Dick Durbin has never had a close Senate election. He won his seat in 1996, taking 56 percent of the vote against state Rep. Al Salvi and, since then, has amassed larger and larger vote totals against lesser and lesser known opponents. In 2002, he defeated state Rep. Jim Durkin, 60 percent to 38 percent. In 2008, running against Steve Sauerberg, a physician who had never held political office, Durbin got 68 percent, outpolling Barack Obama by six points.
Durbin is running for re-election in 2014 and has no announced Republican opponents. So it’s no surprise that every political dope sheet in America has him as one of the most favored incumbents in next year’s elections. Here’s a roundup:
Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball
: Sabato lists Illinois as one of only four Safe Democratic seats in 2014, along with Delaware (Chris Coons), Rhode Island (Jack Reed) and New Mexico (Tom Udall). Among the reasons it’s safe: Durbin’s likely Republican opponents are former congressman Joe Walsh and 1998 gubernatorial candidate Chad Koppie.
: University of Chicago grad Nate Silver’s blog gives Durbin a 95 percent chance of winning, making him one of six safe Democrats, along with Reed, Udall, Coons, Hawaii’s Brian Schatz and Virginia’s Mark Warner.
: The political forecasting blog calls Illinois a “Likely Democratic Hold” and writes, “Illinois Republicans have long fumed that they can't seem to mount a serious challenge to the man that the magazine The National Journal ranked as 'the most liberal Senator' a few years ago. America would be a better place if we had more leaders like Dick Durbin.“
: "If Sen. Dick Durbin (D) confirms his intent to run for reelection, he will be a heavy favorite in Illinois. Durbin, the Senate majority whip, has been serving since 1997 and has won his three previous races by at least 15 percent, a margin that would be hard for even the strongest GOP candidate to overcome. Nonetheless, recently defeated Rep. Joe Walsh (R) may jump into the race, which would certainly draw national attention because of his Tea Party suppor t."
Cook Political Report
: Calls the race “Solid Democratic.” Rates Illinois’s Partisan Voting Index as “Democratic +8.” Of the states holding Senate elections this year, only Hawaii (D +20) and Rhode Island (D +11) are bluer.
: Lists Illinois as “Safe Democratic”