What will we do with our hands once they no longer need to reach for the remote to prevent yet another political advertisement from coming into our living room? Candidates continue to bombard voters with these ads even as polls such as ones in Virginia this year showed almost 8 of every 10 voters said the ads didn’t affect their decisions. With DVR use increasing and more homes like ours fast-forwarding our way past them perhaps in some future election………
Now that hard-fought races are nearly complete it is that time in the election cycle when we get to have some fun with the deck of cards we have been dealt regarding the candidates for the mid-term elections.
Before I get to the predictions let me readily admit only real politicos can feel any sense of excitement this cycle as the races were void of policy ideas to challenge a nation seeking answers, or calm an electorate that is confused and scared about events unfolding at home and abroad. Instead of lifting the nation up campaigns this year simply made another reason for too many voters to feel bad about almost everything.
As a liberal Democrat there is no way not to make an opening comment about the state of the Democratic Party. If I did not say something some might think I was dodging the issue. As always on my blog I make every effort to be up-front in how I view events.
This year when it comes to my party I am disgusted. Not because of what the party has done, but due to the fact my party’s candidates were timid about standing up with pride and making the case as to why our nation is better served with our polices and proposal’s for further legislation. Republicans worked to define this election cycle and Democrats did not assert themselves to debunk the prevailing narrative. Is it any wonder we are where we now find ourselves? When a Democratic candidate can not answer a question about proudly casting a ballot for the first African-American president than maybe voters should re-elect the Republican. I would have counseled candidates that either one stands for something in a proud way or one looks small and foolish and it undermines the mantle of leadership one is striving to attain from the voters.
When the Democratic Party fails to understand that the man sitting in the White House has an electoral formula for success by motivating core voters to turn out as much as swing voters, and yet candidates are even scared to mention his name let alone campaign with him, than maybe it is time to cast off the weak-kneed ones. I am not a paid consultant but it was pure folly this cycle for candidates to distance themselves from the president–even disparage him. Come Election Night the price for that mistake will be demonstrated coast to coast. If the Democratic Party will not show spine in an election how convincing are they to voters who are nervous about pressing issues confronting the nation?
Yes, I am disgusted.
In spite of that fact let’s try and have some fun–as has been the case for me since November 1980–with making predictions for the big races and interesting contests around the country.
First prediction I offer is voter turnout in Wisconsin. For all the intensity and importance of the races I am never surprised by the lack participation of the electorate. 53% turnout.
United States Senate
I want to alert readers to how I viewed the senate races just a couple of weeks ago. Most of this year I have been bearish on the outcomes and nothing has altered my views. Off the top I place Montana, South Dakota—I was never under the spell of some who thought this was ever in play–and West Virginia in the hands of the GOP. I also easily place Michigan and Virginia to the Democrats. If a senate race is not listed here it means the incumbent is predicted to win. If my math below if correct my predictions give the GOP seven pick-ups on Tuesday.
Alaska–Despite its image of feisty independence let’s be honest about this state. Alaska led the nation in per capita federal aid to state and local governments in 2010, the most recent year for such data being reported. Whichever party wins this seat the end game is–as always–what does Alaska need from the outside world and which candidate is best at getting it. So for Dan Sullivan to make some grand call for smaller government is simply galling to hear. Most polls have shown a 4 or 5 percent advantage for the Republican and nothing eventful has changed to the point those numbers should switch. Sullivan defeats Mark Begich.
Arkansas—There is one Republican candidate more than any other who has created a visceral reaction for me this election cycle. Tom Cotton is without doubt the most vapid Republican running this year for the senate. As has been stated many times Cotton started thinking about running for the senate a month after being sworn in as a congressman. Before he had found the toilets in the capitol he was seeking higher office. There is nothing to this man for policy credentials other that what he is told to say by his political handlers. During one of the debates I watched this fall with Mark Pryor there seemed no end to the times Cotton used the word Obama. I can assure my readers there are no college kids who could have made it though that debate in a drinking game as they might do with a Bob Newhart show since there were 74 times the president’s name was used by the Republican candidate. Cotton literally had nothing of substance to say and was so out of his league it was embarrassing. But even more stunning to me is that the voters will send him to Washington for six years. Cotton defeats Pryor. Tell me honestly that we should not be spending more tax money on education in Arkansas.
Colorado—As we watch this election night tally unfold ponder how we now clearly have two types of elections. One is presidential where Democrats have some key constituencies that can be tapped into along with an electoral college of states that makes the ever-more white and conservative Republican Party on the ropes as it seeks the White House. But come mid-terms when certain demographics are more prone to vote–and equally important another set of demographics less inclined to vote–we get races like in Colorado which is simply befuddling. Obama gave his acceptance speech in dramatic fashion in 2008 in this state and Hispanic voters should be one of the keys to a Democratic win here–but some polling data show they may not get to the polls. This race had been so close but the last swing by voters, as is often the case in these types of races where the incumbent can not make a clean break away, will go to the challenger. Cory Gardner defeats Mark Udall.
Georgia—This is where it gets interesting. OK, more interesting! In order to avoid a runoff in this state the winning candidate’s margin of victory has to exceed that of the third-party challenger or as we call them on CP–spoilers. What precisely will the 2 or 3 percent of the vote going to the Libertarian candidate do for climate change or increasing the minimum wage debate in the nation? Voters should be more aware of the importance of their vote and that will he clearly demonstrated in Georgia come Election Night. Both major parties are harmed by the third-party attempt at making mere headlines. This race is real and intense and every week for months I have sought out the polls as Nunn steadily closed on Perdue. But there is not enough thrust to get over the 50% mark for either candidate and a nasty run-off is in the offing for Jan. 6 which is three days after the 114th Congress convenes. On Election Night Nunn has the most votes.
Iowa—Even though Joni Ernst is wrong on almost every single issue she has run a rather impressive campaign. Not pretty–but politically impressive. I felt her opening ad that made national headlines was on the same level as the must-see type that created buzz for Russ Feingold when he was seeking to become a statewide name. She is not a rocket scientist, but does fit in with what I think are the type of voters who will turn out in high numbers to elect her. Ernst defeats Bruce Braley.
Kansas—Most general election candidates run to the middle of the road but Pat Roberts conducted much of his race headed to the right as opposed to the middle. Roberts even had to bring in Ted Cruz to lend a hand. While Greg Orman has run a most impressive effort and a truly interesting race to watch unfold this is still Kansas. While the polls at one time showed a large gap between the candidates things are tightening in the final days and come Tuesday Roberts defeats Orman.
Kentucky—I have been hard on Alison Lundergan Grimes as I thought at one time she would have made a wonderful candidate and then senator. She may get another chance someday, but her attempts to shine this cycle have not produced the outcomes many had hoped for. I guess it comes at no surprise that in the closing days of the race the campaign here (as other races elsewhere) are trying to make Social Security privatization an issue. When a candidate needs to reach for this tool in the war chest it means the internal polls are showing a bad Election Night in the offing. Devil advocates might say it shows the race so close they need to draw just enough voters who might be swayed by the issue. Meanwhile Mitch McConnell has not offered new ideas or played to the future. It is all about his political survival. McConnell defeats Grimes.
Louisiana–Like Georgia, this race is not over on Election Night. There are always tight-rope walkers in politics but perhaps none more capable at winning with the wind in her face than Mary Landrieu. Neither she nor Bill Cassidy will garner the needed 50% due to an irksome teabagger on the ballot. So come early December this race will be fought again and one has to wonder if ‘voter-fatigue’ by that time will impact the race to any degree and who that might benefit. On Election Night Landrieu has the most votes.
New Hampshire—Are we to believe that a former senator from Massachusetts is to win in a state where they take their politics very seriously and may not cotton to a carpetbagger looking for a political job? At the end of Election Day I sure hope being defeated by yet another women at the ballot box does not destroy Scott Brown’s self-image. I will admit to being stunned at times by some of the polling showing how close this race was trending. But at the end of the day voters in the small towns will prefer the ‘brittle’ woman they know to the opportunist they wish would just go away. Jeanne Shaheen defeats Scott Brown.
North Carolina–I have felt this race–though close and certainly not a given–more in the Democratic column than not. Hard as he tried Thom Tillis has not been able to close the deal and that is due to the far-right positions he has taken over the years. I am also looking for a sizable and convincing African-American turn-out to stem whatever last drops of money takes places from the GOP. After all this race has topped $100 million making it the first such contest in the nation to cross that line. Nothing to be proud of on that score–on either side. Kay Hagan defeats Tillis.
Wisconsin Governor’s Race
Wisconsin has one of the tightest gubernatorial elections in the nation. Our state also was reported to have the fewest undecided voters among the statehouse races taking place all over the country. There is a buzz, energy, and determination that is running high on both sides in preparation for voting. But here comes the rub for me. I am not able to square what my gut is telling me in relation to all the buzz that I am reading and watching unfold. Why do I have this gut feeling that the Democratic get-out-the-vote effort will not produce the outcome that is required to win? Why do I have a feeling that at noon on Election Day I could walk the UW-Madison campus and find students who had not voted, and did not know if they could find the time to cast a ballot. After four years of outrages from the Walker Administration why do I sense the energy to be with the GOP in Wisconsin and not those who have felt the harshness of his policies? As I have asked over the weeks how can a state upend their top elected official if the right-track/wrong-track numbers are on the plus side? How can polls show majorities disagree with Walker’s policies dealing with Medicaid, minimum wage, and education and then still show strong support for his election? While I have heard many talk about the sorry tone of our state politics and wanting a return to the way things once were why are the polls stuck in such a close range? While there has been a ho-hum quality to much of Mary Burke’s campaign I was impressed with her second debate performance. I actually felt a surge of hope and then after a few days I returned to where I have been throughout this race. Hopeful but honest about the campaign, and mentally prepared for the end result that I feel certain is coming. Walker defeats Burke 53%-47%. I want to be wrong.
Wisconsin Attorney General
Republican Brad Schimel has kept his Democratic opponent Susan Happ on the defense most of this general election. There were moments when the campaigns took on a civil atmosphere, but for the most part it has been hard-hitting–as it should be since the issues are most integral to the future of our state. This race still has a rather high number–higher than I would have thought possible as this stage of the race-of voters not sure who these candidates are and what they stand for. I wonder if independents might want to secure at least some brake on Republican control of the state and place a Democrat–a personable and engaging woman–in the office of Attorney General. I know pure partisans will vote a straight ticket–but given the intensity of our politics I think enough independent-minded voters will cast ballots to have Happ defeat Schimel 51-49%
Wisconsin Secretary Of State
Doug La Follette is truly one of the nicest guys who works in Madison. Genuine and personable. Voters must be wondering with GOP hopes of downsizing government how Julian Bradley wants to expand the duties of the office. Not that the duties once handled in the office should not return, but how many memos did Bradley not read from his party? La Follette will have a victory over his GOP candidate Julian Bradley.
Wisconsin State Senate
I see no reason for any Democratic hope in the three heavily contested state senate elections. The senate was the last legislative brake that could have been applied for every crazed wet dream the GOP will think of over the next two years. Howard Marklein will have an easy time with Pat Bomhack in the 17th–defeating him with 53% of the vote. Bomhack should have never entered this senate race against Ernie Wittwer, the well-established resident of the district who I felt could have prevailed in the general election. Republicans will also win in the 9th and 19th senate districts.
Wisconsin Congressional Seat
Only Glenn Grothman in the 6th CD has a race that is generating the type of interest that demands a line in my predictions. If Democrats need a gift that keeps on giving we will now have it when there is no campaign requirement for Grothman to tone his inner quirks down. Mark Harris is running and must feel like a salmon butting up against the rushing waters. Grothman defeats Harris with 55% of the vote. No prediction on how soon the new member of congress says his first crazy statement. But we all know the whopper is a’comin.
There are countless races I am watching to see the outcome. But for the sake of brevity—(most of my readers are rolling their eyes by this point)–let me quickly point out three races that are punchy.
First, I will predict that an 86-year old rascal, Edwin Edwards, will be the top vote getter in a bid for congress (and on his way to a run-0ff) in Louisiana. Over and over I have heard in report after report how people recognize his name and will cast a ballot for him. I know the name too…….and never…..would consider him for my vote if he was the last Democrat to ever run. The reason for the name aspect to this prediction is the low name ID of the other contenders. Surely there must be high-speed internet down there so the voters can learn more about the slate of candidates, right?
Second, in Illinois Pat Quinn defeats challenger Bruce Rauner and proves that state is still Democratic even in tough election cycles. I want to see the headlines and editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times the morning after the election. How is crow served these days?
Third, there is no way the people in Florida win no matter who is elected. In the end Crist defeats Scott. I watched one of the debates on C-SPAN between Rick Scott who is just too far to the right and Charlie Crist who epitomizes smarmy and wondered how the voters there deal with all the ads between the two…..which takes me back to where this prediction post started.
Vote Tuesday, and then watch the returns with people you care about. And thanks for reading.