Friday, November 03, 2006

House and Senate Outlook (4 Days Out...)

congresscountdown-061103.jpgSome good news and some disappointing news from the WaPo's Congressional Countdown update for today:
In today’s Countdown ratings, we’ve moved several House races and one Senate race. For starters, we’ve substituted Colorado’s 4th District for Colorado’s 5th District on our list of most competitive races. It turns out that Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) is in a very tough race, more difficult it appears than Republican Doug Lamborn, although he may not be out of trouble. Musgrave won with just 51 percent two years ago and we rate her contest against Democrat Angie Paccione a tossup.

We also decided to move Gutknecht in Minnesota and Rep. Thelma Drake (R) in Virginia’s 2d District from “Leans Republican” to “Tossup.”

In Senate races, Sen. Conrad Burns ( R) has regained ground against Democrat Jon Tester in Montana. President Bush was in the state yesterday to campaign for Burns and Vice President Cheney swung through on Wednesday. We had given Tester the edge in our initial rankings, but we’ve moved it from “Lean Democrat” to “Tossup.”

The Slog, the blog from The Stranger (our local alternative weekly here in Seattle), notes that while Burns got a visit from President Bush to help boost his fortunes, Tester's on his own with just the popular Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer at his side:
The Montana Senate race is all about a new kind of Democrat — the rugged, rural, populist Democrat embodied, in this particular Montana race, by third-generation farmer Jon Tester. And there’s not a very deep bench of national-level rural Democrats to send to rally voters in Montana, a state that doesn’t much care for citified liberals.

So while Bill Clinton was in Arizona today trying to tip that suddenly-close Senate race into Democratic hands, and while Barack Obama, Michael J. Fox, and Gen. Wesley Clark were in Virginia today trying to boost the chances of Democrat Jim Webb, there’s really no one to send to Tester’s rescue as his opponent, Republican incumbent Conrad Burns, closes in on Tester in the polls.

But there is this note of hope from the Tester web site:
As President Bush lands in Montana to plead for support for Sen. Conrad Burns, a new poll released Thursday shows challenger Jon Tester with a commanding 21% lead among early voters.


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