More opportunities open up for GOP to gain Senate seats

Rick Moran
If Republicans are going to take over the Senate in November, it will be due to their ability to expand the map and challenge in states where they weren't expected to make much of a race of things.

Obamacare plays a  role in this, no doubt. But in Iowa, Michigan, Colorado, and New Hampshire, the GOP has been able to recruit top flight candidates who are well funded, seasoned campaigners.

McClatchy:

At least four states where Democrats hold Senate seats that once were seen as fairly safe are now considered in play: Michigan, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire.

They join seven states with Democratic incumbents where analysts see decent bets for Republican pickups: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried all seven in 2012.

The new four are now battlegrounds for the same reasons that plague Democrats elsewhere. The Affordable Care Act is detested in many circles. Anyone associated with Washington is often toxic. And popular Republicans who are running for other offices are often on the ballot.

“The common thread is that there’s a Democrat in the White House who’s not that popular,” said Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan research group at the University of Virginia. “It wouldn’t be surprising if any of those states went Republican.’

Republicans also appear more motivated. “There’s a sense that a possible takeover of the Senate is real, and that will give a boost to the Republicans’ ability to thwart the president’s agenda” said Chris Budzisz, the director of the Iowa-based Loras College Poll. He was speaking of Iowans, but the perception holds more broadly.

Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is something of a long shot in New Hampshire. But Senator Jeanne Shaheen has so far failed to tar him with the "carpetbagger" tag and he trails by only 6 points. And as the article points out, among the 25% of the New Hampshire electorate who are ex-Bay Staters, Brown enjoys a 13 point lead.

Open seat races in Michigan and Iowa - two fairly blue states - are both seeing competitive GOP candidates emerging and the two Democratic frontrunners falling back:

Michigan

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., is retiring, and Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., is trying to take his place.

Republican former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who’s also seeking the seat, led Peters by 6 percentage points earlier this month in a poll by Mitchell Research, a Michigan-based firm.

“Democrats don’t have much to be excited about,” said Bill Ballenger, the editor and publisher of the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics, “and Republicans are pretty cranked up.” Democrats point to an April 3-6 Public Policy Polling survey that found Peters slightly ahead.

Peters barely lost a race for attorney general in 2002. Land has run twice statewide and won handily. Michigan voters are used to gravitas from their senators _ Levin, incumbent Debbie Stabenow, Donald Riegle, Arthur Vandenberg, Philip Hart _ and so far “Gary Peters is not cut from that same cloth,” said Ballenger.

[...]
 
Iowa
Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, is retiring.
 
“It could very well become an opportunity for Republicans,” said Budzisz.
 
One reason is the strength of Gov. Terry Branstad, a highly popular Republican who’s running again.
 
Two other factors might determine the Senate winner: the eventual Republican nominee, who’ll be chosen later this year, and the campaign effectiveness of Democrat Bruce Braley, a four-term congressman.Braley stumbled earlier this year when he said Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican, was “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law.” Republicans complained that Braley was insulting farmers.
 
Personality and personal campaigning matter in Iowa. For 30 years, Grassley and Harkin have been at opposite ends of the political spectrum but have won because they know how to relate to state residents, said Budzisz., and they often vote in similar ways on “meat and potatoes issues,” notably agriculture.
Colorado may be a sleeper race. Senator Mark Udall was cruising along, far ahead of any GOP rival, when Rep. Cory Gardner, a popular conservative, entered the race. The race has since tightened considerably, and one Colorado Democrat summed up the dilemma for every candidate in his party running for election:

“It’s a lousy year to be a Democrat,” he said, “even in a swing state.”

Ain't it the truth.


 

If Republicans are going to take over the Senate in November, it will be due to their ability to expand the map and challenge in states where they weren't expected to make much of a race of things.

Obamacare plays a  role in this, no doubt. But in Iowa, Michigan, Colorado, and New Hampshire, the GOP has been able to recruit top flight candidates who are well funded, seasoned campaigners.

McClatchy:

At least four states where Democrats hold Senate seats that once were seen as fairly safe are now considered in play: Michigan, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire.

They join seven states with Democratic incumbents where analysts see decent bets for Republican pickups: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried all seven in 2012.

The new four are now battlegrounds for the same reasons that plague Democrats elsewhere. The Affordable Care Act is detested in many circles. Anyone associated with Washington is often toxic. And popular Republicans who are running for other offices are often on the ballot.

“The common thread is that there’s a Democrat in the White House who’s not that popular,” said Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan research group at the University of Virginia. “It wouldn’t be surprising if any of those states went Republican.’

Republicans also appear more motivated. “There’s a sense that a possible takeover of the Senate is real, and that will give a boost to the Republicans’ ability to thwart the president’s agenda” said Chris Budzisz, the director of the Iowa-based Loras College Poll. He was speaking of Iowans, but the perception holds more broadly.

Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is something of a long shot in New Hampshire. But Senator Jeanne Shaheen has so far failed to tar him with the "carpetbagger" tag and he trails by only 6 points. And as the article points out, among the 25% of the New Hampshire electorate who are ex-Bay Staters, Brown enjoys a 13 point lead.

Open seat races in Michigan and Iowa - two fairly blue states - are both seeing competitive GOP candidates emerging and the two Democratic frontrunners falling back:

Michigan

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., is retiring, and Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., is trying to take his place.

Republican former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who’s also seeking the seat, led Peters by 6 percentage points earlier this month in a poll by Mitchell Research, a Michigan-based firm.

“Democrats don’t have much to be excited about,” said Bill Ballenger, the editor and publisher of the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics, “and Republicans are pretty cranked up.” Democrats point to an April 3-6 Public Policy Polling survey that found Peters slightly ahead.

Peters barely lost a race for attorney general in 2002. Land has run twice statewide and won handily. Michigan voters are used to gravitas from their senators _ Levin, incumbent Debbie Stabenow, Donald Riegle, Arthur Vandenberg, Philip Hart _ and so far “Gary Peters is not cut from that same cloth,” said Ballenger.

[...]
 
Iowa
Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, is retiring.
 
“It could very well become an opportunity for Republicans,” said Budzisz.
 
One reason is the strength of Gov. Terry Branstad, a highly popular Republican who’s running again.
 
Two other factors might determine the Senate winner: the eventual Republican nominee, who’ll be chosen later this year, and the campaign effectiveness of Democrat Bruce Braley, a four-term congressman.Braley stumbled earlier this year when he said Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican, was “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law.” Republicans complained that Braley was insulting farmers.
 
Personality and personal campaigning matter in Iowa. For 30 years, Grassley and Harkin have been at opposite ends of the political spectrum but have won because they know how to relate to state residents, said Budzisz., and they often vote in similar ways on “meat and potatoes issues,” notably agriculture.
Colorado may be a sleeper race. Senator Mark Udall was cruising along, far ahead of any GOP rival, when Rep. Cory Gardner, a popular conservative, entered the race. The race has since tightened considerably, and one Colorado Democrat summed up the dilemma for every candidate in his party running for election:

“It’s a lousy year to be a Democrat,” he said, “even in a swing state.”

Ain't it the truth.