Electoral College predictions by 1pm Tuesday. For now, the other races.
There are eleven Governor’s races this year: WA, MT, UT, ND, MO, IN, WV, NC, DE, VT,and NH. Only five are of interest.
MO: This race became interesting when incumbent Matt Blunt decided not to run for re-election. That set up a primary runoff between Sarah Steelman (who if elected could have run with Sarah Palin in 2012/2016 on my “all impure thoughts” ticket) and Kenny Hulshof. Republicans picked Hulshof. Apparently choosing a member of the most unpopular legislative bodies since Cromwell’s Long Parliament wasn’t a winning strategy, as he is being walloped in the polls by a Democratic candidate who generally loses his statewide races. Nixon 56, Hulshof 44.
IN: Gov. Mitch Daniels looked vulnerable for most of his term, but has turned it around and leads former Congressman Jill Long Thompson by a wide margin. Daniels 59, Thompson 41.
VT: Gov. Jim Douglas (R) will win his 3-way race. The problem is, if he doesn’t get to 50%, it goes to the (heavily Democratic) legislature. Most observers think that since Double will likely win by 20+ points the legislature will keep him. I’m not so certain.
NC: In a normal year, Pat McCrory (R) would beat Bev Perdue running away. He’s out campaigned her, out debated her, and out worked her (“I can out-learn you. I can out-read you. I can out-think you. And I can out-philosophize you. “). Plus, Democrats have held the Governor’s mansion for almost 20 years, a run which is unusual in any state. But as everyone knows, this is not a normal year. The polls are tight, but most polls show movement toward Perdue, though both are under 50%. Look for Perdue to squeek this out, 51.5-48.5.
WA: Similar story as NC. Rossi is a great candidate, and the polls have been close, but with Gov. Gregoire hovering around 50%. In a normal year, he’d win, but I think she’ll win surprisingly easily this year, 53-47%.
This is hard to predict. In 2006 we had a plethora of good district-by-district polling. This year, we’re left with pretty intermittant SUSA polling, campaign polls, and Kos/R2K polls (which even Jerome Armstrong has labeled as not salvageable, at least in the national iteration). And weird things are going on. For one thing, as I’ve noted before Democrats are not performing in the generic balloting as they would if you expected them to pick up another 30 seats. Stu Rothenberg is my favorite House handicapper, but SUSA has races like NY-26, and KY-2 as double-digit Republican leads, even as he classifies them as tossups.
On the other hand, the NRCC sure is spending and cutting as if it expects a debacle, and Virgil Goode is running negative ads against his opponent, a sure sign he expects a close race.
So here’s what I think. Republicans pick up FL-16, TX-22, NH-01, PA-11, LA-06, and AL-05. Democrats get AK-AL, AZ-01, FL-24, NY-13, NY-25, OH-16, VA-11, NC-08, NM-01, NM-02, MI-09, IL-11, CO-04, PA-03, OH-15 (too bad), NY-29, NE-02, CT-04, FL-21, MD-01, MI-07, and WA-08. I’ll also say that there are an additional 6 seats they will pickup where sleepy incumbents did not erect a sufficient defence, for a net pickup of 22. But it’s mostly guesswork here at this point.
The big storyline is whether Democrats can get to 60. It’s a false storyline, because Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe will join with Democrats on many issues, and more than a few Democrats will join with Republicans on issues (I’m looking at you, Ben Nelson). But it makes for good theatre. Onwards!
We’ll set aside the eleven seats for each party generally regarded as safe.
AK: Most polls show a surprisingly close race for a Senator just convicted of eight felonies. Interestingly, Lisa Murkowski led in all of one poll in 2004 before pulling it out. Won’t happen here. Begich 56, Stevens 44.
CO: Mark Udall is way to the left of this state, but it doesn’t matter in a year like this. Schaffer’s never been above 44 percent in a poll. Udall 57, Schaffer 43.
GA: Saxby, you shouldn’t have voted for the bailout bill when you were up for re-election in this populist state. Chambliss 49, Martin 48, and it heads to a runoff which Chambliss wins.
KY: McConnell’s numbers have improved, and Obama isn’t going to help Lunsford any. McConnell 54, Lunsford 46.
LA: Polls have shown a tightening, and Jindal has cut an ad for Kennedy, indicating he doesn’t think it is hopeless. Still, it probably isn’t enough, and a huge black turnout will crush Kennedy’s hopes. Landrieu 52, Kennedy 48, but don’t rule out an upset here.
ME: One of the Democrats’ best hopes early on never really panned out. Collins 56 Allen 44.
MN: One of the toughest races to call. Only the Strib poll has Franken ahead, and it historically tilts Democratic. Independent Dean Barkley is a wildcard here, since they tend to underperform nationally, but overperform in MN. Still, I gotta say Coleman 52, Franken 48 (2PV).
MS: Wicker seems to be pulling away in this special election. On the one hand, high African American turnout could help Musgrove, on the other hand, the fact that candidates don’t run with party labels could diminish the impact of this somewhat. Wicker 54, Musgrove 46.
NH: An interesting race. Sununu is waaaaay down, which is never a good sign. But Shaheen is dancing around 50%, and the case can be made that she is the incumbent for all intents and purposes in this race. But not a strong one. Shaheen 55, Sununu 45. Too bad. Sununu is a good Senator.
NM: See CO. Udall is too far to the left for the state, but he’ll still win walking away. Udall 57, Pearce 43.
NC: This is one where the DSCC’s cash edge really hurt. Mason Dixon has Dole up 1, but the difference is the number of undecideds; Dole’s 46% doesn’t inspire confidence. Hagan 52/48.
OR: The interesting thing is that the voting is basically done in this mail-in state. Merkley hasn’t ever cracked 50% in non-partisan polling, but only Rasmussen has Smith above 43%. I hope Rasmussen knows something the rest of us don’t, because Smith is a good Senator as well. Merkley 54%, Smith 46%
VA: Will Mark Warner top 60%? My guess is he will. Warner’s career will be interesting to watch, as he ran and governed as moderate Republican, quite frankly. Will he get on board with the Obama plan? Wil he be able to win 60% next in this purple state with a voting record on the left of the Senate? Time will tell. Warner 63%, Gilmore 37%. Time for Virginia Republicans to start rebuilding.