You know a party is in trouble when their incumbent senators are looking vulnerable. That is not the case for the Republicans.
Of the eleven incumbents they have facing reelection, only three are showing any vulnerability at all. John McCain of Arizona is struggling to keep distance between himself and primary challenger J.D. Hayworth. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has some anemic polling numbers against Roxanne Conlin. The most endangered Republican, Richard Burr of North Carolina, is looking vulnerable to either Cal Cunningham or Elaine Marshall. Any trouble that might be waiting for diaper-wearing David Vitter of Louisiana is strictly theoretical at this point.
And there is no sign of trouble yet for Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, or John Thune of South Dakota.
There were never going to be a whole lot of pick-up opportunities for the Democrats to challenge incumbents in this cycle, but you have to be unimpressed with the job DSCC chairman Bob Menendez did recruiting. Are we prepared to exploit it if J.D. Hayworth upsets McCain? The DSCC candidate in North Carolina came in second in the primary and is now campaigning in a run-off against Elaine Marshall instead of against Richard Burr. I don’t even know if we have candidates in Alaska, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Idaho. What if the Republican gets caught foot-tapping in an airport bathroom? There will definitely be no Democrat on the ballot in South Dakota because the filing deadline came and went. The only success Menendez had in recruiting against incumbents was getting Über-Blue Dog Rep. Charlie Melancon to drag his anti-choice ass out of the House and challenge the whore-loving family values man David Vitter. That’s pretty hard for me to get excited about.
No, the real action is going to in open seats. If the Democrats can win in New Hampshire, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, and either win with Meek in Florida or get Crist to caucus with them, then they could actually increase their majority in the Senate, depending on what happens in other races.
It’s a tough election cycle, but we can still do well on the Senate side. With better recruitment, our chances would be better.