David Corn

David Corn

Washington Bureau Chief

Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.

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The Top 10 Senate Races To Worry About

| Fri Sep. 10, 2010 9:45 AM EDT

Months ago, the political commentariat's position was that the Democrats' hold on the Senate was inviolable; only the House was in play. But in recent weeks, the story line has changed: maybe...the Senate, too. It does seem a heavier lift for the GOPers, but with the economy still in the tank and many polls suggesting the Dems are heading for a cliff, the Senate Democrats have become more vulnerable. NBC News' "First Read" newsletter today put out a handy guide to the ten Senate races where there's a good shot of a pick-up. Note that there's not one Democratic possible gain on this list:

First Read’s Top 10 Senate Takeovers: Chew on this: Right now, Republicans have a better chance of flipping West Virginia’s Senate seat than Democrats have in picking up the one in Ohio. In fact, this is our first Top 10 Senate takeover list this cycle where we don’t have a single Dem pick-up opportunity. According to this list, Republicans—right now—would gain a minimum of five seats. Yet to take control of the chamber, they’d need to win all 10 on the list (or win a substitute outside the Top 10). The number in parentheses is our ranking from last month.

1. North Dakota (1): Get ready to ho-down with Republican John Hoeven (R); yes, we're running out of Hoeven puns. Ranking: Solid GOP.

2. Delaware (2): Does Mike Castle (R) survive his primary against Christine O’Donnell (R)? The GOP’s likelihood of winning this seat depends on it. Ranking (with Castle as nominee): Probable GOP.

3. Arkansas (3): Bill Clinton campaigned this week for incumbent Blanche Lincoln (D), but it’s unlikely to change the dynamics of her race against John Boozman (R). Ranking: Probable GOP.

4. Indiana (4): Speaking of being able to change the dynamics, Brad Ellsworth (D) hasn’t caught up to Dan Coats (R). Ranking: Probable GOP.

5. Pennsylvania (5): After being dormant for the last couple of months, Joe Sestak’s (D) campaign has become more active, with Biden and Obama set to stump for him later this month. Right now, though, this is Pat Toomey’s (R) race to lose. Ranking: Lean GOP.

6. Illinois (7): The Alexi Giannoulias (D)-vs.-Mark Kirk (R) contest remains what we consider to be the truest 50%-50% race out there. Ranking: Toss Up.

7. Colorado (unranked): The Ken Buck (R)-vs.-Michael Bennet (D) race is close to being a pure 50%-50% race, too. Which force will be greater -- the overall political environment, or the GOP’s woes in the state? Ranking: Toss Up.

8. Nevada (8): Now we enter the contests where Democrats might have an advantage by a fingernail. But the Harry Reid (D)-vs.Sharron Angle (R) race is going to close. Fasten your seatbelts. Ranking: Toss Up.

9. Wisconsin (unranked): As was the case in ‘98, Russ Feingold (D) is fighting for his political life. What makes this time more difficult for him is that this political environment is much different than ’98 was. Ranking: Toss Up.

10. Washington (10): If Republicans indeed catch a wave on Election Night, we’ll be pulling an all-nighter watching the returns from the Patty Murray (D)-vs.-Dino Rossi (R) race. Ranking: Toss Up.

Pelosi's Challenger Asks Me for Money

| Mon Aug. 30, 2010 12:07 PM EDT

This past weekend I received on my home line a call from John Dennis, the Republican long-shot candidate challenging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was a recorded message in which he blamed her for "no jobs" and out-of-control debt. He warned that she "wants to raise your taxes." But after the rant, a live voice came on, a woman named Susan, who asked if I would now participate in a survey. There was but one question: "Would America be better off without Nancy Pelosi?"

Sure, I said to Susan. But first I had a question for her: who did she work for? Her first response: John Dennis for Congress. Nah, I said. You're not in his campaign office, you're obviously working for a firm he's hired. Which one? Infocision Management Corporation, she said. (The firms's website boasts it is "THE highest quality call center company in the world.") And what list are you using? I asked Susan. A series of lists, she said. Which one had my name and number, I enquired politely. "We have your name because you've supported conservative causes and campaigns," she said.

"I don't think so," I replied. Without missing a beat, she said, "You may have done more than you realize."

Perhaps. But probably not.

In any event, this call from the Dennis campaign caused me to wonder if he's wasting lots of money using lousy lists with names of unlikely potential donors across the country.

After courteously answering my questions, Susan asked if we could return to the survey question. Sure, I said. She put it to me again, and I said that I doubted America would be better off without Pelosi. In a flash, she thanked me and hung up.

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