Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Election Day 2012: Obama, yes. Senate, probably. House, upset?

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If you accept that it will take longer to recover from Hurricane Sandy as opposed to a typical hurricane, then you could accept that the depressive recession of 2008 will take longer to recover from than a typical recession.

The question that has been asked is which party has done more to help that recovery. Every job bill in place was passed while the Dems were in control of the House. Most economists though the initial stimulus was undervalued thanks to tax cuts that didn’t help. One presidential candidate has a plan to reduce the deficit, one has a plan that will raise the deficit.

The race is about who will be president on January 20, 2013 and beyond. But the race is also about Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell and how much power they will have in Washington.

Regardless of where you stand, get out and vote. True, some forces (i.e., GOP) have made voting more difficult to accomplish. Nothing scares a politician like voting.

Here is a breakdown of the White House as well as the two houses of Congress: House and Senate.

White House

You can’t blame the pundits and political media for being a little punch-drunk at this point in the campaign. “What if we have an Electoral College tie?” “What if Mitt Romney wins more of the popular vote because Hurricane Sandy brought down numbers in blue states?”

We won’t and it doesn’t matter.

Ever since Romney won the first debate, the tone of the coverage has turned to “Romney just might win.” If you are going uphill, you have to be well over 50% to overcome an incumbent. The best route for Romney is to have financial ties to companies that run voting booths.

Bellwether states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio — will decide this election. Right now, those states point in the direction of President Barack Obama. “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” may be what sinks the former Massachusetts governor.

Anybody who runs for president is desperate on some level. John McCain had moments of not being desperate, like when he told the woman that Obama isn’t a Muslim. Romney saw behavior such as that and has gone for the jugular every chance he has had. Romney’s deceiving ads in Ohio over Jeep production was the latest symptom of his desire to do what it takes to be president. The more desperation at the end, the more you know you won’t win (unless you cheat).


The GOP enjoys a 25-seat advantage in the House of Representatives. Most of those turnovers in 2010 went to teabaggers, er, Tea Party folk. The best way for the Dems to gain control back is to take back those teabagger seats.

One teabagger the Dems would love to beat that has a chance to lose is Joe Walsh (IL-8). Allegations of failure to pay child support and his over-the-top manner puts his seat in danger against Tammy Duckworth. The former soldier in Iraq who lost three limbs ran for Congress back in 2006 but lost a different seat. If you are looking for a symbolic seat, this is as good as any of them. A Duckworth win could prove interesting for the Dems; can’t see a scenario where Walsh wins and the Dems take back the House.

A seat that would be mostly about bragging rights would be Steve King (IA-5) vs. Christie Vilsack, wife of Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. King’s views on just about anything (rape, science) infuriates the Dems. Getting rid of him would be a moral victory for Pelosi, et al.

House races are more difficult to assess unless you are on the ground. Since most House races go to the incumbent, any upsets you hear along the way are almost certain to go in the Dems column. Even if the GOP keeps the House, look for the difference in margin. If a Democratic president wins another term in office, there should be some coattails in the House of Representatives.


The Democratic Party currently has/controls 53 seats (51 Dems, 2 Independents) while the Republicans have 47 seats. Tie goes to the vice president.

The Dems are almost certain to lose Nebraska and North Dakota but would gain a nominal win in Maine. Angus King is expected to go along with the Dems. That would put the Dems at 52.

The Dems have 5 seats that could see an upset vs. 3 for the GOP. So on paper, the Republicans are in good shape for a takeover.

Elizabeth Warren has to win in Massachusetts for the Dems to have a really good night. As offensive as Richard Mourdock was on “God intented to happen,” that statement alone wouldn’t guarantee a win for Joe Donnelly. If you hear the name Joe Donnelly multiple times, the Dems will have a good night.

Shelley Berkley is another name where hearing it is a good sign for the Dems. Dean Heller was appointed to fill out the term of John Ensign, who had a disgraceful streak thanks to his mistress/employee and financial scandals.

If Richard Carmona gets mentioned more than once, Harry Reid will still be Senate Majority Leader.

Scott Brown’s return to Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat for 6 more years would be an early sign for a successful GOP evening. Linda McMahon, George Allen, and Tommy Thompson would also bring joy to the GOP — all 3 of these seats are Dems or Dem-leaning. Tammy Baldwin would be the first openly gay U.S. senator if elected in Wisconsin.

The Badger state would be a sign of the times. If Thompson wins the seat, both U.S. Senate seats would have gone from Dem to GOP in just 2 years.

If you are looking for a reason to stay up all night, Hawaii could be the decider as the GOP thinks it has a shot with Linda Lingle going for Daniel Akaka’s retiring seat.

D stands for Democratic and defense: 15 Dems and an independent will probably defend their seats vs. 5 for the Republicans. Throw in the 5-3 advantage for tough seats to defend, and you can see why the Democratic Party was seriously sweating the 2012 race for control of the Senate.

Races that will likely go from Democratic to Republican

Nebraska — Ben Nelson (D)/Bob Kerrey (D) vs. Deb Fischer (R)
North Dakota — Kent Conrad (D)/Heidi Heitkamp (D) vs. Rick Berg (R)

Races that will likely go from Republican to Democratic

Maine — Olympia Snowe (R)/Charles E. Summers, Jr. (R) Cynthia Dill (D) Angus King (I)*
Massachusetts — Scott Brown (R)/Elizabeth Warren (D)
* King is likely winner and would probably side with Dems

Races the GOP would love to steal

Connecticut — Joe Lieberman (I)/Chris Murphy (D) vs. Linda McMahon (R)
Hawaii — Daniel Akaka (D)/Mazie Hirono (D) vs. Linda Lingle (R)
Ohio — Sherrod Brown (D)/Josh Mandel (R)
Virginia — Jim Webb (D)/Tim Kaine (D) vs. George Allen (R)
Wisconsin — Herb Kohl (D)/Tammy Baldwin (D) vs. Tommy Thompson (R)

Races the Dems would love to steal

Arizona — Jon Kyl (R)/Jeff Flake (R) vs. Richard Carmona (D)
Indiana — Richard Lugar (R)/Richard Mourdock (R) vs. Joe Donnelly (D)
Nevada — Dean Heller (R)/Shelley Berkley (D)

Races that you might hear a flutter of thought, but the incumbents are likely winners:

Florida — Bill Nelson (D)
Michigan — Debbie Stabenow (D)
Missouri — Claire McCaskill (D)
Montana — Jon Tester (D)
Pennsylvania — Bob Casey, Jr. (D)
Washington — Maria Cantwell (D)

Races that you will likely hear very little about on Election Night

California — Dianne Feinstein (D)
Delaware — Tom Carper (D)
Maryland — Ben Cardin (D)
Minnesota — Amy Klobuchar (D)
Mississippi — Roger Wicker (R)
New Jersey — Bob Menendez (D)
New Mexico — Martin Heinrich (D) replacing Jeff Bingaman (D)
New York — Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
Rhode Island — Sheldon Whitehouse (D)
Tennessee — Bob Corker (R)
Texas — Ted Cruz (R) replacing Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)
Utah — Orrin Hatch (R)
Vermont — Bernie Sanders (I)
West Virginia — Joe Manchin (D)
Wyoming — John Barrasso (R)


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