01 November 2010

Election predictions

It's far from novel to point out that the GOP is on the cusp of enjoying one of the most lopsided election nights in decades.

As Scott Rasmussen correctly points out here, however, voters' anger toward Washington isn't a vote for Republicans, but rather a vote against Democrats and the Obama administration.

I'll have much more on this after the dust settles.

In the meantime, the predictions:

House of Representatives

The GOP needs to pick up 37 seats to regain control of the House, where the Democrats currently enjoy a 255-178 advantage (with 2 vacancies). They will do this with ease. The invaluable Real Clear Politics believes that a staggering 224 seats are already leaning Republican or safely Republican, to only 168 such seats for Democrats. Forty-three seats are "toss ups" -- and unbelievably, all but two of these are currently held by Democratic incumbents. I'll adopt the familiar maxim that, when given a choice in a toss-up election, in general, voters will tend to vote for the challenger. This is especially true in a "wave" election -- such as 1994, 2008 or yes, 2010 -- when the party in power is so wildly unpopular -- and in the House, where congressional members are much more beholden to their leaders' wishes than in the Senate. Picking up all but two of the toss-up seats seems a bit much, but I expect Republicans to take at least half of the 43. Even only taking 22 of these seats would give the Republicans a commanding 243-192 advantage, nearly an identical flip from the current makeup of the House. Thus, the Republicans would gain 65 seats. This comports with the projections of RCP (currently projecting a gain of 66-67 seats); Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com believes Republicans will end up with a 232-203 advantage, which would reflect a gain of 54 seats; however, he noted here that a gain of 70-80 seats isn't out of the question.


First, a few races:

Missouri: Here in Missouri, Democrat Robin Carnahan is in a comparable spot to Jim Talent in 2006: A victim of a wave election, and being tied to an unpopular president without regard for the fine work she's done as a public servant. Roy Blunt -- who represents a large swath of the conservative downstate Missouri area, and who's served as Republican whip forever -- is managing to bury Carnahan by simply tying President Obama around her neck, much as Claire McCaskill was able to do vis-a-vis Talent and President Bush in 2006. Blunt has creeped toward and above 50 percent in most polls, and it seems highly unlikely that Carnahan can come back from such a steep deficit.

Wisconsin: Sadly, civil liberties crusader Russ Feingold -- a strange ally of this site -- appears headed for defeat. In recent years, Feingold has been rated as the least predictable vote in the Senate; as we've noted, Feingold is a wonderful senator for those of us who care about the Constitution. Republican Ron Johnson has eclipsed 50 percent in nearly every recent poll, with Feingold languishing in the mid-40s. It's unlikely that a three-term incumbent who hasn't hit 50 percent in any poll in months will be able to make a comeback from such a deficit. Feingold will lose by 7, and the country will be worse off because of it.

Illinois: Democrat Alexi Gnkasdjafklasdfkalsdfa hasn't been ahead in a poll since Rasmussen gave him a 44-43 lead on October 11. Since then, undecideds have begun to break toward Mark Kirk, a moderate Republican congressman from the Chicago suburbs, and an early ally of John McCain's presidential campaign in 2007. Kirk should win Obama's old seat by 5 points, and we'll be delighted to see him in the Senate.

Nevada: Unfortunately, both candidates can't lose. Real Clear Politics rates this race a pure toss-up. However, examining the polling data, undecideds have begun to break hard for Sharron Angle, leaving Harry Reid fighting for his life. Reid hasn't hit 50 percent in a poll since September 1, while Angle hasn't been below 47 since October 11. The fact that a candidate like Angle can top the sitting Senate Majority Leader speaks volumes about both the anger toward Washington and what voters think of Harry Reid, who many years ago, was considered a moderate. Angle wins by 4.

Delaware: Tea partiers, you're retarded. You flooded the Republican primary and voted for a woman who has never held elected office over over precisely the type of Republican that NEEDS TO RUN IN LIBERAL STATES. You are truly, undeniably stupid people. Why you would rather send a standard-issue liberal to the Senate, rather than a moderate Republican, is beyond comprehension. Next, you'll no doubt be crusading to cost your party the presidency in 2012 by voting for Sarah Palin.

The current makeup of the Senate is 59-41, with Massachusetts' Scott Brown as the 41st Republican vote and Joe Lieberman typically caucusing with the Democrats. Real Clear Politics rates 48 seats as safe or leaning Democrat, and 45 as safe or leaning Republican (the latter includes, unfortunately, Wisconsin). That means that in order to retake control of the Senate, Republicans must win 6 of the 7 seats rated as pure toss-ups -- California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia. We've noted above that the GOP likely will win in Illinois and Nevada. Further, we fully expect former Club for Growth'er Pat Toomey -- a true-blue fiscal conservative if ever there was one -- to defeat Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania. We expect Ken Buck to defeat incumbent MIchael Bennet in Colorado. That takes Republicans up to 49.

However, West Virginia Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin -- who has recently creeped above 50 percent --will keep his state's Senate seat in Democratic hands. The last 5 polls have given him at least a 3-point lead, and Republican John Raese has only been ahead in one of the last 12 polls. Similarly -- and despite her unpopularity outside of her liberal base -- Barbara Boxer will be very difficult to knock off in California. Carly Fiorina would be a wonderful senator, but the polling data simply doesn't indicate that she will have much of a chance, as most data shows the incumbent Boxer settling into a 3-to-6-point lead as undecideds break. Boxer's will be the 50th vote. And we expect Democratic incumbent Patty Murray to defeat Dino Rossi in Washington, which would ultimately give the Democrats a 51-49 hold on the Senate.

I want to point out one last thing. I fully expect Joe Lieberman to run as a Republican in 2012. The GOP establishment can very easily make it clear to Lieberman that if he wants Republican support, he must begin to caucus with them and vote for Mitch McConnell or Jim DeMint as Senate Majority Leader. Lieberman understands that he probably can never run as a Democrat again, despite his liberal domestic agenda. Lieberman could conceivably be that 50th vote. And again -- DELAWARE TEA PARTIERS COST THE REPUBLICANS THAT SENATE SEAT BY NOMINATING CHRISTINE O'DONNELL. Republican Mike Castle was poised to handily defeat Chris Coons; Castle had won nine consecutive statewide elections -- one as governor, and then the next eight as Delaware's lone congressman. Now that Joe Biden has ascended to the vice-presidency, Castle is arguably the most popular politician in Delaware. And tea partiers drove him out because he wasn't sufficiently ideologically pure. It is undisputed that Castle would have won the seat. Instead, the absurdly underqualified O'Donnell will probably lose to Coons by 30 points.

Yes, it makes so much more sense to make a statement about ideological purity, as opposed to GAINING CONTROL OF THE SENATE -- which a Castle victory, it turns out, would have almost ensured.

Well done. You people are fundamentally stupid.

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