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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Looking ahead to US Elections...

Cabin Fever Exercise #1 - Color the Electoral Map !
...is Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, whose CRYSTAL BALL website offers three intriguing articles on the following specific subjects, excerpted below, with emphasis mine.

Presidential Possibilities : A First Line-Up for 2012
While President Obama may or may not have one or more Democratic primary foes, he is a lead pipe cinch to be the Democratic nominee for president, and to win the party nod by a mile. At this point, there is nothing to analyze, except to say that Obama will want to stave off a challenge if possible. Major intra-party challenges to the incumbent president in 1968 (Gene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy for LBJ), 1976 (Ronald Reagan for Gerald Ford), 1980 (Ted Kennedy for Jimmy Carter), and 1992 (Pat Buchanan for George H.W. Bush) all helped to send presidents into early retirement.
In 2011-2012, the nominating action is on the Republican side, and a vigorous “invisible primary” contest is already underway. The term “invisible primary” refers to the early, pre-primary accumulation of money and endorsements, the building of organizations in key states, the management of a campaign infrastructure, and the shaping of issue positions and public relations among the various real and possible presidential candidates.
The GOP field is not set. The contenders are in various stages of undress as the strip tease proceeds. So we begin with a catch-all listing of those clearly running (such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty); those seriously toying with running (Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour, etc.); those who might be persuaded to run (such as Chris Christie and Marco Rubio); and those who are running but tilting at windmills (Rick Santorum, Gary Johnson, and so on). In total, we evaluate nineteen actual or potential candidates here.
There may be more to come. Somewhat inexplicably, Rudy Giuliani is ruminating about another White House bid, though he crashed and burned in 2008–and has the very same problems (such as liberal positions on social issues) for 2012. This time around, Rudy isn’t even assured of being in Tier 2. Reality will dawn at some point and the former New York City mayor will probably stay out. Several state governors, such as Rick Perry of Texas and Bob Riley of Alabama (who just left the executive mansion after eight years), are mentioned here and there, but so far no signs have emerged to suggest a serious effort. And let’s not forget about ex-Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana, who is toying with a candidacy though not by popular demand. He’s been out of office since his reelection defeat in 1991, but the fires of ambition are never extinguished for some politicians until the cold of the grave.

The Early Line: 14 Governorships of 2011-12
After a record-setting number of 37 governorships on the 2010 ballot, it is something of a letdown to see a mere 14 statehouses up for grabs in the off-year election of 2011 (just 3) and the 2012 general election (11 more).
Fortunately, about half the roster of gubernatorial match-ups promise to be competitive and well worth a look. There are 9 Democratic seats up to 5 Republican seats. Three incumbents are term-limited (Mitch Daniels, R-IN, Haley Barbour, R-MS, and Brian Schweitzer, D-MT), and at least one more governor is expected to retire, Chris Gregoire (D-WA). At least at the starting gate, two Democratic incumbents are considered highly vulnerable, Govs. Beverly Perdue of North Carolina and Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia.
It is too soon to say precisely, but the Crystal Ball’s early line suggests the Republicans may pad their current 29-to-20 statehouse edge over the Democrats by one to three. (Independent Gov. Linc Chafee holds the Rhode Island governorship.)

The Crystal Ball’s 2012 Roll-Out, Part One : Special Double Issue—Initial Ratings for All 2012 Senate Seats
The Senate class of 2012 is substantially Democratic, with Democrats holding 23 seats to the Republicans’ 10. Obviously, this gives Republicans a leg up in contesting seats. The GOP has a small number to defend, while Democrats will have to cover a broad map, and depend on President Obama for long coattails.
...there are seven toss-ups at the moment, six of them Democratic: Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Ben Nelson (D-NE), John Ensign (R-NV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Jim Webb (D-VA). All seven are either in the “very vulnerable” or “vulnerable” categories.
There are eight seats currently leaning to one or the other party. Six are Democratic and two are Republican. Of the eight, the seat of Scott Brown (R-MA) may be the most endangered, initially—although we believe some are underestimating his ability to win a full term despite the state’s heavily Democratic tilt.
The remaining 18 seats are “likely” or “solid” for the eleven Democrats and seven Republicans who occupy them.
Depending on the party identity of the Vice President elected in 2012, Republicans will need to win a net three or four Senate seats from the Democrats to take control of the upper chamber of Congress. With six Democratic toss-ups to just one Republican toss-up, the GOP can obviously win the Senate in theory—but it is far too soon to say whether theory will become reality. Just remember how many Senate surprises there were in the primaries and general election of 2010.

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