The media has been avidly following the presidential campaign for over a year now, but Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain are not the only two candidates on the ballot on Nov. 4. There are many significant senate races today that may signal a changing of the guard in historically Republican states.
“Our major media has been playing up the presidential election,” Dr. JoAnn Myers, political science professor said. “I think they need to talk about everything else, so people don’t just go in and vote for the president and walk away. There are other races that are just as important.”
Today there are 35 Senate seats up for grabs. Twenty-three are currently held by Republicans and 12 are held by Democrats. Currently, the Democrats have a 51-49 and many experts, including Dr. Myers, project that they are capable of picking up as many as 9 seats, which would ensure a filibuster-proof Senate.
Not all experts agree, however.
Political science professor Dr. Artin Arsalanian does not think that it’s plausible that the Democrats will be able to gain all 9 seats.
“The current projection is the Democrats will pick up 7 seats,” Myers said.
If the Democrats only pick up 7 seats, Myers believes that they will need to persuade moderate Republicans to join them in passing legislation.
“There used to be a thing called Rockefeller Republicans, who were fiscally conservative, but socially liberal,” Myers said.
Pollster.com polls show that voters’ approval of Republicans is significantly lower than Democrats and Myers believes that will correlate into many Democrat senators riding Obama’s strong coattails into the senate—even in historically “red states” like North Carolina and Alaska.
It’s been 35 years since a senator that wasn’t a Republican served in North Carolina, but incumbent Republican, Elizabeth Dole is trailing Kay Hagan by 7 points in two polls released yesterday.
After Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska was convicted of corruption charges on Oct. 28 a Research 2000 poll was released that showed the longest serving Republican senator was trailing Democrat Mark Begich by 22 points.
Arsalanian said these projections are accurate. He said that Alaskans are disillusioned about Stevens and some have negative feelings towards Gov. Palin, which may further impact Steven’s reelection bid.
Arslanian, a former North Carolina resident, believes that both Stevens and Dole will lose their respective re-elections.