Things to Know On Election Day
39 and 10: Those are the number of seats Republicans must win to attain majorities in the House and Senate respectively. The average prediction has Republicans gaining between 45-50 seats in the House, and 7-8 seats in the Senate, though late polling showed a surge of pro-Republican sentiment over the weekend.
This isn’t exactly like 1994: Here are some differences. Unemployment is much higher in 2010 than in 1994 and pessimism is much deeper. Republicans came into the 1995 Congress with brand new faces and leadership. In 2010 they are returning with Boehner and because of their swift return to power it seems unlikely that he will be replaced. Even if he is replaced the likely candidate for House leadership will be Eric Cantor of Virginia. Republicans are winning bigger than in 1994. They should blame Bush for their defeats in ’06 and ’08. Instead they will credit themselves and Obama for their swift return.
Return of the RINO: The Tea Party isn’t the only force on election day. Moderate Republicans are looking to reclaim House seats in suburban districts across the country and have several Senate candidates. This is the most under-reported story of this election cycle, but it will have incredible consequences for Republican Congressional leadership. There will be a lot of endzone dancing by Tea Partiers tonight. But this new class of moderates will give them trouble sooner than they think.
Things to Watch On Election Day
West Virginia: If Republicans are going to win the Senate today, West Virginia is a must win seat and the polls close at 7:30, so we should know early. Republican John Raese and Democratic challenger GovernorJohn Manchin have been in a very tight race in this special election.
Washington: That’s the other major Senate race Republicans need to win to get a majority. Dino Rossi is another moderate Republican who has snubbed invitations to speak at Tea Party rallies. Her elections would signal not only a Republican majority, but one in which a tiny band of moderate Republicans hold immense power.
NY-19: Incumbent Democrat John Hall’s (famous from the band Orleans “You’re Still the One”) won in the landslide of disgust at Republican rule in 2006. He has turned in a liberal voting record consistent with his convictions. He is now challenged by Nan Hayworth a Mount Kisco opthamologist who is pro-choice, but given to quoting Ron Paul on economic issues. The race has been especially tight and may be a bellweather for races in Northeastern suburban districts where Republicans have been getting trounced for a half a decade. This particular race has a fascinating twist in that it may depend on a tightly knit community of Orthodox Jews living in Kiryas Joel.
Nevada: Obviously this is a high profile race and the loss of Harry Reid will hurt Democrats. Tea Party activists have booked the same hotel as Reid for their victory party. For non-Nevadans Sharon Angle is either inspiring or frightening.
Things to Watch After Election Day
Alaska: This Senate election may take a week to sort out.
Marco Rubio: The Florida Republican who beat Charlie Crist is a potential breakout star in this election. He is an articulate spokesman for conservative and Republican causes. His defeat of Crist gives him credibility with movement-conservatives. His election tonight will demonstrate his ability to win non-Cuban Hispanic votes, and likely revive the dream of a Republican party that has a loyal bloc of Hispanic voters.
Rand Paul: Paul has received some criticism for watering down some of his father’s pure old-line libertarianism to make it palatable for Kentucky voters in a general election. It is likely that he will introduce plenty of bills that receive little or no attention, but build his credibility over time, as his father has done. But the event to watch for is Paul’s first vote against a majority or the entirety of his Republican Senate colleagues. Will the conservative movement that has slowly warmed up to him look to him as a man of principle or will they treat him as an unwelcome crank or “RINO”? The first difficult vote he makes will be a chance for neoconservatives to attempt to punish or discipline him. Who will blink?
The States: Though there are 37 gubernatorial races this year. Republicans will not be winning any of the big prize states such as California and New York as they did in 1994. And many states will be forced to cut spending next year- including New York. While some see this as a chance to groom more Republican governors like Chris Christie it is just as likely to make Democrats like Andrew Cuomo look like credible budget hawks.
Sarah Palin: How much credit and blame will she be given for her Mama Grizzlies and other candidates she endorsed? How will she leverage that as the politico-media machine begins to focus on 2012?
The White House: Politically the Obama Administration has consistently overpromised and underdelivered. His deference to Congress on Health Care may have given him a bill he could pass, but he was never able to control the “narrative” of health reform. It was a moral issue, then a fiscal issue, then a moral one. Then it became a polling nightmare that his party has run away from in this election cycle. Will Obama be able to pivot, as Clinton did, and find some bi-partisan good government agenda? How long will it take? Or will he choose conflict and begin his 2012 campaign by running against an intransigent Republican Congress?
Tea Party: Can this movement continue to exist at all distinct from the Republican opposition, or will credit for a 2010 political victory destroy it?