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.

RealClearPolitics Senate Poll Averages

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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. floyd says:

    “For dark is the suede, that mows like a harvest”….. [Mars attacks]

  2. lily says:

    I really can’t imagine the mentality of someone who would vote for Allen if they had the chance to voe for Webb. I guess some people per fer fool’s gold to the real thing.

    Tester is a great guy. If he loses it will be because there are enough selfish irresponsible Republicans who want tax cuts while also demanding that the federal gravy train keep coming to their door to tip the election.

  3. Triumph says:

    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.

    Well, if they lose, perhaps Burns and Allen can resurrect their old TV show….”Say goodnight, Georgie.”

  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

    Commenter banned.

  5. Anderson says:

    Perhaps the context of Tuesday’s election is a fit time to revisit the alleged non-hackery of FoxNews? Greenwald:

    Fox News has re-arranged its programming schedule this weekend — why this weekend? — in order to broadcast at five different times a genuinely demented fear-mongering propaganda film entitled “Obsession: The Threat of Radical Islam.” The whole point of the film — the only point — is to show menacing footage of Muslims, accompanied by very scary music, and then assert, over and over, that they are devoted to killing all of us and that the threat they pose is exactly the same as the threat of Nazi Germany, except it’s much, much worse.

    More at Greenwald (much more, of course; the man do run on).

    I can’t imagine, offhand, what the pro-Democrat version of this would be, but I’m pretty sure that if CNN or MSNBC ran whatever-it-is *five* times on the weekend before the election, we would be hearing about it all over the Right side of the blogosphere.

    FoxNews — like Pravda, but with paid advertising!

  6. James Joyner says:

    Anderson–I haven’t had FoxNews on this weekend, although I did catch the tail end of Matthews’ show and much of Meet the Press today.

  7. Anderson says:

    Back to the actual post topic, I think JJ is being a little pessimistic. It seems clear that the Dems will take the House, if polls mean anything, but I suspect they’ll gain fewer than 20 seats. And polls may *not* mean anything. The Repubs are pulling out every trick in the book, as Josh Marshall tirelessly documents at his blog.

    As for the Senate, I can’t imagine the Dems taking MT VA MO *and* MD … just can’t see it. All 4 of those could easily tip Repub. I will cheerfully confess myself a dumbass if the Dems actually take the Senate; I think they get a few more seats but not the majority.

    (The reverse, actually, of what I’d like to see; Reid would be a more entertaining majority leader than Pelosi.)

  8. I merely believe the Republicans will maintain a majority in both houses. However, I recommend voting against all incumbents for at least two election cycles to purge the insanity.

  9. hln says:

    I’m pretty confident Talent will pull through in Missouri. Springfield is such a Republican stronghold; only St. Louis or KC would cause sway with the rest of the state really being rural/conservative.

    McCaskill’s from KC – don’t know if that’s in her favor or not. The KC Star sure seemed to like to beat up on her in evaluating her as an Auditor.

    Don’t forget – she lost the governership to young Matt Blunt (a scant 35, I believe), whom she liked to attack as inexperienced in her ads. She seemed like she should be a given, but that’s not the way it went at all. She’s continuing the attack campaign against Talent, and the attacks aren’t strong.

    My 2 cents.


  10. jeff b says:

    hln: What a strange argument you seem to be making. “Only St. Louis or KC”? St. Louis and KC have 85% of the state’s population! The “rest of the state” is barely 1 million people.

    Our system is one person, one vote; our system is not one acre, one vote.

  11. floyd says:

    jeff;*KC & ST.louis are really just “Futurama brain slugs” on the state of Missouri*. [lol]

  12. floyd says:

    here is the definition;….The Brain Slug is a parasitic alien life-form, consisting of a clear, carbon-based gelatinous material. This wily being requires a host body to survive, as it has no brain of its own (unfortunately, one attached itself to Fry’s brain and subsequently died of starvation). Once attached, the brain slug controls all of its host’s thoughts, turning them into a zombie-like creature incapable of emotion or intelligent conversation. Perhaps you know someone who fits this description. If so, report them to the local authorities immediately!
    See?? report Missouri quickly!![lol]