Monday, October 06, 2008

Texas U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

Texas U.S. Senate

October 6, 2008
29 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2004 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Likely Republican

Six years ago, in a far more friendly environment nationwide for Republicans, GOP Senate candidate John Cornyn was thought to be in a very competitive race but he wound up winning going away. Now, he is seeking his second term and while he has not done much to establish an overwhelmingly positive profile back home, the Republican bend of the Lone Star State should still be enough to put him across the finish line against Democrat State Representative Rick Noriega.

Cornyn might have been given his biggest break when a wealthy trial attorney who had been competing in the Democrat primary for the U.S. Senate seat surprisingly dropped out, which all but ceded the race to Noriega. The other Democrat might have had the capacity to match the incumbent Cornyn dollar for dollar. Instead, he now faces a Democrat opponent, who while credible is not considered a top tier challenger. Noriega though will hope to capitalize as an Hispanic candidate on that growing demographic in the state as well as a potentially large African-American turnout for Barack Obama, in a state in which he will still far several points short. This calculus did not work out though as intended in 2002 as Cornyn's African-American opponent and the state's Hispanic candidate for Governor both lost and fell short of expectations in the process.

Still though, Cornyn has at times brought controversy to himself in the Senate because of rhetoric and has not gone out of his way to become a beloved figure at home. Polls through the summer have shown him continuing to hold a comfortable double digit lead over Noriega, but not over the supposedly safe 50 percent mark. The most recent poll from late September even shows the race closer now at 50-43, although there is some speculation that the aftermatch of Hurricane Ike in the state has made polling more difficult. The poll also shows that despite that tightening, Noriega's own unfavorables may make it tougher to make up the distance.

For a variety of reasons, Cornyn is not sailing to the victory he should be in a heavily Republican state, but his incumbency and financial advantages mean that a Democrat upset pick-up would have to be considered pretty shocking.

Cornyn campaign link:

2008 U.S. Senate races predicted: 13 D, 18 R
Predicted Senate balance of power thus far: 52 D, 44 R


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