Friday, July 27, 2007

New Print Edition: 2008 Senate Overview

The July 26, 2007 print edition of the Rothenberg Political Report is on its way to subscribers. The print edition comes out every two weeks and the content is not available online. Subscribers get in-depth analysis of the most competitive races in the country, as well as quarterly House and Senate ratings, and coverage of the gubernatorial races nationwide. To subscribe, simply click on the Google checkout button on the website or send a check. Here is a brief sample of what's in this edition...

Senate Overview – The Lay of the Land

The death of Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY) changes the arithmetic for 2008 by adding another Senate contest this cycle. Appointed Senator John Barrasso (R) must face voters next year for the right to fill the remaining four years of Thomas’s unexpired term, so Republicans now find themselves defending 22 of the 34 seats up next year.

The national political environment has not improved for Republicans. The war in Iraq remains unpopular, as does the President himself. True, national polling suggests that Congress is even less popular, so the overall landscape suggests problems for incumbents in general. But Republican incumbents are at the greatest risk, by far.

Democratic fundraising at all levels has been nothing short of stupendous, while Republicans are finding money a bit harder to come by. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had a $10 million advantage over the National Republican Senatorial Committee at the end of June.

Additional retirements remain a huge question mark, particularly for the GOP. Virginia’s John Warner, and Nebraska’s Chuck Hagel are on everyone’s list, and we assume both retirements in our ratings. Idaho Republican Larry Craig is another possible retiree, but an open seat in Idaho would not fundamentally undermine the GOP’s advantage in the race to retain it.

While it is far too early to make meaningful projections about the eventual net change in the Senate, it currently appears that Democrats are well positioned to gain at least a couple of seats, especially if, as we are assuming, former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) enters the New Hampshire race. And Democrats could have a significantly better year than that depending on the national mood, the dynamic created by the race for President, money and other factors.

For a state-by-state rundown on each race, you must subscribe...