Vote Rankings for Senators Up for Reelection in 2008

Following up on my last post laying out Congressional Quarterly's vote rankings for the 2008 field, as promised I have compiled data on the 2006 voting record of every Senator up for reelection in two years. Just as in the last post, the first rating, the Presidential Support Score, measures the percentage of roll call votes in which a given member of Congress supported the publicly-held position of the White House. The second rating, the party unity score, measures the percentage of the time that a given member of Congress votes with the majority of his own party on a roll call vote in which the majority of the other party votes the other way.

BOLD/ALL CAPS: Currently rated competitive or potentially competitive by the Cook Political Report (.pdf)
Italics: Approval rating below 55 percent in November, according to SurveyUSA pollingStateSenatorPresidential Support ScoreParty Unity ScoreAlabamaSessions9196AlaskaStevens9380COLORADOALLARD9195GeorgiaChambliss9394IdahoCraig9491KansasRoberts8894KentuckyMcConnell9196MAINECOLLINS7966MINNESOTACOLEMAN8877MississippiCochran8987NebraskaHagel9684NEW HAMPSHIRESUNUNU9091New MexicoDomenici9185NORTH CAROLINADOLE9094OKLAHOMAINHOFE8894OregonSmith8380South CarolinaGraham9182TennesseeAlexander9394TexasCornyn9197VirginiaWarner9181WyomingEnzi9198

Judging by these numbers, John Sununu and Wayne Allard, more than any other Republican Senators up for reelection in 2008, are out of touch with their constituents. Both New Hampshire and Colorado are swing states, no longer supportive of the type of fierce partisanship and unquestioning support for President Bush that plays in other regions of the country. As such, the clear hackery indicated by their voting records during 2006 should cause them real problems if they were to run for reelection in 2008.

But Sununu and Allard are not the only Republicans whose voting history puts them far to the right of their constituents. Both Gordon Smith of Oregon and Norm Coleman of Minnesota play up their perceived moderate stances, and indeed these voting patters do put them towards the center of the Senate (certainly in the middle fifth). But at the same time, four times out of five -- or more -- each of these Senators votes with his party on a party-line vote and supports the President's position, neither of which scream moderation. Even the supposedly centrist Susan Collins is less centrist that she and others would have you believe, being significantly less willing to diverge from the party line than her fellow Maine Republican, Olympia Snowe, or others like Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Such a tendency to toe her caucus' line might not play so well among the fiercely independent electorate in Maine.

Below the fold, the vote rankings of all the Senate Democrats up in 2008.

BOLD/ALL CAPS: Currently rated competitive or potentially competitive by the Cook Political Report (.pdf)
Italics: Approval rating below 55 percent in November, according to SurveyUSA pollingStateSenatorPresidential Support ScoreParty Unity ScoreARKANSASPRYOR6476DelewareBiden5591IllinoisDurbin4798IOWAHARKIN4695LOUISIANALANDRIEU7175MassachusettsKerry5195MichiganLevin5694MONTANABAUCUS6179New JerseyLautenberg4697Rhode IslandReed5396SOUTH DAKOTAJOHNSON5783West VirginiaRockefeller5584

Tags: Senate 2008 (all tags)



Thanks so much

for giving us yet another reason to dump Sununu in 2008.

Johnny Jr.'s in a terrible position, being one of the only Republicans in New England who doesn't have "moderate" next to his name in the MSM.

He'll be spending the next two years running away from Bush, and I'll be spending the same amount of time reminding Granite Staters about his votes.

I'm currently intrigued by his inability to oppose  the escalation due to his BFF relationship to McCain.

by Dean Barker 2007-01-02 05:13PM | 0 recs
Seats to worry about

I don't think we're in too bad a pickle for 2008 in any state other than LA.

AR-safe unless Huckabee gets in.  Boozman (I love that name) won't get in or win

DE-could be trouble if Biden retires and Castle goes for it, but I think (hope) he's likely to drop out of the pres race early on.

IL-Safe as can be, even if Durbin isn't that popular.

IA-Harkin could be in trouble, but I think he's safe if he faces likely GOP nominee, the wingnut Steve King.  Latham could possibly beat him though.  We'll see, but I think Harkin'll make it

LA-Today, I'd say we have an 80% chance of losing Landrieu.  Our best hope is that the GOP continues its long history (up till Vitter) of nominating loser candidates (David Duke) for statewide office there.  Draft David Duke for Senate 08?  I'd donate to that noble cause.

MA-the senate seat is safe, but our big fear here is that (if Kerry retires) every single dem rep (or at least a lot of them) will run for the senate.  Imagine all those open seats!  I'd bet we'd lose at least one.

MI-Levin just got a chairmanship, he's not retiring, he's an institution in MI, safe.

MT-Baucus is a dick, but the seat's safe unless Rehberg or maybe ex-Gov Racicot gets in.  He should get coattails from Schweitzer's certain reelection.

NJ-I love how it disappoints the GOP every single cycle (literally).  Unfortunately, it gives us heart-attacks every single cycle too.  Lautenberg'll probably win, unless against ex-Gov and EPA-head CTW.

RI-the safest seat of either side.  Reed is one of our best senators, and will be so for years to come.

SD-Only Rounds could beat Johnson.  Rounds is unlikely to run against him.  However, if Johnson retires due to health reasons Rounds has more incentive to get in the race.  If Johnson retires, Herseth is of course our best bet, and would win against just about any lesser-known.  We shouldn't have too much trouble keeping this one.

WV-Shelley MC could make it a race, but she wouldn't win.  Rockefeller's more popular than Byrd there.

I think that's a pretty honest rundown, what do you think?

by Terryus 2007-01-02 05:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Seats to worry about

I am all for Landrieu losing, since I still assume a net gain for Dems even if she goes, and she is really, really a horrible senator -- easily the worst Democrat in the Senate. (Yes, I think she is worse than Joe Lieberman.) I'm pretty sure she's toast, and I'm not sad about it.

I know there are some who will argue that she is better than her Republican replacement, which is true in terms of votes, but neglects the damage to the Democratic brand that comes from having a senator like her who wears the "D" but casts vote after vote at the behest of the oil industry, votes for the war, incompetently trades votes to get aid for New Orleans that never comes, etc.

by taliesin 2007-01-02 07:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Seats to worry about

95% of America has no clue who Mary Landrieu is.  I hardly think she impacts our brand.

I'd love to replace Landrieu with someone better.  The problem with giving away her seat is that there's a strong chance we never, ever get it back.

by Steve M 2007-01-03 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Seats to worry about

Does Louisiana still have the "jungle primaries", where everyone runs in the general election and if no one gets 50%, there is a runoff?

I thought they did away with them, but they were still used in 2006.

In a statewide election, the "jungle primaries" help moderate Democrats and hurt Republicans. If multiple candidates run, there is a good chance it will come down to a moderate Democrat and a nutty Republican. That's how David Duke got into the runoff against Edwin Edwards and how the blatantly crooked Edwards managed to get elected. ("Vote for the crook - It's important!")

One of the big reasons why Vitter won is that he was the only Republican running. The Democrats were too busy fighting each other to get into the runoff that they forgot to hold Vitter to under 50%. Vitter won on election day. No runoff necessary.

The Republicans smell blood in the water against Landrieu. I guarantee there will be more than one of them running.

If the jungle primary is still in effect, I'm not too worried about Landrieu.

by wayward 2007-01-03 08:23AM | 0 recs
Jungle primary is gone

(I think.) According to Wikipedia, "In June 2006, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed a bill into law that will, starting in 2008, return Congressional races to the closed primary system. However, the nonpartisan primary will remain for state and local races, including the 2007 governor's race." I'd assume "Congressional" is meant to include Senate, though I'd prefer to hear from someone in Louisiana on the topic.

by Crazy Vaclav 2007-01-03 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Seats to worry about

Oh yeah, in Iowa, I think Harkin is safe if he runs. If he retires, hopefully Vilsack will drop the quixotic presidential campaign and run for Senate, which he would win easily against either King or Latham. I agree that Latham would be a stronger candidate than King, who would be lucky to get 25% of the vote in eastern Iowa; he is way too crazy to win statewide.

If neither Harkin or Vilsack runs, it would be great to see Ed Fallon make a run; I think he could win a matchup with King and really would have a chance to be the next Paul Wellstone.

by taliesin 2007-01-02 07:34PM | 0 recs
I'd like to see Fallon

elected to a congressional seat or lower statewide office before going on to run for senate or governor personally.

by Terryus 2007-01-03 05:02PM | 0 recs
Re: I'd like to see Fallon

Yeah, I know, but he'd be so great. Anyway, another likely option would be running for Boswell's seat if he should retire. I'd actually love to see Boswell face a primary, but that seems unlikely, especially in Iowa where elections are apparently for life.

by taliesin 2007-01-03 08:32PM | 0 recs
Don't worry about DE

Castle is not up to a Senate bid.  It's not clear how long he can hang on to his current job, given his health.  He needs to retire so he can enjoy some time with his family.

by freedc 2007-01-03 04:56AM | 0 recs

There's not that much danger of every Congressional Democrat in MA running for Kerry's seat.  Since control flipped to the Dems, most of them have pretty nice committee/leadership assignments.  Barney Frank, for one, has already said he intends to stay in the House no matter what Kerry decides for '08.

Furthermore, the Republicans have no bench in Massachusetts and the districts are so gerrymandered that I doubt they could even take a single Congressional seat should more than a couple come open.

by sco 2007-01-03 05:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Seats to worry about

Landrieu is a complete idiot.  I am not familiar with LA politics, but aren't there any decent Dems that could challenge her?

by IsThisOverYet 2007-01-03 05:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Seats to worry about

I doubt it.

This is because there are no primaries in Louisiana.

A Democratic challenger would have to hold Landrieu to third place while holding all other candidates to  under 50%.

Then, this Democrat would have to beat the Republican in a one-on-one runoff two weeks later.

by wayward 2007-01-03 08:27AM | 0 recs
Allard (R-CO)

Allard has another problem (well, in addition to his lack of effectiveness or personality):  he pledged to only serve two terms, so if he runs again he's breaking his word.  That sort of thing irks the very people his 90+ % scores were reaching out to.

by Emma Anne 2007-01-02 06:16PM | 0 recs
Senator Elway (R-CO)??

Rumors abound that football legend John Elway will run if Allard steps down.

The Broncos' GOP streak is making it harder to remain a diehard fan. sp?id=13831

by magster 2007-01-03 11:10AM | 0 recs
Gordon Smith

I wonder whether there will be some effect from Mitt Romney's campaign for Gordon Smith.  If Mormonism becomes an issue then Smith might be tarred by the same brush.

More importantly, it will be fascinating to see how Smith deals with the escalation of the Iraq war.  It'll be very difficult for him to appeal to Oregon centrists without alienating his conservative base.  Smith must be in a tough spot.

Does anyone know who will run against him?

by Hellmut 2007-01-02 07:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Vote Rankings for Senators

Arlen Specter should get the same asterisk that Joe Lieberman gets.  I'd even say he's possibly the worst member of the Senate.  His voting patterns do not come close to gauging the destruction he's caused with his highfalutin "principles" that he gives away in deals he touts as "compromises" with the White House.  He's done more to destroy American ideals than anyone outside of the White House, Tom DeLay and Grover Norquist included.

by drlimerick 2007-01-03 02:46AM | 0 recs
Specter not up for re-election in 2008

Unless his health takes a turn for the worse and he dies in office, his seat is not changing hands any time soon.

by freedc 2007-01-03 04:58AM | 0 recs

I think we need to factor in likelihood of retirements here as a major factor. Pressure from a challenger can speed that up.

For example, John Warner is unbeatable in VA, but if we make him sweat a little by threatening a vigorous Mark Warner challenge, then he may retire, leaving us with a battle of Virginia titans (M. Warner versus Tom Davis) that we can probably win.

Lautenberg and Kerry seem like probable Dem retirements, maybe Biden too.  NJ is the only state we'd have to worry about losing even though Delaware is not so liberal.  

The NJ GOP has had a rough time over the last few years.  I'm worried that they might finally win a statewide race one of these times.

by freedc 2007-01-03 05:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Retirements? Some ages

Warner (born 2/18/27)and Stevens (11/18/23) are the two oldest Republicans up in 2008.  Yes, Stevens says he's running but two years in the minority may effect things.

The next oldest group is headed by Pete Domenici (5/7/32) and includes James Inhofe (11/17/34), Pat Roberts (4/20/36) and Thad Cochran (12/7/37).  These people are losing a lot of power with the switch in the Senate and may be somewhat inclined to chuck it rather than going through a hard campaign.  Lamar Alexander (7/3/40), Saxby Chambliss (11/10/43), and Wayne Allard (12/2/43) will all be of retirement age by the time their next term would start as well.

Sununu (9/10/64) needs to be defeated before he settles in for another 3 terms.  He's easily the youngest of this cycle's GOPers and one of the most vulnerable.

by David Kowalski 2007-01-03 06:12AM | 0 recs
Warner (D) could beat Warner (R)

He left office with a 70-80% approval rating, and in historical cases of popular governors v popular long-term senators, the gov usually wins.  See Carper (D-DE) (one of our worst senators btw) v ex-Sen Roth (R-DE) of 2000, or Fulbright v Bumbers (Ds-AR) back in the 70s.

by Terryus 2007-01-03 04:55PM | 0 recs
ID-Sen: Vulnerable Gay Republican?

I forget, is Larry Craig the latest self-hating gay Republican?  Maybe Larry Grant can be recruited to challenge him in 2008.  Not to single him out for being gay, but for being hypocritical about it.

by freedc 2007-01-03 05:08AM | 0 recs
Re: ID-Sen: Vulnerable Gay Republican?

I thought that was Lindsey Graham.

However, with Graham, those who know, don't care and those who care, don't know.

by wayward 2007-01-03 08:29AM | 0 recs
make them vote

Jonathan, excellent work as always.  Now that we have control of the Senate, can we corner these four or five Senators by making them vote on wedge issue bills - i.e. bills that would either anger their fundraising base or anger their voters?

by Shai Sachs 2007-01-03 05:13AM | 0 recs
Re:Ben Nelson Neb.

Ben Nelson is not a Republican. Conservative, to be sure, but a Democrat nonetheless.

by yellowdogD 2007-01-03 05:16AM | 0 recs

Kansas is drifting toward the center. Could Roberts be too extreme?

by antiHyde 2007-01-03 05:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Roberts?

A Dennis Moore (has he ruled it out yet?) or Kathleen Sebelius (I think she has ruled it out) run could potentially make it a toss-up.

by Terryus 2007-01-03 05:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Vote Rankings for Senators Up for Reelection i

McCain has hinted pretty openly he would choose Graham as his running mate. I am not so sure -- double-Senator tickets aren't sure winners... but who knows, McCain's a renegade (we are constantly told). Graham would presumably do a Lieberman and run for Senate and VP simultaneously -- but on the off chance he doesn't, do we have a good candidate there?

by thesleepthief 2007-01-03 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Vote Rankings for Senators Up for Reelection i

I doubt McCain would choose Graham.

They are both Senators, and I don't think conservative Republicans are ready for a "lifelong batchelor" as their Vice-Presidential nominee, if you know what I mean.

I would not be surprised to see McCain pick Graham's friend, SC Governor Mark Sanford. Sanford is a Governor who just got re-elected, a long time McCain supporter, and a staunch fiscal conservative (or a tightwad, depending on your perspective). The idea of a VP Sanford bringing piglets to take a shit in the Senate chamber would give the campaign the populist appeal that it needs.

by wayward 2007-01-03 08:39AM | 0 recs
Dominici should be a target

He obviously has a deep deep base in NM, but his health is failing, he is past his prime, and in many ways starts to look more and more like Conrad Burns.

Plus, with so much at stake in NM in 08 we should be firing on all fronts.  Pete needs a challenge.

State Party and local groups need to hammer away at him relentlessly  starting now.
Bingaman has to stop giving him cover because of their mutual energy interests.
The netroots and party need to help tee up the challenger.  I presume someone like Udall.

by Orlando 2007-01-03 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Dominici should be a target

Heather Wilson might run for Domenici's seat, opening her seat.  Against whom?  Richardson?

by Mimikatz 2007-01-03 08:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Seats to worry about

If NJ, I sure hope that Rush Holt is the nominee.  Super ambitious Rob Andrews is a) a tool of the George Norwood machine certain to be freely and easily tarred by the Newark Star Ledger, the Record, and Republicans everywhere b) on Grove Norquist's Christmas card list c) the most "conservative" vote among NJ Democrats in the House or Senate.

by David Kowalski 2007-01-03 06:31AM | 0 recs
I agree with the Holt pick 125%

He's one of my favorite house members and he's a physicist!  It would be awesome to have a physicist in the senate (ok, I'm uber-biased since that'll probably be my college major, but w/e).

by Terryus 2007-01-03 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Vote Rankings for Senators Up for Reelection i
Looks like Colorado is our best bet since a) Allard is not popular, b) Udall is popular, c) the state is trending blue, and d) Udall has more money in the bank than Allard. I'd love to see Allard retire (likely, in my opinion) and get a Udall vs. crazy Tom Tancredo match up.
I would say our next best bet is New Hampshire. That state is really going blue and Sununu is no moderate. But do we have a good candidate there?
Maine should be a good race, but Collins is pretty moderate so that makes it tough. Still, people in Maine love Snowe but Collins... not so much. In a state with only two reprsentatives, if Rep. Tom Allen does challange Collins, he would be a very formidable challanger since he represents half the state already.
Minnesota and Oregon could become good match-ups with the right challanger. If we get former govs Warner and Easley to run, I think VA and NC could become interesting too.
I know Inhofe has low approval ratings, but I just find it very hard to belive that we can win in OK or KA.
As for our side, I'd say that Louisiana is looking grim. Aside from that, I'm not worried about our incumbents, but open seats could be a problem. Open seats in DE, SD, and NJ would be vexing. Still, we have great candidates in the latter two (Herseth and Holt), and Deleware is blue and Castle's health problems might prevent him from running. Moreover, if Biden's son- who I believe is a statewide office holder- runs, he would have a very good shot.
Lastly, it looks like Hagel is not running for re-election, so hopefully we can field a strong challanger there. Of course you never know where the open seats are going to come from, but we must be ready to challange in even the reddest of states.
by AC4508 2007-01-03 11:28AM | 0 recs
CO and OL

CO-I'd be just as happy if Allard runs as if he retires.  Of course, a Tancredo run would make us all happy.

OK-It's red for sure, but has no problem electing dems to statewide office.  Rep Boren could definitely beat Inhofe if talked into running.  Gov Henry I think has ruled out 08 v Inhofe, but he would be the favorite if he ran.  I personally hope he goes for Coburn in 10 when he's term-limited.

by Terryus 2007-01-03 04:59PM | 0 recs


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