With the general election just a week away, the Republican majority in the United States House of Representatives looks safe, but the future of the Senate is in doubt. Presently, Democrats hold fifty-one Senate seats, not including two Independents who caucus with the Democratic Party, and Republicans control 47 seats.
Republicans are at something of an advantage simply because they do not have as many seats up for election. Twenty-one Democratic seats are up for election, compared to just ten for the GOP, along with two Independents.
One seat everyone can pretty much forget about is Washington State’s seat held by Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell. While Washington might elect a Republican governor for the first time in over thirty years, and nationally it looks like Washington might’ve been in contention if Mitt Romney bothered to campaign here, the Evergreen State seems to have no intention to elect a Republican Senator anytime soon.
Maria Cantwell is the junior Senator in the state, first elected in 2000. Before that, she served three terms in the state’s House of Representatives and one term in the United States House of Representatives before losing to her Republican challenger. She won her election to the United States Senate by just two thousand votes, however she won re-election by a safe 56-39% margin.
Cantwell’s opponent is state senator Michael Baumgartner. A Harvard graduate with a degree in economics, and minors in French and Mathematics, Baumgartner won a tough 2010 state senate race against then-Majority Whip Chris Marr by a 54-46% split.
While every sign points to Baumgartner as a rising star in the Republican Party, most people don’t seem to know who he is. In a new poll, taken October 17-20, 34% of Washington State respondents said that they had no opinion of Baumgartner, and a whopping 42% said they’d never heard of him. Of those who did know of him, 14% reported having a favorable view of him, of which, 3% saw him very favorably and 8% viewed him negatively (4% very negative, 4% somewhat negative).
To compare, the same poll shows that 14% of respondents had no opinion of Senator Cantwell, while just 6% said they didn’t know who she was. 53% saw her favorably (29% very favorably, 24% somewhat favorably). A quarter of those polled said they viewed Cantwell negatively – 8% somewhat unfavorably, 17% very unfavorably.
The only consolation for Baumgartner is that the people who strongly dislike Cantwell outnumber those who even know Baumgartner exist.