Fourteen Hours In November

Elections are not really an art or a science. They could be more accurately described as a mood expressed by those who show up to vote on a given day. In most states on November 2, during a 14-hour period, voters who care enough to go to the polls in a mid-term election will express their mood and chart the national political course for the next two years.

From all indications, the mood of most voters is not favorable regarding federal issues, the overall economy, and their own sense of economic well-being. Pundits and political crystal ball gazers are predicting an absolute rout by the Republicans in 50 days. That may well happen. But elections, such as the one on November 2, are a panoramic collection of individual races where human beings often expose their frailties and shortcomings more than their wisdom and strengths. That being the case, a critical part of the plot for the mid-term election is still unwritten.

Viewing the election map and race-by-race analysis for the House races on the Real Clear Politics (RCP) Web site, it is obvious that Democrats are in deep trouble 50 days out. The RCP analysis, based on averaging all polling data available, shows the Democrats with only 142 safe seats at this juncture and the Republicans with 163. Considering the huge current majority that the Democrats enjoy in the House (77 seats with two vacancies) those numbers are foreboding indeed for them. The bad news doesn’t stop there for the party of FDR. Only four House seats currently held by the GOP are classified as either likely to be taken by a Democrat (one), leaning Democratic (two), or a toss-up (one). Conversely, four Democratic seats are listed as likely to go Republican, 26 are listed as leaning Republican, and 35 are in the toss-up category.

There is little doubt at this point that the GOP will pick up a significant number of House seats in the November 2 election. But will the Republicans hit the magic number of 218 they need to move Nancy Pelosi to a smaller office? The overall RCP analysis currently projects the Republicans at 205 and the Democrats at 193 with 37 seats still up in the air. If current trends continue and there is no huge game changer on the world or national scene (like the financial market meltdown in 2008), the Republicans stand an excellent chance of winning the House.

The GOP will certainly gain seats in the Senate as well, but winning a majority there is a much more difficult proposition. The Democrats currently hold a 59-41 majority. The RCP analysis currently lists 44 safe seats for the Democrats and 34 for the Republicans (including those not up for election this year). Four races (Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania) look like certain pickups for the GOP. Delaware looks promising but could become less favorable if the Republican front-runner loses in the primary. The RCP has six other seats currently held by Democrats in the toss-up category. The GOP would likely need to win at least five of those six in order to gain the 51 seats necessary to gain a Senate majority (Vice President Biden would preside and vote with the Democrats if the Senate splits 50-50).

The 2010 mid-term election will likely be the most followed one since 1994 when Newt Gingrich led the GOP to a majority in the House and changed the legislative agenda of President Clinton. It could certainly happen again, but nothing is definite at this juncture.



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