Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pickin' and grinnin'

If you're a gambler, don't bet the ranch on my election predictions. I'm not, to put it daintily, the most accurate political prognosticator. But I make my calls every election and live with those calls, win or lose. This article is a slightly revised version of a post to an Internet discussion group. The only substantive revision is that I had previously listed Missouri's US Senate race as "iffy" -- I've since moved it solidly into the "Democratic pickup" column. So, here we go:

I don't think the Dems will take the Senate, but it's just barely possible.

Solid Democrat gains:

- Casey over Santorum in Pennsylvania
- Tester over Burns in Montana
- Brown over DeWine in Ohio
- McCaskill over Talent in Missouri

Possible, but iffy:

- Webb over Allen in Virginia
- Whitehouse over Chafee in Rhode Island

I don't foresee any GOP pickups. The most likely one is in New Jersey, but I think that Democratic incumbent Menendez will beat GOP candidate Keane. I also think Lieberman will win as a faux-Independent in Connecticut.

The current Senate is 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and an Independent.

If the Democrats get those four likely seats, the GOP doesn't pick up New Jersey and Lieberman is elected, it will be:

51 Republicans, 47 Democrats and 2 Independents.

The Democrats would have to win both "iffy" seats to reduce the GOP to 49, and they'd then have 49 as well, although Sanders and Lieberman will presumably caucus with the Democrats for leadership elections and such. I don't see that happening. I'm tentatively picking Webb to win in Virginia, but I think Chafee will hold on in Rhode Island. So, final:

50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, 2 Independents.

In the House, I predict that the Democrats will pick up 16 seats -- 15 from Republicans plus Vermont District 1, which Independent Bernie Sanders is leaving for the Senate. Once again, I don't foresee the GOP picking up any seats it didn't already have.

Predictions for Dem pickups:

- Giffords beats Graf in Arizona District 8
- Perlmutter beats O'Donnell in Colorado 7
- Courtney beats Simmons in Connecticut 2
- UPSET -- Farrell beats Shays in Connecticut 4
- Donnelly, Ellsworth and Hill beat Chocola, Hostettler and Sodrel in Indiana 2,8 and 9
- Braley beats Whalen in Iowa 1
- Shuler beats Taylor in North Carolina 11
- Space beats Padgett in Ohio 18
- Murphy beats Gerlach in Pennsylvania 6
- Lampson beats the hyphenated lady (and Bob Smither) in Texas 22
- And, of course, that Vermont seat -- Welch beats Rainville in Vermont 1

That leaves three seats to meet my prediction. I think Tammy Duckworth will upset Roskam in Illinois 6. That's one. I think Kilroy will unseat Price in Ohio 15. That's two. And I think at least one more seat will be an upset Democrat gain ... it might be one of a couple of close Kentucky races, or Florida 22. There's at least one close-to-tossup in New Mexico, but with the LP excluded, the GOP may gain. There's another race in Minnesota that's a possible (Wetterling v. Bachmann in the 6th district).

That's my prediction, but I have a disturbing sense that it's probably wrong. I have a gut feeling that one of two things will happen: Either the GOP will hold on by the skin of its teeth, or the Democrats will break out even bigger than I'm predicting (i.e. a number of those possibles I listed, instead of just one or two, will go Democrat, and maybe even some others that didn't look likely at all).

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