Jim Antle has given his election predictions, so I will join in this display of reckless punditry and flesh out the rest of my predictions for November.
I have already recklessly called Virginia for Webb after Allen’s implosion over the last month, which has reduced him in the wake of “macaca” to criticising Webb for the latter’s opposition to women in combat (which shows him to be a ridiculous pander), suddenly “discovering,” as if for the first time, that some black Americans may find the battle flag slightly objectionable (which makes him a fraud), and pretending to be horrified at questions about his mother’s possible Jewish ancestry (he says that he believes in religious liberty, you see, and he also apparently believes that Virginians don’t want part-Jewish Senators, which makes him seem rather odd). Besides those things, Allen fared quite poorly in his Meet the Press encounter with Webb–and that is the assessment of Republican bloggers and observers. The race is a statistical dead-heat, and will tip towards Webb as Allen languishes below 50% in the polls and late swing voters go for Webb. On election night, George Felix Allen will be very infelix.
The House will flip, as there are definitely 14 Republican-held seats that are already leaning the other way, and the flip will be made possible by the late rally of Michelle Bean in Illinois’ 8th, and will be secured by Heather Wilson’s late collapse in New Mexico’s 1st and the possible damage done to the GOP candidate in Ohio’s 18th by Ney’s refusal to resign (and, possibly even more damaging because it would be rather chaotic, the need for a special election to replace Ney if he does resign). Wilson continues to poll well below 50% in a district that has always gone to the GOP from the time of Manuel Lujan through the Schiff years until today. Wilson does always benefit from a sizeable absentee vote that gave her a comfortable margin two years ago, but this time I don’t think the late surge can save her this time.
Ford will beat Corker in Tennessee, as the latter’s already lacklustre campaign will falter in the final weeks. Casey will struggle in the final weeks to not lose a race that has been his all along (and which his pitiful campaigning has almost squandered), but he will hold on to win in Pennsylvania by a considerably reduced margin, perhaps no better than 3 or 4%. Whitehouse will win Rhode Island [corrected] fairly easily, as Chafee’s campaign will have been sufficiently financially weakened by the hard-fought primary to make it ineffective in the closing days. The anti-GOP sentiment in Ohio will be impossible for DeWine to overcome, and he will fall, though perhaps by a very slim margin. I agree with Jim that Montana goes to the Dems and New Jersey goes to the GOP. Talent will falter and lose in Missouri. I am fairly sure that Steele will not win in Maryland against Cardin, in spite of Steele’s studied attempts to avoid the label of his own party; he would not have adopted his “independent” pose if he didn’t think it was necessary, but in the end people will still see that he is in the Republican candidate and in the current environment this will cost him too many votes. That means a Democratic net gain of six, which means Democratic control of both houses. In a sense, that isn’t terribly reckless–it is what I have been saying all year long, but I had not previously made my specific predictions. The latest Times/CBS poll, which admittedly always comes up with numbers on the low end for Republicans, points to massive discontent with the majority party and no significant 9/11 bump for Dobleve, and this discontent is translated very specifically into a large anti-incumbency majority:
In one striking finding, 77 percent of respondents — including 65 percent of Republicans — said that most members of Congress had not done a good enough job to deserve re-election and that it was time to give new people a chance. That is the highest number of voters who said it was “time for new people” since the fall of 1994.
If the poll is at all accurate and if roughly two-thirds of Republicans believe their own incumbent members do not deserve re-election, those of us who are hedging our bets and talking about one or two-seat majorities in the House are likely to be shown up as having been all together too conservative in our guesses and not reckless at all.
Update: Kyl in Arizona only leads by 5 points, which now makes Arizona an unexpected contested Senate race that should probably not be this close. Kyl won re-election in 2000 in a basically uncontested race (except by Greens and Libertarians), and easily won his first race against then-Rep. Coppersmith during the bloodbath of 1994. Pederson is his first really serious competition, and Kyl seems to be struggling. I am not quite reckless enough to call an upset here, but it bears watching.