May 31 2005
Michael Barone has an excellent analysis out showing why the democrats may not see control of the senate for a long time. He notes that the presidential elections , with the Electorial College (EC) weighted for population of each state, give the democrats an impression of national parity that should be reflected in the Senate. The problem is that same EC distortion is what makes it nearly impossible for the dems to control the senate. Dems win a few big states with large EC counts, Bush has been winning more states with much smaller EC counts. But each state has two senators so you want more states, not more population to have control.
Since 2000, both parties have gained Senate seats in the states they typically carry in presidential campaigns. But this political partitioning provides a clear advantage for Republicans because so many more states backed Bush in his bids for the presidency.
Twenty-nine states voted for Bush in 2000 and in 2004. Republicans now hold 44 of the 58 Senate seats in those so-called red states. That’s a much higher percentage of in-party Senate seats than Presidents Reagan and Clinton were able to claim in states they carried twice.
More important, on the strength of those states alone, the GOP is on the brink of a majority in the 100-member Senate.
Barone also points out the partisan fissure has made the existance of cross party senators in opponent leaning states a dying breed.
In the elections of 2000, 2002 and 2004, Republicans gained a net of six Senate seats in the red states that Bush carried twice. Democrats added four Senate seats in the blue states that twice voted against Bush; Republicans lost another blue-state Senate seat when Jeffords quit the GOP in 2001.
Republicans now hold 76% of the red-state Senate seats; Democrats 78% of the blue-state Senate seats.
This division has reshaped the political landscape most profoundly in the South. Under Bush, the GOP has won the last nine open Southern Senate seats, including five seats vacated by retiring Democrats in 2004. In all, Republicans now control 18 of the 22 Senate seats in the 11 states of the old Confederacy, compared to just 10 of those seats after Reagan’s 1984 landslide.
Basically Barone points out that the democrat strategy of going after Santorum in PA and Chaffee in RI is short sighted. While republicans target the two Nelson’s and Byrd in WVA they are playing in red state land. But even beyond that, reps are targetting light blue states that could become light red states easily – like MN. And they are also targetting deep into enemy lines by going strongly after MD and NJ seats. The dems are on their heals for 2006. They have a screwed up DNC chair who is failing in bringing in the money and moderate independent voters, and now they are playing defense.
Should be another historical election for George W Bush.
Capt Ed Morrissey has a posting on this