Matt Yglesias has a contrary, but somewhat overlapping, take
on the 2010 senate battles that I looked at
a few days ago. Rather than the issue being poor picks to replace senators dislodged by the 2008 election, Matt sees a larger context: too little attention to how much the need to play offense in 2010 would be critical to the success of Obama's legislative agenda.
So, in Matt's thinking, it's not so much poor appointments, it's why Obama pulled sitting senators (Clinton & Salazar) into his cabinet and -- perhaps even more important -- took a number of governors or ex-governors (Napolitano, Sebelius & Vilsack), who were well positioned for senate runs, into his cabinet as well. Add to that the fact that Obama and Biden themselves opened up seats and you've got a decent number of senate seats in play. The further point Matt makes, and I think it's a good one, is that it's not simply that Napolitano, Sebelius and Vilsack might have won their races. Their running also would have created political pressure from the left that would have been a factor in the legislative battles going on today.
Hindsight is 20/20. And a lot has changed in the last twelve months. But not necessarily that much that could not have been predicted.