Charlie Cook is as close as they come to a sure thing when it comes to political prognosticators. As for the election coming up a week from now, Cook has some good news for the GOP and some, well, weird news.
Cook predicts that the wave hitting the House of Representatives will be a Tsunami, but as for the Senate, your guess is as good as his.
It’s easy to look at what appears to be a gigantic Republican 2010 midterm election wave in the House and feel a little slack-jawed, but not so much surprised. There were plenty signs well over a year ago that Democrats were facing grave danger, but even when expecting an onslaught, one can still be shocked at its size and unrelenting force. It would be a surprise if this wave doesn’t match the 52-seat gain on Election Night in 1994, and it could be substantially more.
On the other hand, the Senate picture is incredibly confused. There is no clear narrative in the Senate, just bizarre ups and downs. Republicans could easily find themselves picking up as “few” as seven or as many as 10 seats
Everything is just too close to judge
Both the open Democratic seats in Illinois and Pennsylvania are very close but seem to have moved towards Republicans in recent days; one might be able to put a little finger on the scale for the GOP in both places. Illinois had been as tight as a tick, while in Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey’s lead has narrowed considerably but has stabilized and rebounded a touch. In Colorado, the race is extremely close. Appointed incumbent Michael Bennet is running a far superior campaign to that of Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, the Republican nominee, but the environment is so strong in the GOP’s favor that Buck has a bit of an edge.
It comes down to the same seats we have been discussing for the past two months, Nevada, California, Washington, Connecticut and West Virginia
The Nevada Senate debate seemed to have a greater impact in shaping the views of the debate outside the state than inside. Things seem to bounce around between Majority Leader Harry Reid and his GOP challenger Sharon Angle, with each sporting a 1- or 2-point advantage in different polls. Nobody knows what will happen there.
In California, most insiders are dismissive of a new Los Angeles Times poll showing Democratic state Attorney General Jerry Brown with a 13-point lead over GOP candidate and former eBay executive Meg Whitman and incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer with an 8-point lead over former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Both Democratic leads are much smaller than that. Critics have some very specific criticism of the sample, saying that it is far too Democratic with too many first-time voters making it through the likely-voter screen. The races and fortunes of the Republican Senate and gubernatorial candidates seem to have separated. Fiorina is within a couple of points but has been on a rising trend. Whitman flattened out in mid-single digits.
In Washington state, Democratic incumbent Patty Murray is holding onto a very precarious lead, right about the margin of error in most polling, and only rarely does she touch 50 percent.
Democratic Gov. West Virginia Joe Manchin has settled into a narrow, low single-digit lead over his GOP rival, John Raese, but the race is hardly over. It’s still pretty close but it seems that Manchin has stabilized his situation and is slightly more likely than not to survive.
In Connecticut, all the momentum that Republican wrestling promoter Linda McMahon had several weeks ago has dissipated. Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has recouped his lead and looks headed to a win.
If Republicans don’t win either Connecticut or West Virginia, it means they have to win every other plausible pick-up opportunity to nail a 10-seat Election Night majority. They have to run the table the rest of the night, winning 10 out of their 10 plausible chances. Given the resistance encountered in California, Nevada, and Washington state, that would seem to be exceedingly unlikely. To a certain extent, GOP Senate expectations probably got out of hand, and were likely based more on an extrapolation of the perception of the House momentum into the Senate contests rather than on the events happening in the individual states. All along, top GOP strategists’ downplayed talk of a 9- or 10-seat gain; they haven’t given up yet, but they have always said it would be very hard to hit numbers that high.
In the end despite what Charlie Cook says, all of this is going to come down to one thing turnout. Whether the GOP even takes the House or whether they can take both the House and the Senate comes down to one thing and one thing alone, getting out the vote. If the GOP can rouse a strong turnout then they will be able to win the House and “run the string” in the Senate. If they can’t, well then, it will be another two years of the progressive Democrats being able to shove their tyrannical programs down the throats of the American people.