If you’re a Kentucky voter who is sick and tired of Mitch McConnell, I don’t think it is all that likely that you will vote for him because you are also sick and tired of Barack Obama. It’s important to keep this in mind when you start talking about the danger for Democrats of a nationalized election. Whether Kentuckians like Alison Lundergan Grimes or not, they aren’t sick and tired of looking at her and listening to her speak. She’s a fresh face. If all other things were equal, she’d have a hard time beating McConnell, but things are not equal. Mitch McConnell is immensely unpopular in his home state.

Conversely, politicians like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas are actually fairly well-liked in their home states. They both come from well-respected political dynasties, and people will vote for them who would never vote for Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, or Barack Obama.

It’s important to do historical and statistical research when you are trying to do intelligent political prognostication, but there’s no substitute in predicting who will win the election in, say, Alaska, than to look at the candidates. Do I think Mark Begich is about to get kicked out of the Senate? No. I don’t. I think he will be reelected. I think Pryor and Landrieu will be reelected, too. I’m less confident about Kay Hagan’s chances, but she has a good shot at winning another term.

When you focus too much on things like the average historic swing or the president’s approval ratings, you miss that the current iteration of the Republican Party is new and uncommonly radical. Kay Hagan’s opponent in North Carolina is billed as an “establishment” candidate, but he’s a lunatic by historic standards. And that actually matters.

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