Ever hopeful, ever optimistic, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist made the statement that Republicans would definitively retain control of the Senate following the coming 2006 midterm elections, with the statement that all you have to do is look down the list of seats and it just doesn’t add up for the Democrats.
My electoral politics as spectator sports guess had me a few months ago looking down the list and settling on a Democratic pick up of five seats, meaning the Ds would end up at a 50-50 tie with the Rs– newly elected “Socialist” Senator Bernie Sanders a Democrat for just about any real practical purpose; Dick Cheney is the tie-breaker that retains control for the Republicans. I may have been taking artistic license over science here, as I went ahead and smirkily danced the House race to a “Ds fall 2 or 4 short of House Majority” tact, the artistic vision being that the Ds creep just short all the way around. Time marches on, and it is difficult not to see Nancy Pelosi taking the Speaker’s gavel in 2006. For the Senate, my calculations “looking down the list” gets me a slightly different mathematical logarithm, but has me arriving at the same number.
I have three tiers of vulnerable Republican seats. Pennsylvania and Montana looked almost certainly as the the Ds would be victorious over the Rs. This remains the case. My early calculation with Ohio, Rhode Island, and Missouri had the Ds winning two out of three. I’ll go ahead and say now that the Ds win all three of these races — Missouri being the trickiest of the lot to call, but I have to take a leap of faith somewhere here. My third tier — Virginia, Tennessee, and Arizona — I thought the Ds would swing through by election time and pick the lot of one — and don’t ask me which one. Events have unfolded such that I now believe Jim Webb will defeat George Allen and be the next Senator from the state of Virginia. This is now an abject lesson in the speed of which a politician can fall from grace through a smattering of gaffes and the airing of skeletons thought to be safely tucked away into the closet, as George Allen falls from Republican presidential front runner simply oiling up his machinery in a Senate race run through to a place in the political mortuary.
Supposedly Tennessee’s Republican candidate is gaffing a bit as of late. I am suspicious, and think that some liberal blogs are seeing it through blue-tinted glasses. What is a gaffe? I had thought in 2004 that the Republican candidate in Oklahoma had been pulling off gaffes aplenty with stupid saying after stupid saying. Don’t you know that the problem of Lesbianism has gotten so bad that in some Southeast Oklahoma schools, teachers can’t even let two girls go to the bathroom at the same time? Apparently these didn’t amount to a hill of beans — meaning that Oklahoma is the very definition of Hell. I keep thinking of Tennessee 2006 as a sort of Oklahoma 2004 in how this is playing out, though the Republican is necessarily not as far to the right and looks more reasonable. This is to say that the Democratic candidate’s only strategy for victory is a run against the Democratic Party proper — a capricious limb to be out on. It remains the rosetta stone in my mind, and that of the DNC, for whether the Ds will gain control of the Senate. This is because…
My calculations have changed with the seats the Ds currently hold. I had the Ds winning all of them. Now I believe New Jersey will change hands. A minorly corrupt and appointed Democratic figure is running behind the son (why do people so often elect the offspring of popular politicos?) of a post 9/11 lionized governor.
Thus I arrive at 50 – 50. Where my prognostication is wrong I do not know. You tell me.