What follows will be a shortened rendering of what I expect to see tonight for the Senate races, partly from a sense of gentility for the time involved to read, bereft of numbers and such imponderables as Yule’s Q and Tau-B, but also from the stark realisation, driven home so deeply from the cold reversals of the 2012 ‘expert’ predictions (and that would include me) and from the fact that now I lurk in the forest shadows of the discipline, unable in my later and intervening years to bask in the reflected glory of actual experts like Michael Barone and Nate Silver.
Early results, which should come soon after the polls close in Georgia at 7:00 PM local, will be an indicator about how the important Senate race will be between Democrat Sam Nunn’s daughter Michelle and Republican businessman David Perdue (no relation to the chicken magnate). This has a distinct possibility of extending into early January because of Georgia’s election laws which call for a run-off in case a candidate doesn’t pull in more than 50% of the vote on election night. The latest polls put Perdue slightly ahead, but an even more important factor is that one major poll has him at 49.8% – solidifying this race early could be a major bellwether for how the rest of the evening goes. As it currently stands, Perdue would likely win a run-off but nothing is guaranteed in politics.
In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader (and future Majority Leader if all goes right) Mitch McConnell has been pulling away from Alison Lundergan Grimes, partly due to gaining Republican votes from the previously safe Democrat bastion of eastern coal country, decimated by Obama’s energy policies (or rather lack thereof, other than to make the cost of coal “skyrocket”). This should be a fairly easy win for McConnell.
Democrat Mark Warner will probably win re-election in Virginia, but it will be interesting to see if his lead against shrinks to contestable margins – another sign of things to come.
North Carolina is still one race to watch – too close to call, but the Democrats are pouring money into the race as a Must Win, and are relying on the 30% black population of the state to pull them through, about the only time that Democrats actually pay attention to the black community. Incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan is still expected to win over Republican Thom Tillis, tarred by being Speaker of the House in a state where the legislature is held in some degree of well-deserved contempt. If it drifts the other way, this will be big news early on.
West Virginia will surely elect Republican Shelly Moore Capito, the first Republican senator in that state since 1956, replacing the seeming senator-for-life David Rockefeller, the very epitome of the rich limousine liberal Democrat. This is one more step in the steady progression of turning the Mountain State red.
New Hampshire is still too close to call and promises to be one of the most watched results. Incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen has a very narrow lead that is buried in the margin of error, against former Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, who was at least born in New Hampshire. A lot has been intimated about Brown being a carpetbagger, but this is from the same party that is perfectly fine with New York carpetbaggers such as Robert Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.
In Arkansas, Republican Tom Cotton has a comfortable lead over incumbent Mark Pryor, so another gain for the GOP.
Colorado will also be a pick-up for the Republicans with Cory Gardner taking the seat from Mark of the Udall dynasty. Colorado Republican voters were incensed at the heavy-handed tactics of the gun control efforts of the Democrats, and two Democrat state senators were recalled with a third being forced to resign in lieu of another recall, all so that the Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper could replace her with another Democrat and thus retain control of that body. This election is a continuation of that counter-attack, and Hickenlooper himself is in danger of losing his seat.
Kansas is still too close to call, and lackluster Republican Senator Pat Roberts could be collateral damage to the likely defeat of Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Independent Greg Orman, up until now a Democrat but taking advantage of a political maneuver, promises to caucus with the majority party, in a transparent demonstration of political prostitution. It is still too close to call, but advantage Democrat at the moment.
South Dakota will surely be picked up by Republican Mike Rounds, another gain for the GOP.
Lousiana is paired with Georgia in its run-off system, so incumbent Mary Landrieu, also a dynastic successor and who was bought in the most recent Louisiana Purchase in order to secure her vote for ObamaCare, will probably move into another election where her Republican challenger Bill Cassidy will pick up the needed majority in December. Mary, you may recall, has the tendency to describe her constituents as racists and sexists, much like the late but not lamented Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania.
Joni Ernst will win easily in Iowa for several reasons, running against Bruce Braley, who once expressed disdain for Senator Chuck Grassley as a "corn farmer who never went to law school."
Republican Steve Daines will take Montana.
Alaska will be hard to call simply for the fact that it is Alaska, a perennial enigma for many reasons mostly to do with geography. Results will be late due in no small part for the fact that some votes have to be brought in from the North Slope area and elsewhere by snowmobile. I predict that Republican Dan Sullivan will defeat incumbent Mark Begich.
For a final tally, my estimate is that the Republicans will likely pick up seven seats in the Senate. For the sake of time, Republicans will pick up 9 to 11 seats in the House.