Friday, November 03, 2006

Sen 06: Four Critical Races

There have been some important changes in the Senate polling over the past week. Tennessee now appears to have turned against Democratic Rep. Harold Ford, while Virginia has moved away from Republican Sen. George Allen to a clear tossup. From now on, when people use the term "Tossup" they should show the plot of the Missouri race which lacks trends, bumps, wiggles or hints of what is to come. But the big news of today is the move that has been made in Montana where Democrats were ready to claim (amd many Republicans to concede) Sen. Conrad Burns' seat. President Bush visited and apparently money is now being devoted to this new "firewall" seat. A Burns win would require a Dem sweep of VA, TN and MO to manage a Senate majority. That is obviously a much higher burden than the "2 of 3" wins in these states required with MT in the Dem bag. It is worth noting the Burns is still behind in the trend estimate for MT, but clearly the level of competition has risen, and the odds of a Democratic Senate have shrunk. To make matters worse, in Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin still leads Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele but that lead has been shrinking steadily and while the normally Democratic state would be expected to go Democratic, the trend here and in the Governors race (see here) suggest that the Maryland race cannot be assumed to be over. The good news for Democrats (other than in VA) is that New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez appears to have recovered his lead from Republican Thomas Kean Jr.

So as it now stands, the Dems need 3 of the 4 seats in MT, VA, MO and TN, while holding MD. That may be a tall order, and it makes it likely we won't know control of the Senate until the MT vote is in in the wee hours of Mountain Standard Time. Stay up! It will be fun.

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