13 November 2006

Moderate U.S. Senators, Who's Left?

Who are the most moderate Republicans left in the U.S. Senate (according to the American Conservative Union rankings)?

1. Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania) 45 next election in 2010.
2. Olympia Snow (Maine) 50 next election in 2012
3. Susan Collins (Maine) 55 next election in 2008.
4. Ted Stevens (Alaska) 64 next election in 2008.
5. Pete Domenici (New Mexico) 74 next election in 2008.
5. Richard Shelby (Alabama) 74 next election in 2010.
7. Gordon Smith (Oregon) 75 next election in 2008.
8. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) 76 next election in 2010.
9. George Voinovich (Ohio) 77 next election in 2010.
10. Judd Gregg (New Hampshire) 79 next election in 2010.
10. Richard Lugar (Indiana) 79 next election in 2012.

Also notable are conserative Republicans who represent purple states and are up for election in 2008. They include:

Wayne Allard (Colorado)
Norm Coleman (Minnesota)
John Sununu (New Hampshire)

The hot races for Democrats to try to improve their majority in the U.S. Senate in 2008 will be:

Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maine, New Mexico and Alaska.

Colorado already has a strong Democratic candidate in the form of Mark Udall, running for U.S. Senate. I don't know the state of the other five races, but Alaska is likely to be an open seat, making it more attractive than it might be otherwise.

The most moderate incumbent Democrats in the U.S. Senate are:

1. Ben Nelson (Nebraska) 53 next election in 2012.
2. Robert Byrd (West Virginia) 30 next election in 2012.
3. Ken Salazar (Colorado) 28 next election in 2010.
4. Mark Pryor (Arkansas) 25 next election in 2008.
5. Evan Bayh (Indiana) 21 next election in 2010.
5. Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas) 21 next election in 2010.
7. Mary Landrieu (Louisiana) 20 next election in 2008.
7. Harry Reid (Nevada) 20 next election in 2010.
7. Kent Conrad (North Dakota) 20 next election in 2012.
10. Byron Dorgan (North Dakota) 18 next election in 2010.
10. Bill Nelson (Florida) 18 next election in 2012.

Note that Joseph Lieberman (an "independent Democrat") who next faces voters in 2012, failed to make the list, even though he has been outspokenly conservative on some high profile issues and in symbolically breaking with his party in his independent election run and statements in support of President Bush.

The prospects of Democratic incumbents being replaced by more liberal U.S. Senators in 2008 is dim. Both moderate Democrats facing the voters in 2008 are in red states where moderation is necessary to be re-elected. In short, the moderate wing of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate is firmly entrenched.

Ben Nelson is the man in the middle in the U.S. Senate. He is the only Democrat is who more conservative than any of the Republicans in the U.S. Senate, and when Democrats hold 51 seats in the U.S. Senate, he is the pivotal vote on a wide variety of issues.

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