Incumbent GOP Senator running ads touting ties to Obama, Biden and Dems? Not a good sign.

Virginia (Open Republican Seat)
Matchup: James S. Gilmore (R) vs. Mark Warner (D)
Predicted winner: Warner
Observation: Virginia electes a different Warner, different party.

Final predicted tally: Dems +7. With Lieberman possibly forced out of Democratic Caucus, he switches to GOP or at least caucuses with them.

Final predicted composition of Senate (currently 51-49 Dem control): Dems 57-GOP 43

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