So here we are, the night before the big day. We've got all the contest entries in -- about 200 of them. And about a dozen friends of the site were kind enough to stick their necks out and make their own predictions for the races tomorrow. So I suppose it would be pretty lame of me not to have the guts to do the same.
So I'll try to be as candid as I can and perhaps the late hour will assist with that. If you're a regular reader of TPM you may have realized that I sometimes have a ... well, let's say a rather admiring sense of my own ability to predict political happenings. Frankly, in the last two election cycles I've done a pretty good job of it. But I'll be honest: I'm realllllllly confused about what's going to happen tomorrow.
There was one spread of numbers I was pretty confident about 48 hours ago -- a nice Democratic pick up. Then on Monday I was much less sanguine about the Democrats' prospects. As of near 2 AM on Tuesday morning I'm somewhere weirdly in between.
So let me go through the races and tell you where I think they'll all end up.
Arkansas: This is one of the few that seems straightforward to me. Hutchinson is a big-time born-again who attacked Bill Clinton for his infidelities. Then he did the wild thing with one of his own staffers, divorced his wife and married the staffer. And that's just not a good set of facts. I guess you could call him a born-again adulterer. And it never went down that well with the folks back home. He's consistently down in the polls. As nearly as I can tell most Republicans have simply written him off. Pryor wins; Dem pick-up.
Minnesota: Man, this one is a mystery to me. The polls are all over the place. I always thought that the whole brouhaha over the memorial/rally was really overstated. But whether I'm right on the merits is sort of beside the point. Republicans used it very effectively. And at the least it seems to have really blunted the Dems' momentum. I watched most of the debate on Monday morning. For the first few minutes Mondale struck me as old and rather feeble and that worried me. But he recovered and I thought he did a pretty good job. Not that he killed Coleman or anything. I thought he did pretty well too. But I'd say on balance Mondale helped himself more because he seemed energized and on top of things. I guess I figure that at the end of the day the combination of the political complexion of the state, Mondale's stature and the extreme motivation of the Democratic base win it for the Democrats. Part of me keeps telling myself that you just don't lose a race because your guy died. But this may simply be a moral argument that I've tricked myself into believing is a political argument. So I say that Mondale wins this and possibly even by a decent margin. But I'm far from sure of this one. Mondale wins; Dem hold.
South Carolina: Sanders ran a pretty good race. The Social Security thing helped him at the end. And he could still win. But I don't think he pulls it out. Probably closer than some people imagine. A few days back the Dems' internal tracking polls had the race dead-even. But I think Graham takes this one. Graham wins; GOP hold.
Colorado: I had only been watching this race sort of out of the corner of my eye. And I'd only really been paying attention to the spread which usually had Allard up by at least a point or two and often by more. But then I focused on it a bit and realized that he was seldom getting over like 40%. For an incumbent so late in the race that's just lethal. And a number of the most recent polls have Strickland, the Democrat, ahead. Strickland clearly seems to have the momentum and Allard's numbers are ones that normally spell defeat. So, not certain on this one. But definitely think Strickland, the Democrat, wins. Strickland wins; Dem pick-up.
Missouri: This one's been back and forth. The consensus is that Talent is a solid campaigner and Caranahan isn't much of a campaigner at all. A week ago it really seemed like she was toast. She seems to have recovered a lot in the last few days. I could see the Dems winning this. But my gut tells me probably not. One unfortunate side note: I've heard from a few people tonight that a solid GOTV effort could win it. But the Carnahan campaign apparently hasn't really put together a solid good ground operation and there's a degree of disorganization at the ground level. So I'm not sure on this one but I figure Talent wins. Talent wins; GOP pick-up.
South Dakota: As regular readers know I've written a lot about this campaign. The Zogby poll has Johnson up by four and CNN/Gallup has him down by three. Common sense and other information tells me that this race is actually dead-even, fifty-fifty. And that means it's going to be won on the ground. I started saying before a lot of people did that I thought Johnson was going to win that race. And that sense was based on a conclusion I reached early on that Johnson's campaign operation and particularly its organization on the ground was far superior to Thune's. Given that, I always figured that if Johnson went into the election without being behind that he would win the race through superior organization on the ground. That's pretty much exactly where we seem to be. So I think Johnson wins this one. But man is it close. Johnson wins; Dem hold.
Georgia: On this one I'm afraid I've got some bad news. I talked to a friend of mine tonight who knows Southern politics about as well as anyone I know. And he thought things looked bad for the Democrats in the South. This combined with various other info makes me pessimistic about Cleland. The one hope here is that Georgia Republican state-wide candidates always do seem to choke at the final moment -- particuarly in the off-years. But I'm just not sure it's going to happen in this case. I haven't been watching all the numbers that closely. But the feel I get on this one and what I hear from people whose judgment I trust isn't good. I'm giving this to the Republicans. Chambliss wins; GOP pick-up.
New Hampshire: This is another one where the numbers show it pretty much even. But I've got good sources on this one. And I'm pretty confident that Shaheen wins this one. Her strong momentum did seem to fizzle a bit, stalling at the dead-even point. But my understanding is that Shaheen has a very good operation on the ground. So I think she pulls it off. Shaheen wins; Dem pick-up.
Tennessee: I haven't been following this race too closely but the CW seems to be that Alexander will win. So I'll go with that. This does mean, unfortunately, that the chronically lame Lamar Alexander gets to become a member of the Senate. But what can you do? Alexander wins; GOP hold.
Iowa: This one's done. The number spread may not end up being all that big. But in win or lose terms this one's been over for a while. Harkin wins; Dem hold.
New Jersey: I've invested a lot in saying -- and taken a fair amount of grief for saying -- some time ago that Douglas Forrester was toast. And well ... he's toast. The Dem's a decent campaigner; the Republican's a sorry goof; it's a Dem-trending state; the polls all have at least a ten point spread. Get the butter ready for spreading. Forrester's done. Lautenberg wins; Dem hold.
Texas: This is where things get interesting. And this is one of the reasons I really don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. Kirk was supposed to be out of this. But a couple recent polls show the race basically even. What's more the Dem's internal polls have shown it this way for a while. I hear, but don't know, that the Republicans' polls have shown something similar. There's a lot of excitement on the ground for Dems, with some really solid turnout in early voting. I guess Cornyn also just doesn't strike me as a very appealing candidate. The truth is that I really haven't a clue how this race is going to turn out. Let's delay a call here until we get done with North Carolina.
Louisiana: I haven't been following this race that closely. But from what I hear, I figure she has to go into a run-off and then wins there. Landreau wins; Dem hold.
North Carolina: This one is another mystery. The TV reportage I saw tonight made it sound like Bowles had peaked too early and that it was slipping away from him. But I hear some different stuff from party types in the state. They seem to feel they're peaking at just the right time and that they can do this. Now a Bowles win would have the added benefit of keeping Liddy Dole out of public life. And for me this would be a really good thing since she is music to my ears in roughly like a sharp rock dragged slowly over a window pane. So here's the deal with Texas and North Carolina. I don't know which one -- maybe neither -- but I really think Democrats are going to pull one of these out. Different people I talk to point me in different directions. But I really sense that of them is going to come out Democratic.
I'd add that all up and give more of a run-down. But honestly I'm too damn tired. That's the best I can come up with. But man is it ever close and is it ever going to be a long night...