March 3, 2024

Handicapping the Election



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Handicapping the Election

By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift

WASHINGTON – A third of Americans will have already voted by Election Day on Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean the pollsters are having any easier time trying to gage who will cast a vote in these midterm elections. A whole host of challenges make predicting harder than it used to be. Besides, in a democracy, you’re not supposed to know the winner ahead of time.

This year’s midterms are full of races that are too close to call. Republicans are counting on a general dissatisfaction with government to tilt the playing field in their favor, and Democrats are relying on what they believe is a better ground game that will get their voters to the polls.

A couple of marquis races could tell us early if it’s going to be a big night for the Republicans, or if the Democrats will be able to hang on in red states where they should have been counted out months ago. In New Hampshire, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen is popular with the voters but in the last few weeks Republican challenger Scott Brown has come on strong. If she can ward off Brown’s challenge, that’s a good early beacon for Democrats, and vice-versa for Republicans should Brown prevail.

Colorado is another nail-biter. Barack Obama turned the state blue, but it’s been inching back red with the affable Cory Gardner, a conservative favorite who has confounded Democrats by embracing over-the-counter birth control and disavowing his earlier support of a personhood amendment on the Colorado ballot. Democrat Mark Udall is relying on women to turn out in sufficient numbers to support his policies on reproductive freedom, and return him to the Senate.

Other bellwether races include Georgia and Louisiana, where Democrats Michelle Nunn and Mary Landrieu are running strong races but may not reach the 50 percent plus 1 threshold to win, and would then go into a run-off.  The Louisiana runoff is Saturday, December 6; the Georgia runoff isn’t until January 6, after the new Congress is sworn in. If either of these races decides which party controls the Senate, Katy bar the door – the money will flow, the attacks will fly, and it will be war. Landrieu’s opponent is a Republican Establishment favorite, Rep. Bill Cassidy; Nunn is running against Fortune 500 businessman David Perdue.

Keep your eye on Independents running in Kansas and South Dakota. While former Republican senator turned Independent, Larry Pressler, appears to be fading in South Dakota, businessman and entrepreneur Craig Orman is coming on strong in Kansas. If he wins, he would expand the Independent caucus in the Senate from two to three, and in a closely divided Senate, that could be the balance of power. Maine’s Angus King and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders are the current Independents.

Republicans are well positioned to take the Senate, and what they will do with their newly gained majority is a mystery. They haven’t run on an agenda other than their opposition to President Obama. Republican Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has given up on his pledge to repeal Obamacare “root and branch,” and now says that there are pieces of the Affordable Care Act that the GOP can chip away at with Democratic support, like repealing an unpopular tax on medical devices.

Lastly, beware of the polls. In an increasingly mobile society, many of the people pollsters try to reach don’t have traditional phones and cell phone users are generally out of bounds for survey takers. In 2012, Mitt Romney didn’t have a concession speech prepared, he was so convinced he would win the election based on his campaign’s polling. His pollster made the false assumption that young people and African-Americans, disappointed in Obama, wouldn’t show up in the numbers they did four years earlier. Low turnout is forecast once again for Tuesday. And once again, the voters can prove the pollsters right – or wrong. They have the power.

Twitter @WMerryGoRound

© 2014 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.




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