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Opening Arguments

The new number is 49

In a comment on a post yesterday, Tim Zank pointed to a new Rasmussen poll showing Evan Bayh doing poorly in matchups against announced Republican candidates, and even losing by three points against Mike Pence, whom Republicans are urging to run. That's an astonishing indication of how quickly the Brown effect is moving through political circles, and many news outlets have picked up on the poll today. Political analyst Michale Barone has a lengthy column on Bayh's problem:

This is where the Obama administration programs and the Senate health care bill, for which Evan Bayh voted, have put an attractive and well-known Democrat who has shown time and again his ability to run far ahead of his party.  

No wonder Evan Bayh has no use for the advice of bloggers that Democrats should buckle down and somehow jam a health care bill through.

[. . .]

Evan Bayh did not win five statewide races in Indiana, a state that tends to favor the other party, by being stupid. Now the question is whether he is smart enough to get himself out of the hole Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have dug for him—and which he was willing, when the Senate had 60 Democrats, to jump in himself.

Just a few weeks ago, conventional wisdom had it that Republicans would make some gains in the House this year but certainly not enough to gain control. And the Senate wasn't even worth talking about. Barone mentions the previously unthinkable:

Larry Sabato and Nate Silver say that if the November election were held today, Democrats would lose seven Senate seats, bringing their total down to 52. They didn't count Bayh's seat, or those held by Russ Feingold or Wisconsin or Patty Murray of Washington, as one that would be lost. If Democrats lose those, they would be down to 49 — a huge loss, and in an election in which a year ago they thought they could gain rather than lose seats.

UPDATE: Pence is saying he won't run. H/T to Tim.


tim zank
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 1:14pm

You know, some readers here may have trouble believing this, (since I'm a redneck conservative republican and all) but I never had a problem with Bayh (actually having voted for him) until he was being courted as a V.P. candidate. That's when (in my mind) he flushed away all those years of fiscal conservatism and common sense leadership decisions he'd made by becoming really "squishy" on ALL issues and questions.

Prior to that he hadn't really been much of a "flip-flopper" or blatant obfuscator, but when the national spotlight hit him he really morphed into just another "which ever way the wind is blowing" politician.

While it's nice to see him (albeit weakly) renounce some of Teh One's socialist agenda, it's probably a little late.

tim zank
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 1:38pm

Just ran across this:

Looks like Pence is out, which will leave Marlin Stutzman to challenge Bayh. Looks like Evan will be ok this cycle, Stutzman doesn't have the cred or $$ to beat Bath.

Kevin Knuth
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 6:29pm

Pence never had any intention of getting in this race. There is no upside for him.

At BEST he would be the 100th person in the Senate. At worst, he would lose and then be damaged for further races.

I will also point out that while people are making a big deal about this poll, you are only hearing ONE number. Here is another one from the same poll:

Bayh's favorability number is still at 58%. That is quite good. Pence does well too- 54%- but 20% of the population say that they have no opinion because they don't know enough about him. From a political polling perspective, 20% "don't know" is a BIG number to be concerned with.