Senate Races 2008

By: Kelly Karpenske

Republicans have 28 seats open while the democrats have only 12. Many of these races are close and will tell the story of the future of the Congress and the future of our country. The closest senate seats:

Alaska. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin refuses to answer the question of whether she will vote for indicted Republican Ted Stevens. The result is that Stevens, who has been active in Alaska politics since its days as a U.S. territory, has been consistently trailing Democratic challenger Mark Begich, the Anchorage mayor and son of a former governor. But it’s hard to count the state’s most durable politician out just yet. Right now polls put them at almost a dead heat.

Colorado. Rep. Mark Udall has opened a small but statistically significant lead over Republican Bob Schaeffer. Schaeffer, a former congressman, has been running a solid campaign and has remained on the offensive on energy and taxes. But it’s shaping up as a tough year to be a Republican in Colorado.

Georgia. New Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a steadfast conservative who won the seat amid controversial ads tying Democrat Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden, was just one percentage point ahead of his relatively unknown Democratic opponent Jim Martin. There is lack of hope for Martin but if there’s a huge African American turnout, he might just be a surprise senator.

Kentucky. Democrats think that Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is vulnerable every six years. And each time, McConnell manages to win. The Senate Minority Leader is facing a strong challenge from Democrat Bruce Lunsford, but odds remain in his favor in November. Barack Obama is not doing well there, so Lunsford McConnell to fail miserably. It’s unlikely, but that’s how he won his first seat.

Minnesota.Who’s ahead in Minnesota. One recent poll gives freshman Republican Norm Coleman a big lead. Another shows Democrat Al Franken, the former comedian and author of Rush Limbaugh Is a Big, Fat Jerk — far ahead. The polls agree on only one thing: former Sen. Dean is winning nearly 20 percent of the vote.

Mississippi. Democratic former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove remains locked in a tight special election contest with Republican Sen. Roger Wicker for the seat vacated by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. A high African American turnout for Barack Obama could put Musgrove over the top.

New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s John Sununu has been trailing in his rematch with former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen but hasn’t lost yet. It was close last time, but Sununu won narrowly in a Republican year (2002). This is a decidely Democratic year and Sununu needs all the luck he can get.

North Carolina. Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan is giving freshman Republican Elizabeth Dole fits. The two most recent polls have Hagan in the lead. It’s a bad year for Republicans in North Carolina and the Democrats have a ticket led by two women and an African American. It could be close, or a blowout.

Oregon. Democratic Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley was ahead of incumbent Republican Gordon Smith in the latest poll. Smith is better known and has more funding. But Merkley has run a superb campaign and has a secret weapon: George Bush, who is intensely unpopular in Oregon.

Texas. Republicans aren’t the least bit worried that freshman John Cornyn could lose. Cornyn should win because Texas remains a Republican state, he’s a well-funded incumbent, and his opponent doesn’t have any speed. But Democrat Rick Noriega was within seven percentage points of Cornyn in the latest Rasmussen poll.



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8 responses to “Senate Races 2008

  1. Lance Thibert

    Here are my predictions:

    Alaska: Stevens pulls through,

    Colorado: Udall wins by a fair margin

    Georgia: Chambliss wins by a large margin

    Kentucky: McConnell survives again

    Minnesota: Coleman scrapes by just barely

    Mississippi: Wicker within 2 points

    New Hampshire: Shaheen puts an end to the Sununu dynasty

    North Carolina: Hagan replaces Dole, who goes back to chairing the RNC (not likely, but worth a shot)

    Oregon: Merkley wins

    Texas: “Big John” Cornyn’s ads make him the most popular senator in west texas.

  2. Lance Thibert

    Scratch my Alaska prediction, Stevens was found guilty on all counts, making his reelection bid nearly impossible.

  3. Shawn_Scanlon

    Nice call, Lance. I’m pretty sure 50%+1 of Alaskans prefer a non-criminal for Senate. But I may be out of touch, being a “radical” and all.

    I’ve been holding my breath to see what the court would say about Ted; what I’d refer to as the paragon of corruption. Or how he’ll now be called on to speak:

    #23897, the honorable representative from Cell Block D.

  4. Stephen Noriega

    One of the amazing things to me is all of the southern races that are even being talked about. It was just four years ago that the margins in the aforementioned states would be 20+ for the Republicans. Now, in a blink of a historic eye, many of these states have become competitive. I must wonder, is this an eruption in the normalcy of the South, or is there an actual creep to the left going on.

  5. Brian Bohnert

    Not so fast on the Steven’s thing everyone. He has been an Alaskan institution since the origin of the state (well almost, he was elected in ’68, Alaska was admitted in ’59) and has an airport named after him no joke – This is not your typical political downfall for your run of the mill politician (affair, naughty texts with pages, money in the freezer, dead intern in your office, etc.). An oil buddy helped put an addition on his house that totaled a few thousand dollars and he didn’t report it – you know because it was a favor for a buddy (wink wink – who happens to be one of the most powerful senators, but you know, like whatever, please) but if you read the court papers there was no finding that his votes in the senate directly benefited that dude’s company – which is tough to prove I would imagine with legal loopholes and statutes and bills of attainder and things of this nature. While I was shocked that he didn’t withdraw his name from the ballot and clearly think he should because ummm he is corrupt, I will not be shocked if he wins. He was ahead in the polls AFTER HE WAS ON TRIAL and has never lost an election with less than 65% of the vote. It seems as though the people of Alaska are not the most comfortable with drastic change and in a year that will send an African-American to the white house and tons of dems to the senate, he might be the trusty old dog that brings you the morning paper (filled with yummy pork of course). My prediction – and I will put a six pack of your favorite beverage on the line here- is that Stevens will win in Alaska! Takers? I like 90 Shilling.

  6. Tony Robinson

    Stevens is done Brian. I’ll take up your bet. I like Single Track Copper Ale. When your Republican State Governor (Palin) is urging people to bail on Stevens, when the Republican nominee (McCain) seconds that motion, then I think you are in real trouble. Yes, Alaskans are cantakerous and ornery, and I can definitely see that they would enjoy flipping the bird to the lower 48 and re-electing the old man–I just don’t see it in this kind of political climate.

    Too much is working against the Repubs this year, including this verdict, and I predict that a huge surge of the african-american vote in Alaska (due to Obama) will bury Stevens (:-) Well, maybe not, but I’ll still say Stevens loses. I’ll have the 90 Shilling chilling, you just have the single track loaded up when you come to the election party.

  7. Lance Thibert

    There are African Americans in Alaska? I assumed most Alaskans were whiter than Canadians.

    I honestly don’t think Stevens will lose by that much, I assume he will get at least 45% of the vote. What this verdict does is throw those last few undecideds into Begich’s column. If Stevens is reelected, the calls for his resignation will not stop, and the Senate might toss him out.

    However, what most people fail to realize, is that that is all part of the plan. Stevens is running for reelection in order to either get tossed out or resign as soon as his term starts. That way, once McCain’s ship has finally sunk, Governor Palin will be able to choose his successor…

    Herself! Then, with both legislative and executive experience, she will toss her mooseskin hat into the ring for 2012.

    If this happens, I’m applying for pundit-ship on CNN.

  8. Brian Bohnert

    Do I get a spread Tony? Like maybe 5%

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