Down year for Senate spending?


Wachovia Capital Markets’ Marci Ryvicker and associates are looking for at best a rerun of the amount of spending on Senate races as we saw in 2006, which WCM pegs at 302M (for television). WCM says it could even be lower than that, noting that Republicans may not mount as spirited a defense as it did that year in which the Democratic Party squeaked out enough wins to gain control of the body. How much lower? WCM suggests as much as 20%-30%.

Two states have both seats up for grabs — Wyoming’s Michael Enzi (R-WY) is up for re-election and the other seat opened upon the death of Craig Thomas (R-WY). In Mississippi, Thad Cochran (R-MS) has indicated he’ll run for another term, while Trent Lott (R-MS) is retiring early after winning re-election in 2006.Five other open seats are available, all due to exiting Republicans. They are in Colorado (Wayne Allard), Idaho (Larry Craig), Nebraska (Chuck Hagel), New Mexico (Pete Domenici) and Virginia (John Warner). Democrats are expected to be competitive in Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico, and perhaps Nebraska. Idaho is still generally considered safe Republican territory despite Craig’s well-publicized problems.

Republican candidates thought to be particularly vulnerable include  Susan Collins (R-ME), Norm Coleman (R-MN), John Sununu (R-NH), and Gordon Smith (R-OR). Conversely, two Democrats are being targeted by Republicans, Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Tim Johnson (D-SD).

Wachovia lists nine states anticipated to be staging areas for hot races. Among those we mentioned are Colorado, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota and Virginia. It does not list Minnesota or Nebraska.The others it thinks may attract cash are Georgia, Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) defending; Kentucky, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) defending; and Texas, John Cornyn (R-TX) defending.

RBR/TVBR observation: Depending on how things are going, we’d suggest that there is every possibility that spending on Senate races will exceed 2006, even though the presidential race will drain some of the cash as it did not last time around. Smelling blood, Democrats cheerfully went into debt to maximize their chances at the last minute, a tactic either party may adopt if it smells opportunity or needs to put up a stiff defense.