Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What to Look for Nationally on Election Night

So though I don’t post on it regularly on this site, I also follow national politics closely. One of the national political analysts, Stu Rothenberg, has a good summary of what to look for as early indicators on election night:

7pm (EST) – The House

Kentucky 4 – Rep. Geoff Davis (R) is running for a second term in a heavily Republican district that voted 63% for President Bush. Combined GOP spending has overwhelmed former Rep. Ken Lucas (D) and the Democrats in the final weeks. If Davis loses, even with the nature of the district and an overwhelming financial edge, the GOP majority is in serious jeopardy.

Kentucky 3 - Rep. Anne Northup (R) is facing yet another challenge in her Louisville-based district. Northup's district is certainly more Democratic than the 4th District (John Kerry took 51%), but it looks like she'll go into Election Night with a narrow lead, but under 50%. If she loses, that means undecided voters are breaking heavily and convincingly for the Democrats and other battle-tested incumbents like Clay Shaw (Florida 22) and Heather Wilson (New Mexico 1) are in a lot of trouble.

Kentucky 2 – If state Rep. Mike Weaver (D) defeats Rep. Ron Lewis (R), Democrats are in for a huge night. The 2nd District voted overwhelmingly (65%) for President Bush in 2004 and it would bring a whole series of heavily Republican districts into play. A loss would be particularly troubling since Lewis doesn't have the burden of personal or ethical baggage, just the weight of President Bush.

Republicans are likely to come out of the hour, including Ohio and North Carolina at 7:30pm, down by at least seven or eight seats (half-way to a Democratic majority). If a Democratic tsunami is hitting, Republicans could realistically lose the majority before the polls close in the 8pm states (IN 2, IN 8, IN 9, OH 1, OH 2, OH 12, OH 15, OH 18, NC 8, NC 11, KY 2, KY 3, KY 4, VA 2, VA 10). But if Republicans can escape these early states down by only three or four seats, it should be a considered a moral victory.

8pm (EST) – The Senate

Missouri – Sen. Jim Talent (R) is in a neck-and-neck contest with state Auditor Claire McCaskill (D). Missouri is a competitive, but GOP-leaning state, featuring a Republican incumbent who has run a great campaign. If Talent loses, the GOP majority is in serious jeopardy, and its gone completely if Sen. George Allen (R) loses earlier at 7pm in Virginia.

New Jersey – This is the single best Republican opportunity in the Senate, as state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R) attempts to unseat appointed-Sen. Bob Menendez (D). Kean has run effectively on "change" in the face of a Democratic wave in a Democratic state. A GOP victory in the Garden State would likely signal a very narrow Republican Senate majority next year.

Control of the Senate will likely be decided by the time the votes are tallied in the 8pm states. Mike DeWine (R) will already be gone (7:30pm poll closing in Ohio), followed by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania). Assuming Democrats prevail later in the night in Rhode Island (9pm) and Montana (10pm), as expected, Democrats would need to hold New Jersey and Maryland and win both Missouri and Tennessee to take the majority. But if Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia) loses at 7pm in Virginia, Democrats would only need to win one of the Missouri-Tennessee contests.

9pm (EST) – Governors

Minnesota – Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) appears to be falling victim to the national environment. He remains fairly popular, yet he's locked in a tight battle with state Attorney General Mike Hatch (DFL). The third party candidate's campaign has stalled, and that is making it difficult for Pawlenty to win. The governor won his first term with only 44%.

Rhode Island – Gov. Don Carcieri (R) is also popular and goes into Election Night with a significant lead. But the state is hostile toward Republicans and is likely to throw out their Republican U.S. Senator.

Democrats are almost certain to gain at least five governorships (Arkansas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Colorado, and New York) by the time the 9pm states are finished counting. If Pawlenty loses in Minnesota, Gov. Jim Doyle (D) has probably held on in Wisconsin, and Democrats are closer to a seven-seat gain in governorships. And if Carcieri falls, Democrats could net up to ten governorships by the time the night is over. (Remember that Democrats lost ten governorships in 1994.)

Senate Wave Watch – If Democrats successfully knock off Jon Kyl (R) in Arizona, they have likely won control, even if all the votes haven't been tallied in the earlier states.

11pm (EST) – Hip-Waders or Life Rafts?

Idaho Governor – All eyes should be on Idaho for the size of the Republican wave. Rep. Butch Otter (R) is facing an unexpectedly close and competitive race against 2002 nominee Jerry Brady (D). Otter has some Washington baggage because he is a member of Congress, but he doesn't produce the hate from within his own party that 1st District nominee Bill Sali (R) gets. A Sali loss could be passed off, in part, as a local problem, but an Otter loss would represent something much, much bigger.

I would add that Indiana, which along with Kentucky is historically one of the first states to report their results, is something I will be using as my indicator on the House races. Particularly if Democrats pick up IN-3 then we are having a tsunami year. IN-3 is a very conservative district in the northeast corner of Indiana and includes Fort Wayne. Stu used it as his 1994 indicator race, when the current incumbent Republican beat Democrat Jill Long. The current Democratic nominee Dr. Tom Hayhurst (a Fort Wayne City Councilman and Air Force veteran) has significantly out raised Republican Congressman Mark Souder and the National Republican Campaign Committee after doing a poll a couple weeks ago poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars into the district. It will take a tsunami for Democrats to win this seat, but it looks possible and will be our first indicator that one is coming.

Elsewhere in Indiana there are three top tier House races. If the Dems take only one it means that the Dems have snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory and though they may pick up seats the Democrats might not win back the House. If the Dems pick two seats in Indiana, then they will probably get back the majority and pick up 20-25 seats. If the Dems pick up all three, then the Dems will probably pick up at least 25 seats and more likely in the 30 to 40 plus range.


Blogger Brian said...

Minnesota's governor race may have tipped in Pawlenty's favor with the boneheaded comments by Hatch calling a reporter a republican whore and his running mate not knowing what E85 is. The last one is a multi-billion dollar industry in Minnesota.

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