Sunday, October 28, 2018

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: A Senate Crimson Tide?

The true political hue of the 2018 U.S. midterm elections is not yet
discernible with a week to go, and might not be correctly identified
until after the polls are closed. Governorships, state legislatures, and
U.S. house seats offer the Democratic Party an enviable opportunity
to make important gains, and perhaps even to win back control of one
of the bodies of Congress.

Their mathematical advantage, however, does not exist in the races for
the U.S. senate which the Republicans currently control 51-49. In that
body, approximately three times as many Democratic incumbent seats
are up this cycle, and about a dozen of them are usually describable as
competitive. Four of the GOP-held seats are also considered vulnerable.

A further obstacle for the Democrats is that many of their incumbents
running for re-election are in states that Donald Trump had carried by
big margins in 2016, including Montana, North Dakota, Missouri,
Indiana and West Virginia. Five other incumbents were in states Mr.
Trump had more narrowly won, including Florida, Wisconsin,
Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Only two vulnerable Democrats
were running in states Hillary Clinton had won, Minnesota and New

Going into the final week, the incumbent Democratic senators from
Ohio, Pennsylvania and probably West Virginia now seem likely to
win. The Democratic senate seats in New Jersey, Michigan and
Minnesota --- thought to be “safe” at the beginning of the cycle ---
now are each in play. GOP challengers have pulled ahead of
Democratic incumbents in North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana.
Montana and Florida seem total toss-ups, and Democratic poll leads
in New Jersey, Minnesota and Michigan are narrowing in the closing
days. Only in Wisconsin, does the liberal incumbent maintain a
double digit lead.

Of the four vulnerable GOP senate seats, Republicans in Texas and
Tennessee lead in these clearly red states. Only Nevada Republican
Senator Dean Heller is running in a blue state, but he is narrowly
ahead in the polls there. Mr. Trump carried Arizona by a small margin,
and GOP senate nominee Martha McSally has a small poll lead over
her Democratic opponent.   If present trends continue (and they might
not), the GOP might avoid losing even one seat.

Democratic senate net losses seem likely now, but how many is
anyone’s speculation. One or two pick-ups are probable but it could
be several more.

I will  in a subsequent post examine the circumstances in which
Republican losses seem likely.

As the 2018 cycle comes to a close, there is not only the usual
intensity, but also a surfeit of complication, scattered public violence,
name-calling, excessive finger-pointing and outright deceptive noise.
In spite of this, the voters are going to make some key decisions and
register their opinions at the most appropriate location --- in the
profound and private quiet of the ballot booth.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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