Talk about coincidence, just a few days after I explained why Democrats will not recapture the United States Senate in 2016, The Hill has posted an article on ten senators who could lose. They list the three Republicans I noted as vulnerable (Mark Kirk in Illinois, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, and Pat Toomey in Pennysylvania) and they also agree with me that two Democrats, Harry Reid in Nevada and Michael Bennet in Colorado, could be in trouble.
However, if you read the article (which I will copy here), details hardly bear out the lead sentence contention that Democrats could well retake the Senate.
All five of the remaining Republicans they claim as vulnerable, even by their own admission, are really not all that vulnerable at all.
The story acknowledges that Florida will be in play only if Marco Rubio runs for President; he says he will not run for both.
The writer is way off base if he thinks Kelly Ayotte is in trouble in New Hampshire. In fact, I'm hearing that Governor Maggie Hassan is beginning to realize Ayotte is unbeatable will pass up a chance to run against her. Ayotte will win by double digits and will have coattails--I repeat what I wrote Saturday--she won by 23 points in 2010 after surviving a tough primary which she won't have in 2016.
While Ohio is indeed a swing state, Rob Portman will win easily, and Lisa Murkowski is about as sure a bet in Alaska as you can find. After all, she won in 2010 as a write-in after losing the Republican party.
In North Carolina, Richard Burr has the advantage of incumbency; he won by a dozen points in 2010; and even The Hill notes that he'll be tough to compete against. In polling against four likely opponents, Burr currently holds leads of between seven and 13 points. No responsible pundit shoud forecast him losing!
The story also acknowledges that even Toomey will be tough to take out in Pennsylvania, so they really are grasping at straws to get to ten senators who could lose.
The Hill also notes that Reid, especially if Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval decides to run, and Bennet could prove especially vulnerable for Democrrats.
The Hill fails to mention a third potentially vulnerable Democrat, Patty Murray of Washington. I suspect she'll win, but her margin was less than five points in 2010, and she certainly should be cosidered more vulnerable than Portman, Ayotte, Rubin, and Murkowski.
I'm glad to see this article because while hoping to make the case of major Democratic gains in the Senate, it really convinces me that I got it right when I posted that analysis as I was sipping coffee in The Second Cup in Montreal over the weekend.
I stand by my early outlook that very little will change in 2016--in either the U.S. House or Senate or in the N.H. House or Senate. Barring a runaway at the top of the ticket (run, Liz, run!), Republicans should hold everything and might even pick up the New Hampshire Governor's seat which they've held for only two of the last 20 years.
Here's The Hill story with the caveat that I totally disagree with five of the ten picks. (Maybe The Hill should run my story which included victory margins from 2010).
December 28, 2014, 03:18 pm
10 senators who could lose in 2016
Senate Republicans will have to work hard to retain their recently won majority as they face a tough 2016 electoral map.
They have 24 seats up compared to Democrats' 10, including seven in states President Obama carried twice. Democrats won't have any red-state senators facing reelection and could be buoyed by a favorable presidential-year electorate.
But Democrats are cautiously optimistic they can win back control just two years after losing it — and Republicans admit that they have a fight on their hands.
“It'll be tough but it's definitely not impossible. We only need four seats if we win the White House and we start off with four very vulnerable Republicans,” said one national Democratic strategist.
“There are just some hardcore blue presidential states,” said a national Republican strategist.
Here are 10 senators in danger of losing in 2016.
1. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)
Kirk narrowly defeated a scandal-plagued Democratic candidate by less than 2 points in the 2010 Republican wave election. In the 2016 presidential election year, he will likely face a much more Democratic electorate.
The senator has worked hard to bolster his bipartisan credentials, backing immigration reform, gun control and environmental protections. He was also the second Republican senator to embrace gay marriage.
His hard-fought battle to return from a debilitating stroke could also earn him sympathy from voters.
Kirk told The Hill in November that he’s running “come hell or high water,” seeking to dispel rumors he might retire.
But in deep-blue Illinois even the strongest Republicans face uphill battles. Democrats are eying Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) and Reps. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Cheri Bustos (Ill.) and Bill Foster (Ill.) as potential challengers.
2. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)
Polls show Johnson isn’t that well-known or well-liked in Democratic-leaning Wisconsin, where he won by 5 points in the 2010 GOP wave.
He may face a rematch against Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) in a high-turnout election year. Adding to his worries: No GOP presidential nominee has carried Wisconsin in more than three decades.
Johnson has done little to build bipartisan credentials in the Democratic-leaning state, and Feingold is giving serious consideration to another run.
The big question is whether the former senator has learned his lesson after refusing outside money in 2010, letting Johnson outspend him by a wide margin, and declining to air any attack ads. If Feingold is the nominee and runs a smarter campaign this time around, Johnson could face an uphill battle to hold his seat.
3. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
Polls show Reid’s approval numbers are underwater in his home state. Strategists in both parties say he’d be the underdog if popular Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), who just won reelection with more than 70 percent of the vote, decides to run against him.
Even if Sandoval doesn’t run, Democrats admit Reid may have a tough fight on his hands if Republicans can find a strong candidate.
But Nevada has been trending Democratic due to its fast-growing Hispanic population, and the party tends to do much better there in presidential years. Reid also won by a surprisingly comfortable margin in 2010 against a deeply flawed Republican candidate, and has proven to be a scrappy campaigner.
His numbers, though, just aren’t that good in Nevada — and the soon-to-be Senate minority leader is likely to face a tough fight.
4. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
Toomey faces a potential rematch against former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), who he defeated by a narrow margin in 2010.
The senator has worked hard to shed his image as an unyielding Tea Party candidate, working with Democrats on fiscal issues and taking the lead in crafting gun-control legislation with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Democrats admit he’ll be a tough out — but they believe Pennsylvania’s blue lean in presidential years means Toomey's in trouble.
5. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)
Ayotte hails from more of a swing state than Toomey, Kirk and Johnson, and Republicans believe she’s done well to shore herself up in New Hampshire.
But Democrats think she’s beatable if they find the right candidate — and are hoping they can convince Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) to run.
6. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
Polls show Burr isn’t that well-known in North Carolina, a tremendously difficult state to build name recognition because of its 15 distinct media markets. He also has little money in the bank for his reelection bid.
Burr has worked hard to establish himself as an even-tempered lawmaker and while North Carolina has moved Democratic in recent years it still leans slightly Republican overall.
Democrats are hoping they can find a top-tier candidate to challenge him — potentially outgoing Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), who lost a close race last month. They concede that the quality of their candidate and the national political climate will likely determine whether or not they can compete in North Carolina.
7. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
Bennet narrowly won in 2010 against a gaffe-prone Republican and is coming off a rough cycle as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He also just lost his home-state colleague, outgoing Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), defeated by Sen.-elect Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).
Colorado has trended Democratic but remains a pure toss-up state — as Gardner’s win shows. The big question is whether Republicans can find another candidate of Gardner’s quality, as strategists admit they have a relatively thin bench in the state.
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) could be a top recruit that could put the seat in play.
8. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
Rubio has said he won’t run for both reelection and the presidency, and the swing-state seat would become a tossup if he decides to focus on a White House bid.
Democrats contend they have an outside shot at Rubio even if he runs for reelection, and tout potential candidates including Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) and Rep.-elect Gwen Graham (D-Fla.). Both are fresh-faced members who won in Republican-leaning districts. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is another possibility.
9. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
Portman recently declared he’ll run for reelection instead of making a White House bid, and strategists in both parties say he’ll be tough to beat. Portman is a fundraising powerhouse and has done little to stir controversy while in the Senate.
But Democrats are hopeful they can compete in swing-state Ohio if they land a top recruit — and are mentioning former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) as the type of candidate who could give him a tough fight.
10. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Murkowski is by far Alaska’s most popular politician, and has been preparing for reelection ever since her surprise 2010 primary loss and subsequent write-in general election victory.
But her old foe, 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller (R), may give her another challenge, and her support for abortion rights, gay marriage and centrist fiscal and energy positions gives him fodder to again attack her in a primary.
Democrats also mention outgoing Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) as a candidate who could compete with her and Miller in a theoretical three-way race. She’s unlikely to lose a reelection bid — but her race is one to closely.