With no Governor's race, all eyes are focused on the Senate race in North Dakota which, in the end, is no "race" at all. Popular former Governor John Hoeven is the next Republican Senator from North Dakota! In essence, the Democrats conceded the seat the day Byron Dorgan announced his intentions to retire from the Senate. Whether that decision was motivated by a possible loss to Hoeven or not remains to be revealed. In fact, Hoeven is a 47 point favorite in polling thus far against Tracy Potter. Nothing against Potter, but the race is so decided that it is unnecessary to see where Potter is on the issues.
Something needs to be mentioned here. While the Democratic Party and their liberal allies in the media mulls over the TEA Party and its influence in the Republican Party seeing bogey men behind every tree, they ignore a more obvious and tangible fact. In this electoral cycle, there is no doubt that the TEA Party has had influence in some high profile instances. Their victories in Utah, Nevada, Alaska, Delaware and Wisconsin are remarkable events. But, not all TEA Party supported or aligned candidates have prevailed at the polls in the primaries. Although the successes thus far are impressive, the fact is that they are not batting a thousand. And whether their influence translates into Republican gains come November 2nd remains to be seen. For example, Angle and O'Donnell were certainly NOT the strongest, most electable choices for Republicans. It took Ken Buck some time to gain traction in Colorado and their support of Maes in Colorado has been a disaster thus far.
What I see as the most tangible event of this election cycle is the decisions by strong Democratic incumbents like Byron Dorgan in North Dakota and Evan Bayh in indiana to decide to retire rather than campaign on their records. Bayh, in all likelihood would have won re-election. A Dorgan-Hoeven match up would have been great and certainly a referendum on Obama policies. In essence, their decisions to retire basically handed two Senate seats to the Republicans before any campaigning began. And that is not even mentioning the numerous Democratic incumbent Representatives who decided to retire rather than face likely defeats at the polls. Yet, the liberal media is focused on the TEA Party and the Republicans rather than abject resignation to political reality in the Democratic Party.
In the at-large North Dakota Congressional seat, incumbent Democrat Earl Pomeroy, who has held the seat since 1993, trails Rick Berg in the polls by an average of 6 points. Pomeroy has faced some close calls in past elections and should he somehow prevail in 2010, it may just be his cloest defense of the seat to date. It is very doubtful given some of his positions. He voted for Obamacare carrying forth the Democratic "It's not perfect, but it's something" mantra and apology. He voted against the successful Iraqi troop surge. He once characterized Bush as a "clown" and once stated "I cannot stand George Bush," which in my book is more disrespectful than someone yelling "You Lie!" Given the anti-incumbent sentiment in America today, North Dakota is not spared that reality. Additionally, the top-down voter behavior (Hoeven will win in a landslide) adds about another 4-5 points for Berg in my book. Despite holding the seat for 18 years, North Dakota will revert to its true red status in 2010 and they can thank Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama for that.
In South Dakota, incumbent Republican Governor Mike Rounds is term-limited. Dennis Daugaard leads Scott Heidepriem by 19 points and the Governor's office will remain in Republican hands in 2010.
Likewise, John Thune is the winner of the Senate seat up for grabs this year. having no opposition on the ballot from the Democrats. They would have loved to exact revenge on Thune for his narrow defeat of Tom Daschle six years ago, but not this year! In effect, in another Dakota, the Democratic Party threw in the proverbial towel.
Thus the only drama on Election Day in South Dakota will involve their At-Large Congressional seat- basically another statewide race. The seat is currently held by Democratic incumbent Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin. She faces perhaps her most serious challenger yet in Kristi Noem. The albatross around the neck of Herseth-Sandlin is her vote in favor of the Obama stimulus. And although she talks about her bipartisanship, given anti-incumbent sentiment, nothing is set in stone. This may be one of those key Congressional races to watch come November 2nd to foretell how deep anti-incumbent sentiment truly runs and just how bad Democratic losses will be this year in the House races. If she prevails over Noem, it will be a close victory.