OHIO SENATE NOW IN PLAY
Once GOP State Treasurer Josh Mandel withdrew from the 2018
Ohio U.S.senate race for family reasons, it was generally considered
no serious contest for incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown’s
re-election. Even after Ohio GOP Congressman Jim Renacci won his
party’s nomination, Brown led in the polls by double digits, despite
the fact that Ohio had been trending clearly Republican recently, and
conservatives held virtually all statewide seats, including governor and
both houses of the legislature. Donald Trump had carried Ohio in 2016,
and Senator Brown obviously held views to the left of most Ohioans.
Perhaps, then, it should not be a surprise that at the end of the campaign,
this race has sharply tightened, with Sherrod’s lead narrowed to only a
few points over Renacci. This does not mean that the Republican will
win, but it does provide new suspense for election night.
ARIZONA SENATE GOES
BACK AND FORTH
The Arizona U.S. senate race is one of the most difficult in the nation
to assess and predict. An open seat vacated by retiring GOP Senator
Jeff Flake, the contest is between two women members of Congress,
Martha McSally, a Republican who had been an Air Force fighter pilot,
and Democrat Krysten Sinema, a one-time radical who had created a
new political image as a more moderate liberal. Because center-right
McSally had to endure a contentious primary, she has trailed Sinema
in the polls until recently when she seemed to surge ahead a few
points. Newer polls go back and forth between them, and each has
asserted controversies about the other.The GOP candidate for
governor is leading by double digits in this slightly red state, and
President Trump has held a rally for McSally, but the contest remains
too close to call.
CONTROL OF U.S. HOUSE A TOSS-UP?
Conventional wisdom throughout this cycle has contended that a
Democratic takeover of the U.S. house was a virtual certainty with
a likely pick-up of as many as 35-55 seats from the GOP majority as
part of a blue wave.When reality set in as the campaign was coming to
a close, it became clear that Republicans were probably going to add to
their current slim U.S. senate majority (51-49), and following the
Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, probable conservative voter turnout
would negate any wave. Nevertheless, the almost certainty of a liberal
U.S. house takeover persists, albeit on a more modest scale. Recent
polls, however, have called conventional thinking into question with
Democratic challengers leading in only 25-30 seats ---and often with
shrinking margins. With GOP challengers now likely to pick-up 2-5
Democratic seats, the magic number for control is even higher, and the
new house majority could be a toss-up
EYE OF THE STORM
The We’ve-Got-Something-For-Everyone battleground state of
Minnesota continues to defy prognosticators with its panoply of close
races and potential pick-ups on both sides. Governor, a special U.S.
senate election, 4 close U.S. house seats, a contentious attorney general
race and control of the state legislature are all up for grabs ---and late
polls indicate virtually all of them could go either way.
ALASKA CAMPAIGN NOW
It initially appeared that the nation’s only independent governor was
headed to re-election over his Republican opponent, but then a former
Democratic U.S. senator got into he race, and the GOP nominee was
way out in front in a three-way poll. Then the independent sitting
lt. governor had to resign after a scandal, so the governor called it quits
and endorsed the Democrat who still trails in a two-major party person
poll! There are also third-party candidates on the ballot who could now
affect the outcome. Predictions, anyone?
TWO NEW POLITICAL STARS ---
BUT WILL THEY WIN?
The two biggest young fresh stars of 2018, one a Democrat and one a
Republican, have got a lot of attention, but both are behind and might
not win. Democratic Texas gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke and
Republican Michigan U.S. senate nominee John James each have
enough charisma to fill a dozen statewide races, but each of them have
an uphill task against favored incumbents of the other party.
Nonetheless, remember their names --- win or lose, they will likely be
DID THE POLLS GET THE
The biggest technical question of this cycle might be whether or not
the public pollsters and the mainstream pundits who have relied on
them got it right. Most went for the notion of a blue wave, but that
does not seem, at the end, to be happening. Yet it’s possible that the
polls were not so wrong. Either way, there will be some gloating after
November 6, or some troubled attempts at rationalizations --- as we
saw after election night, 2016.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.