Thursday, October 25, 2007

Senate 2008 Looking Better

With the announcement that Rep. Davis (R-VA-11) is dropping out of the Virginia Senate race, the field of seats that are strongly leaning to flipping to Democrats has doubled to two seats. Assuming no Macaca incidents, Virginia and New Hampshire are strongly positioned to flip to the Democrats, while Louisiana is the only state where a straight-faced argument can be made that the seat is favorted to flip to the Republican challenger.

Libby immediately before me raises an interesting point on these two seats from a liberal/progressive activist perspective ---- what type of Democrats will Warner and Shaheen be in the Senate? And if they are going to be consistent defectors on core values, what is the value from an activist perspective of supporting this type of behavior?

To the best of my knowledge both Gov. Warner and Gov. Shaheen are moderate, liberal wonky technocrats who have a firmly developped sense of the wind. On most issues this should be more than sufficient from an activist point of view as appropriate application of pressure and benefits should produce results on wide population, low salience issues in most cases except perhaps telecommunications policy.

But I digress a bit. Right now even with an ineffecutal majority, and lousy message dissemination system, Democrats are still playing on the electoral offensive. South Dakota is the next likely battleground seat currently held by a Democratic Senator and with the improving health of Sen. Johnson, and the lack of a challenge by popular Republican Gov. Rounds, the threat is significantly lower than challenges being generated in Colorado and New Mexico that right now are toss-up/slightly leaning Democratic. Tough races that can be won in Blue States occur in Maine, Oregon and Minnesota, as well as potential corruption fueled opportunities in Alaska for an unanticipated and unusual pick-up. After that tier of toss-up/break-evens, Republicans finally get a couple of low probability chances to run against entrenched Democratic incumbents.

The same dynamic is playing out in the House. In the House, more and better candidates are being recruited by Democrats compared to Republican efforts, fewer current incumbents are retiring compared to both the GOP's retirement woes and historical trend.

So going back to the question raised by Libby, how do we get either 'good' Democrats who will vote, act, and operate to expand progressive issue space on their own personal or political instincts OR at least create a strong incentive structure to get the desired behavior? Or is this even remotely possible on a regular basis?

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