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In the Tennessee Senate race, Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. hasn’t led in a non-partisan poll in almost four weeks, and I expect Bob Corker to win (Rep. hold). The Missouri Senate race is as close as they get, and a victory for Democrat Claire McCaskill would be no surprise. With low confidence, I predict that Jim Talent pulls out a squeaker (Rep. hold). If I’m wrong: If Tennessee and Missouri flip, a Democratic Senate is well within reach.
In Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum is almost certainly going to lose his Senate seat (Dem. gain). Probably going down with him: Incumbent Republicans in Districts 6, 7, and 10 (Dem. gain times 3). If I’m wrong: If any of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable Republicans hold on, thank Santorum’s campaign— even if his GOTV effort can’t save him, it might save others. On the other hand, if you’re on the lookout for signs of a real GOP disaster, watch out for losses in PA-8 or PA-4 (both of which I predict as Rep. holds).
The most closely watched race in Illinois is in the 6th district, the open seat vacated by Henry Hyde, where the polls would suggest a toss-up. But DuPage County, which accounts for 4/5 of the district’s votes, is the nerve center of the Illinois Republican Party, and I’ll bet they know enough about turning out voters in their own back yard to hold this seat (Rep. hold). If I’m wrong: If the Illinois GOP falters in IL-6, watch out for them to falter next door in IL-10. Though the 10th has flown under most analysts’ radar, the one nonpartisan pollster following it (RT/Constituent Dynamics) shows a close race, and while Republican Mark Kirk has a two-to-one financial advantage, that’s quite a bit less than the advantage he’s had against his last two challengers (both of whom he beat with totals in the 60s, even as the district gave 53% to John Kerry).
8:30 PM — Polls close in Arkansas, which has no hot races at the federal level, and in the rest of North Carolina, which does: Charles Taylor, while not to be confused with the Liberian warlord awaiting trial in The Hague, is one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents, has trailed in every poll, and will probably lose (Dem. gain).
9:00 PM — Polls close in the rest of Michigan (and Texas and South Dakota), and close statewide in 10 states, six of them with races worth mentioning: Arizona, New York, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Colorado, and New Mexico.
I’m not even sure why the Michigan Senate race is considered a contest in some quarters, but I’ll mention it anyway: Dem. hold. The same goes for Arizona’s Senate race: easy Rep. hold. The House races in Arizona are more interesting: the 8th is looking like a Dem. gain, but I bet J.D. Hayworth pulls it out in the 5th (Rep. hold). If I’m wrong: Republican losses in both Arizona districts will tip immigration politics to the left, even if Republicans somehow manage to hold the House anyway.
As Hillary Clinton cruises to victory in New York, every upstate Republican seems on the defensive. Look for GOP losses in Districts 20 and 24 (Dem. gain times 2).
In Rhode Island, though the Senate race is tightening a bit, Sheldon Whitehouse is still set to replace Lincoln Chafee with a liberal who isn’t afraid to go by the name “Democrat” (Dem. gain). If I’m wrong: If Chafee is re-elected, don’t be shocked if he switches parties at some point.
In Minnesota, Mark Kennedy is facing a loss in the Senate race (Dem. hold), but Republicans are holding on in their House races. If I’m wrong: I’m not predicting it, but it isn’t inconceivable that Minnesota Republicans could be so dispirited by the state of the Senate race that they stay home and hand a seat like MN-1, where the Republican is leading but only by a few points, over to the Democrats.
Colorado’s 7th district looks like it will be an easy Dem. gain. RT Strategies/Constituent Dynamics shows CO-4 as a toss-up, too — but they’re a new pollster using a fairly untested method, and Mason-Dixon, which has been around long enough to build an excellent record, shows Republican Marilyn Musgrave out in front. I trust Mason-Dixon (Rep. hold).
New Mexico’s 1st district is another probable Dem. gain.
10:00 PM — Polls close statewide in four states and in parts of three others, but the ones to watch are Montana and Iowa.
Democratic challenger Jon Tester has been ahead in the polls in Montana’s Senate race for months. The race has tightened, with Conrad Burns tied in the latest Mason-Dixon poll and within the margin of error in the latest Rasmussen poll. I’m cautiously betting that Tester still has the edge here (Dem. gain). If I’m wrong: This is another race that is all-but-critical to any Democratic Senate takeover. It’s hard to see them running the table everywhere else if they lose here.
Iowa’s first district is another likely Dem. gain.
11:00 PM — Polls close in every state left (except for Alaska, which has no seriously contested national races). The one to watch now is California’s 11th District. It’s very close, but I’m guessing it’ll be another Dem. gain.
So in the Senate, that makes 4 Democratic gains; in the House, 21 Democratic gains and 1 Republican gain. Counting Lieberman and Bernie Sanders (the socialist independent who is poised to win in Vermont) as Democrats, that make my final prediction a Republican Senate divided 51-49 and a Democratic House divided 223-212.
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