Over the last six years, I’ve been watching Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) very closely. Back in 2008, Chambliss faced a tough challenge in a three-way, finding himself in a runoff against Jim Martin, a liberal Democrat.
Part of the problem was campaign organization. Insider Advantage quoted an unidentified Republican who said that Chambliss and company had the organization of a “bad state House race,” calling it a “embarrassing campaign.” There was also the perception of Chambliss among Georgia Republicans. Insider Advantage again quoted a unidentified Republican who said, “Saxby’s reputation is that he’s spent six years in Washington playing golf. He’s gone on lots of trips. He hasn’t done the down-and-dirty constituent work.”
“Saxby bragged about it his first four years – how much golf he was getting in. It was a real problem and it irked a lot of people,” said the unnamed Republican source. Many Republicans in the state were less than thrilled with Chambliss, who hadn’t been able to endear himself to the state party the way Sen. Johnny Isakson had.
Another issue that hurt Chambliss was that he had lost the support of many fiscal conservatives in Georgia because of his votes that put taxpayers at risk.
Once thought to be a relatively safe bet for reelection, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) has found himself racing a tough race against Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) as the map of competitive Senate races expands into Colorado, a state that President Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012.
A poll released by Public Policy Polling on Tuesday found that Udall holds a 2-point lead, 42/40, over Gardner. Udall’s lead is within the poll’s 4.1% margin of error, meaning that the race is statistically tied.
Gardner, a two-term Congressman, entered the race late last month and is seen as the strongest candidate Republicans have to taken on Obamacare. Ken Buck dropped out of the race a day after Gardner announced. Owen Hill, a state senator with Tea Party backing, announced his exit from the race this week, leaving no serious primary challenge to Gardner.
Though Udall’s approval rating is slightly above water, 41/40, those numbers are concerning for any politician entering an election year. Making the Colorado Democrat’s problems worse are President Obama’s underwater approval rating, 43/53, and tepid support for Obamacare.
Vulnerable Senate Democrats have been working overtime to distance themselves from President Barack Obama by highlighting differences they have with the White House on various issues, even avoiding appearances with him in visits to their home states.
But are these Democrats as independent as they would have voters at home believe? Not really, according to a 2013 vote analysis by Roll Call:
As Sen. Mark Pryor runs for a third term in Arkansas — he’s the only incumbent now rated an underdog by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call — he will surely delight in announcing he voted more often against Obama than any other Senate Democrat last year. That will sound much more like a boast than a confession in a place where the president’s approval last year was 35 percent, according to state-by-state approval numbers released last week by Gallup.
But Republican Rep. Tom Cotton will just as undoubtedly promote his challenge by describing Pryor’s presidential support score in a way that sounds exactly the opposite, but is just as precise: The sitting senator sided with Obama 90 percent of the time.
At the very same time they’re playing up a return of the Clinton legacy to the White House by coalescing around 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Democrats have rejected a key point of then-President Bill Clinton’s approach to politics and a more sound economy.
Writing at Roll Call, Nathan Gonzales notes that a bipartisan achievement — like balancing the budget, for example — is not something about which Obama-era Democrats are particularly concerned:
“Like every generation of Americans before us, we have been called upon to renew our Nation and to restore its promise. For too long, huge, persistent, and growing budget deficits threatened to choke the opportunity that should be every American’s birthright. For too long, it seemed as if America would not be ready for the new century, that we would be too divided, too wedded to old arrangements and ideas. It’s hard to believe now, but it wasn’t so very long ago that some people looked at our Nation and saw a setting Sun,” Clinton said in his signing speech.
Today’s Democrats are singing a slightly different tune.
Democrats, including the president, don’t believe the deficit is an immediate problem. And while Republicans are touting and advocating for a “balanced budget,” Democrats want a “balanced approach.” The new Democratic approach includes a mix of spending cuts and tax increases but has no intention of balancing the budget, at this point.