New Print Edition: Missouri Senate, Connecticut 5, & Governors Ratings

June 16, 2006 · 3:21 PM EDT

The new June 16, 2006 print edition of the Rothenberg Political Report is on its way to subscribers. (Click here for subscription information.)

Missouri Senate: Guilt By Association?
By Nathan L. Gonzales

If you look up “bellwether” in the dictionary, you might see the state of Missouri in the definition. The Show Me State has received plenty of attention over the years for voting for the winning presidential candidate in every election, except for one, since World War II. But in 2006, Missouri may be a good indicator for Republican prospects nationwide in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Jim Talent (R) is running virtually even with state Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) in a race that is unlikely to see much daylight between the two candidates between now and Election Day. Talent’s chief problem appears to be that he is from the same party as President Bush, so if the GOP senator is defeated, plenty of other House and Senate Republicans are likely to be defeated as well.

McCaskill is a credible challenger, but she would be a clear underdog in a neutral national political environment in a state that his been moving into the GOP column. She still has a 2004 gubernatorial loss on her resume, and must now make the difficult jump from a down ballot statewide office to federal office, where the issue set is much different.

But if this fall’s election is a referendum on George W. Bush, it is Talent who has significant trouble.

Missouri is on the back end of the top-tier races in the country. A victory here would likely have Democrats knocking on the door of a majority.

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Connecticut 5: The Loudest Sneak Attack

Republican incumbents across the country are on alert for a potential Democratic wave this November. And on Election Night, the East Coast will be the place to watch to see whether a wave is hitting – or how big it is.

Cong. Nancy Johnson (R) is well aware that the national political environment is a difficult one for Republicans, and she knows that Democrats are targeting her and believe that state Sen. Chris Murphy (D) will be a formidable opponent for her in Connecticut’s 5th District.

Democrats are already trying to rough up Johnson, but the Republican isn’t backing down. Not one inch. In fact, she is known for her toughness, and her willingness to counter-attack.

First elected to Congress in 1982, Johnson hasn’t been a perennial Democratic target. But she has faced some tough reelection fights, and she has proven to be one of the most prolific fundraisers in the House. Democratic hopes are riding on Murphy, who is half Johnson’s age but has a history of defeating GOP opponents in tough districts.

Johnson is just one of three vulnerable Republican incumbents in Connecticut. But her loss would be both a numerical and symbolic defeat based on the strong campaign she is putting together. And Murphy win would almost surely presage a Democratic takeover of the House in November.

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2006 Governor Ratings

Three Democratic governors, in Michigan, Wisconsin and Oregon, look increasingly vulnerable, but the GOP continues to have greater overall vulnerability in state capitols in the 2006 elections.

Republican open seats are a particular problem for the party, which could well lose three big state governors. New York already is lost, and Ohio and Massachusetts don’t seem to be far behind. Former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) is favored to oust Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) in Alaska.

Democratic governors currently sit in 22 state capitols, but after November, there are likely to be more Democratic than Republican governors. We currently project Democratic gains in the 4 to 6 governors range.

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