Michael Steele has some GOP folks in a snit because he’s suggested that while they will pick up seats, they will not gain a majority in the House.
I think it’s a little much to get upset with him. I think he’s reading some of the populist movement (Tea Party, or whatever you want to call it) correctly. The discontent in the country isn’t about Republicans and Democrats, it’s about incumbents and being sick of the entire lot of them.
The House is unpredictable, and I’m sure there is a huge opportunity for Republicans to pick up seats in close races, but the same is true with Democrats. There are a lot of independents out there who are thinking outside R and D, and instead will be throwing the bums out; I think we might see some Republicans caught up in the housecleaning. My hope is that we see a lot of incumbents lose; we’ll see the Republicans pick up seats, but I think some incumbents are going to get tossed in primary races.
On the Senate side (which I don’t think Steele has addressed), it’s a little easier to analyse, as there are only 36 seats up for grabs (18 on each side). So lets take a look at them.
First, here’s a list of folks who aren’t going anywhere:
The Dems are: Boxer, Inouye, Bayh, Mikulski, Schumer, Wyden, Leahy, Murray, Feingold, Lincoln.
The Republicans: Shelby, Murkowski (maybe not her, but it will be a Republican), McCain, Isakson, Crapo, Grassley, Coburn, DeMint, Bennett
So that leaves these races as possible changes:
NY – Gilibrand (D). She’s considered safe, but if Rudy Giuliani or George Pataki decide they would like the job, I think this could change.
ND – Dorgan (D). Also considered pretty safe, I think North Dakota might make a change this year.
PA – Specter (D). He switched parties to make sure he kept this seat, because he would lose in the Republican primary. I wouldn’t count out a Democrat challenge (although the party won’t support it), and you never know how irritated folks are in PA with him.
KS – Open. The Republican (Brownback) is retiring. But this is Kansas, so you’d expect another R.
SD – Thune (R). This depends; it’s unlikely the Democrats will come up with a strong challenger, but if they do, this seat could switch sides.
CO – Benet (D). He was appointed, not elected, and while CO can lean to the left, there may be a couple of strong challengers.
CT – Open. Chris Dodd (D) is retiring. I think this is up for grabs, although some smarter than I think there’s no chance the Democrats keep this seat.
DE – Open. This is Biden’s old seat, held now by Kaufman, who is not running to keep it. I think this could be a crapshoot.
FL – Open. This could be a great primary race on the Republican side between Crist and Rubio, but there isn’t a strong Democrat (yet).
IL – Open. Marred by controversy, Burris isn’t sticking around. But this is the state that put our Dear Leader in the Senate, so it’s a safe bet the replacement will have a D next to his name… but you never know. Mark Kirk is running, who was in the news due to an idiotic attack ad, which may give him some notoriety, at least.
KY – Open. Bunning is leaving, putting this seat up for grabs, and this will be another fun race to watch. Two strong democrats, and the conservative Grayson vs the libertarian Rand Paul (with all of this Tea Party support). I’d love to see Paul pull this out.
LA – Vitter (R). Maybe if he hadn’t shown up on the list of a certain DC Madam, this seat would be safe. It isn’t.
MO – Open. Bond (R) is retiring, another crapshoot with an interesting Democrat primary.
NV – Reid (D). He’s REALLY unpopular, but there isn’t a strong Republican (yet).
So, given all that, 19 seats are pretty safe, and 17 are not. IL will stay Democrat. Vitter is gone, and I think that will switch from R to D. If all 15 go Republican, they will pick up 8 seats. Not enough to get a majority.
The good news for the Republicans is they only need 1 to be able to put the brakes on. That’s going to happen, no doubt. I think it’s realistic to expect closer to 8, honestly, but there’s no way they regain control of the Senate until 2012.
The more interesting question to me: will we see any ‘thrid party’ or Independents win seats (Rand Paul notwithstanding)? Might be time….