Connecticut

The polls all agree that Joe Lieberman has locked down fifty percent of the vote, Lamont just under forty, and Schlesinger just below ten.

Given this, it is impossible to predict anything but a Lieberman win.

Factors to consider:

    Lamont and Tester strongly outperformed the polls in their primaries.
    Lamont has the most energized and committed ground game.
    Schlesinger appears in the top spot on the ballot next to the popular Republican Governor, Jodi Rell.
    Lieberman has the help of both the Bloomberg machine and many Republican operatives.
    The Republicans run the Connecticut government.

Prediction: Lieberman 44%, Lamont 42%, Schlesinger 14%. Lamont needed to be within eight points to pull this off.

Maryland

Pollster’s five-poll average: Cardin 48%, Steele 45%

Cardin is the less skilled and media-savvy campaigner. But he is competent. The race is close and Steele has closed the gap.

Factors to consider:

    The Republican Governor is in a tough re-election battle.
    There were a lot of shenanigans and glitches in the primary election.
    The Republican candidate is black, while the Democratic candidate is white.

Prediction: if there is going to be a Republican upset, this is where it will happen. It may not happen honestly, but it is a possibility. Cardin 53% Steele 47%.

Missouri

Pollster’s 5-poll average: McCaskill 48%, Talent 46%.

Rassmussen has Talent up one, Gallup has McCaskill up four. Overall, the late trend has shown McCaskill with the slight momentum in the race.

Factors to consider:

    This race is basically tied. The governor won election in 2004 by defeating Claire McCaskill. That’s not a good sign.
    There is a popular stem-cell research question on the ballot. McCaskill supports it, Talent does not.

Prediction: recounts and litigation. Given Republican control of the Governor’s mansion, I have to favor Talent as the likely winner of any recount.

Montana

Pollster five-poll average: Tester 49% Burns 46%

All the late momentum has been with Conrad Burns. But Burns has never led in any poll.

Factors to consider:

Tester outperfomed the polls in his primary…by a lot.
Montana has a Democratic Governor.
Conrad Burns has run a very bad campaign and is tainted by the Abramoff scandal.

Prediction: Tester 53%, Burns 47%

New Jersey

Pollster five-poll average: Menendez 48%, Kean Jr. 42%

Menendez has been ahead in every recent poll, often outside the margin of error.

Factors to consider:

    Jersey has an history of disappointing Republicans and defying the pollsters.
    There is a Democratic Governor.
    The NJ Democratic Party is unpopular and tainted with scandal.

Prediction: Menendez 54%, Kean 46%

Ohio

Pollster’s five-poll average: Brown 54%, DeWine 42%.

Trends are even stronger than the five-poll average. A Columbus Dispatch poll from yesterday has Brown topping 60%.

Factors to consider:

    Kenneth Blackwell is still Secretary of State, and the candidate for Governor.
    Most of the Boards of Elections are Republican controlled.
    There is a huge generic anti-Republican backlash in the state.
    The economy, not the war, is the number one factor in Ohio.

Prediction: Brown 52%, DeWine 48%

Pennsylvania

Pollster’s five-poll average: Casey 50%, Santorum 40%.

Santorum has been mired at around 40% ever since polling got started in this campaign.

Factors to consider:

    Ed Rendell is the Democratic Governor up for re-election. He will be on the top of the ballot. He is polling at 58%-36% over Lynn Swann.
    There are three very competitive congressional races in the Philly suburbs.

Prediction: Casey 59%, Santorum 41%

Rhode Island

Pollster’s five-poll average: Whitehouse 47%, Chafee 42%.

There is some evidence that Chafee has closed the gap. Most notably there was a 11/2 Mason-Dixon poll that showed the Linc up 46%-45%. However, that poll was an outlier. Gallup shows Whitehouse up by three, Zogby by thirteen.

Factors to consider:

    The Governor is a Republican who is in a tight race for re-election.
    Rhode Island is the most Democratic state in the country.
    The Chafees are an Ocean State institutuon.
    Chafee is the most liberal member of the GOP Senate and did not vote for Dubya in 2004.

Prediction: Whitehouse 52%, Chafee 48%

Tennessee

Pollster five-poll average: Corker 51%, Ford Jr 44%

The average is brought down by an outlier. Rasmussen actually has the tide turning back towards Ford. Gallup has Ford down three and within the margin of error.

Factors to consider:

    Early voting occurred when Ford was showing better in the polls.
    The Ford family has a good history with voter turnout in Memphis.
    Historicially, black candidates have underperformed their polls.
    Corker is not an incumbent.
    The Governor is a Democrat.

Prediction: Corker 54%, Ford Jr. 46%

Virginia

Pollster’s five-poll average: Webb 46%, Allen 46%

This race is tied. In the last four polls, two have Webb up by one, one has Allen up by three, and one has them even.

Factors to consider:

    Allen is an incumbent.
    Webb is supported by the Washington Post.
    Allen has had one controversy after another.
    Webb is a very raw politician, while Allen is experienced at closing campaigns.
    There is a Democratic governor.
    Allen has never sniffed 50%.

Prediction: I can’t see Allen winning this thing. Webb 50.1%, Allen 49.9%. Any recount favors Webb.

For what all this means, go below the fold.
According to my predictions here are the Democratic pickups:

Montana
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Virginia

That will put us at 50-50, including Lieberman, and with the Vice-President breaking any ties. That is my prediction for how this election will play out. But I also predict a nasty post-election fight to find out who really won Missouri, and possibly Virginia and Maryland as well. If I am right, we won’t know who controls the Senate for some time.

Setting aside the question of disputed elections and control, a 50-50 Senate should be familiar to people. That is how things stood from January 2001 to May 2001, when Jim Jeffords switched allegiance, and flipped the Senate to the Democrats. The potential for Lieberman to do the same in reverse is what makes it so important that Ned Lamont prevail in that race. Please tell your Connecticut friends.

The importance of Missouri is paramount. Should we win that race, or any ensuing recount, I believe we will hold a 51-49 advantage (including Lieberman). Things look very good for this election. Picking up this many seats is a major positive. But, looking at likely outcomes shows just how little we might gain from it, with the GOP still holding a lot of cards they can play.

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