Arizona: Could Arizona be to McCain what Tennessee was to Gore? Possibly, but is it what Tennessee was to Gore in 1996 or 2000? What folks don’t realize is that Tennessee almost slipped away from the Clinton-Gore ticket in ’96 but was saved at the last minute. I think that’s what’s happening in Arizona. This is a lean-Red swing state that every two years during the last eight has shown evidence of moving toward the Democrats. If McCain weren’t on the ballot, Obama would have contested this state from the beginning. Democrats are targeting the open GOP House seat in the 1st District, one of the largest in the country and even think they could pull an upset in the 3rd. I doubt that one myself. Tip: If McCain loses, the next good political story in the state will be his Senate re-election bid in 2010. Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano is term-limited and loves to read polls matching her up with McCain in 2010.
Florida: One of the underreported stories of the cycle in this key presidential battleground state is the amount of House races being targeted. On a mediocre night for the Democrats, they should net at least one seat (they’ll knock off two incumbents in the Orlando area and lose the Tim Mahoney seat). It’s possible they could win another two seats in South Florida, as both Diaz-Balart brothers are in very tough fights with Cuban Democrats. That’s right, the Cuban electorate may no longer be monolithic. And if Obama carries the state and one of these Cuban Republicans loses their House seat, it will be one of the bigger realignment stories in the state. If Republicans start losing their edge among Cubans in South Florida, it’s a devastating blow for the GOP.
Minnesota: Forget the presidential race, there’s no better campaign for political junkies like myself than the nutty three-way Senate race between Norm Coleman, Al Franken and ex-Sen. Dean Barkley (remember, Jesse Ventura appointed Barkley to the Senate for the remaining days of the late Paul Wellstone’s term). It’s a crazy race; I think there’s even a five percent chance the third party candidate wins. That said, I guess Franken is the very slight favorite. It’s been a roller-coaster. A Franken win would be the ultimate culmination of what’s been the convergence of everyday politics and satire. I can’t wait to see how Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and the “SNL” folks deal with a Sen. Franken. Tip: Democrats could pick up two more House seats, including suddenly vulnerable Michelle Bachmann’s seat and another open seat.