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January 9, 2006
RNC Blogger Forum: Upcoming Races (Update and Bump)

Our second briefing comes from a GOP strategist that gives us an idea of the 2006 electoral battleground on a national and state-by-state basis. The Senate races get the first review, especially the Casey/Santorum race in Pennsylvania; the GOP expects it to be "very intense", and will make a lot of use of the Internet. The GOP expects to see a lot of money get thrown behind Casey and for the Democrats to treat it as their Daschle race.

Ohio and DeWine shows a problem with the GOP state scandals and a very unpopular Republican governor. They're hoping for a catfight in the primary between the Democrats.

Missouri has Talent, who barely won the last time and is tied at the moment. It's a swing state that Bush carried in 2004, but still a risk for the GOP.

Montana has another "testy" primary for the Democrats, but this may be an Abramoff-touched election with Conrad Burns defending his seat. Rhode Island will have a primary fight between Chafee and Laffey.

Tennessee will have a tough primary and will face Harold Ford in the end. Three very good candidates will vie for that chance.

Maryland has Michael Steele, a terrific candidate going after an open Democratic seat. The Democrats have a late primary and may lose momentum that Steele can maintain -- and spend money that Steele doesn't need to spend.

Washington -- the GOP is bully on former Safeco exec McGavick (sp?), but Cantwell has a big lead right now.

Minnesota -- they're very excited by Mark Kennedy, and they should be. He's a great candidate.

Nebraska -- It will be surprisingly tough to knock off Ben Nelson, even though the state went to Bush by 33 points in 2004. They have three good candidates lining up for the primary, but it will be an uphill battle; Nebraskans comfortable.

West Virginia - No candidate against Byrd yet, but expecting one soon.

Why does the NRSC and RNC spend money against Laffey and in support of the RINO Lincoln Chafee? Short answer: he supports Senator Frist as Majority Leader.


Only 18 GOP seats at risk, only 22 open seats overall -- the numbers do not give much hope to Democrats who want to take over the House. A quick run through all of the various races tend to blur together. The upshot: no one expects more than 30 seats overall to be in flux and the GOP fully expects to maintain majorities in both chambers of Congress.

UPDATE and BUMP: More insider information from GOP strategists on the House races. Since 1854, there have been six six-year midterms, and the average seat loss for the party in power is 41 seats. The only one to gain seats was Bill Clinton, and the RNC says their strategy was to blame. They ran a national theme race on corruption and got spanked. Instead, they have learned now that all politics are local, a realization that has allowed them to outperform expectations the last three cycles. Now the Democrats appear poised to run the 1998 GOP playbook, and this strategist says he's really not surprised. The DCCC has spent a great deal of its hard-to-raise hard money in 2005 on several trial runs for national themes, and all of them have bombed.

Another problem is incumbency and the depressive nature it has on finding new talent, even in a party's own safe districts. Beating an incumbent is almost impossible at the moment, and it stacks up new blood. Interesting.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 9, 2006 11:06 AM

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