Sunday, October 31, 2010

Final rundown of some major mid-term races

The American mid-term elections are only two days away now, and given that any comeback now is going to be unlikely for any candidate from any party, I thought I'd just give a quick rundown on several key races, and what I think the overall picture of what the US electorate will look like on November 3rd.

Starting with that most baffling of races, Nevada, where Democratic Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid is facing a tough battle against a baffling Tea Party favourite, Republican Sharron Angle.

Ms. Angle is known for uttering such unfortunately phrases as "some of you look more Asian to me," or wanting to privatize social security based on the "successful" model of 1980's Chile. However, despite her inherent idiocy, Angle is tapping in to some heavy resentment against Harry Reid, whose state is facing record unemployment, and has not always been the most Democratic-friendly place. Reid's unpopularity as both state representative and representative of the Democratic leadership is dragging his numbers down, which may allow Angle a slim win. The most recent polls give Angle an average of 46%, to Reid's 45%.

Moving on, another interesting race is Alaska, where incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski, who lost her Republican primary to Tea Party heartthrob Joe Miller, is surging ahead on the back of ethics violations against Miller. Democrat Scott McAdams is also in the race, and Democrats are hoping for ride up the middle in this solidly Republican state, putting in more resources than orginally expected, trying to boost McAdams' chances. Comparable Canadian equivalent: Simcoe North, where former Conservative MP Helena Guergis was kicked out of caucus, Kellie Leitch became the new Con candidate, and Liberal candidate Andrea Matrosovs may end up having a chance because of a split vote.

Back down south, way south, another notable race is gubernatorial. Florida's governorship, held by now-Independent-but-formerly-Republican Charlie Crist, who's run for the Senate is going badly, Democrat Alex Sink may end up winning her race in an unfriendly national environment, against Republican nominee Rick Scott.

Scott is fairly unpopular, while Sink gets moderately positive views. In a state that leans Republican more often than not, Sink's competitiveness in the face of an upswing for Republicans in the Senate and Congressional races (notably FL-8, FL-2, and FL-22) is a testament to her ability to campaign, and campaign well. She's in a tight race, and it can flip either way, but Democrats must still be smiling because of her.

Also worth looking at is the race for Massachusett's 4th, where Democratic icon Barney Frank is facing a somewhat tougher-than-expected race against Republican Sean Bielat. Though Frank gets consistently +10% of the vote in any polling of the district, Republicans are hoping they can take down Frank, who is chair of the Financial Services Committee. It's gained national attention, and I'm sure the media will follow it every step of the way.

There is also some closing of the gap in two races Democrats are desperate to win: Pennsylvania's Senate and Ohio's gubernatorial. Joe Sestak, who I swear looks like Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil, is facing a tough fight against Republican Pat Toomey for the Senate race, while incumbent Democratic Governor Ted Strickland has climbed his way back to fighting form against Republican challenger John Kasich in Ohio. Both are not favourites in their races, but both I think should be given a fair shake.

Other Senate races - California, Connecticut, Washington - have really moved in a positive direction for Democrats, effectively closing off chances for the Republicans to gain control of the Senate. And among governors races, only Maine and Colorado show some volatility, especially given strong independent/third party showings, though the front-runners - a Republican and Democrat respectively - have yet to be overtaken in polls. Rhode Island also features a moderate former Republican outpacing both Democrats and Republican candidates.

Given all the trolling I do on American political sites, here's my quick prediction for what's going to happen:

House: Democrats will hold more than most think, given an upswing in Democratic enthusiasm and some new evidence concerning cellular vs. land-line phones, but probably not enough to keep the House.

Senate: Democrats keep the Senate, but only just, with them more than likely to lose Nevada, Colorado, and probably Illinois. Don't count out come-from-behind win from either Pennsylvania, Kentucky, or Alaska.

Governors: Republicans get close to 30 governorships, winning out in Ohio, Illinois, and possibly Florida. One or two possible Independent/third party governors.

By the numbers:

House: 215-225 Republicans, 210-220 Democrats.

Senate: 52-54 Democrats, 46-48 Republicans, 0-1 Independent

Governors: 18-20 Democrats, 28-30 Republicans, 0-2 Independents.

Can't wait until Nov. 2!

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