Predicting the Senate

With America’s most despised politician Nancy Pelosi speaking inanely about Romney’s NAACP appearance and exploited Jewish Republicans, there is virtually no chance that the voters in the 435 Congressional districts will make her speaker again. It would be nice if some of her magic could rub off on the Senate.

The current Senate has 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans, and 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats. The Vice President breaks ties, so if Romney wins, the Republicans need to gain three seats; if Obama it is four. Of the 33 seats up for election, 10 are held by Republicans, 22 by Democrats and one by retiring independent Joe Lieberman. The math seems easy, but for sooth it is not so.

The two most reliable pollsters on Congressional elections, Charlie Cook (leans Democrat) and Stu Rothenberg (leans Republican) paint similar pictures.  About half of the seats are “safe”, the Republicans will likely gain Nebraska and lose Maine. Beyond that Republicans have a good chance of pick-ups in Missouri and North Dakata and a lesser chance of losing Massachusetts. That leaves a likely net plus one or two with the other required two or three coming from Montana where they enjoy a small lead, and Virginia and Wisconsin which are real toss-ups. Net plus one to five. As a wild card, Democrats are advertising for weaker Republicans in upcoming primaries in Wisconsin and Missouri, as Harry Reid did successfully in Nevada in 2010.  And another wild card –  in Maine Angus King  is heavily favored  to replace Republican Olympia Snowe – he is running as an independent and is expected to caucus with the Democrats, but if the stars align he may feel that he could accomplish more by giving the Senate to the Republicans.

The flood of money in 2012 politics is obvious in the Senate.  Noteworthy is Massachusetts liberal  Elizabeth Warren’s $6.9 million take in the first quarter – twice anybody else. Beyond the individual candidates, the Senate Democratic Campaign committee has raised some $78 million while the Republican counterpart has raised $69 million.  And then there are the Democratic and Republican Super PACs with millions to spend in the contested races. It is nice to live in “ad free” California where there is no contested election.

Like the 2010 cycle when S.C. Senator Jim DeMint led efforts in primaries to elevate conservative candidates such as Rand Paul (KY), Marco Rubio (FL), Mike Lee (UT), and Pat Toomey (PA),  his $8 million Senate Conservatives Fund has targeted inadequately conservative party favorites – successfully promoting Richard Mourdock (IN) and Ted Cruz (TX) while losing in the primaries to more moderate conservatives in Nebraska (Deb Fisher won), and Utah (Orrin Hatch won). In any case, the Senate Republicans will move a bit further to the right, and there is plenty of evidence that the Tea Party lives.

Not yet burbling is the future of Mitch McConnell who has teamed with Harry Reid to make the Senate the place where all good House bills go to die without embarrasing the President. One can imagine Jim DeMint’s demand that (perhaps with a different Republican leader) supermajority Senate rules not be allowed to block House legislation headed for the desk of President Romney. But that’s getting a bit ahead of events.


This week’s video is of Mitt Romney receiving the endorsement of Polish freedom leader Lech Walesa, two weeks after Barack Obama nabbed the endorsement of Venezuelan Socialist dictator Hugo Chavez. No contrast on foreign policy?