A Republican wave? What to watch for tonight
WASHINGTON -- Sure looks as if it's going to be a Republican night. Polling, history and lots of anecdotal evidence are on the Republicans' side as voters go to the polls today. A president's party usually loses congressional seats in his sixth year.
WASHINGTON - Sure looks as if it’s going to be a Republican night.
Polling, history and lots of anecdotal evidence are on the Republicans’ side as voters go to the polls today. A president’s party usually loses congressional seats in his sixth year. The latest averages of new polls show Republicans ahead in seven of the country’s 10 tight Senate races. And surveys show Republicans far more enthusiastic and engaged.
Turnout is expected to be low even by depressed midterm election standards. That’s generally bad news for Democrats, who are struggling to get their most loyal constituencies, notably blacks, Hispanics and unmarried women, to the polls.
“Like most midterms, the 2014 election is a backlash against the party that holds the White House. The president is unpopular, and his party pays the price,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a non-
partisan political website.
Today’s biggest prize is control of the U.S. Senate, where 36 seats are at stake, 21 of them now held by Democrats. Republicans need a net gain of six for a majority, a goal well within range, though the outcome may not be clear for weeks.
If no one gets a majority in Louisiana or Georgia, which polls say is likely, the top two finishers in each would vie in runoffs. Republicans may need to defeat Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., on Dec. 6 to get to six. They also would need to hold Georgia a month later.
Republicans are more secure in the House of Representatives. The party has a 34-seat edge, a margin that’s likely to grow.
The least predictable races involve governors. Thirty-six statehouses are up, 22 held by Republicans and 14 by Democrats. At least eight Republicans and four Democrats are vulnerable. Also in play are open seats in Massachusetts, Arkansas, Arizona and possibly Hawaii, Maryland and Rhode Island.
Tonight’s results could take two paths. One would be a kind of wave that develops for one party. Three of the last five midterm elections were waves, as voters elected dozens of new congressional Republicans in 1994 and 2010 and Democrats in 2006.
The more likely scenario is a mixed result that boosts Republicans but barely alters the status quo. Should Republicans gain only a slight Senate edge or Democrats maintain Senate control, the parties probably will spend the next two years engaging in more partisan squabbling and gridlock.
Here’s how to follow Tuesday’s results, time zone by time zone:
Early states (Eastern time zone) * Is there a Republican wave starting? Watch New Hampshire, North Carolina and Georgia, three of the earliest poll closings.
In New Hampshire, Democrats until very recently thought Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was safe. But the latest University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll had her in a virtual tie with former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, the Republican. A Brown win would be the first GOP pickup of the night and a bitter loss for the Democrats.
In North Carolina, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan has been slightly ahead of Republican Thom Tillis. Should she lose, it would suggest that close races were breaking for the Republicans.
And in Georgia, Republican David Perdue was fighting to hold a GOP seat - without a runoff - against a challenge from Democrat Michelle Nunn, who was gaining.
The middle (Central and Mountain time zones) * Five states whose polls start closing at 8:30 p.m. EST - Kansas, Colorado, Iowa, Arkansas and Louisiana - could determine Senate control. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last week that a win by Republican Joni Ernst in Iowa would give that party Senate control. All five races could be tight, with results not clear tonight.
* Can Democrats cut into the big Republican House majority? Democrats hold most of the competitive seats, and three Arizona races will provide strong hints about the party’s fate. Watch the races involving Reps. Ron Barber, Kyrsten Sinema and Ann Kirkpatrick, all Democrats. Sinema and Kirkpatrick won last time with 49 percent. Barber barely won, and only after it took 12 days to count all the votes.
Late stuff (Rest of the country) * Senate control could come down to Alaska, a state notoriously hard to forecast thanks to its independent and largely rural nature. Because many cities are so remote, it’s even hard to predict when the count in the battle between Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, and Republican Dan Sullivan will be final.
* Middle-of-the-night stunners? An upset in the Oregon Senate race? Minnesota? Five tossup House seats in California, now held by Democrats, all going Republican, even as Democrats sweep statewide offices? Could a Republican become governor of Hawaii?