RUMBLINGS OF UNREST IN WEST VIRGINIA CONTINUE TO BE FELT under the feet of Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, who may face a stiff challenge in 2006 from Republican Shelley Moore Capito. Dick Morris breaks down the schizophrenic poll data in the state, which points to a knock down drag-out next year, something Byrd has never had to face in his long career.
Byrd, who still boats a 62-28 favorable-unfavorable ratio, may have met his match and master in Capito, who has a statewide rating of 57-35.
While the West Virginia electorate remains 56-32 Democrat over Republican, it is also conservative as opposed to liberal by 67-30. (The survey likely includes moderates among the 42 percent who style themselves somewhat conservative.)
Nevertheless, West Virginia went for President Bush by 56-43 in 2004 and 52-46 in 2000, and voters who back the GOP nationally are getting less and less forgiving of their Democratic representatives and senators in Congress. As party-line voting increases in Washington and the well-publicized partisan feuds animate the body, voters are getting the point that as long as the legislators vote a straight party line, so should they.
Morris also points out there are far more Democratic senators in "bright red" states than Republican senators in "deep blue" states up for election in 2006, 11 to 3 to be exact.
He does fail to mention at least one other race that could have implications, the one right here in Minnesota. Mark Dayton will not run again and Mark Kennedy, a popular Republican, is a candidate without a viable challenger right now. Frankly, the state democratic party does not really have a candidate to offer that carries the name recognition or the reputation of Kennedy. Unless someone rises to the occasion in the next few months, with something to offer other than the same old rhetoric, Kennedy looks to win pretty handily.
Morris points out that if all of the states were to vote for senators the way they did the president the sernate would realign 62-38. This is highly unlikely, but any notion that the Democratic Party has of regaining seats in the senate is probably just as unlikely.