Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sizing up the Senate

You will have to open this image in order to see it all.

From left to right (Democratic to Republican) are listed the 34 Senate races and the major party candidates that are running for each.  In the current 114 Congress, Session II the Republicans have control by a margin of 54 to 46 (44 Democrats and 2 Independents).  To Obtain control, Democrats need to gain 4 seats and the presidency OR 5 seats outright.

Of the 34 seats up for grabs I can place 13 currently in the Democrat's win column and 15 in the Republicans, with 6 more presently too close to call (however, all 6 are presently trending toward the Democrats.  Given this, the Democrats have already gained 4 seats by ousting in the polls anyway incumbent Republicans in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

[In the interest of full disclosure, I have personally made contributions of between $25 and $100 dollars to following candidates: Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Jason Kander of Missouri, Patty Judge of Iowa, and Anne Kirkpatrick of Arizona)]

Of the six seats currently too close to call, 5 are Republicans to lose and one is an open seat, formerly held by Senate Majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada.  I can easily see 4 to 5 of those seats go to the Democrats, too.

But 80 days is an eternity in politics and anything can happen between now the first Tuesday in November.


1) INDIANA just got interesting with the arrival of Evan Bayh on the Democrats side. The seat is open. The candidates are very strong. I know some think that putting Pence on the ticket for VP is a shot in the arm for Republican fortunes in Indiana, but I think that's just ignorant thinking. Pence was immensely unpopular in Indiana outside of his dwindling little throwback, conservative religious community, and no one gave him even equal odds to be re-elected. His joining Trump was just the act of a man jumping from a sinking ship. I think Indiana is still wide open.

2) FLORIDA is a hot mess. Republican's thought bringing Marco back would be their salvation of that seat, but he's not very popular anymore in the sunshine state. And who can be surprised? He went on the national stage and made a horse's ass out of himself teasing Trump about the size of his "hands" and then kissing up to him. But leave it to the Democrats to turn an opportunity into a fuster cluck of epic proportions! Their two candidates just can't get enough of out doing each other in the arena of unsportsmanlike conduct--the latest being Murphy's refusal to debate Grayson over a "Hail Mary" 11th hour scandal of unproven allegations from Grayson's ex-wife (paybacks are a bitch Mr. Grayson--but that's no reason to act like a petulant child, Mr. Murphy...) Floridians will sort this out on August 30...

3) The Democratic candidate running in UTAH is the first openly Transgender candidate, Misty Storm, for the United States Senate.

4) ALASKA has a very interesting independent, Margaret Stock, seeking to unseat Senator Murkowski. She's interesting and I like her, but I don't know how Alaskans are polls, yet.

5) Going into this cycle, COLORADO looked like an easy pick-up for the Republicans and then they spent months in a freak show of a primary contest with as many as 13 candidates vying for the right to be the party's nominee.  In the end they chose someone so far right of center that they set Senator Bennet up for a relatively easy re-election.

There are three broadly conspiring effects underpinning the Presidential Contest that will have consequences in the Senate (and House) races, too.  They are: 

1) Peak-Trump:  The man has squeezed the sponge of disaffection in the nation until he's actually begun to tear the sponge apart.  He's his his apex with voters and they are trying as hard as hell to hang onto him at around 30%.   Where this is showing up the strongest is in traditionally red states like Arizona, Georgia, Utah and South Carolina...there are even chinks occurring in Texas and Mississippi.  It has contributed in some ways to removing other traditional "swing states" from that roster as well, like Colorado, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia...  And look at the Senate seats that have already left the margin of error realm for weeks now in the Democrat's favor: Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania...

2) An historical first.  Like the euphoria of electing this nation's first African American president, there is an under-current of people in this nation who want to elect our first Woman, too.  And in spite of a relentless campaign to define Hillary Clinton as a crook, it just isn't working in terms of her loyal followers and he own competent campaign is slowing winning the undecided to her column.  Where this will make the most difference is with the women who are running for the Senate.  Again, look who's moved into probable victory territory: Maggie Hasan in New Hampshire, Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, and Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania.  And look who's poised to benefit from this trent in the too close to call zone: Cathrine Cortez-Matso in Nevada, Deborah Ross in North Carolina, and Anne Kirkpatrick in Arizona.

and 3) is the polarization in the Hispanic community.  The largest growing demographic with a huge stake in the immigration debate and Trump has relentlessly vilified and stigmatized this sector of our populace to the point of near crimes against humanity.  This too will have a huge effect on the outcome of races in Arizona, Nevada and even Florida!  Just one more reason why little Marco is no longer the standard barer of the Latino voice from the Sunshine State.

As things stand, I am quite comfortable predicting a zero Democratic losses in the 115th Senate and a 7 seat gain to flip the margin from 54 to 46 Republican to a 53 to 47 Democratic margin.  When Hillary Clinton takes the oath of office, she will have two years to reform the direction of this nation in a progressive way.  

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