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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Incumbents in 2010

On the Chris Matthews show the other night, Charlie Cook and Ron Brownstein noted a remarkable turnaround from 2006 and 2008, where Republican incumbents suffered greatly:
MATTHEWS: Can a Republican lose this year coming up? Can a Republican incumbent lose any race anywhere next year?
COOK: I would not be surprised to see no Republican incumbent, House or Senate, lose.
MATTHEWS: How about a Democrat? We‘ve got five vulnerable people here, Specter, Lincoln, Bennet, Dodd. You say Dodd is the most vulnerable. Who is the second-most vulnerable?

COOK: Reid—

BROWNSTEIN: Reid or Lincoln. Lincoln is in a situation where, again, it‘s more generic than personal. This is a state kind of filled with the kind of voters that have been most resistance to the direction Obama is setting. I think that‘s a real problem.

I think Colorado‘s a real challenge, too, because Bennet is operating, to some extent, as the shadow of the governor, Bill Ritter, who has a very uneven first term, some successes, a lot of disappointments. He could face a very—and Obama‘s approval there was dropping before the Fall.
As I have noted elsewhere, national parties in recent decades have played "sack the quarterback."  That is, they try to take out the other side's congressional leaders by defeating them at the polls (Tom Foley, Tom Daschle), or by exploiting ethics issues (Jim Wright, Newt Gingrich) and gaffes (Trent Lott).  As we point out in Epic Journey (pp. 183-184), Harry Reid targeted Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell for defeat in 2008.  McConnell survived, and is eager to strike back by taking down Reid in 2010.