Although I reserve the right to alter my predictions until the first polls close tomorrow at 7 p.m., right now I predict that Barack Obama will be elected our next president, by an electoral count of 338-200. Of the swing states, I believe that Obama will win: Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida. I think McCain will win his newly competitive home state of Arizona, as well as Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, and Georgia.
I’d put Obama’s potential range at a minimum of 291 electoral votes and a maximum of 375 electoral votes. I haven’t been convinced by those arguing that McCain has a legitimate shot at Pennsylvania (sorry, Quin), and I don’t think Obama will win Georgia.
In the Senate, I think Democrats will pick up 8 seats, making the Senate technically 57-41-2, but actually 59-41 given that Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders caucus with the Democrats. So effectively, this will mean a filibuster-proof Senate when you consider that wobbly Republicans can’t be counted on to block Democratic legislation. I’d put the potential range at a gain of five to eight seats.
I’m not breaking new ground by assuming that Democrats have a lock on at least five seats: Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, Alaska, and New Hampshire. Also, I can’t see the Democrats reaching 60 seats because I think the Mississippi, Kentucky, and Georgia seats are firmly in Republican hands now (though Saxby Chambliss may need to win in a run-off in Georgia because he may not hit the required 50 percent as a result of a libertarian third party candidate).
Minnesota is shaping up as the most difficult race to predict, because Norm Coleman has looked strong in recent polls. I’m basing my prediction on the belief that Obama’s large coattails in the state will pull Al Franken ahead. I hope I’m really, really, wrong about this one.
I’m now pretty sure that this is the end for Elizabeth Dole, but the traditionally conservative nature of North Carolina provides some hope that she can survive the challenge from Kay Hagan.
I also think that Gordon Smith is toast in Oregon, but it’s worth noting that some polls show that the Constitution Party candidate is drawing enough to account for the margin, so if enough conservatives decide at the last minute that they’d rather prevent the Democrats from gaining a supermajority by holding their noses and voting for a moderate Republican rather than taking a stand with a third party, Smith could theoretically pull it off.
I’m too chicken to predict individual House races, so I’ll weasel out and say Democrats gain 25-35 seats.
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