Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate Seats

Republicans are getting a bit mum glum about their chances in 2008 -- and apparently aren't shying away from letting Bob Novak know it. From this week's Evans-Novak Political Report (via email):

The call for a small Iraqi troop reduction by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) strengthens the belief that he soon will announce that he is not seeking re-election next year. His probable successor is former Gov. Mark Warner (D). Republican Senators are now talking about losing four seats in 2008. [emphasis added]

You don't come out more than a year out from election day warning about the possibility that you're going to lose four Senate seats unless you really believe it -- or otherwise that you think you may be in store for losing more than four Senate seats. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is already being outgunned, out-financed, out-recruited and generally out-campaigned by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and making public sentiments like these isn't going to make the NRSC's task any easier.

Looking through the race rankings from The Cook Political Report (.pdf) and The Rothenberg Political Report (in due time we at MyDD will have our own set of regularly updated race rankings on the books), the numbers and the current dynamics give the Democrats a clear advantage in the race for the United States Senate. As of today, Cook sees 11 races as competitive or potentially competitive, nine of which are being defended by the Republicans. These races do not include Virginia, which is expected to be among the Democrats' best pick-up opportunities in the likely event of a retirement by John Warner, nor do they include Nebraska, which could also be a top pick-up opportunity for the Democrats should Chuck Hagel retire as expected. The Rothenberg race rankings, which are about a month old (and thus have not changed to reflect the situation in Idaho), show 13 competitive or potentially competitive races, of which the Republicans must defend 11 seats. The Republicans currently hold the three most competitive seats, as well as six of the seven most competitive seats.

So with numbers like these, perhaps the Republicans are in fact underestimating just how much trouble they are in. Perhaps a loss of four seats is a bit optimistic...

Tags: Senate 2008 (all tags)



Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate Seats

But, wait? I thought the Republicans wanted Clinton to be the nominee because she would help the Republicans in all the downticket races?

Surely the Republicans must think that a Clinton nomination would increase their seats in the House and Senate?

Or, am I falling for the Democratic spin?

by hwc 2007-08-29 11:23AM | 0 recs

HaHaHa! You're absolutely right! I've always thought that downticket malaise argument was one of the silliest of the anti-Hillary crown. It assumes too much...

by arkansasdemocrat 2007-08-29 02:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Amen!

no shit.  I'm for Edwards but, I must say, the more people on the blogs lie and say shit like the downticket nonsense, the more I am tempted to go with her.  i've given both she and edawards money anyway.

btw, downticket damage?  the netroots is stuck in 19 fuckin 80 with that shit.  that was actually THE last time a top of the ticket had a significant impact on lower races.  it's so stupid.  voters don't do that nowadays.  this is the one reason why i do not ever take Kos seriously on his political acumen.  it sucks.

by jgarcia 2007-08-29 03:25PM | 0 recs
Is Chucky still the head of the DSCC?

I really like Chuck Schumer.  He's one of my faves, especially on China and judges.

Look, Mark Warner NOT giving away what his plans are until the very last minute really helps the party and kinda forces John Warner's hand.  It's a Catch-22:  If Mark Warner runs, then John Warner doesn't want to run against him.  However, Mark Warner may not want to run unless John Warner retires.  

It behooves Mark Warner (and us as Democrats) to continue to play footsie for as long as possible.

by jgarcia 2007-08-29 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Chucky still the head of the DSCC?

Why?  It is really better for Mark Warner to declare  now.  That will force John Warner into retirement for sure.  If Mark Warner waits, it doesn't force the issue at all.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-08-29 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Chucky still the head of the DSCC?

Mark Warner ran against John Warner in 1996.  Why would he be afraid to now?  His stock is the highest of any politician in VA.  I think the decision has less to do with his opponent and more to do with whether he'd rather be senator or governor again.

by Sandwich Repairman 2007-08-29 10:01PM | 0 recs
Way More Than Four

     If the Republicans only lose 4 seats in 2008, they'll be lucky. It looks a lot more like 8 or 10 to me--Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon, New Mexico, Virginia, Nebraska, and possibly Kentucky and North Carolina.

by Ron Thompson 2007-08-29 11:44AM | 0 recs

WE can finally get rid of the Lieberman yoke? Sweetness......

by kekuta 2007-08-29 11:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate S

I'm hoping for 8-10 -- we need 60 to stop a filibuster

by sepulvedaj3 2007-08-29 11:48AM | 0 recs

and even if we get to like 57 or 58 people like Olympia Snowe will egt the message and not be eager to filibuster. Spector also tends to blow the way of the wind. 60 is a magic number but having 58 and really pressuring blue state repubs or 53 is a big difference.

by nevadadem 2007-08-29 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate S

I think the Democrats will be on the ascendancy in Washington and beyond through 2010, which basically means that we will hold our seats in the Congress and in the state houses and pickup additional Republican-held seats in so-called blue states and also Republican strongholds such as Idaho, Alaska, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, etc.

I think a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority in the Senate is attainable, probably not entirely in this cycle but at least by 2010.  What scares me is all that power.  I mean, what do you do when you have that kind of power?  You basically begin to run roughshod over issues that may be important to the other side but which aren't getting due deference because of the power imbalance.  Then a tidal wave/tsunami begins to start the other way.

So my basic point is: do we have a strategy to be responsible with all this power once we get it?

by Zeitgeist9000 2007-08-29 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate S

Please don't refer to North Carolina as a Republican stronghold.  We have a Democratic legislature, Democratic governor, and Democrats in 8 of the other 11 statewide offices.  We have only had 2 Republican governors ever, and only lost the state House of Representatives for one term (1994) ever. The GOP has never been in charge of the state Senate.

Sure, we send some crappy GOP senators to DC, but the stars are lining up just right for 2008 - if we can just find a Democrat to run...

by Bear83 2007-08-29 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate S

So my basic point is: do we have a strategy to be responsible with all this power once we get it?

I thought we were going to declare war on American business and fight it until it's dead and buried.

That should be a popular agenda, right?

by hwc 2007-08-29 01:32PM | 0 recs
'Glum' not 'mum'

Republicans are getting a bit mum about their chances in 2008 -- and apparently aren't shying away from letting Bob Novak know it.

Surely you meant 'glum' (pessimistic, depressed) not 'mum' (silent). Telling Bob Novak about something is the opposite of staying mum.

by Nell 2007-08-29 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: 'Glum' not 'mum'

Indeed. Thanks.

by Jonathan Singer 2007-08-29 01:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate S

Competitive Republican seats:

Those they won by a close margin last time:

Georgia, New Hampshire, Colorado, Minnesota, and North Carolina.

Moderate Republicans in Blue States:

Oregon and Maine


Nebraska and Virginia


Idaho, New Mexico, and Alaska.

Non-scandal but still pissed off base:

South Carolina and Kentucky.


Competitive Democratic seats:

Those won by a narrow margin:

Louisiana, South Dakota, Arkansas

Possible Retirement:

New Jersey



Republicans: 14
Democrats: 4


I've included all states where money will be needed to be spent to defend, however, I don't think that many will be that competitive on election night. I could see the Democrats picking up to seven seats while losing only one, which would be a massive, massive swing in just two year and would give them a chance to get a filibuster-proof majority in 2010.  

by C S Strowbridge 2007-08-29 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate S

Arkansas was close in '02 because Mark Pryor was running against an incumbent Republican. Look for him to win by 15 to 20, if not more, next year.

by arkansasdemocrat 2007-08-29 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate S

No way. Hillary will kill the Democrats downticket in Arkansas! Pryor is doomed I tell you. Doomed.

by hwc 2007-08-29 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate S

HWC, could you please email me at


by markjay 2007-08-29 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate S

I take it you are joking, but in case you are not...

Hillary leads the Republicans in Arkansas by double-digit margins. nt/politics/clinton_enjoys_big_lead_in_a rkansas

by C S Strowbridge 2007-08-30 01:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four Senate S

Lets not forget- Pryor is also a household name in Arkansas= Casey in Pennsylvania.

by nkpolitics 2007-08-30 06:42AM | 0 recs
I'm worried about 2010 in general

I think we have 2008 in the bag.  We should pick up the Presidency, 4-11 Senate seats (a filibuster-proof majority, or something very close to it, would be very nice), and a handful of House seats (the House is hard to get more significant gains, since we already picked off the low hanging fruit in 2006).  But 2010 could prove to be a mini-1994 if we aren't careful and competent.  If we still have significant troops in Iraq by 2010, for example, the Dems will be punished.

by Geotpf 2007-08-29 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm worried about 2010 in general

We don't have much to lose in the Senate in 2010.  Why?  Because we got creamed in 2004.  Is Alan Keyes going to come back and unseat Obama?  2012, when we have to defend 25 Senate seats to the Republicans' 8, is more worrisome to me.  But really, I'm focused on 2008.  

by Sandwich Repairman 2007-08-29 10:06PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm worried about 2010 in general

In 2010- look for possible open seats.
Republican Side.
Alabama- (Shelby retires)- 2010 - Open Governors and US Senate race- Democratic candidates in either office includes Davis,Folsom,and Sparks.

Georgia-(Isakson runs for Governor)- Possible Democratic nominee- AG Thubert Baker,Mike Thurmond.

Iowa- (Grassley retires)- Democratic nominee- ex Governor Tom Vilsack

Kansas-(Brownback retires)- Democratic nominee- Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

Kentucky-(Bunning is highly vulnerable regardless)- Democratic nominee Ben Chandler.

Missouri-(Bond is vulnerable regardless)- Democratic nominee- Carnahan siblings.

Ohio- (Voinovich retires)- Democratic nominee- Tim Ryan, Lee Fisher,

Pennsylvania- (Specter retires)- Democratic nominee- Joe Hoefell, Tim Holden.

2010- Bunning of KY is the most vulnerable.- open or non open seat.

regarding other Republican held US Senate seats up for grabs in 2010

1)Alaska- (Murkowski)- may face a tough re-election campaign - Mark Begich-assuming he narrow losses to scandal plagued Stevens by a narrow margin. -unseating Murkowski in a non Presidential year is easier than unseating Stevens in a Presidential year.

2)Florida-(Martinez)- vulnerable to defeat. narrowly elected in 2004- Chairman of RNC- Democratic nominee- Alex Sink.

3)Lousiana-(Vitter)- Depending on the scandals- expect a primary challenge for the family values conservatie candidate- Tony Perkins and David Duke. Democratic nominee- Charles Melancon.

4)North Carolina-(Burr)- Burr is a much easier target than Dole. due to the fact 2010 is a non presidential year.
5)Oklahoma-(Coburn)- Henry vs Coburn matchup will be interesting. Targeting Coburn is easier than
the other nutcase- Inhofe. 2010 being an off year election.
6)South Dakota-(Thune)- Herseth vs Thune matchup will be interesting.

Democratic pickups in 2010
7)North Carolina
9)South Dakota

by nkpolitics 2007-08-30 07:21AM | 0 recs
I'm not worried about 2010

I find that a bit optimistic and see about 3 pickups there.

AL- Shelby may or may not retire, I don't know.  But I don't see a Dem winning there.

GA- I don't know about this, but generically, it's an uphill state for Democrats unless Cleland runs.

IA- I would love for Grassley to retire.  I would also love for Vilsack to run for his seat.  I don't know that either will happen in 2010.

KS- Brownback retiring seems pretty wishful.  He's not that old and isn't going to be elected president.  But I do think Gov. Sebelius would make a strong candidate against him, and I do hope she runs.  Still, I believe it's been since the 1930s that Kansas elected a Democratic senator.

KY- Bunning should indeed be vulnerable regardless.  And here is someone old enough (and crazy enough) to reasonably expect a retirement from.  But this is hardly a blue state.  Nor do we know if Chandler (Gov?) or who else might run.

MO- I believe Bond has said, publicly or privately, that his current term is his last.  Still, I wouldn't count my chickens before they hatch.  He's never won with much over 50% of the vote, but he's also never lost; he's won 4 times.  MO has become a real bellweather state that seems to lean whichever way the national trend is blowing (Carnahan in 2000, Talent in 02, Bond in 04, McCaskill in 06).  MO also has plenty of Republicans ready to step up to a Senate run.  And I wouldn't assume that a Carnahan would necessarily be the strongest or most likely candidate.  I think Russ (MO-3) is probably more likely--and more suited--to stay where he is.  His sister Robin, the Secretary of State, may prefer to run for state office which doesn't require her to move to DC.  And AG Jay Nixon, if he manages not to get elected Governor in 08, is a shameless opportunist who's been angling for Governor or Senator for a good 20 years now.  I have a hard time seeing him pass up the race.  I wish Roger Wilson hadn't retired, and would come back.

OH- Voinovich is fairly old, but seems to be in decent health.  Don't count on him to retire at all.  Lee Fisher is awesome, but probably too old to start a federal career now.  He already looks so much worse than he did in 98.  Tim Ryan is obviously much younger, but I don't know about him either running or winning.  One interesting possibility would be Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, who'd be just starting his 3rd term.  No matter who our candidate is, beating Voinovich would be tough.

PA- Specter strikes me as a lifer; I don't know that he'll retire.  We've had a bunch of wins in PA recently, but it's still a swing state.  Hoeffel already lost to Specter in 04.  Gov. Rendell seems like a stronger candidate to me.  Our best shot at beating Specter was 1992.  We came maddeningly close.  His seat would be far easier to take if he retired.  But I imagine a big state like PA has plenty of Republicans who'd still make it a tough race.

AK- The state has never elected a Democratic senator.  Lisa Murkowski is a decent fit for the state.  If Tony Knowles couldn't beat her with the help of the nepotism uprising, no one will.

FL- Tough state for both, but what would make Martinez vulnerable?

LA- The prostitution will hurt Vitter, but this is Louisiana; the state that elected Edwin Edwards governor on a slogan of "Vote for the Crook, It's important".  Melancon-Vitter could be a hot race.  I don't really know.  Or someone else could run (William Jefferson-HA!).  I wouldn't assume either a win or a loss here.

NC- Yes, a non-presidential year would tend to help our chances of beating Burr.  But who's our candidate?  What weakness does Burr have in the eyes of the North Carolina voter?

OK- Brad Henry challenging Coburn is a juicy prospect indeed.  I have no idea whether Gov. Henry is interested in doing so.  He could certainly make a case for a moderate/conservative Democrat as opposed to an extremist Republican.  And presumably he's done a decent job as governor.  But then again, did Brad Carson not make that case in 2004?  This is the state of JC Watts and Ernest Istook--it's outright nuts.

SD- Thune might do worse in a non-presidential year, and without the Rove machine intent on defeating Daschle.  But I don't know if it'd be Herseth--what if she ends up running this cycle on a Johnson retirement?  And it's still friggin' South Dakota.  Even North Dakota is better.

A few you didn't mention:

AR- Lincoln is up.

AZ- Does McCain finally retire?  This should be a blue-trending state, and long term is a crucial one for us to contest and be very competitive in.

CA- Boxer is up.

CO- Ken Salazar is up.  How red, purple, or blue is the state then?

CT- Dodd is up.  I believe he's retiring.

HI- Inouye is up.  Is eight (terms) enough?  I think he's probably so old it's time for him to retire.  But given Byrd is in his 9th term, who knows...what about Gov. Lingle as a candidate?

ID- Crapo is up.

IL- Obama is up.  Is he president or vice-president in 2010?  Could the Rs come up with anyone against a Blagojevich appointee?  Does Obama pivot and run for Governor?

IN- Bayh is up.  He runs, he wins.

MD- Mikulski is up.  Are 24 years enough for her?  Maryland hasn't elected a GOP senator since Mathias in 1980.

ND- Dorgan is up.  Is he running for a 4th term?  Could another Dem hold the seat?

NH- Judd Gregg is up.

NV- Reid is up.  Does he retire?  Do the Republicans target him?  He won by about 500 votes in 1998 against Ensign.

NY- Schumer is up.

OR- I think Ron Wyden is up.

SC- Jim DeMint is up.  Hard to imagine beating him.

UT- Bennett is up.

VT- Patrick Leahy is up.  First elected 1974, came this close (<->) to retiring in 1998, getting old.  But very possibly still young enough, healthy enough, and having enough fun chairing Judiciary to run for a 7th term.  If not...Sen. Dean?

WA- Patty Murray is up.  I don't know if she'll retire after 3 terms at age 60, but it's hard to see the seat going Republican.  DIno Rossi?  Rob McKenna?  Dave Reichert?  King County Exec. Ron Sims (who narrowly lost to Gorton in 1994) would be one possible successor I think I'd be pretty happy with.

WI- Feingold is up.

WY- Enzi is up.

Ok, it's too late and I've spent far too much time on this, but I think I must've made a mistake somewhere because I'm counting 35 Senate races in 2010.  :P

by Sandwich Repairman 2007-09-01 12:00AM | 0 recs
And Maybe More

This is a very good list. But don't count out the pissed off voters in the other states. There are also 8 other Republican seats: 2 in Wyoming, and one each in Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. None of these races is a likely Democratic pick-up at this point, but who knows what scandals, hurricanes, economic recessions, military invasions, or terrorist attacks will happen in the next 14 months and what the implications will be for the election.

Voters are angry everywhere. Only 20% of the electorate -- probably only the core Republican base -- think the country is on the right track. In this environment, I think it is possible that a Democrat might pick up some of these other seats too. We shouldn't set our sights too low or concede any seats too soon.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-08-29 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Novak

I would rather not pick up the Presidency in 2008.  I don't want to be responsible for another 1994.

by Toddwell 2007-08-29 03:48PM | 0 recs
Virginia and Nebraska

It is not a given that Mark Warner will enter the Senate race. If he doesn't, the seat is a likely GOP hold.

In Nebraska, Mike Johanns is likely to enter the race if Chuck Hagel retires, and Johanns would likely keep Kerrey out.

by Unabridged 2007-08-29 03:53PM | 0 recs
Kentucky needs a viable Democrat

If we could get a viable candidate to run against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Kentucky pick up a senate seat.

Hillary could very well win in Kentucky.

In 2010 Sen. Bunning (R-KY) -- if he runs -- will likely loose. The most probable challenger seems to be Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY) -- although a somewhat bluedog Democrat.

Still, Chandler would be better than a Republican.

by Hempy 2007-08-29 05:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Kentucky needs a viable Democrat

If Clinton were to win Kentucky, that would mean an electoral college win of unthinkable proportions. Not Reagan/Dukakis blowout, but 350 electoral college votes for the Dems. If Kentucky goes, other red states like Virginia and Missouri are also going blue.

I think 300-320 electoral college votes is more likely, but the dynamics of the race are really bad for the Republicans. They would probably be better off conceding the election, but keeping their base activated with somebody like Thompson. Guiliani could have the white southern evangelical bigotry base sitting on their hands AND Guiliani still getting his butt kicked in the border states by Hillary. That's a worst case scenario for the Repubs.

Long-term, the Republicans have to sell out their fringe right evangelical base in order to stay competive in national elections. They can't hang on to 20th century demographics and social issues forever, just as Democrats couldn't hang on to a New Deal/Great Society entitlements platform and compete nationally.

by hwc 2007-08-30 12:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Kentucky needs a viable Democrat

The 2008 Presidential election reminds me of the 1992 and 1996 Presidential years- when the Democratic nominee- Bill Clinton carried 30 states.

It safe to say- the Democratic nominee-(Clinton,Obama,or Edwards)- carries

The national popular vote= 50-50 race.

Democrats have an excellent chance of winning

The national popular vote- 55-45 race favoring Democrats.

LA and GA- are going to move in the GOP column.

winning KY gives Dems WV,TN,NC.

by nkpolitics 2007-08-30 07:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Kentucky needs a viable Democrat

Clinton won GA and MT in 1992, and AZ in 96.  I think he won LA both times--definitely once.

by Sandwich Repairman 2007-09-01 12:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four

If they forsee the loss of four seats, that means they're counting on losing Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire and Maine, Oregon or Minnesota. I look at Minnesota or Oregon as the most likely to fall, though I'd love to see Susan Collins lose her seat.

I think Mitch McConnell is in some real trouble in Kentucky. Greg Stumbo, the state AG, may not automatically make this a top tier race like Ben Chandler would, but there is a ton of pent up anger at the GOP brand in Kentucky. Just look at the fallout over Ernie Fletcher and Bunning/McConnell's crappy approval ratings. Stumbo is at least a legitimate candidate.

by TarHeelStateDem 2007-08-29 05:45PM | 0 recs
GOP Losing 4 Senate Seats

Why be so sure they aren't just trying to dampen expectations so they can easily exceed them?  Not that I don't believe we can't or won't pick up 4 more Senate seats next year, but we've seen BushCo and other Republicans do this repeatedly.  It could be a trojan horse...

by Sandwich Repairman 2007-08-29 09:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Novak: GOP Preparing for Loss of Four

They are preparing for 4 losses because they are preparing for Hillary Clinton, who they think wouldn't hurt them as much.

If the Democrats nominated John Edwards, a lot of those so-called "SOLID REPUBLICAN" seats wouldn't be as solid, and the GOP knows it.

by OE 2007-08-30 04:48PM | 0 recs


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