2006 Midterm Election Predictions
Charlie Cook notes the incredible volatility in the polls in a lot of Senate contests, with several races still too close to call:
In Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum is gone. While the margin in Ohio is not nearly as wide, it’s very hard to see how Mike DeWine makes it back either.
The strange ones are Conrad Burns and Lincoln Chafee in Montana and Rhode Island, respectively. Both races are basically even, pretty remarkable considering how dismal their prospects looked just a couple weeks ago. While even is a bad place for a Republican to be going into Election Day in this kind of environment, both have some momentum at this point.
Conversely, George Allen and Jim Talent, are dead even as well, but with no momentum, and that is very, very dangerous under these circumstances. Talent/Republicans have a fabulous field organization in Missouri, if Talent pulls it out, it might be the ground game that does it, but this is very tough for both.
In Tennessee, while Democrats are boasting of a very strong African-American early voting program, this race really does appear to have slipped away from Democrats. I’d be surprised to see Corker lose to Ford now.
In terms of Democratic-held seats, Cantwell and Stabenow in Washington and Michigan are done deals, Menendez has pretty fair lead in New Jersey, and will probably win with points to spare, but it’s volatile enough that I am still holding back.
A lot of people thought we were crazy when about ten days or so we moved the Maryland open seat to Toss Up, I am very very comfortable with that move and most recent polling shows that it has narrowed up a great deal. Cardin is still up but not by a lot. Sometimes candidates and campaigns matter, and Steele has outperformed Cardin in both respects.
That Burns and Allen could possibly win despite a series of gaffes and a generally anti-Republican climate is a testament to the power of incumbency and people’s reluctance to change parties. That Corker hasn’t run away with Tennessee is a testament to his incredible lack of charisma and Ford’s abundance of same.
Still, the RealClear Politics average has the Democratic gain to six seats, enough to give them a majority.
The aggregate numbers there strike me as about right, although I don’t think Corker is up nearly 6 points. It’s not inconceivable that Burns and Allen could both squeak by, bringing the margin back to 51-49 caucusing with the Republicans and Democrats, respectively. Of the red seats above, it wouldn’t shock me if Corker actually lost, making it 52-48 for the Dems.
Chuck Shumer is now saying that Arizona is up for grabs. I don’t believe it. Many Republicans are hoping that Michael Steele will surge ahead and take the open Democratic seat. That strikes me as almost as unlikely. Steele is charismatic and running an excellent campaign and Cardin is the Democrats’ answer to Corker.
My guess, though, is that the Republicans lose all four of the “toss-up” races–Missouri, Virginia, Montana, and Maryland–and pull out Tennessee in a squeaker. In the first three races, Republican incumbents are below 50 percent in a year trending against the party. The last two are open seats in states sufficiently red and blue, respectively, to overcome the national tide and inept nominees.
I don’t know the House races well enough to even hazard a guess. Let’s split the difference in the polls and call it an even 20 seat gain for the Democrats, five more than needed to take over.