Nov. 03

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New Senate: DEM 47     Ties 1     GOP 52

Dem pickups: (None)

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Both Parties See Campaign Looking Favorable for the Republicans

With the election tomorrow, both parties see the Republicans having numerous paths to control of the Senate. On the other hand, with so many close races, an edge is not a sure thing. The Democrats are certain to lose seats, but it is still possible they could hold their losses to five seats and retain control. The key states to watch are Iowa, Colorado, and Alaska. But the final results for Alaska may not be known for days. Also, there are likely to be runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia.

Today's map shows what is probably a worst-case scenario for the Democrats--the Republicans pick up eight seats. Under these conditions, if Greg Orman (I) wins in Kansas, he will surely caucus with the Republicans giving them 53 seats in all.

In the House, the Republicans are sure to add some seats, the only question being how many. Most likely it will be in the range of 5 to 10.

Governors races are a different story, with incumbents of both parties in trouble all over the country. Especially close and bitter races are taking place in Maine, Georgia, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Florida, where unpopular Republican incumbents are all endangered. If the Republicans capture the Senate but many incumbent Republican governors lose, it will be hard to conclude anything but the peasants are coming for the politicians with pitchforks.

Republicans Are Bragging about Their Chances

Usually parties are modest about predicting big victories for fear that their voters will stay home, but this year RNC Chairman Reince Priebus was openly predicting a Senate takeover. He said he was confident that the Republicans' ground game was as good as the Democrats and pointed to easy wins in Montana, West Virginia, and South Dakota, plus other states where the Republican is leading.

Early Ballots in Colorado Now Favor Democrats, But Possibly Too Little Too Late

Democrats improved their performance in Colorado Saturday, with the 5000 votes in crucial Arapahoe County going Democratic by four points. Up until then, Republicans were leading by seven points. However, the most Republican county in the state, El Paso County, hasn't reported yet. One difference between this year and previous ones is that this year for the first time Colorado is having all mail-in vote, like Oregon and Washington. In those states, turnout is larger than in other states and large turnout generally favors the Democrats.

Nevertheless, it is hard to make predictions from the early returns because different demographic groups seem to have different voting patterns. Older people voted in droves as soon as they got their ballots, so the initial returns were heavily Republican. Now younger people are starting to vote.

Nate Silver Gives Republicans a 73 Percent Chance of Capturing the Senate

Statistician Nate Silver at gives the Democrats a 27% chance of capturing the Senate and the Republicans a 73% chance. In one key state, Arkansas, Silver gives Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) a 94% chance of winning. Colorado and Iowa are also looking good for the Republicans and probably Georgia and Kentucky as well. Alaska is tough to call.

The big unknown here is turnout. The Democrats have a $60 million get-out-the-vote project to get marginal voters to the polls. If it works, they might hang onto the Senate. If it doesn't they won't.

If the Republicans take the Senate, they might get as many as 53 seats even though they need only 51 to control it. The margin is very important because the 2016 map favors the Democrats strongly and if the Republican majority in Jan. 2015 is only 1 or 2 seats, the Democrats will almost certainly erase it in 2016, but if it is three seats, that becomes harder (but by no means impossible).

What will be especially interesting about tomorrow's election is whether any Democrat wins a state Romney won or any Republican wins an Obama state. It is entirely possible that the Senate election will exactly correspond to the last presidential election. If that happens, it will essentially mean a year of campaigning and $4 billion was wasted because Democrats win in blue states and Republicans win in red states and nothing else matters.

Most Voters Will Use Paper Ballots Tomorrow

After the 2000 election fiasco, where hanging chads and pregnant chads were all the rage, the federal government spent $3 billion for electronic voting machines. Most of them ended up in the junk heap. Nearly 70% of the ballots cast tomorrow will be on paper as states have ditched their old and unreliable voting machines. Too many researchers showed how easy it was to hack them, and for a number of states, that was the last straw. Other states, like Colorado, keep their machines under video surveillance and keep records of when the software in them is changed. Ohio took a different route, with a law saying that all machines must generate a paper trail.

In one of the worst scenarios to date, an electronic machine in North Carolina in 2004 simply lost 4500 votes when it stopped functioning correctly. The race was decided by fewer than 2000 votes.

Romney Says He is Not Running in 2016

Yesterday on Fox News, Mitt Romney repeatedly said he is not running in 2016. With such a fractured field, Romney would be in a good position to get the nomination, but it sounds like he means it this time.

Cruz Wants to Make the Senate Like the House

If the Republicans capture the Senate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) plans to declare war on the Obama administration, with endless attacks and investigations. This will raise his profile for a 2016 presidential run. It will also be a major headache for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) if he is majority leader. McConnell is more concerned with how the Republicans will do in 2016, not how far right the Senate can move. He knows that there will be pressure on the Republicans to show they can govern. If 2016 rolls around and all Congress has done is investigate Obama, it will be hard to convince the voters that the Republicans should be given the keys to the White House. So expect big battles between Cruz and McConnell if the GOP wins the Senate, which seems more likely than not based on the polls.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Alaska Mark Begich* 45% Dan Sullivan 46%     Nov 01 Nov 02 PPP
Colorado Mark Udall* 45% Cory Gardner 48%     Nov 01 Nov 02 PPP
Georgia Michelle Nunn 44% David Perdue 48%     Oct 27 Oct 30 Marist Coll.
Hawaii Brian Schatz* 71% Cam Cavasso 20%     Oct 11 Oct 18 Ward Research
Illinois Dick Durbin* 51% Jim Oberweis 41%     Nov 01 Nov 02 PPP
Kentucky Alison Lundergan-Grimes 41% Mitch McConnell* 50%     Oct 27 Oct 30 Marist Coll.
Louisiana Mary Landrieu* 45% Bill Cassidy 50%     Oct 27 Oct 30 Marist Coll.
Michigan Gary Peters 51% Terri Land 38%     Nov 01 Nov 02 PPP
Minnesota Al Franken* 51% Mike McFadden 40%     Oct 27 Oct 30 SurveyUSA
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen* 48% Scott Brown 49%     Oct 31 Nov 01 New England College
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen* 49% Scott Brown 48%     Oct 29 Nov 02 U. of New Hampshire

* Denotes incumbent

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