John Tabin’s tip sheet on the main site is a great place to look if you want to get a sense of how the election is going once the returns start coming in. He outlines what you’re likely to see in the event of a McCain upset, decisive Obama victory, or inconclusive long night. But, for the sake of posterity and to perhaps make a fool of myself, I’ll share with you my last round of pre-election predictions.
Barack Obama will win the presidency with results similar to Bill Clinton’s in 1992 — it will be relatively close, within five points, in the popular vote but he’ll win 300 + votes in the Electoral College. Obama will hold on to all the 2004 Kerry states and flip Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, and even Ohio and Florida, though both states have seen some movement in McCain’s favor in recent days. McCain, however, will pull it out in Indiana, North Carolina, Georgia, the Dakotas, and his home state of Arizona. Montana could be spoiled by Ron Paul — he’s on the ballot there against his wishes — and Bob Barr, but I’m still going to call it for McCain.
Barr will run ahead of Ralph Nader, Chuck Baldwin, and Cynthia McKinney to become the first Libertarian presidential candidate to finish third since Dr. Paul in 1988. I don’t think he’ll break Ed Clark’s record as top Libertarian vote-getter (Clark got nearly a million votes for 1.1 percent in 1980), but I do think Baldwin will break Howard Phillips’ 1996 record as the Constitution Party’s top vote-getter.
Democrats will pick up Republican-held Senate seats in Virginia, New Mexico, Oregon, Colorado, New Hampshire (it gives me no pleasure to say), Alaska, and North Carolina. Mitch McConnell will hang on in Kentucky and Roger Wicker in Mississippi. Saxby Chambliss may end up in a runoff in Georgia, but will ultimately prevail. Susan Collins in Maine has joined the ranks of the safe Republicans, despite the Democrats’ efforts to challenge her. Republicans will pick up no Democratic-held seats.
That leaves Norm Coleman in Minnesota. He seemed to be pulling away around the time of the GOP convention, then Al Franken took the lead after the Wall Street meltdown. Things seem to be trending in Coleman’s favor once again. But he’s still an incumbent below 50 percent. Even allowing for some of Mickey Kaus’ seasaw theory, if Obama’s victory margin is greater than 10 Coleman is done. If McCain can hold Obama to single digits, Coleman will be re-elected.
The Democrats are going to win 20 to 30 Republican-held seats in the House, but there Republicans will have some offsetting picks. Republicans are going to retake the Tom DeLay and Mark Foley seats, beat Paul Kanjorski in Pennsylvania, and even give John Murtha a scare. Tom McClintock will pull the football away from Democrat Charlie Brown in John Doolittle’s California district. But I think Don Young, Chris Shays, Joe Knollenberg, Michelle Bachmann, and Tom Feeney are some of the incumbents who are going to fall short while the GOP bleeds open seats. If there were fewer retirements and the Republicans could have focused all their resources on marginal districts the Democrats won in 2006, things wouldn’t be nearly this bad.
Read ’em and weep. If you don’t like them or they turn out to be wildly wrong, I’ll refund all of the money you paid for them.