By Jim Ellis
Oct. 19, 2016 — Most projections suggest that the 2016 US Senate election cycle will end in a partisan division close to a 50-50 tie between Democrats and Republicans. If true, a new political poll suggests that the final determining factor won’t occur until well beyond Nov. 8.
A new JMC Analytics and Polling survey of the Louisiana Senate race portends that this open seat contest will be headed to a Dec. 10 run-off election. Therefore, if one Republican and one Democrat advance from the field of 24 candidates, it will mean the country must wait a full month after the general election to determine whether the Senate is tied or one party reaches 51.
But, such a majority may only last for a year. Assuming Hillary Clinton is elected president, her vice presidential nominee, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, will have to resign his seat. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will then make an appointment – sure to be another Democrat – but this person will only serve until the next statewide general election.
Because Virginia elects its governors in odd-numbered years, the special Senate election will subsequently take place in 2017. Therefore, if the Senate breaks 50-50, with that last seat being from Virginia, the majority will be at risk just one year later. This will make an Old Dominion statewide special election the nation’s political focal point, at least in terms of determining Senate control.