On Election morn, the Senate now appears to be the body with the most question marks. With the House trending toward a Republican majority, the Senate GOP races are now apparently closing in upon majority status, too. Throughout electoral history there has never been an election where the House flipped to a different party without the Senate. Thus, if the Republicans do gain control of the House and not the Senate, 2010 will make history because this will be the first time such a configuration has occurred.
The latest trends suggest that Nevada (Majority Leader Harry Reid), Illinois (Burris open), Pennsylvania (Specter open), and Colorado (appointed Sen. Michael Bennet), are all tilting the GOP’s way. Add those to the Democratic states of Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, all of which that secure in the Republican column, and that would mean the party is realistically approaching 49 seats. Thus, one of the following states would have to vote Republican to force a 50-50 tie: California, Connecticut, Washington, or West Virginia. Two wins in these four states would mean a companion Senate Republican majority.
In the final day, California looks to be tightening but incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer still has a slight lead. In Connecticut, Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal looks to have a lead beyond the margin of error. The race in Washington is approaching dead heat status; and in West Virginia, Gov. Joe Manchin has a slight lead, but is by no means secure. The Republicans need to throw a perfect political game tonight, and though attaining the majority in the Senate is still unlikely, one can at least see the goal from the current Republican perch.
In the Senate, the latest Delaware polls continue to show Democrat Chris Coons leading controversial Republican nominee Christine O’Donnell in a race that may well save the Democratic majority. With California (Barbara Boxer) and West Virginia (Gov. Joe Manchin vs. John Raese) now trending better for Democrats, and Colorado, Illinois, and Washington in pure toss-up mode, it will be very difficult for the GOP to claim the Senate majority largely because they have so many of their own seats to defend.
Thus, entering the final phase of campaign 2010, it is more than conceivable that the Republicans will secure enough Democratic conversion seats to secure a working House majority and end the Senate cycle with between 47-49 members.
Turning to the states, the GOP is in position to command 30+ Governors, and could possibly gain a record number of state legislative chambers. This, in a redistricting year that will have a major influence over the political landscape in the ensuing decade.
Though 2010 is shaping up to be an election of historic proportions, it’s only the beginning of a series of major political events. Right after the election Congress will return for an important lame duck session, apportionment numbers will be released before the end of the year – meaning we will know for sure which states will be gaining and losing congressional districts and exactly how many – followed by 2011 redistricting where battles in all 50 states will soon begin (43 with multiple congressional districts are naturally of the highest importance), and, of course, the 2012 presidential election campaign commences in earnest.
The fluidity in our contemporary political time rivals that of any point in American history. It is an exciting time to be involved.
While polls are now beginning to show some distance between Senate candidates in several states, perhaps the biggest bombshell is the continued strong performance by West Virginia Republican John Raese (pronounced Ray-cee). Running against one of the most popular Governors in the nation in the bid to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D), Raese, who has failed in previous statewide runs, has been surprisingly tenacious in the 2010 special election campaign. According to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll (10/5; 500 likely WV voters), the GOP challenger has now taken the lead over Gov. Joe Manchin. By a count of 50-44%, a spread beyond the margin of error, the Republican has a measurable advantage over the Democratic chief executive. This is largely due to Raese’s strong opposition to the Cap & Trade issue, which has devastating effects on the coal economy, and his linkage of Manchin to the Obama Administration and federal Democratic politics.
With what now appears to be a sure GOP loss in Delaware, a state they were counting on to make an improbable run for the majority, West Virginia could take its place in the national Republican formula. Democrats are still the favorites to retain control, and the GOP would need a perfect election night to gain the ten seats they need to overturn the Senate, but West Virginia may be one state that very well comes through for them on November 2nd.
As we enter the final month of the 2010 election cycle, the Senate races are beginning to fully define themselves.
We now believe that only three of the 37 campaigns can be labeled as pure toss-ups, down from five. The three are the Nevada race featuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid versus former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, the Illinois open seat campaign with state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL-10) doing battle, and in West Virginia where Gov. Joe Manchin (D) and businessman John Raese (R) are locked in a much closer than expected special election campaign to succeed the late Sen. Robert Byrd.
Overall, Republicans now appear positioned to win 24 of the in-cycle Senate races compared to the Democrats’ ten. This would decrease the Democrats strength in the chamber to 50 with the three undecided campaigns still on the board. Republicans would gain a net of six seats under these calculations, bringing their total to 47.
Under this model the Democrats would retain the majority, but would have no more than 53 seats and as few as 50, depending upon the resolution of the Nevada and Illinois races.
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