Rounding out the prognostications, here are my calls. First, though a few general thoughts. As everyone has said, these races are going to be decided by turnout. The Dems are in dire straits in the mid-Atlantic and the South, because their voting strength there is from Black voters, who do not appear to be energized in these elections (e.g., a high percentage of Black voters have reported being undecided, which is more likely a position of apathy rather than indeicision as between the Democratic and Republican candidates). This will have an impact in places like Georgia.
SENATE: Final tally: R+1
NC: Despite Erskine’s (D) charge, Dole (R) holds on. In order to pull off a win, the Democrats would need extraordinary turnout from Black voters. ED is just not the sort of politician who will engender that response, so look for a Dole win.
TX: Cornyn (R) bests Kirk (D). This is a race that shows that judicial nominations can have a bite. Kirk spoke out against Justice Owen’s nomination, and took a 3-point dive in the polls. He then spoke out against the President’s stance in Iraq, and took a 6-point dive. Despite a surge at the end, he has not been able to recover.
NH: Shaheen (D) beats Sununu (R). My sources in NH tell me that Sununu has run a lackluster campaign, and most importantly, Smith supporters are going to write him in at a rate of about 2-3%. This is enough to assure Shaheen goes over the top, and should be enough to assure that Smith never works in Republican politics again.
CO: The veterinarian isn’t going to the pet cemetary, but to the political one. Despite his best attempts, Allard (R) proved to be a poor campaigner, and suffered from low name ID despite being an incumbent. Look for Strickland(D) to take this race.
NJ: Lautenberg(D) takes this race. Don’t get me started on the NJ Supreme Court, or why it is truly despicable that the NJ voters are giving the Dems a pass on this race.
SD: Johnson (D) will hold on by a very narrow margin. Look for more allegations of voter fraud, and possible litigation if the final numbers are close (but I don’t think they will be quite that close).
MO: Score one for my alma mater. U. of C. alumni Jim Talent (R) pulls out the win over pseudo-incumbent Carnahan (D). Talent has run a strong campaign, and despite narrowing margins, will walk away the winner. Look for the governor to attempt to delay certification to the Senate (Talent should become Senator immediately upon certification), leading to potential litigation to force the governor to do his duty.
AR: If you asked me yesterday, I would have said that Pryor (D) would win. Hutchinson has been plagued by the basic principle that you don’t dip your pen into the company ink--at least not if you plan to run on a "family values" platform. His infidelity is likely to depress voter turnout among Christian conservatives--not to increase the vote tally for Pryor. That said, Pryor’s imbroglio over his allegedly undocumented alien nanny has the makings of an upset in what was going to be a close race. Given this recent revelation, I’ll give Hutchinson the edge, but by the slimmest of margins.
LA: Landrieu (D) won’t make it to 50%, thereby forcing a run-off.
MN: Youth and skill are going to make a surprise showing over old age and treachery. Look for Coleman (R) to pull out the W, in large part because Mondale (D) absentee voters will need to go to the polls to assure their ballots arrive in time, thereby depressing the Democratic absentee turnout. For the same reason, look for litigation in this race. As I understand Minnesota law, the winner takes the seat immediately, notwithstanding Gov. Ventura’s appointment today. A win here combined with a win in MO will give the Republican’s the lead for the lame duck session.
GA: My upset special. Look for Chambliss (R) to pull out the win over incumbent Cleland (D). There has been a definite buzz coming from Georgia for about the last 2 weeks. Cleland is vulnerable on national security, which given his war record seems ironic. This one’s going to be a squeaker, but the edge of momentum goes to Chambliss.
HOUSE: Final tally: R+2
The generic poll showing Republicans ahead of Democrats really hurts the Dems. Republicans normally do better than this poll shows, so look for a solid showing, with a pick-up of around 2 seats.
I don’t have a lot to say here. Look for Davis (D) to hold on in California and to be the most hated governor in the country. Ehrlich (R) appears to be poised to beat Kennedy-Townsend (D) in MD, and I’m calling Romney for MA. Finally, Jeb Bush (R) comes through with a solid win in Florida.
All-in-all, if the races break the way I predict, it will be a good day for the President. He will have broken the historical mid-term slump, and he will have defeated the Democrats in the two states where they specifically targetted him for symbolic reasons: TX and FL.