Yes, I noted a few of those races you cited. However, I think had Aiken, a liberal Republican, ran again in 1974, he probably would’ve prevailed (much like Mathias in MD over Mikulski, which wasn’t even a close race). In fact, it would’ve been better if he had, since if he retired in 1980, it’s likely we would’ve held it (albeit since Mallary wouldn’t have run in ‘74, he would’ve taken it in 1980, unless Stewart Ledbetter took the nomination, who almost beat Leahy anyhow).
Had David Pryor ran again in 1996, I sincerly doubt he would’ve lost to anyone. He probably just didn’t want to serve in the minority for what looked like some time to come. However, I’m not too keen on Asa taking another run for the Senate (remember, he ran for it before Tim did in 1986 against Dale Bumpers). His performance in both the Senate (38%) and Governorship (41%) wasn’t exactly spectacular.
If Tom Cotton proves as great as said, maybe moving him up to the Senate after a single term isn’t such a bad idea. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t (except for Rick Berg in ND — and I think perhaps the only person who should be more upset about that race is Kent Conrad. He didn’t need to retire after all). I was worried about Griffin taking a run at it, because the Little Rock seat could go back to the Dems if they nominated a White candidate.
You’re probably righg about Aiken winning had he run again in 1974, even at age 82. In fact, I doubt that Leahy would have run against Aiken, Watergate or no Watergate. (Maybe Leahy would have run against Stafford in 1976, but I don’t think he’d do much better than Salmon’s 45%.) And with Reagan running so strongly in VT in 1980, I share your optimism about the GOP winning the open seat in 1980 when Aiken retired at age 88, whether with Ledbetter or another candidate. 1986 would have been a tough hold for any Republican in VT, but even if the seat finally went RAT that year, not having Leahy elected to the Senate in 1974 (nor any other Dem for another 12 years) may have postponed VT’s slide to moonbattery for another decade or so.
As for David Pryor, I’m not as certain as you that he would have been reelected had he run in 1996. Sasser got beat in TN to years before, with him about to become Majority Leader, and Southern Dem seats were dropping left and right in those days (it took some creative voting and vote-counting for Landrieu to be reelected in 1996). But perhaps you’re right and Pryor would have scared off Tim Hutchinson and other strong Republicans.
And I do recall you mentioning that if Griffin ran fir the Senate it might cause the House seat to flip, and I agree it would have been a real concern. But with Griffin staying in the House and getting on Ways and Means, I think the seat is safe for the forseeable future.