The Dems' Bright Spots
By my count, there isn't a single Senate race right now in which Democrats have a better-than-even shot to take a Republican seat. The Dems even trail in the open-seat contests in Ohio and Missouri—thought to be their best pickup opportunities. On the House side, the situation is much the same. But there, at least, one can see some bright spots for the blue team.
- In Delaware, a recent Rasmussen poll shows Lt. Gov. John Carney leading two unknown Republicans by double digits. The Dems should be able to pick up longtime GOP Rep. Mike Castle's house seat—but only because he's running for Senate.
- In Hawaii, Democrats have finally sorted out the internal battle that caused them to split the vote against Honolulu City councilman (and now-Rep.) Charles Djou in a May special election. State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, who took the larger chunk of the split Dem vote in May, will face Djou in a rematch. Djou will need more than the 39 percent he won in the spring if he hopes to hold on to his seat this fall.
- In Louisiana, Rep. Joseph Cao became the first Republican since 1890 to win in the New Orleans-centered 2nd Congressional District when he ousted corrupt incumbent Dem William Jefferson in 2008. Our own Suzy Khimm has suggested that Cao might hold on—but in a district that is more Democratic than the vast majority of House districts, it'll be a heavy lift.
- In Illinois, Dems hope to pick up the suburban Chicago district that was held for five terms by GOPer Mark Kirk, who is running for Barack Obama's old Senate seat. The district is solidly Democratic in presidential elections (61 percent voted for Obama), but voters there elected the moderate Kirk again and again (Kirk twice beat Dan Seals, who's running again this year). But like the Delaware contest, this race is only competitive because the incumbent left it to run for Senate (and has a good chance of winning.)
That's really about it—and the Illinois race is a bit of a stretch if we're only counting contests where the Dems have a "better than even" shot. Needless to say, four pickups is not going to do much to counteract the problems that dozens of Dem incumbents face this fall. That sound you hear is minority leader John Boehner giggling.