Today is Election Day, and this long 2014 voting cycle will now finally conclude. When the votes are finally counted, it is probable that the Republicans will gain a significant majority in the Senate and expand their controlling position in the House. But, the governors’ races could yield a much different story.
As reported yesterday, all indications suggest that the Republicans will score enough conversion victories to assume majority control in the Senate. It appears the GOP will win enough victories to claim 52 seats and it’s possible their total will go higher, maybe even to 53 or even 54 states.
Three races in Kansas (Sen. Pat Roberts), North Carolina (Sen. Kay Hagan), and New Hampshire (Sen. Jeanne Shaheen) appear to be the closest contests. The Republicans winning any two of this group would secure 54 seats for the party, assuming a run-off in Louisiana eventually goes the GOP’s way, as does Georgia, though chances of Republican David Perdue winning outright tonight have greatly improved.
Expect the Republicans to hit the 240 mark or a bit beyond (current number is 234 counting the Eric Cantor vacancy in VA-7). Results in California will likely prevent the GOP from scoring even stronger gains as Democrats will likely blunt the Republican offensive in the Golden State. The two southeastern Arizona incumbents, representatives Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) and Ron Barber (D-AZ-2) along with at least Rep. Bill Enyart (R-IL-12), are perched on the precipice of defeat. But two GOP incumbents, representatives Lee Terry (R-NE-2) and Steve Southerland (R-FL-2), look like they could fall in their respective districts, and thus preventing a clean sweep.
Democrats have a chance to score gains in the governors’ races. Below are some of the latest polls in the most hotly contested campaigns:
• Alaska: Here, Republican Gov. Sean Parnell (R) may lose his battle for re-election, but his opponent is an Independent and a former Republican, ex-Valdez Mayor Bill Walker. The final Rasmussen Reports poll (Oct. 27-30; 887 likely voters) gives the Independent/Democratic coalition candidate, who has former Gov. Sarah Palin’s endorsement, a sizable 50-43 percent lead over Gov. Parnell.
• Arkansas: Public Policy Polling (Oct. 30-Nov. 1; 1,092 likely voters) finds former GOP Rep. Asa Hutchinson in strong position to win tonight. He leads Democratic former Rep. Mike Ross 51-41 percent in this state’s final poll.
• Connecticut: In a rerun of the 2010 campaign, Gov. Dan Malloy (D) and former Ambassador Tom Foley (R) may see an equally tight finish this year. Four years ago, Malloy won the closest gubernatorial battle in the country. This time, Public Policy Polling (Oct. 30-Nov. 1; 931 likely voters) projects that Malloy is clinging to a 44-41 percent edge.
• Georgia: In a race that has been closer than expected for months, NBC News/Marist College (Oct. 31; 603 likely voters) finds Gov. Nathan Deal (R) pulling out to a 48-43 percent lead. With a general election run-off law, winners must receive a majority vote. Therefore, Gov. Deal may well finish first tonight, but unless he tops 50 percent, he and state Sen. Jason Carter (D) will battle in a run-off election on Jan. 6, 2015.
• Idaho: In another race that has been polling closer than expected, Public Policy Polling (Oct. 30-Nov. 1; 1,001 likely voters) finds Gov. Butch Otter (R) now pulling away from Democratic opponent A.J. Balukoff. The PPP numbers give Gov. Otter a 49-37 percent advantage.
• Illinois: A final We Ask America poll (Oct. 27-28; 2,327 registered voters) again finds Gov. Pat Quinn (D) coming all the way back in his battle for a second full term, this time against businessman Bruce Rauner (R). The WAA data gives Gov. Quinn a 50-45 percent advantage. Virtually all polls now find the incumbent with the lead going into Election Day despite trailing almost exclusively since the March 2014 primary.
• Massachusetts: Another PPP survey (Oct. 30-Nov. 2; 887 likely voters) finds businessman Charlie Baker (R) leading Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) 46-42 percent. Most polling finds Baker to be ahead, even those conducted by the Coakley campaign.
Other late data continues to show Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to be in a dogfight with ex-Gov. Charlie Crist (D), while Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) may well lose to state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D), as may Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R). Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) is a sure loser to businessman Tom Wolf (D). If these seats and Alaska are lost, while the GOP candidates gain Arkansas and Massachusetts, the Republicans will drop to 26 Governors chairs, the Democrats will move up to 23, in addition to Independent Walker in Alaska.