Oct. 26

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New Senate: DEM 48     Ties 2     GOP 50

New polls:  
Dem pickups: GA

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Colorado and 2016

Colorado has two competitive statewide races this year, one for senator and one for governor, and these could be bellwethers for 2016. Republicans have been shut out of statewide victories in Colorado for 10 years. If Colorado is a purple state, it is a bluish purple one. Still, the state is split between urban and rural, progressive and conservative. It supported legalizing marijuana but is also a strong gun-rights state. The state has many young voters and Latino voters. It also has a new vote-by-mail system being used this year for the first time.

All these factors considered, if the Republicans manage to win either the senatorial race or gubernatorial race, it will give them a huge morale boost. If they lose both of them, Colorado may be out of reach in 2016, and without Colorado, the presidency will be a steep climb.

2014 Is the Year of the Independent

Americans are so fed up with both parties that independents are having quite a good year. Greg Orman is leading Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) in many polls in Kansas. Former senator Larry Pressler has a decent shot at getting back his old job in South Dakota. An independent candidate for governor in Alaska, Bill Walker, has a good chance, oddly enough with the backing of former governor Sarah Palin, who dislikes the current Republican governor, Sean Parnell (R-AK), who is running for reelection. And in Maine, there is a three-way race for governor, with independent Eliot Cutler unlikely to win but well positioned to play the role of spoiler.

Armies of Poll Watchers Are Being Mobilized for Election Day

Liberal groups are forming groups to monitor the polls on election day to watch for voter suppression. Conservatives are forming groups to look out for voter fraud. Many states have passed new voter ID laws, but the courts have invalidated or suspended some of them. In addition to confusion by voters, these vigilante groups could end up battling each other at polling places all over the country on election day.

A GOP Senate Would Lead to Endless Battles on Many Issues

If the Republicans take the Senate, they would try to pass legislation to repeal the ACA, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, lower tax rates, and investigate the administration on many fronts. Assuming the rules about filibusters were not changed, the Senate Democrats would block all of this, leading to more gridlock.

Another important effect of a Republican takeover would be changes in key committee chairmanships. These would include

Committee Old chairman New chairman
Foreign relations Robert Menendez Bob Corker
Intelligence Diane Feinstein Richard Burr
Judiciary Pat Leahy Charles Grassley
Appropriations Barbara Mikulsky Thad Cochran or Richard Shelby
Armed Services Carl Levin John McCain or James Inhofe
Health, Education and Labor Tim Johnson Mike Crapo

Many issues would come up. On health care, it is possible the Senate might take a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer to the ACA, for example by repealing the excise tax on medical devices. However, doing only that would disappoint House Republicans.

A Republican Congress would probably lead to a budget for the first time in years. However, the budget is nonbinding and serves only as a guide for appropriations bills, many of which Obama would veto.

The Republicans would likely try to repeal or weaken the Dodd-Frank Act, but the Democrats would certainly filibuster any attempt to remove the few restrictions the law placed on the banks. Knowing that, the chair of the Senate Banking Committee might try for small changes that could actually pass.

Another complication is that three Republican senators, Sen Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are all likely to run for President in 2016 and all would want to play a major role in the Senate. They might well end up in conflict with one another in various areas.

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