My quick handicapping of Democratic at-risk Senate races in 2014.

Since Glenn Reynolds asked, here’s my current assessment of at-risk Democratic Senators in 2014*. Bear in mind: while I generally got the House right in 2010 and 2012, I overestimated our Senate performance by a couple of seats in both years and of course got the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections wrong.  So, you know, grain of salt and all of that.

Alaska Mark Begich Serious Risk
Arkansas Mark Pryor Some Risk
Colorado Mark Udall Some Risk
Louisiana Mary Landrieu Serious Risk
Massachusetts John Kerry Only if vacant
Michigan Carl Levin Low Risk
Minnesota Al Franken Serious Risk
Montana Max Baucus Some Risk
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen Some Risk
New Jersey Frank Lautenberg Only if vacant
New Mexico Tom Udall Low Risk
North Carolina Kay Hagan Serious Risk
Oregon Jeff Merkley Some Risk
South Dakota Tim Johnson Serious Risk
Virginia Mark Warner Low Risk
West Virginia Jay Rockefeller Low Risk

Quick assessments on each:

  • Mark Begich is a freshman Senator who squeaked in; he won’t survive a rigorous challenge, and I cannot believe that one won’t occur. So don’t nominate any idiots (repeat this admonition as needed, throughout this list).
  • Mark Pryor is popular, but Arkansas is a Red state and Barack Obama isn’t going to be very popular there in 2014.
  • Mark Udall looks very vulnerable on paper, but we’re going to need the right kind of Colorado Republican to face him.  IE, a libertarian- and Latino-friendly one.
  • Mary Landreiu should be making sure that her retirement benefits are in order.
  • If John Kerry is still the senior Senator from MA in 2014, he’ll be the senior Senator from MA in 2015. If he’s Sec Def/State in 2014, then there’s a shot of (presumably) Scott Brown taking the seat.  MA’s bench on both sides is otherwise remarkably underwhelming.
  • Carl Levin is only on this list because he IS from a state that hasn’t been too friendly to Democrats lately AND has been in the Senate forever AND he might be somebody that Obama might tap for his next Cabinet.  Otherwise, well.
  • Al Franken is a freshman nonentity who was the ultimate protest vote.  And he almost lost anyway in a wave election.  He will collapse when facing any credible candidate who will call him “Senator Smalley” to his face.
  • Max Baucus is more vulnerable than he looks on paper: he’s possibly been too long in the Senate and his recent voting habits suggest that he’s come to the conclusion that he’s invincible.  Montana is, however, a somewhat restive Red State, so he’s not at high risk.  Yet.
  • Jeanne Shaheen looks a little more vulnerable than she actually is, but that does not mean that she’s not vulnerable.
  • Frank Lautenberg does not look at all well.  But he’d probably be re-elected if he was in an actual vegetative state, so this seat only opens up if Lautenberg dies/retires and is not replaced by Cory Booker. And if you don’t think that Chris Christie wouldn’t give that seat to Booker… well.  So the seat is vulnerable IF Lautenberg [goes away] and Cory Booker is Governor of NJ when that happens. This is not… entirely implausible.  Also, NJ has no real bench, either.
  • Tom Udall is a freshman, but otherwise isn’t sweating this election.  Put up a good candidate and that changes. Susana Martinez will be up for re-election, and that will help the aforementioned good candidate.
  • Kay Hagan is likewise well-advised to start planning for her retirement.
  • I don’t believe in widespread election fraud – but I DO kind of believe in widespread election fraud in Oregon and Washington; the Democrats always seem to win those close recounts, so odd.  Jeff Merkley would be in a lot worse shape if he didn’t have that buffer.
  • Tim Johnson… needs to rest.  I’m sorry, but he’s not a well man and outside of 2008 his Senate elections have always been close.  He’s going to be at a real disadvantage this campaign season.
  • I actually wish that Virginia would get rid of its one-term limit for Governors: it makes figuring out who is doing what more complicated. If Mark Warner still wants the job, it’s probably his… unless by-then former Governor Bob McDonnell challenges him for the seat, or Lt Governor Bill Bolling challenges him for the seat, or if AG Ken Cucchinelli challenges him for the seat, or… you get the drill.  This assumes that Warner doesn’t have other ambitions, including maybe even being Governor of Virginia again.  This is all just likely enough to make the seat not actually safe-safe.
  • Jay Rockefeller is on this largely thanks to the triumph of hope over experience, but his numbers have been getting a bit worse. So maybe.  …Maybe.

So there you go. Out of twenty seats, we’ve got five excellent shots at pickups, five that could happen if things break our way, four that aren’t all that likely, but not outside the realm of possibility, two retirement opportunities, and four ‘safe’ seats.  This will probably all change once retirement announcements start to trickle in (on both sides), but this isn’t a bad list, this far out.

So don’t nominate any idiots.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*On the GOP side? Saxy Chambliss of Georgia and Susan Collins of Maine are the most likely to have problems; or, more accurately, the Republican candidates for GA and ME are the most likely to have problems.  I expect some vigorous primaries, but those are the two most likely to succeed.  So… don’t nominate any idiots.

35 thoughts on “My quick handicapping of Democratic at-risk Senate races in 2014.”

  1. “So don’t nominate any idiots”

    I know people who STILL insist that they were right about Christine O’Donnell.

  2. Kay Hagan got lucky because Elizabeth Dole imploded. The only concern I have is who we can put up against her…

  3. It’s guaranteed we’ll nominate at least two idiots, one of them will certainly be in my state of Colorado.

    1. That is beyond doubt. blanchelincoln below mentions Suthers and Norton. Both hate conservatives and the TEA Party [which are a significant portion of the base here, especially in Southern Colorado] which is a plus to the Colorado Republican Party. But do not rule out yet another attempt to get someone related to the Coors family in office. The combination of get-along-go along country club republicanism and the automatic ability to mobilize Democrats against them statewide based solely on the family name seems irresistable to the Institutional Republicans. Remember Institutional supported Senate candidate Pete Coors, whose major issue was lowering the drinking age to 18 [for those readers who do not know, it is that Coors family] and who was busted for DUI during the campaign.

      However, it may be a bit premature to start the handicapping. I would wait at least 6 months. We are just beginning an economic collapse; and the nature of the battlefield, the issues, and the available means and methods of opposition likely will be drastically different than today. And I don’t mean different in a good sense.

      1. Right on cue. Norton does NOT hate conservatives. I’m a strong social conservative, and I supported Norton over Buck. Norton would’ve won, btw. As for “TEA Party”, what started out as a great thing has turned into a horrendous mess.

        Maybe the Republican Party in Colorado will figure it out in the next 20 years or so, but I’m not going to hold my breath. We eat our own here at least as much as anywhere else.

      2. Any suggestions? Perhaps run Ken Buck again? I guess it all depends on whether they’d like to start winning elections again or stay on the same course and keep electing folks like Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet.
        The Colorado GOP is a disaster. It hasn’t won a statewide race for President, Governor or the U.S. Senate since 2004. It just lost the state House again after only two years. Maybe there’s a message in there somewhere. Or keep nominating poorly-vetted “non establishment” types that turn off swing voters who would be normally inclined to vote Republican.

  4. “Don’t nominate any idiots”.
    How about: “Solidarity”, as in “Don’t eat our own.” ??? I’m still shaking my head at how the Republican leadership FOLDED LIKE CHEAP LAWN CHAIRS with respect to Atkins. The GOP allows the liberal media to hold them to a double standard, and most right-leaning pundits go along with it. Disgusting.

    1. You mean Akin, the second stringer who won the primary with help from McCaskill, who did *exactly* what she hoped he’d do, and whose blood in the water cost us both IN-Sen and possibly the White House?
      How about this deal -you “True Conservatives” don’t nominate idiots, like Moe said, and if you do, *YOU* kick in the money to get them elected.
      With a decent war chest, Akin could have made a race of it, but he had nowhere near $50 for every “True Conservative” beating the ‘eat our own’ meme.
      This ain’t beanbag, boyo. If you and Huckabee and Santorum and Perkins want to play kingmaker, OPEN YOUR WALLETS.

      1. It ain’t beanbag. I wasn’t thrilled with Akin winning the primary. But he had an ‘R’ next to his name. One stupid comment and he was thrown under the bus by the GOP leadership BECAUSE THE LIBERAL MEDIA DECIDED TO MAKE IT A BIG DEAL. A little help from the RNC and he may have won. The Democrats circle the wagons for their people no matter what kind of idiotic things they say, and lookee lookee, the Democrats still control the Senate. Could Republicans learn something? I guess not. So save me your righteous “conservative” crap, OK? It’s either all-out trench warfare or loserville. Nice guys finish last, case in point MITT ROMNEY. It ain’t beanbag. It ain’t a gentleman’s game, either. Play to win or don’t play. How about that deal?

        1. No, Jetty. Akin threw *himself* under the bus by not being *ready* for the job.
          Akin failed remedial “How to talk to the media”.
          I’ll repeat myself. Akin’s asshattery cost us Mourdock, who could have recovered had the well not already been poisoned, and between the two, they fed the “Romney is anti-woman” meme.
          Your attempts to deflect blame from the “True Conservatives” by blaming the media are especially hollow because it was those same “True Conservatives” who *DIDN’T CONTRIBUTE* to his campaign.
          The “True Conservatives” nominated a buck private for a special forces job, were surprised that some of us said it was a bad idea, bitched about our demands to replace him, and are now blaming *US* for this?
          I conclude, Jetty, that you’re missing something fundamental here.

          1. Everything you just said, acat. Every Republican candidate for national office has to remember that the national media can and will kneecap them for saying something foolish, and they will not do that to their opponent. That’s the lay of the land in which we fight, and anyone who doesn’t take that into account is a fool and has no business running for national office.

          2. Please explain how retaining control of the House, increasing control of statehouses, and increasing the number of GOP governors makes this anything but a divided election, jetty?

    2. Akin proved he didn’t belong in the Senate when he chose himself over the party and the country by refusing to drop out. We don’t need that kind of selfishness to deal with the challenges facing the country.

  5. Alaska-2010 nominee Joe Miller looks set to run.

    Arkansas-Widely believed Tom Cotton has sights set on Pryor.

    Colorado-Kelly Ayotte supposedly trying to get Jane Norton to run; she lost 2010 primary to idiot Ken Buck. Otherwise John Suthers?

    Lousiana- Rep. Cassidy looks set to run.

    North Carolina- Names being thrown around are Speaker of the State House (whose proper name escapes at the moment) and Rep. Renee Elmers.

    South Dakota- Former Gov. Rounds will soon set up an exploratory committee.

    Virginia- AG Cucchinelli is supposedly interested.

    West Virginia- Strong retirement vibe around Jay Rockefeller. Would also be vulnerable vs. Moore Capito if he ran again, according to polling (thanks to anti-coal remarks).

    This is what I’ve read so far on the ’14 cycle on the Senate side, but obviously wayyyyy early.

    1. @blanchelincoln – it is *precisely* now that we must work, if we want to make a difference.
      Let’s be blunt. We’re pebbles. No, we’re not even pebbles .. Moe may be a pebble. I’m a mere grain of sand the political machine.
      If we wait until the primaries to get involved, as the saying goes, “The avalanche has begun, the pebbles do not get a vote.”
      If we want to make a difference, the time is now.

  6. The only way MI becomes interesting is if levin retires or if Snyder wins in a walk. I doubt the later, the battle over Detroits finances has just begun and will throw an interesting monkey wrench into the election. Also if the economy tanks again, Snyder will probably go down because of it, republicans don’t get credit for “caring” like Obama did.

  7. Guys we’re running against the liberal news media. Even smart, experienced, and disciplined candidates like Mitt Romney make mistakes and the media hypes the mistakes. Democrats get a pass. Our candidates need to control their image by buying ad time on local cable months before the election. We need some way to stress test our Senate candidates without providing ammo to the other side. Conservative friendly forums should run the debates to control the questions asked. Don’t let the MSM win!

    1. ^ this. And somehow hold the liberal media accountable. Every time a Republican talking head is in front of a camera, mention the latest example of liberal media bias. Go after them. But, alas, our GOP leaders would rather be loved by the MSM (which will never happen, but they keep trying).

      1. Fortunately, Jetty, the liberal media are becoming increasingly ideologically bound.
        The Internet has already kicked the {excrement} out of the newspaper business model – they got fat on the dot-com want-ads, and are now starving thanks to Craigslist. The TV media is next.
        I will also point out that, at one point, Erick over at Red State offered to host either a candidate forum or a series of in-depth interviews .. an offer that was .. not taken up.
        Blaming the media is not helpful, blaming the candidates for not doing better outreach would be both more accurate and more effective.

    2. So .. you *want* a stress test, but you *don’t* want to give the MSM ammo.
      That circle can’t be squared.

  8. Folks, as I noted over at RedState: “don’t nominate idiots” was deliberately written to avoid naming names. Some of these people may run again and some of ’em may have learned their lessons.

  9. Colorado definitely needs a more libertarian oriented candidate. Montana even more so. Alaska would be a nice pickup with Miller, and he wins in a walk without a 3rd party on the ballot (yes, Lisa Murky* was technically write in and not actually on the ballot).

    So pickups in SD, AK, AR, LA and NC are likely. MT, CO, MN, and NH are with decent candidates. VA, WV and MA are possible with retirements/appointments.

    I like those odds for picking up 6+ seats to gain control of the Senate again.

  10. 1. When the left can run, and win, with the likes of Franken and Warren (or insert any number of unattractive, gaffe prone liberals here), then the issue on the right is not so much the quality of its candidates. The right should be able to win with, or at least compete, with nincompoops like Akin and O’Donell. But the right pours toxic waste on them and then pats themselves on the back after election day saying “See, we told you they couldn’t win.” The left doesn’t do that.
    2. From accounts on this site and others, it seemed like there was a level playing field in terms of money. Yet Romney received a million votes less than McCain. And Obama, despite his pathetic record, won by a landslide. “Better candidates” is the main issue? How about how to win an election?
    3. Anyone that underrates the influence of the mainstream media is a moron. Conservatives are in an echo chamber, as the right-side of the blogosphere was saying Romney landslide (me included) and the rest of the friggin’ world was saying that Obama was going to win.
    4. The right could have cloned 100 Reagans and ran them up and down the ticket, and the result would have been the same.
    So, keep dreaming of Marco Rubio and perfect candidates to win the Senate and the WH, and keep losing. Or beat the other side at its own game. After this election, it seems obvious what course needs to be taken.

    1. 1) Coleman lost in the stolen re-counts in a wave year. Franken does not count.
      2) Obama did not win “by a landslide”, he received *fewer* votes than in 2008, and *fewer* electoral college delegates than 2008. That is a *squeaker* by most definitions, jetty.
      3) Anyone who believe the influence of the mainstream media is as strong today as it was in 1977 (Ford Pintos don’t explode on impact) or 1993 (Chevy truck fuel tanks don’t explode either) or 2004 (Rathergate) .. is smoking something.
      Further, rather than repair the impartial reputation that a generation of reporters earned, the media are doubling down with their decided lack of curiosity around Benghazi, Fast & Furious, political allocation of TARP dollars, etc. etc.
      The echo chamber, jetty, is in the media newsrooms, down the hall on the left.
      4) Dream on.
      As for “beating the other side at their own game”, *which* game do you mean, the one where 100% of the voters in a given district showed up for Obama, or the one where a squeaker is a mandate, or the one where a dead ambassador or arming a foreign crime syndicate isn’t a casus belli?

      1. 1. Franken votes in the Senate, the place where the Ds outnumber the Rs 55-45. He counts.

        2. Obama won the EV 332-206. People on the right were predicting a Romney “landslide” by a lesser margin. And when the average American looks at that result, he/she doesn’t think “squeaker”.

        3/4 More coverage was given to Big Bird than Benghazi by the MSM. The MSM also marginalized every story that would have made Obama look bad. No, it’s not as powerful as it once was, but it definitely helped Obama. And OBAMA won. All of us smart people on the right felt like we took a kick to the groin on November 6th. Your arrogance, acat, is what contributed to the loss.

        4. Mia Love and Alen West lost as well, among others. Find your dream candidates and keep surrounding them with losers like Matt Rhoades, Steve Schmidt and Karl Rove types. Then kiss the above list goodbye, because the GOP doesn’t understand how to win elections.

        1. jetty, jetty, jetty.
          1) Your use of Franken as an example of “GOP fail!” is inaccurate. Coleman was an incumbent Franken barely beat in 2006 in a wave. This is not at all the same scenario you describe. Your assertion fails to convince.
          2) The average american, who thought #OWS was a good thing, and who voted for Obama, may well think this was a blowout .. this tells me the average american has some very wrong ideas, but .. that’s not news.
          3) The media is in *decline*. This just gets better for conservatives with half a brain. Yes, they’re still a force, where did I say otherwise? Put the straw man away, and either argue the point or get over yourself.
          4) Where the (copulation) did you get the idea I like the losers’ gallery you named? Seriously, did I mention *any* of the gutless D.C. wing of the GOP in a positive light? Ever?
          You calling me arrogant, when you’ve cited jack nor {excrement] to disprove my points, is hilarious, jetty.. You’ve asserted a lot, not the same thing, words still have meanings.
          Let me ask you a question, jetty. What is your *plan*? Mine is to look at where we lost – low information voters tuned out during the GOP primary and *never* tuned back in – and try to figure out how to fix it. What’s yours? Sounds like calling names and crying over lost opportunities.

          1. You have made my point. You just had to attack me personally with your condescending, arrogant remarks. This is what The Party of Stupid excels at – attacking their own on the right. Then you scratch your heads in disbelief over low turnout and why some on the right tune out. You have a wonderful career waiting for you as a GOP campaign manager.

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