I have very few changes this week, but all of my rating changes are in New England, and they all favor the GOP. No races are moving from the Democratic column to the Republican column, but three are inching in the Republicans’ direction. Click here for the updated Ratings Chart.
Massachusetts Governor: Likely D to Leaning D; Watch List
Democrat Martha Coakley appears to be in danger of repeating the late fade she had in a special U.S. Senate election against Republican Scott Brown in 2009. A series of polls has shown her trailing or neck-and-neck with Republican challenger Charlie Baker. Given the state’s heavy Democratic lean, I am not prepared to call Baker the favorite, but given Coakley’s history, I am moving this race from “Likely Democratic” to “Leans Democratic” and placing it on the Watch List. If Ms. Coakley loses a second high-profile statewide race in one of the nation’s most liberal states, she should retire from politics.
New Hampshire U.S. Senate: Likely D to Leaning D
In the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire, some recent polling has shown the aforementioned Scott Brown (R), the former Senator from Massachusetts, improving his standing against incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. I still think Shaheen is leading, but I am moving this race from “Likely Democratic” to “Leans Democratic.”
Maine 2nd District, U.S. House: Watch List
In the U.S. House, I am adding the race in Maine 2 to the Watch List. A recent Portland Press-Herald poll showed Republican Bruce Poliquin leading Democrat Emily Cain by 10 points. Given the fact that this district typically leans Democratic and that there has been very little public polling, my inclination is that this poll is probably off, but I am adding the race to the Watch List and seeking further information.
At this point, Republicans remain favored to pick up a net of eight U.S. House seats for a 242-193 majority and a net of six U.S. Senate seats for a 51-47 majority with two independents. (I count independent Senator Bernie Sanders as a Democrat due to the fact that he files on the Democratic and independent lines when running for election, and the fact that his political philosophy ensures that he will caucus with the Democrats in any case.)
It is also to be expected that if the Republicans do, in fact, secure 51 seats, the two true independents—Senator Angus King of Maine and, presuming he wins, Greg Orman of Kansas—will caucus with the Republicans, thereby giving the GOP a 53-47 organizational majority. It would make no sense for either of them to cast their lot with the minority party.
At this point, it still appears that Democrats are on course to pick up a net of two governorships, which would leave Republicans in charge of 27 governors’ mansions to the Democrats’ 23.