President of the United States:
I am about to go out on a limb here, folks. Call me crazy, but I have a gut feeling this election is not as close as the mainstream media would have us all believe. Of all the predictions that follow, I am least confident about predicting New Jersey and Maine Congressional District 2 for President Bush. It is outside the mainstream thinking to say the least, but I expect plenty of surprises for the pundits and I'm going to go with my gut on this one! The rest, believe it or not, I am quite comfortable with, including the House and Senate calls. So here goes nothing...
Bush 53% Kerry 46% Nader + Others 1%
Electoral College: Bush wins 368 -170
(or 352-186 w/o NJ & ME CD #2)
Electoral College Breakdown:
Safe Bush States:
AL-9, AK-3, AZ-10, GA-15, ID-4, IN-11, KS-6, KY-8, LA-9, MS-6, MT-3, NE-5, NC-15, ND-3, OK-7, SC-8, SD-3, TN-11, TX-34, UT-5, VA-13, WY-3
Bush "Red-State" Battleground Victories:
AR-6, CO-9, FL-27, MO-11, NV-5, NH-4, OH-20, WV-5
Bush "Blue-State" Battleground Victories:
HI-4, IA-7, ME (CD #2)-1, MI-17, MN-10, NJ-15, NM-5, PA-21, WI-10
Safe Kerry States:
CA-55, CT-7, DE-3, IL-21, MD-10, MA-12, NY-31, RI-4, VT-3, DC-3
Kerry "Blue-State" Battleground Victories:
ME (at large)-2, ME (CD #1)-1, OR-7, WA-11
Kerry "Red-State" Battleground Victories:
Notes: Colorado Amendment 36, which proposes allocating the state's 9 Electoral Votes based upon the percentage of the statewide popular vote, rather than winner-take-all, is headed for a sound defeat based on most recent polling. Two states, Maine and Nebraska, presently allocate their Electoral Votes in the following manner: the winner of the popular vote in each Congressional District gets 1 Electoral Vote for that Congressional District and the winner of the statewide popular vote gets 2 additional Electoral Votes. They are the only states not to have a winner-take-all allocation of these votes.
U.S. Senate: GOP +5
56 Republicans, 43 Democrats, 1 Independent (leans Democrat)
The Republicans now have the advantage in all the close Senate races. Sen. Lisa Murkowski will be in a close fight due to a nepotism backlash, but Bush should carry her home in heavily Republican Alaska, where polls close late and Democratic turnout could fall off if things go as I suspect they might earlier in the evening.
Late polls in Colorado had Republican Sen. Wayne Allard trailing going into the 2002 Election, but he won by 5% without any Presidential coat-tails at the top of the ticket! Pete Coors, likewise, finds himself close but trailing in the polls. Again, Bush brings a Republican Senatorial Candidate home in a "red" state, where polls tend to have deflated Republican numbers. (The question here for pollsters is: why?)
Florida polls show a tossup, but I think former HUD Sec. Mel Martinez wins with enough of a Hispanic voter edge plus the Bush factor.
Rep. David Vitter is close to the magic 50% mark in Louisiana needed to avoid a run-off. With plenty of undecided voters left, he only needs a small percentage to break for him to become the first Republican Senator from Louisiana since Reconstruction, and should pull it off!
Sen. Jim Bunning's behavior got a tad-bit bizarre for awhile and tightened up the race in "red" Kentucky, but he has never trailed, so he should survive pretty easily.
Rep. Tom Coburn in Oklahoma and Rep. Jim DeMint in South Carolina have bounced back nicely of late from early bouts of foot-in-mouth disease and should win these "red" states without much more trouble.
Rep. Richard Burr trailed early in North Carolina, but the state is too conservative to elect former Clinton aide "Irksome" Erskine Bowles anyway. He has closed the gap and pulled slightly ahead of late. Look for him to complete the comeback with an assist from Bush's comfortable North Carolina win.
Best of all, say bye-bye to America's least-favorite obstructionist, Soon-to-Be-Ex-Senator Tom Daschle! Former U.S. Rep. Jim Thune has all the momentum and from what I've been reading lately, this one is all but over! However, it should be noted that Sen. Daschle is unlikely to go quietly, and the state has seen some "peculiarities" in the past, particularly on Native-American Reservations. If this is close, it could get REAL ugly before it is all over.
Elsewhere, Georgia (Democrat to Republican) and Illinois (Republican to Democrat) were both destined to swap hands long ago. Republicans had hopes in Washington and Wisconsin that just never materialized, but both should be somewhat closer on Election Night than the last polls will show.
Safe Republican Seats:
AL, AZ, ID, IA, KS, MO, NH, OH, PA, UT
AK: Murkowski (R) over Knowles (D)
CO [Open-R]: Coors (R) over Salazar (D)
KY: Bunning (R) over Mongiardo (D)
OK [Open-R]: Coburn (R) over Carson (D)
FL [Open-D]: Martinez (R) over Castor (D)
GA [Open-D]: Isakson (R) over Majette (D)
LA [Open-D]: Vitter (R) over John (D), Kennedy (D) [No run-off]
NC [Open-D]: Burr (R) over Bowles (D)
SC [Open-D]: DeMint (R) over Tenenbaum (D)
SD: Thune (R) over Daschle (D)
Safe Democrat Seats:
AR, CA, CT, HI, IN, MD, NV, NY, ND, OR, VT
WA: Murray (D) over Nethercutt (R)
WI: Feingold (D) over Michels (R)
IL [Open-R]: Obama (D) over Keyes (R)
U.S. House of Representatives: GOP +6
234 Republicans, 198 Democrats, 1 Independent (leans Dem)
(2 open Louisiana seats, 1 currently Republican and 1 currently Democrat, to be decided later by run-offs*)
Races of Note:
The first set are the barn-burners that may go either way. I took my best shot, but, obviously, it much harder to call U.S. House races because there are so many of them and so little information to be culled about which candidate has the edge. As always, incumbents are considered to have a built-in advantage, open seats are a crap-shoot. No promises here.
Ones to Watch:
CA-20 [Open-D]: Costa (D) over Ashburn (R)
CO-03 [Open-R]: Salazar (D) over Walcher (R)
CT-02 [R]: Simmons (R) over Sullivan (D)
CT-04 [R]: Shays (R) over Farrell (D)
GA-12 [R]: Burns (R) over Barrow (D)
IL-08 [R]: Crane (R) over Bean (D)
IN-09 [D]: Hill (D) over Sordel (R)
IA-03 [D]: Boswell (D) over Thompson (R)
KY-04 [Open-D]: Davis (R) over Clooney (D)
MO-05 [Open-D]: Cleaver (D) over Patterson (R)
NE-01 [Open-R]: Fortenberry (R) over Connealy (D)
NY-27 [Open-R]: Naples (R) over Higgins (D)
NC-11 [R]: Taylor (R) over Keever (D)
SD at large [D]: Herseth (D) over Diedrich (R)
TX-17 [Open-D**]: Wohlgemuth (R) over Edwards (D)
VA-02 [Open-R]: Drake (R) over Ashe (D)
WA-08 [Open-R]: Reichert (R) over Ross (D)
My predictions here are for Republicans to take 2 open Democratic seats, Democrats to take 1 open Republican seat. All incumbents survive, barely. Net from this section is GOP +1.
The rest are here because they are open or were considered competitive at one time. There may be a surprise or two, but most will go as called. Seats not listed here are too numerous to mention and are all considered safe for the incumbent, more-or-less. The controversial Texas House redistricting, which had the Texas Democratic State Legislators fleeing beyond Lone Star borders, on more than one occasion, to avoid the quorum necessary to bring it to a vote last year (before finally caving in), should net the Republicans at least 5 more House seats. It should also end the careers of a few Democratic incumbents, including, most notably, long-time Reps. Martin Frost & Charles Stenholm!
AZ-01: Renzi (R) over Babbitt (D)
CO-07: Beauprez (R) over Thomas (D)
FL-13: Harris (R) over Schneider (D)
GA-11: Gingrey (R) over Crawford (D)
IN-08: Hostettler (R) over Jennings (D)
IA-02: Leach (R) over Franker (D)
KS-02: Ryun (R) over Boyda (D)
KY-03: Northrup (R) over Miller (D)
MN-06: Kennedy (R) over Wetterling (D)
NV-03: Porter (R) over Gallagher (D)
NJ-07: Ferguson (R) over Brozak (D)
NM-01: Wilson (R) over Romero (D)
NC-08: Hayes (R) over Troutman (D)
PA-06: Gerlach (R) over Murphy (D)
TX-19**: Neugebauer (R) over Stenholm (D)
TX-32**: Sessions (R) over Frost (D)
Republican Open Seat Holds:
CA-03: Lungren (R) over Castillo (D)
GA-06: Price (R) unopposed
GA-08: Westmoreland (R) over Delamar (D)
LA-01: Jindal (R) over field [No run-off necessary]
MI-07: Schwarz (R) over Renier (D)
NY-29: Kuhl (R) over Berend (D)
NC-05: Foxx (R) over Harrell (D)
NC-10: McHenry (R) over Fischer (D)
PA-08: Fitzpatrick (R) over Schrader (D)
PA-15: Dent (R) over Driscoll (D)
SC-04: Inglis (R) over Brown (D)
WA-05: McMorris (R) over Barbieri (D)
TX-01**: Gohmert (R) over Sandlin (D)
TX-02 [Open-D**]: Poe (R) over Lampson (D)
TX-10 [Open-D**]: McCaul (R) over Sadun (D)
TX-11 [Open-D**]: Conaway (R) over Raasch (D)
TX-24 [Open-D**]: Marchant (R) over Page (D)
FL-02: Boyd (D) over Kilmer (R)
GA-03: Marshall (D) over Clay (R)
KS-03: Moore (D) over Kobach (R)
ME-02: Michaud (D) over Hamel (R)
NV-01: Berkley (D) over Mickelson (R)
NC-01: Butterfield (D) over Dority (R)
ND at large: Pomeroy (D) over Sand (R)
OR-01: Wu (D) over Ameri (R)
OR-05: Hooley (D) over Zupancic (R)
TN-04: Davis (D) over Bowling (R)
UT-02: Matheson (D) over Swallow (R)
Democrat Open Seat Holds:
FL-20: Schultz (D) over Hostetter (R)
GA-04: McKinney (D) over Davis (R)
IL-03: Lipinski (D) over Chlada (R)
MO-03: Carnahan (D) over Federer (R)
OK-02: Boren (D) over Smalley (D)
PA-13: Schwartz (D) over Brown (R)
TX-09**: Green (D) over Molina (R)
TX-28**: Cuellar (D) over Hopson (R)
WI-04: Moore (D) over Boyle (R)
No clear pick-ups. See "Ones to Watch" above.
*The two open seats likely headed for run-offs between the top two vote-getters, December 4, (due to election rules unique to the State of Louisiana) are LA-03 [R] and LA-07 [D]. No candidate in either of these races will likely receive the required 50% + 1 of the popular vote. Louisiana has no primaries, opting instead to conduct "open" elections. As a result, you will often find multiple Republicans, Democrats and assorted third party candidates and Independents all vying for a single open Congressional or Senate seat in the General Election. When no one can achieve a clear majority, a run-off of the top two candidates is held to determine the final winner.
**Due to U.S. House redistricting in Texas, which takes effect when the 109th Congress is sworn-in in January 2005 (until then, previous districting applies), some incumbents may have been moved into a different District by new boundary lines. A seat is defined as open if current incumbent for a given numbered Congressional District is not in the race for that District's newly defined seat. Some candidates for these open seats are incumbents in entirely different existing Districts. Other Districts pit two incumbent Congressmen against each other. I know it is confusing, but that's the way it is.
I also predict that the so-called Defense of Marriage Amendment, which would define marriage as being between one man and one woman in those states in which it is passed (pending, of course, the inevitable endless court challenges), will pass in all the states where it now appears on the ballot. The only state where it may even possibly be close is Oregon. This issue helps President Bush in all those states by turning out deeply religious voters and traditional values advocates, who feel very strongly about this issue. They are also most likely to support the President and other Republican candidates due to their mostly conservative natures.
The 11 states where some form of this Amendment appears on the ballot in this election are: AR, GA, KY, MI, MS, MT, ND, OH, OK, OR, and UT.
Similar measures have already been passed in some form in AK, HI, LA, MO, NE and NV.
More information on this issue is available here.