I got an email yesterday from a regular reader who’s a Republican staffer on Capitol Hill, telling me that my run-down of Senate races yesterday was wildly biased in favor of the Democrats. It didn’t point out for instance that in Missouri — state of TPM’s birth, as it turns out — Jean Carnahan seems to be fading in the stretch. That’s a race that I think most Dems thought they’d pull out. And though it’s far from over, it’s suddenly started looking very uphill. My choices of which races to mention were based on which ones had results which struck me as noteworthy. Still, it was a legitimate criticism.
Having said that, though, I feel even more confident today than I did yesterday of the overall premise of the post: that things are looking up for the Democrats.
I’d point to four races. The first and most obvious is New Jersey. Clearly, Doug Forrester is toast. Put a fork in ’em. Put a metaphor in ’em. Whatever. He’s gone. Buhh-bye…
In the few short weeks since the Democrats switched candidates Forrester has gone from a dozen points up to a dozen points down — a rather dizzying descent. If that weren’t enough, reporters have now unearthed a sheaf of old newspaper columns Forrester wrote for the now-defunct and previously minuscule West Windsor-Plainsboro Chronicle about a decade ago. Those columns include — among other things — his earlier opposition to such radical legislation as those bans on assault weapons which never fail to inflame the gun-crazy denizens of Montclair and Wyckoff. In truth, the discovery of the long-forgotten newspaper columns is almost a cliche, a set piece of the modern political campaign drama. And such an unearthing usually signifies the start of the final death spiral of the sputtering goof who wrote them. If the Jersey Senate campaign were a work of low-rent magical realist fiction — though I guess that’s not really such a far-fetched proposition — this would be the moment when a big black raven alighted on Forrester’s left shoulder and started cackling ominously or maybe warbling Beelzebub in bird language.
Anyway, point being, he’s gone. And that puts one seat safely back in the Democratic column.
The other three races are Wellstone in Minnesota, Shaheen in New Hampshire and Bowles in North Carolina. Lots of people were really starting to think Wellstone wasn’t going to pull it out. Now it seems like he probably will, though it’s still very touch-and-go. I’d figured Shaheen was going to lose but now she seems marginally ahead. And, again, Bowles is making a serious run Liddy Dole.
There are other states where Dems are getting serious challenges: Georgia, for instance, and more about that later. But those three races give me the feeling that the Democrats are back in the hunt for expanding their majority, if only very slightly.