Specter now a Dem; vulnerable senators updated

May 6th, 2009

I’ve made a couple changes to the data behind the site.

First — and past due — Arlen Specter is now properly listed as a Democrat. I was holding off on this change because it would’ve been weird to see a blue name atop the “Most Vulnerable Republicans” list.

Which brings me to the second change: the “Most Vulnerable” lists have been updated to reflect FiveThirtyEight’s latest rankings. Specter went from the most vulnerable Republican to the fifth most vulnerable Democrat. So I suppose that’s an improvement.

It may seem odd to see Tom Coburn’s name on the list, even at fifth; and I admit I think there’s no chance in hell he’ll lose his seat in 2010. Rather, Specter’s defection means I had to reach even further down the rankings to get another Republican.

Conventional wisdom is that 2010 won’t be great for the Republicans in the Senate. But if the Democrats do, in fact, gain even more seats in the midterm, it’ll come mostly from winning vacated seats rather than defeating incumbents. Out of the seven most vulnerable seats currently held by Republicans, at least four will be vacated by the incumbent, and perhaps as many as six. (Bunning is hinting at retirement, and Hutchison will likely run for governor of Texas.)

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