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News from the Votemaster            

Real-time Updates will begin around 1 A.M. EDT     Permalink

Continuous updates will begin around 1 A.M. EDT, when enough results are in to make some sense of it all.

Poll closing times     Permalink

Today's the day we've all been waiting for. For Democrats, with trepidation. For Republicans, with great expectations. Here are the times the polls close. In some states, poll closing time depends on the county, with different counties having different times. These states are marked with an asterisk. All times are EDT.

  • 6:00 P.M. IN*, KY*
  • 7:00 P.M. FL*, GA, IN*, KY*, SC, VT, VA
  • 7:30 P.M. NC, OH, WV
  • 8:00 P.M. AL, CT, DE, FL*, IL, ME, MS, MD, MA, MI*, MO, NH*, NJ, OK, PA, SD*, TN, TX*
  • 8:30 P.M. AR
  • 9:00 P.M. CO, KS*, LA, MI*, MN, NE, NM, NY, RI, SD*, TX*, WI, WY
  • 10:00 P.M. IA, ID*, KS*, MT, ND*, OR*, UT, AZ, NV
  • 11:00 P.M. AK*, CA, ID*, HI, OR*, WA,
  • 12:00 A.M. AK*

If you haven't already voted, stop reading and go vote. Lots of other people are planning to. In fact, turnout expert Dr. Michael McDonald is predicting a turnout of 90 million people. The good news is that this is a record for a midterm election. The bad news is that it is just 41% of the eligible voting-age population. In other democracies, the norm is typically in the 75-90% range. This is really disgraceful. American soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect our right to vote and more than half the country doesn't even bother to use it.

For better or worse, the weather is always a big factor in elections. Historically, high turnout helps Democrats, mostly because many poor people (who are generally Democrats) do not have cars and have to walk to the polls. In a storm, they are less inclined to do so. However, today Democrats luck out as the weather is bright and sunny throughout much of the nation. The only stormy area is the lower Mississippi Valley, where there aren't any competitive races. Whether the lack of a meteorological storm can offset the political storm on the horizon remains to be seen, however.

Seven Senate Races Could Go Either Way     Permalink

Republicans are almost certain to pick up Democratic Senate seats in Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, but to capture the Senate, they need to win six out of the following close seven races. Their best shot is Pennsylvania, where former representative Pat Toomey has consistently led Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). But big turnouts in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh could put Sestak over the top. Another good possibility is Nevada, where tea party favorite Sharron Angle might well defeat majority leader Harry Reid. In this race, as in a number of others around the country, a third-party candidate (in this case Tea party candidate Scott Ashjian), could siphon off 1-2% of the vote from one of the major candidates, enough to defeat him or her. If she does, the Democrats will have to pick a new leader, and both of the candidates, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are going to be far more aggressive with the Republicans than the mild Reid.

Three very close races are Alaska, Colorado, and Illinois. Alaska has become a three-ring circus, with write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) leading Scott McAdams (D) and Joe Miller (R). If Murkowski wins, there will be an endless court battle, with Murkowski and #2 going over every ballot with a microscope. Nobody knows what is going to happen here. Colorado features an appointed senator, Michael Bennet (D-CO) against tea partier Ken Buck. It's a tossup right now. Illinois has two deeply flawed candidates, Alexi Giannoulias (D), whose family ran a failed bank that made loans to sleazy characters, and Mark Kirk (R), who lied repeatedly about his military record. Another tossup.

In Washington and West Virginia, the Democrats have small leads but there could be surprises. Sen Patty Murray (D-WA) is in the fight of her life against Dino Rossi (R) and in West Virginia it is Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV) vs. John Raese.

All in all, the Republicans need a near-perfect storm to take over the Senate. Our best guess is that the new Senate will be 51 Democrats (including the two independents who caucus with them) and 49 Republicans. Under these conditions, it could conceivably flip if Both Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) switch sides. However, it is doubtful that they will. Nelson is surely aware of what happened to Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) when he jumped ship: he lost his primary to a real Democrat. If Nelson stays a Democrat, he will face a tough general election in 2012 but if he becomes a Republican, he will face an even tougher primary--where only real Republicans can vote. He's better off in the general election, where Democrats and independents (his base) can vote. As to Lieberman, while he loves to poke his thumb in the eye of the Democrats for not supporting him in 2006, does he really want Jim DeMint, Sharron Angle, and Rand Paul as colleagues? Doubtful.

Nearly Certain Democratic Losses in the House     Permalink

Our best guess at this moment is that the Republicans will end up with 226 seats and the Democrats 209, but this year anything is possible. It could be much worse for the Democrats but it is unlikely to be better. A lot depends on Democrat turnout, especially among women, young voters, and minorities.

Now let's get more specific. Where are those 47 or more losses going to come from? Based on all the evidence so far, some congressional districts are nearly certain to flip from Democratic to Republican. These are listed in the table below. The names marked with an asterisk are incumbents. The others are Democrats running in open Democratic seats. All the district codes are clickable, leading to either a brief description of the candidates or a map of the district.

CD PVI Democrat
AR-01 R+8 Chad Causey
CA-20 D+5 Jim Costa*
FL-02 R+6 Allen Boyd*
GA-08 R+10 Jim Marshall*
IL-11 R+1 Debbie Halvorson*
NV-03 D+2 Dina Titus*
NY-29 R+5 Matt Zeller
ND-AL R+10 Earl Pomeroy*
OH-01 D+1 Steven Driehaus*
SC-05 R+7 John Spratt*
TN-08 R+6 Roy Herron
TX-17 R+20 Chet Edwards*

Probable Democratic Losses in the House     Permalink

The next batch are Democrats who are in big trouble. Miracles sometimes happen and all of these people are hoping for one, but the odds are not good. Still one or two of them might have hit on a great ad the final week and squeak by.

CD PVI Democrat
AZ-01 R+6 Ann Kirkpatrick*
CA-11 R+1 Jerry McNerney*
FL-08 R+2 Alan Grayson*
IL-17 D+3 Phil Hare*
MS-01 R+14 Travis Childers*
NH-01 R+0 Carol Shea-Porter*
NJ-03 R+1 John Adler*
NY-20 R+2 Scott Murphy*
NC-02 R+2 Bob Etheridge*
OH-15 D+1 Mary Jo Kilroy*
PA-03 R+3 Kathy Dahlkemper*
PA-10 R+8 Chris Carney*
VA-05 R+5 Tom Perriello*
WI-07 D+3 Julie Lassa

Potential Democratic Losses in the House     Permalink

These districts will mostly flip to the Republicans, but with a high Democratic turnout, some of them might be saved.

CD PVI Democrat
AZ-05 R+5 Harry Mitchell*
CO-03 R+5 John Salazar*
CO-04 R+6 Betsy Markey*
CT-04 D+5 Jim Himes*
CT-05 D+2 Chris Murphy*
IL-14 R+1 Bill Foster*
MI-01 R+3 Gary McDowell
NM-01 D+5 Martin Heinrich*
NM-02 R+6 Harry Teague*
NC-07 R+5 Mike McIntyre*
OH-16 R+4 John Boccieri*
PA-07 D+3 Bryan Lentz
VA-02 R+5 Glenn Nye*
VA-09 R+11 Rick Boucher*
WA-03 D+0 Denny Heck
WI-08 R+2 Steve Kagen*

Of course these districts are not the only ones that might flip. There could be others not on the radar that also switch parties.

Probably Republican Losses in the House     Permalink

Even in a wave year, a few of the wavers can lose, especially if the district leans strongly the other way and the incumbent got elected by a fluke. The following Republican districts are probably going to become Democratic.

CD PVI Republican
DE-AL D+7 Glen Urquhart
IL-10 D+6 Robert Dold
HI-01 D+11 Charles Djou*
LA-02 D+25 Joseph Cao*

Another district where the Democrats have at least a shot at picking up a Republican seat is FL-25, where incumbent Mario Diaz-Ballart (R) decided to move to FL-21, where his brother had retired. Democrat Joe Garcia ran a good race here in 2008 and now, without a popular incumbent to defeat, he has a shot at it.

Close Gubernatorial Contests in Half a Dozen States     Permalink

The states with potentially close governor's races are Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Colorado is technically a three-way race, but the Republican is doing so badly that de facto it is Denver mayor John Hickenlooper (D) vs. former representative Tom Tancredo (C). Tancredo is famous for being wildly against illegal aliens. Hickenlooper is favored though. An odd sidelight here is that if the Republican tea partier Dan Maes, falls under 10%, state law will automatically reclassify the Republican Party as a minor party and have it listed in 2012 down in the weeds along with the Libertarian, Green, Social Workers, Prohibition, and other small parties, rather at the top with the Democrats.

Florida pits the state's Chief Financial Officer, Alex Sink (D), against businessman Rick Scott. This one is hugely important in conjunction with the upcoming redistricting but it is too close to call. Connecticut has an open seat and an evenly matched race between the Democrat and the Republican, neither of whom is weird in any major way, an oddity this year.

In Ohio, Gov. Ted Strickland (D-OH) is fighting for his life against former representative John Kasich. The state's economy is in terrible shape and people are inclined to blame Strickland. Still, it's close. In Rhode Island, it is a three-way race including former senator Lincoln Chafee, now running as an independent. Chafee has a reasonable shot at it. Finally, in Oregon, former governor John Kitzhaber (D) is trying to make a comeback. He is facing former NBA basketball player Chris Dudley (R). It is very close.

Whither the Tea Party?     Permalink

That tea party candidates can win Republican primaries is beyond dispute. Whether they can win general elections is something we'll know tomorrow morning. There are nine Senate candidates who are part and parcel of the tea party. Four of them are virtually certain to win. These are Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mike Lee (Utah), Marco Rubio (Florida), and Rand Paul (Kentucky). Another four are in close races that could go either way. These are Sharron Angle (Nevada), Ken Buck (Colorado), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania), and Joe Miller (Alaska). If all eight of these win, DeMint, the spiritual godfather of the bunch, will wield enormous influence in the new Senate. The ninth tea partier is Christine O'Donnell (Delaware), who has no chance at all of winning.

Can You Buy a Senate Seat or Governor's Post?     Permalink

Most people running for high office, especially President, governor, or senator, already hold a lower office and are trying for a promotion. Typical presidential candidates are governors and senators. Gubernatorial candidates are generally already holders of statewide office (such as Attorney General), senators, representatives, or big-city mayors. Candidates for the Senate are often already representatives, governors of their states, or members of the state legislature. But sometimes an enormously wealthy businessperson thinks he or she can parachute in from nowhere and simply buy the office by spending tens of millions of dollars on television ads attacking the other candidate(s). There are quite a few of these trying tomorrow--all of them Republicans. Wednesday we'll know which offices are for sale.

The rich businessman with the most chance of winning is Ron Johnson, who is up against Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). Polls show him leading. He is flooding the airwaves painting Feingold as joined at the hip with President Obama, which is totally untrue. Feingold is one of the most independent senators and often bucks his own party. Still, the ads seem to be working. The guy with the second greatest chance is John Raese, who is running against Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in a special election to fill out the term of the late Robert Byrd. Raese doesn't even live in West Virginiia and Manchin is the most popular politician in the entire country with an approval rating of 70%. This should be a Democratic landslide, but instead it is close. The next two rich outsiders going for Senate seats are Carly Fiorina (up against Barbara Boxer in California) and Linda McMahon (up against Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut). Probably both will lose.

Actually, it is more natural for a CEO to run for governor than senator. Senators just talk all day and occasionally vote but each senator is one out of 100 and has little personal power. Governors run entire states and have immense power. And indeed, three megarich former CEOs are running for governor. Meg Whitman (formerly of eBay) is trying to become governor of California. If she hadn't had an illegal immigrant working as her maid for 9 years she might have made it, but maidgate brought her down. Rick Scott used to run a for-profit hospital chain that admitted to 14 felonies of defrauding Medicare and paid a fine of over half a billion dollars. He is running against Florida's Chief Financial Officer. In a state full of Medicare recipients you wouldn't think he would stand a chance, but he is blanketing the airwaves and it is a close race. In New York state, Carl Paladino is going to discover that money can buy you a lot of things, but the governorship of New York is not one of them. He will be crushed by NY Attorney General (and son of a former governor) Andrew Cuomo. So the score is likely to be one or two out of seven (Johnson and maybe Scott). There are also too many millionaires to even keep track of running for the House.

Some Bellwether Races to Watch     Permalink

All House seats are equal but some House seats are more equal. Here are a few key races to watch tonight.

  • IN-02 (R+2) If Joe Donnelly loses this big time, Republicans will win big
  • IN-09 (R+6) If Baron Hill holds this, could be good news for Democrats
  • KY-06 (R+9) If Ben Chandler finally loses this district, Democrats are in trouble
  • VA-05 (R+5) If Tom Perriello holds this, the Republican wave will be smaller than expected
  • FL-24 (R+4) Democrats abandoned Suzanne Kosmas. If she wins, the wave will be quite small
  • VA-11 (D+2) If Gerald Connolly loses this one, Democrats will be swamped
  • NC-11 (R+6) If the GOP can knock off conservative Heath Shuler, they are on their way to a big win
  • NH-01 (R+0) If Carol Shea Porter can hold on, the wave may be smaller than expected

Today's Polls: CA CO CT FL IL NC NH NV NY OH PA WA WV     Permalink

New Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
California Barbara Boxer* 46% Carly Fiorina 38%     Oct 26 Oct 31 SurveyUSA
California Barbara Boxer* 49% Carly Fiorina 45%     Oct 28 Oct 31 YouGov
California Barbara Boxer* 50% Carly Fiorina 46%     Oct 29 Oct 31 PPP
Colorado Michael Bennet* 46% Ken Buck 50%     Oct 30 Oct 30 Pulse Opinion Research
Connecticut Richard Blumenthal 53% Linda McMahon 44%     Oct 25 Oct 31 Quinnipiac U.
Connecticut Richard Blumenthal 53% Linda McMahon 46%     Oct 31 Oct 31 Rasmussen
Florida Kendrick Meek 18% Marco Rubio 45% Charlie Crist 31% Oct 25 Oct 31 Quinnipiac U.
Florida Kendrick Meek 21% Marco Rubio 47% Charlie Crist 30% Oct 30 Oct 31 PPP
Illinois Alexi Giannoulias 42% Mark Kirk 46%     Oct 30 Oct 30 Pulse Opinion Research
North Carolina Elaine Marshall 40% Richard Burr* 52%     Oct 29 Oct 31 PPP
New Hampshire Paul Hodes 36% Kelly Ayotte 54%     Oct 27 Oct 31 U. of New Hampshire
Nevada Harry Reid* 45% Sharron Angle 48%     Oct 30 Oct 30 Pulse Opinion Research
Nevada Harry Reid* 46% Sharron Angle 47%     Oct 30 Oct 31 PPP
New York Kirsten Gillibrand* 58% Joseph DioGuardi 35%     Oct 28 Oct 31 YouGov
Ohio Lee Fisher 37% Rob Portman 56%     Oct 25 Oct 30 Quinnipiac U.
Ohio Lee Fisher 39% Rob Portman 52%     Oct 28 Oct 31 YouGov
Ohio Lee Fisher 39% Rob Portman 60%     Oct 27 Oct 28 U. of Cincinnati
Pennsylvania Joe Sestak 44% Pat Toomey 48%     Oct 28 Oct 31 YouGov
Pennsylvania Joe Sestak 45% Pat Toomey 50%     Oct 25 Oct 30 Quinnipiac U.
Washington Patty Murray* 49% Dino Rossi 47%     Oct 30 Oct 30 Pulse Opinion Research
West Virginia Joe Manchin 50% John Raese 46%     Oct 31 Oct 31 Rasmussen

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