Democrats should continue to dread election day or quadruple their efforts to stave off GOpers more than ever. The reason: The University of Virgnia’s Larry Sabato, arguably one of the most accurate forecasters of election results in the country, says the Republicans are poised to take over the House and possibly even the Senate:
As alert readers of the Crystal Ball will note, we have not changed our projection of +47 Republican net House seats in many weeks. We made this prediction prior to Labor Day, and we were the first to say definitively that, in our estimate, the new House would be controlled by the GOP. At the time, our number startled many, though it now seems less surprising with just 19 days to go in the campaign.
As we pledged six weeks ago, we will tweak our House number in the final days of the campaign. If we were to do so today, we would expand the GOP gains by single-digits. But we see no reason to change it just now since (1) we’ve been pleased to see other nonpartisan prognosticators moving ever closer to our number; and (2) factors specific to the closest House contests will play out over the dwindling days of the 2010 campaign. We retain confidence in our prediction as an approximation of the final results.
Concerning the Senate, the Democrats still appear to have a small edge to maintain narrow control—but Republicans have the opportunity to run the table, win a net +10 seats, and gain a one-seat majority. For now, we are raising (by one seat) the likely Republican Senate gain, from +7-8 to +8-9. This was the level at which we had the GOP before its disaster in Delaware.
Christine O’Donnell’s GOP primary victory in the First State in mid-September was a momentum-breaker for the Republicans, depriving them of a near-certain pick-up of a critical Senate seat. The O’Donnell upset of Mike Castle caused virtually the entire political community to downgrade the party’s chances of seizing the magic ten in the Senate. Precisely because of O’Donnell, the Crystal Ball lowered its forecast Republican gain of +8-9 Senate seats to +7-8. O’Donnell’s macabre campaign, including the ludicrous “I’m not a witch; I’m you” spot that will live forever on the political blooper tape, has likely insured her defeat, despite strong fundraising numbers.
If you recall, after O’Donnnell’s primary victory Bush political maven Karl Rove essentially said “There goes the Senate,” and was roundly condemned by tea partiers and talk show hosts (including Rush Limbaugh who has way of taking a Republican to task so the GOPer no matter who he is later apologizes or changes his tune). He then uttered (begrudging) support for O’Donnell.
However, Republicans have begun to do better in a couple of other states, and in this edition of the Crystal Ball, we are changing ratings in those two states: West Virginia and Wisconsin.
But here is where a new poll may make this part of Sabato’s forecast inaccurate. He writes:
When Sen. Robert Byrd died in June, it was simply assumed that Gov. Joe Manchin (D) would take the seat, through appointment or election. His high popularity preordained it. But Manchin didn’t count on the deep unpopularity of President Obama in a state he lost by a wide margin to both Hillary Clinton and then John McCain. The Republican candidate, John Raese, is a self-funder but also a three-time statewide loser (twice for the Senate and once for Governor). But his message for 2010 is simple and powerful: “Manchin will be a rubber-stamp for Obama and I am the Nobama.” Nobama has edged ahead, though we believe the well regarded Manchin has just enough time to come back. West Virginia Senate goes from Lean D to Toss Up.
A Marshall University poll in West Virginia finds Gov. Joe Manchin (D) with a solid lead over John Raese (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 38%, with 12% still undecided.
“The results show Manchin with his biggest lead in an independent survey since July. As other polls have found, Manchin’s approval within the state remains high — 75% said he had done an excellent or good job as governor, while only 19 percent gave him a fair or poor rating.”
But at this point if you had to put money on what will happen you would say: the Republicans will take the House (and it’ll be a big perceived upset if they don’t) and the Democrats will take the Senate (and if the GOP does it will signify an even bigger Republican win).
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.