A Word of Explanation

Welcome to my political commentary blog. I figured I’d use this introduction to explain how I arrived at writing this blog. I grew up as a Conservative Republican and went through college and law school essentially holding to those beliefs. Being an Evangelical Christian as well, I would have been considered a member of the Religious Right. However, over the last few years, I became increasingly disillusioned by the Republican party. For instance, I believe in conservative fiscal policy, so I could not agree with continuing massive tax cuts aimed at the wealthiest Americans while the country had a serious budget deficit which was only increasing due to fighting two wars. I am also a firm believer in the rule of law, so I took issue with the Bush administration using the cloak of national security to deny habeas corpus rights. Finally, the politics of fear & division used by the Bush political team, turned me off. Especially, their use of the War in Iraq, which I now believe was a major mistake.

In 2008, this caused me to do what 5 years before, I would have thought to be the unthinkable – I voted for a Democrat for President. In supporting Barack Obama and since I am an advocate by trade, I decided to write a political essay setting forth my rationale. I enjoyed the process so much, I was looking for an outlet to continue my political thoughts. When my cousin started a personal blog, it gave me the idea to start a political commentary blog.

Like the name suggests, I still consider my self a conservative as many of my political stands are conservative, but I definitely have a more progressive line of thinking. You should see both sides come out as I post. Some of the posts will be more analysis while others will be more editorial and take a position. I look forward to any feedback. Let me know if there is a topic you would like me to discuss (see my contact info at the bottom of this page).


Saturday, November 3, 2012

State of the Race – November 3 (Senate Prediction)

For my final weekly report, I wanted to give my predic-tions for this Tuesday's election and give you some things to look for on election night. However, if I would've done that all in one post, it would have been a VERY long one. So I decided to break this into three different posts with my prediction for the Senate races today, my prediction for the presidential race tomorrow and a post on what to look for on election night on Monday or early Tuesday.

Before I get into my Senate prediction, I thought we should take a look at where things stand in the presidential race as we enter the final weekend. Since last week's report, there have been 88 polls done in 31 states; including 57 polls in the 11 battleground states I have identified (CO, FL, IA, MI, NV, NH, NC, 0H, PA, VA & WI). So just three days until Election Day, here's where we stand:



If you want to see how I arrived at these categories, I would encourage you to review the first “State of the Race” post I did on August 11 which can be found here. The photo above gives a visual breakdown of which side each states fall on. For a list of which states fall in which categories, I provide the following chart:


Here are the changes from last week: Connecticut moves from “Likely” Obama to “Safe” Obama; New Hampshire from “Tossup” to “Lean” Obama; and Florida from “Lean” Romney to “Tossup.” As I said, tomorrow I'll get into more detail on the presidential race and give my prediction for where I think it will end up in the Electoral College.

As for the Senate races – in short, I think the Democrats will retain control of the Senate. As a brief aside, you will notice I have said nothing about control of the House. That is because it is widely considered a foregone conclusion that the Republicans will retain control of the House, and I see no reason to disagree with that conventional wisdom. The race for control of the Senate however has been much more vigorously contested and is much easier to track. Last week, I provided a chart of where I see the Senate races and I have updated the chart for this week below. A reminder that states in blue are currently held by the Democrats or an Independent who caucuses with them, states in red are currently held by the Republicans and a state with an asterix after it signifies that it is a race with an incumbent.

CA*, DE*, MD*, MI*, MN*, NJ*, NY*, RI*, VT*, WA*, WV*
CT, FL*, HI, NM, OH*, PA*
IN, MA*, MO*
MS*, TN*, TX, UT*, WY*



Since my post last week, there have been three changes – all in favor of the Democrats. Michigan moves from “Likely” Democrat to “Safe” Democrat; Connecticut moves from “Lean” Democrat to “Likely” Democrat; and Indiana moves from “Lean” Republican to “Lean” Democrat. When you add in the seats currently held by each party and add in all the seats that are leaning in one direction or the other, the breakdown is 50-46-1 in favor of Democrats.

A few thoughts on the states I have in both of the “Lean” categories. On the Republican side, Nevada is a state that is trending towards President Obama and the demographics of that state seem to be increasingly favoring the Democrats. Senator Heller has run a good campaign and most of the recent polls indicate that he is leading. However, two years ago the polls also suggested that Senate majority leader Harry Reid might be on his way to defeat and he ended up surviving. In other words, it is only the power of incumbency that has kept this race in the “Lean” category and out of the “Tossup” category.

As for the other “Lean” Republican race, the polling in Arizona has been sparse and over the last month, there have been polls that had both candidates in the lead. An interesting side note to the Democratic candidate is that Richard Carmona was the Surgeon General under George W. Bush, so he may have some appeal to a state that clearly leans red. That being said, with the presidential race at the top of the ticket, I would expect that will help Congressman Flake win this race.

On the Democratic side, these are three states where the presidential race clearly leans in one direction and there is a chance that the Senate race will go the opposite direction. The exception that will potentially buck this trend is Massachusetts as Scott Brown tries to re-create the surprise he had in January 2010 when he shocked the political world and won Ted Kennedy's former seat in a special election. I doubt that Senator Brown will be able to duplicate this effort as he runs in a general election with a presidential race at the top of the ticket. The polling has had Elizabeth Warren leading, but she is underperforming compared to President Obama’s numbers in the state. All that said, if there is a surprise on election night that favors the Republicans, this is the one I would look for.

As for Indiana and Missouri, these are almost identical races. They are states where the Republicans should be winning easily, but the conservative candidates put up by the Republicans have made some extreme statements concerning abortion and rape and it has alienated moderates and independent voters. Indiana is especially an interesting state as the conservatives in the state decided to oust sitting Senator Dick Lugar in the Republican primary in favor of State Treasurer Richard Mourdock as they felt Senator Lugar was not conservative enough and had been in Washington too long. This was a state that I had planned as being my pick for surprise of the night, but the recent polling has made it so that the Democrats are now favored in this race. Similarly, the Republican voters in Missouri put up a more conservative candidate against Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. When pundits were looking at the Senate map at the beginning of this year, these were two states that were thought to be easy wins for the Republicans, but the conservative candidates that were nominated have made this much harder for the GOP. If these two states elect Democratic senators and the Democrats control the Senate by one or two seats, there will be a lot written about whether the extreme conservative wing of the party cost the Republicans control of the Senate.

Finally, we should take a look at the three states that I placed in the “Tossup” category. The first is Montana which is a state that will clearly go for Romney, but Democratic incumbent Senator Jon Tester has run a good campaign and has a slight lead in the latest polls. The question will be whether that is enough to overcome the pull of the presidential race at the top of the ticket. As for Virginia and Wisconsin, these are two open seats in battleground states, so it's not surprising to see that they are tossup states in the Senate as well. In Virginia, it is an interesting race as it features two candidates that have held statewide office before in former Democratic Governor Tim Kaine against former Republican Senator and Governor George Allen. Meanwhile, Wisconsin is a state that leans Democratic, but the Republicans have put up a strong candidate with good name recognition in former Governor and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who is running against Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. Honestly, who wins either of these two races is anyone's guess.

So here's my predic-tion: I do not expect any surprises on the states I have currently in the “Lean” categories, so I'll predict that the Republicans will win those states to get to 46 Senate seats and the Democrats will win their seats to get to 50 Senate seats. A potential surprise on both sides: for the Republicans as I said above, look for them to potentially pickoff Massachusetts and for the Democrats, they could potentially pickoff Arizona. As for the “Tossup” states, I'll predict that Senator Jon Tester squeaks out a win and retains his seat in Montana. In Virginia and Wisconsin, I'll predict these states will split and Virginia will go Democrat, while Wisconsin will go Republican. The picture above shows the breakdown and this would result in the Democrats retaining control of the Senate 52-47-1. (A quick note about the map: the states in gray do not have Senate races this year.) As this would put the Democrats in control, I then predict that Senator-elect Angus King from Maine will then choose to caucus with the Democrats giving them a total of 53 seats, which is what they have currently.

As I said, tomorrow I will post my prediction for the presidential race, so stay tuned…

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