Election Eve: The 2008 Senate races

Bumped - Todd

This is it.  It's time for my final look at all the 2008 Senate races.  There are 35 seats up for election because of a scenario in Wyoming and Mississippi where both seats are up, due to the passing of Craig Thomas and the resignation of Trent Lott, respectively.  Obviously, quite a few of the races are considered "safe" for the incumbent.  So what are the competitive races?

Again, just to be clear, I don't do predictions.  Every time I do, horrible things happen.  So I won't even make an actual prediction on the Virginia Senate race, because doing so would effectively jinx Mark Warner.  And with the election tomorrow, tiers no longer matter, so I'll simply rank the competitive races where party control of the seat may switch.  All others are deemed safe seats, which now include all of the Tier II and III seats from last time.

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Election Predictions (President, Governors, Senate, House)

Following is my thumbnail analysis and predictions for the Presidential, Governors, Senate, and House races tomorrow.

Less than nine hours until voting starts in Dixville Notch....

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Calling all Oregonians, We Need Your Help!

Last night, hundreds of volunteers came out to rally for Barack Obama and Jeff Merkley. Governor Howard Dean, Senator Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley energized the crowd before the canvassers hit the streets for Merkley and Obama....


Full disclosure, I am the netroots director for OR-Sen candidate Jeff Merkley

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Where will Obama's coat-tails be longest?

Barack Obama seems very likely to be elected president tomorrow, but he won't have coat-tails in all fifty states or all 435 Congressional districts. Some of our candidates will need a significant number of John McCain's voters to split their tickets in order to have any chance of winning.

In many parts of the country, however, down-ticket candidates will have the wind at their backs tomorrow. Obama not only leads the polls in their states, but also has a better ground game. I'm convinced that in these conditions, Democrats will win some shocking upsets.

Obama has had a double-digit lead in the Iowa polling average for a while now, but his lead seems to be growing as the election approaches. On Thursday Survey USA released an Iowa poll showing Obama ahead 55-40, with an even more commanding lead among respondents who said they'd already voted. On Sunday the Des Moines Register released Selzer and Associates' final Iowa poll of the season, which is even more gruesome for the GOP. Obama leads McCain 54-37 overall. Obama leads 3-1 among the 10 percent of respondents who said they'll be voting for the first time this year, and by 9 points among those who say they haven't voted since before 2000.

Also, the Des Moines Register found Obama supporters more optimistic going into the election:

Over three-quarters of [Obama's] supporters in Iowa say they are inspired and upbeat, with 15 percent describing themselves as angry and pessimistic.

McCain's supporters appear to be more troubled about the future, with 36 percent describing themselves as angry and pessimistic and 46 percent declaring themselves upbeat about the election.

Senator Tom Harkin leads his little-known and under-funded Republican challenger by 26 points in the same poll, giving those McCain supporters more reason to feel pessimistic.

The Des Moines Register's political columnist David Yepsen sees a landslide in the making:

For the first time in modern Iowa history, Democrats are poised to win control of both legislative chambers in two successive General Assemblies while at the same time holding the governorship.

Winning back-to-back Legislatures reflects a realignment of Iowa politics that could have far-reaching implications. For example, the state senators elected on Tuesday will be in office in 2011, when legislative and congressional district lines are redrawn for the next decade.

Yepsen gives Democrats the edge in many of the competitive Iowa House races, including several where the American Future Fund has been running tv ads. He didn't mention Iowa's two Congressional seats held by Republicans in his latest newspaper column, but in a separate blog post he noted that

Obama's lead in the poll is almost three times what his average lead is nationally.

So much for Iowa being a "battleground" or "tossup" state this time. [...]

Such poor numbers threaten to have a demoralizing effect among Republicans and an energizing one among Democrats. If Democrats smell victory and head to the polls while Republicans are in a funk and stay at home (as happened in the 1974 Watergate election), then Obama's landslide could bury other GOP candidates down the ballot.

What happened in 1974? Tom Harkin and Berkley Bedell, who had run unsuccessfully for Congress two years earlier, defeated Republican incumbents in western Iowa's conservative fifth and sixth Congressional districts.

Howie Klein at Down With Tyranny shares my view that Becky Greenwald (Democratic candidate in IA-04) and Rob Hubler (Democratic candidate in IA-05) could pull off upsets tomorrow. Both candidates are being outspent by Republican incumbents Tom Latham and Steve King, but they have been holding lots of campaign events around their districts and are running their own tv commercials. You can view Greenwald's final ad here and read the script here. Hubler's three tv ads are here (scroll down past the text of the Des Moines Register's endorsement editorial).

The GOTV machine in Iowa is engaged on behalf of Democrats at all levels. On Sunday I received a robocall from the Iowa Democratic Party, authorized by the Obama campaign for change, that mentioned voting for the "Democratic ticket" (not just Obama) twice. At the end it asked me to hold before giving me the name and address of my polling place. The same day, a volunteer left a door-hanger at our house, reminding us of the date of the election, the hours polls will be open, the phone number for Obama's toll-free early-voting hotline, our precinct number, the name and address of our polling location, and all the names on "your Democratic ticket" (in our case Obama, Harkin, Congressman Leonard Boswell, Democratic candidate Jerry Sullivan in Iowa House district 59, plus three Democrats seeking county offices).

MyDD readers, what are you seeing on the ground in your state? Where do you expect Obama to bring the most Democrats into office along with him?

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Blue Dawn: Final Oregon Predictions and Viewing Guide

The genesis for this title is a Willamette Week article titled "Red Dawn" published in July of 2006 which claimed, at the time, to show evidence of a Republican surge in the Beaver State.  It goes without saying that those predictions were dead wrong as the Democratic party has more than tripled its registration edge in my home state and seems poised to post strong wins statewide.  Below are my final summary predictions and some things to watch Thursday.

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun: http://www.loadedorygun.net/showDiary.do ?diaryId=1455

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