Tomorrow evening, probably pretty early here on the left coast, we will know the margin of Republican control of the senate, an increased majority in the house and how many state houses will look like for the next two years.
One important reality is that my state, California, will not see much of a change as Gov. Jerry Brown will cruise to reelection. But there are chances for the GOP will make gains and begin a long march to respectability in the once Golden State. But that is for another post.
Let me say now that the GOP will get the six seats needed to take the majority and I think with a lot more ease than we are seeing in the polls to today.
And I will stipulate the three seats that are currently in Democrat hands most if not all analysts believe go the the GOP. Those seats are in Arkansas, South Dakota and West Virginia. There is nothing to comment on those seats except that it boosts the Republicans to 48 seats in the senate.
So, where do the votes come from to get the three more seats needed?
Well, there are a lot of places and these would be the three seats I believe will get the GOP over the top in no particular order.
State senator Joni Ernst (R) is ahead of the Democrat candidate, congressman Bruce Braley in the Real Clear Politics average of polls by 1.4% and that is the margin of error. But almost all polls are showing Sen. Ernst ahead and the highly respected Des Moines Register poll shows her ahead by seven points. And that may end up being the margin of victory. Sen. Ernst has ran a pretty flawless campaign while Rep. Braley has done everything possible to alienate a lot of potential voters, especially farmers which is a large voting bloc in Iowa.
The RVFTLC prediction: Joni Ernst(R) 53% Bruce Braley(D) 47% GOP gain
This has turned into the bizarre race of the cycle. Current Democrat incumbent, Sen. Mark Udall should have been winning this race but decided he would run his campaign on the so-called "War on women" meme. Current Republican congressman, Cory Gardner, like Sen. Ernst, has run a flawless campaign by essentially taking much of the sail off of that made-up issue. But by running on such a non-issue, it appears that Sen. Udall is running himself out of a job. And the voters seem prepared to reward Rep. Gardner with a six-year term. According to the RCP average, Rep. Gardner is up about two percent. And that maybe enough to even pull in a GOP governor against the equally hapless incumbent, John Hickenlooper. An aptly named pol if there ever was one.
The RVFTLC prediction: Cory Garnder(R) 55% Mark Udall 45% GOP gain
The current Democrat incumbent is Sen. Mark Begich. Sen. Begich is lucky to be in this position because in 2008, he was able to ride a wave of one Barack Obama and a conviction of then-Sen. Ted Stevens (later overturned) to victory. A narrow one at that. This time around, the GOP has a strong candidate in Attorney General Dan Sullivan and he has had Sen. Begich on the ropes throughout this cycle. And it has been so strange to see Sen. Begich declare that the president of the United States, fellow Democrat Obama, to be irrelevant. It is not helping Sen. Begich anymore than anyone else to run away from the Dear Leader, President Obama. And Mr. Sullivan is ahead in the RCP polling average also about two percent.
The RVFTLC prediction: Dan Sullivan(R) 55% Mark Begich(D) 45% GOP gain
And those are what I think will be the sure GOP bets to get to the magic number of 51 seats to control the senate.
So is there anywhere else that the GOP can win? Can they add to the senate majority they are expected to win tomorrow night?
Why yes, there is.
How about North Carolina? Well, this race has been one of the toughest fought on both sides. The current incumbent is Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan. Her Republican challenger is the speaker of the North Carolina house, Thom Tillis. The fact is that Sen. Hagan has been ahead this whole race but her margins are within the margin of error, usually between three to five percent either way. Sen Hagan is now averaging a lead of 0.7% in the RCP average of polls. That means as long as Mr. Tillis is this close and closing in, the chances are at minimum 50-50 he can pull off a close win. Will I dare to predict this one? Sure will. Here it is:
The RVFTLC prediction: Thom Tillis(R) 50% Kay Hagan(D) 48% GOP gain
OK, there is an equally tight race in New Hampshire between Democrat incumbent Jeanne Shaheen and former Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown. Now I'll totally be fair here and while I like Sen. Brown, he can not live down the label of carpetbagger. Finding a place where he thought he could win election. He could have ran again in Massachusetts this year, but would have lost to the incumbent Sen. Ed Markey. It is the one thing that I believe may save Sen. Shaheen. But like Sen. Hagan, Sen. Shaheen is falling and her RCP poll average is also bellow a margin of one percent (0.9%). Mr. Brown is in range to win this and has to make a super strong closing argument and I think that he could. So, the fearless prediction is:
The RVFTLC prediction: Scott Brown(R) 50% Jeanne Shaheen(D) 48% GOP gain
Now there are a couple of races that I will say could potentially hurt the GOP and dent some of the predictions made here. Meaning that all of the above need to happen to offset at least one or maybe two losses.
Kansas is one that may be a loss for the GOP but it may have happened no matter what. The GOP incumbent is Sen. Pat Roberts. Really he is a solid conservative. But what I think really hurt him is his inability to identify with his home state. He does not own a home in Kansas and rarely visits the state. And he had a bruising primary with Tea Party favorite, Milton Wolf, a cousin of the Dear Leader, President Obama, and only this past Friday Mr. Wolf endorsed Sen. Roberts reelection bid. He is being challenged by "Independent" candidate Greg Orman who, because of his showing in the polls, caused the Democrat candidate to bail out and the state supreme court said that was just fine. Mr. Orman is being blatantly endorsed now by the Democrat party. But Mr. Orman is very coy as to what party he will caucus with in Washington. In the past, he has been a active Democrat. But if he should win and the GOP is in the majority, he may well just keep the seat for the GOP. But it is a bad chance to take. I think that this goes to Mr. Orman but by a small margin.
In Louisiana, there is a strange way general elections are held. There is no primary. Essentially the primary is on the day of the general election. If one candidate, no matter what party, gets 50% plus one, they win. Since that rarely happens, there is a runoff between the top two vote getters in early December. The Democrat incumbent is one Sen. Mary Landrieu. She is facing two strong Republicans, one being current congressman Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness. One of those two will go on to the election in December. Most polls show that Rep. Cassidy will be that candidate. There is the polling for tomorrow here in which Sen. Landrieu is ahead but in December she will lose to Rep. Cassidy. I see this as a GOP pick up. Louisiana is just turning more and more Republican and this is an icing on that cake.
Is there one race, one race that is off the radar that could be a surprise win for the GOP tomorrow night? Any race?
One to look for could well be in Virginia. Democrat Sen. Mark Warner is facing former GOP chair Ed Gillespie. Polling has shown Sen. Warner consistently ahead. But Mr. Gillespie is closing the gap. How close can he get? Probably not enough to win. But if this race is not called right away by the networks tomorrow night, it could be a huge upset in the making.
All of this at the end gets the GOP control of the senate. If my predictions hold out, the GOP gets seven seats and the number in congress will be 52 seats. If there are huge upsets other than Virginia, it well could be ten seats and a lot of breathing room. But I am sticking with 52 to 48. Unless Greg Orman in Kansas surprises everyone and caucuses with the GOP. Then its 53-47.
So, what about the house?
No one has been talking much about the house, but I see really big gains that no one else does. Currently, the GOP has 234 house seats. There is a goal of gaining 16 to get to 250 seats. Not only do I think that it is doable, but more than likely. And many of the gains will happen in Blue states.
There are at least two to three seats that can go the GOP way in California. Yes, California. In New York state, two seats will change to the GOP for sure. Illinois and Ohio are possible GOP pickups. I see that the GOP will probably gain 20 seats and give them 254 seats.
One other thing that could pad the GOP majorities is Democrat defections. It is very possible. If Mr. Orman wins and decides he will caucus with the GOP, a possible defection is West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. He may look at the landscape and think being in the minority sucks. And that he is more aligned with the GOP on some key issues. It's a possibility, but not overly likely.
Maybe some house members will come to the same conclusion. I would not be surprised if it happens.
On the state level, the GOP may pick up the governor's office in Colorado, Illinois and Massachusetts. But they may lose in Alaska to an Independent backed by former Gov. Sarah Palin. They may lose Florida to the insufferable Charlie Crist. And also Kansas. That leaves a wash at the governor's level. But they could pad their control of state legislatures and or make gains in some they do not control. In California, the GOP has to gain only one seat in each house to end the Democrat super majority they gained in the 2012 presidential election year. That would be substantial.
Tomorrow will be a huge night for the Republican party. They will gain control of the senate and make gains in governorships in Blue states. They will increase the majority they have in the house.
The big question we can start asking on Wednesday is what will all this mean for governing in the United States?