Thursday, October 15, 2009

2010 cycle notes

Republicans have made steady progress in 2010 Congressional races over the last couple of months. I haven't run a Cook number lately, but it's still lopsided in favor of Republicans. Of the twenty five most recent changes to Cook ratings, all but two are in the GOP's direction, and one of those, the Delaware At Large House district, is only moving to the Dems because of the major Republican recruiting success of enticing Mike Castle to run for Senate.


Since Obama's approval ratings have been stable for a couple of months, now, it wouldn't be surprising to see a few things swing the other way, and there's a bit of that in the news this week.

1. The Democrats could well pick up a House seat in the NY-23 special, with the key plot there the refusal of conservatives to support the GOP nominee.

2. Beau Biden is polling well, and appears to be running, against Castle; I think that Biden is a slight favorite here, although obviously it's a very, very competitive seat that could break either way.

3. Sullivan notes that Democrats have reopened a five point edge in's summary of 2010 generic ballot polling.

4. Is Crist in trouble in the primary in Florida? As with the NY-23 race, this is again a test of whether the GOP can manage to nominate and support it's own strongest candidates, or if conservatives are still hell-bent on keeping the party in the ditch.

5. Looks like Jodi Rell may be retiring, helping to complete the realignment in New England statehouses.

6. And what I think is the biggest election news of the week: Chuck Grassley may have a race on his hands. Christie Vilsack isn't quite as big a recruiting coup as Castle was in Delaware, but Cook currently has this one as safe Republican, and I think Vilsack's entry would move it to at least Likely, and maybe even Lean. Although I have to admit that I'm the wrong person to comment on this one; I can't begin to understand what Iowans see in Chuck Grassley.

Now, I don't want to imply that things in general are heading the Democrats' way right now, but unlike a month ago, there's movement in both directions.


  1. Any guesses on Democratic losses next year? I am thinking somewhere around 15 to 25 in the House but I haven't looked to closely yet. The Senate is fascinating at this point. Is Reid really in dangerous? Can the Bidens hold on to the Delaware senate seat? How will the Senatorial appointments in CO, IL, NY & DE affect the Dems? I am thinking we have maybe 0 to 2 seat loss for the Dems. I am not feeling good about CO or AK for the Democrats next year.

  2. I think it's too early to really have serious guesses. It's easy to imagine a situation in which unemployment is >10% and steady or rising, GDP goes negative again, health care blows up or passes and is unpopular, Obama is at 35%, and the Dems get clobbered. But it's also easy to imagine unemployment peaking in the next month or two and dropping throughout 2010, moderate GDP growth, a popular health care bill passing, the GOP nominating a bunch of tea party loons, Obama at 60%, and Republicans having a third consecutive lousy cycle.

    And of course there could be less expected variables (Afghanistan going bad? Killing bin Laden? A Katrina-like government disaster?) that have a big effect on things, although that's less likely.

    Right now, I'd say: watch the variables in the first paragraph (GDP, unemployment, Obama's approval #s, and maybe the results of health care reform and GOP primaries), and also watch recruiting and retirements. But it's too soon, IMO, to establish a useful error bar in guessing seat changes.

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  4. You're right. It is to early to make "serious guesses" about what will happen next November. I suppose my guesses are less about winners & losers and more about what I expect the environment to be like next year.


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