The state of the key Senate races
I can’t wait until the rest of the primary battles finish and we can get onto the real contests that will determine control of congress. If you would have told me that the GOP has a decent shot at regaining control of the Senate two months ago I would have thought you were nuts. However, that is no longer the case and you can count me as one of the happier souls to see this as a real possibility. I will lay out what I see as a fundraising prioritization and targeting of the Senate races as well.
#1 — Nevada
This one is obvious. To have a chance to take out the extreme far-left Senate majority leader Harry Reid is one that shouldn’t be left to chance. Sharron Angle is fighting an entrenched, crony incumbent, President Obama, and the local media who are trying to paint her as too “extreme”. What would you rather have? An extreme fiscal conservative who is pro-gun, life, small business and jobs or an extreme liberal, liberty reducing, bigger government, bigger spending, higher taxing, going against the will of the people/jam down government healthcare down the voters’ throats DC elitist who thinks he’s smarter than the average voter? The Angle campaign impressively raised $2.6 million in the second quarter and has weathered Harry Reid trying to knock her out with 24/7 television advertising after her primary win. Reid shows to have $8.9 million on cash while Angle has $1.8 million so we are looking at a slightly better than 4:1 cash-on-hand advantage for Reid. If Angle can close this gap to 3:1 or even 2:1 against her, she will be very well positioned to counter and put Reid away. Given the amount of ads that Reid has run, there comes a point where voters tire of seeing one candidate’s ads and wants to hear what the other one has to say. The law of diminishing returns will rear its ugly head at some point for Reid. The latest polling has showed a definite tightening though the Mason Dixon/Las Vegas Review Journal (quite a pro-Reid publication) showed Reid with a 44-37 lead over Angle. There were questionable internals such as only 70% of GOP voters supported Angle and Reid was doing better with independents. I wouldn’t put it past some certain Democratic friendly pollsters to show Reid in the lead in the near future so Reid can keep his fundraising numbers up. I’m looking for some polling from Rasmussen and SurveyUSA in the coming weeks to get a real good indicator where this race is. An endorsement from Sarah Palin and the NRA could be huge for Angle as well. Sharron Angle’s website is here if you want to donate.
#2 — Wisconsin and Illinois
There is a reason why I have these two tied at #2. If Russ Finegold falls to Ron Johnson (almost certain to be the GOP nominee) and Mark Kirk wins in Illinois, it could very well depress Democratic voters out west from showing up for the races in Nevada, Washington, California, and Colorado. There hasn’t been a whole lot of talk of these races in the national media until recently but you can bet Democratic leadership are paying very close attention to these races. The thought of Russ Finegold losing never occured and Ron Johnson came out of nowhere. If these fall, the GOP red tidal wave will roar toward the west and likely overwhelm Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray. Recent polling shows Johnson just slightly leading Russ Finegold and Mark Kirk slightly ahead or running neck and neck with Alexi Giannoulias. Ron Johnson’s website is here and Mark Kirk’s website is here.
#3 — Florida and Missouri
These could be momentum spoilers for the GOP in November. Charlie “De facto Democrat” Crist is holding a slight lead in the polling though Rasmussen had Marco Rubio ahead two weeks ago. Crist has around $8 million cash-on-hand with his latest numbers and Rubio only has $400,000. However, those numbers do not indicate the level of support or the infrastructure of those campaigns either. The Rubio campaign spend $1.3 million on TV ads and spent the rest on building a vast ground game in Florida which will no doubt pay huge dividends in the coming months leading to election day. On top of that, Crist has some legal issues he may be dealing with in the future (Remember Jim Greer, Charlie?), GOP donors suing to stop Crist from using their donations for his campaign, and according to the Rubio campaign, some very soft, squishy support where a large segment of voters are open to reconsidering whom to vote for. With so much going for Rubio and so much seemingly going against Crist, you can’t take this race for granted. Marco Rubio’s website is here. Holding Missouri is very important and Roy Blunt has been polling slightly ahead of the invisible Robin Carnahan (anyone seen her yet?). If there was a campaign motto that I think would be fitting to Carnahan it would be “Duck” Blunt’s website is here.
#4 Ohio and Pennsylvania
Rob Portman has been fundraising extremely well and has a large cash-on-hand advantage over Lee Fisher and is polling well too. Ditto for Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania against Joe Sestak. Though Portman and Toomey are ahead, both of these races are going to be dogfights and shouldn’t be neglected. Toomey’s site is here and Portman’s site is here.
#5 — California
Sure, Barbara Boxer is showing a large advantage of cash on hand but Carly Fiorina has a vast, personal fortune to draw upon. Polling shows these contenders neck and neck. Fiorina’s website is here.
On deck: Indiana, Washington, New Hampshire, Delaware, Oregon, North Dakota, West Virginia, Arkansas, and North Carolina, and Colorado.
Okay, okay. So some might be asking me “Why Oregon?” It is simple. With the recent developments of the polling in Washington, Oregon could very well be coming into play as well. I really want to see a July poll on the Wyden/Huffman race. The West Virginia race is interesting. The presumptive Democratic frontrunner, Joe Manchin could have some competition if Shelly Moore Capito challenges him. I have to wonder though if the WV House and Senate are putting on a show saying that a special election will happen but unbelievably, they won’t come to an agreement and Carte Goodwin will keep the seat warm for Manchin by taking all the tough votes and keeping Manchin’s nose clean until 2012. Dan Coats is blowing away Brad Ellsworth predictably. Kelly Ayotte is pulling away from Paul Hodes in New Hampshire and is practically a shoe-in for the GOP nomination. With the endorsement of Sarah Palin, Ayotte’s nomination is all but done. Mike Castle looks to destroy Chris Coons in Delaware though Christine O’Donnell is giving Castle a fight for the GOP nod. This one still needs to shake out. Patty Murray is down against both Dino Rossi and Clint Didier according to the latest Rasmussen polling in Washington. I’m waiting to see who wins the GOP nod. Both GOP candidates are quite good. I won’t even bother with North Dakota and Arkansas as John Hoeven is wiping out his opposition in North Dakota and John Boozman is doing the same to Blanche Lincoln by 20+ points depending on which poll you look at. Richard Burr is leading soundly over Elaine Marshall in North Carolina. Out in Colorado, Ken Buck has really gained a head of steam in the last couple of months much to Jane Norton’s chagrin. In the end I believe it will be Buck against Michael Bennett and it won’t be pretty. Buck should win going away but nothing can be taken for granted.