The 2010 election season as many pundits know is a year where almost every race is competitive for both Democrats and Republicans. The pundits like to say it is a Republican year with Democrats being the party in trouble? Am I disagreeing with that? No I am not and the Democrats will definitely get a big beating and have a poor chance of holding the House. They will probably hold the Senate but the question is will they lose 6 or 9 seats out of the 10 Republicans must win to control the Senate? Unlike 2000 where the political races came down to Florida and 2004 where they came down to Ohio, this election is more like 2008 where control of the Senate will not come down to one seat. The same is true for the control of the House and the majority of Governorships which Republicans will definitely gain. The object of this post though is to highlight those big tossup races to watch during election night for both the Senate and the Governorships. Although those races are crucial to deciding who controls the Senate, the Republicans will not gain the Senate even if they pick up all the tossups. If they can get races such as Washington and California into the tossup column though, they will have a shot at picking up the Senate though. Anyway, here are those important Senate and Gubernatorial tossups that will keep you up on election night:
Senate Pure Tossups (4 seats)
Colorado: At first, this race appeared to be in Ken Buck's (R) column. Buck is a teabagger who has extreme beliefs such as he is better than any opponent of his who wears high heels and that being gay is a choice. Does he really think people would choose to be gay when people keep denying them rights and bullying them in school? Anyway, Michael Bennett (D), the former Colorado Superintendent of Schools is getting closer in the polls with a Rasmussen poll showing Buck ahead by only 2 points. He is helped by a great ad "extremes" where he talks about Colorado's extreme mountains, extreme rivers and extremists. At the end, he says that some extremes are good but not Ken Buck. Also, the Democratic base in Colorado may be waking up too. Overall, it appears that the combination of the base coming home and moderate voters realizing how extreme Buck is are the factors tilting the race toward Bennett. How far will it tilt though?
Illinois: If any race is within one point or heads for a recount, it will be this one. Unlike Colorado, this race has not experienced a shift toward either party. This race has always been a tossup with two not so popular candidates. Mark Kirk (R) may be moderate AND he may be from the crucial suburban collar counties BUT he lied about his Vietnam war record and yesterday he lied about legislation he passed. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulis (D) is running in a heavily Democratic state where Obama is still popular BUT his family's bank is running into problems, making him look poorly. In Illinois, Democrats need to turn out heavily Democratic Cook County with Chicago and some Democratic suburbs. Giannoulis is not inspiring so having Obama come and help him is exactly what he needs. This campaign is very nasty and closepin sellers will become rich when people buy closepins to hold their noses when they vote.
Nevada: This is yet another race full of noseholding. Harry Reid (D) as the Majority leader in the Senate is getting blamed for Nevada's poor economy even though he has passed numerous legislation helping Nevada including a bill that prevented massive teacher layoffs. At first, Reid was in trouble against rich Sue Lowden (R) but after she suggested you should trade healthcare benefits for hens and roosters, she lost the Republican primary. Sharron Angle (R) won the primary and she is equally (or worse) as strange as Lowden. Angle wants to eliminate social security, the right of people to drink liquor (I bet the casino unions and the casinos love her,) and she wants to eliminate the Department of Education. Of course, you may have heard about her recently saying that Hispanics look Asian. Harry Reid is taking advantage of Angle and running ads attacking her whenever he can. Reid is still in a dead heat with Angle even while Nevadans are familiar with her extreme views. Overall, I think Reid pulls it off by 2 points because of Nevada's strong Democratic Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operation and some Hispanics shifting to Reid after Angle's comment and an ad encouraging Hispanics not to vote.
Pennsylvania: If I had published this post on Tuesday, there is no way I would put this race on here. Most polls have showed fake moderate Pat Toomey (R) leading by 7 points...a few weeks ago. Former Admiral Joe Sestak (D) from the pivotal Philadelphia suburbs has been lying low. The polls have been narrowing ever so slowly but a new poll came out yesterday showing Sestak ahead. The poll is from PPP, a firm famous for getting the results of NJ Gov, MA Sen and the Maine anti gay rights initiative right on target (no pun intended, Target is in MN anyway.) Another poll came out today (not an internal for Sestak) from the Morning Call showing Sestak leading by three. This is similar to May when Sestak was trailing Arlen Specter (D) in the primary. Then Sestak came out of nowhere campaigning really hard. He won by eight points while pundits predicted a nailbiter. Sestak seems to be attempting a late surge again by slowly but surely running more ads until it explodes (which should be really soon.) Is Sestak ahead? Maybe he is ahead or maybe he is behind but it is certain this race is becoming closer. If the trend keeps up, more polls will show a close race and everyone else will view it as a Tossup.
Governor (2 races)
Florida: Although this race has been shifting, most of the time it has been close. State CFO Alex Sink (D) was always a shoo in for the Democratic nomination and I thought she would face Attorney General Bill McCollum (R). Rick Scott (R) leaped into the race though and playing on voter anger, won the Republican primary. Scott has money and is spending it while Sink does not have as much. She has been going negative against him which works until Scott starts spending again. Then he retakes the lead against her. Right now, Scott seems to be retrieving the lead again. He also shows how strong voter anger is right now because he is drawing support even though his company has been accused of fraud, the Government raided it and the company ended up paying 1.7 billion in settlements. Sink is highlighting Scott's past but will it work? Although the race always has about a 3 point lead for either candidate, this race will be very close. No, I am NOT looking at a 36 day hassle over yellow jacket...er butterfly ballots again but I am looking at a 2 point win by either candidate. It all depends on who can win the I-4 corridor with Tampa, Orlando and Daytona Beach.
Oregon: Democrats have recently been bragging about a pacific firewall which I am worried about now that Patti Murray (D) in Washington State is leading by 3 points and Barbara Boxer (D) in California is leading by only 5. Oregon though has always been a close race. In Oregon, John Kitzhaber (D), the former Governor of Oregon who won with 64% in 1998 wants his old job back. It looked like an easy win until May when polls showed basketball player Chris Dudley (R) (who is famous for breaking the record of missing 13 consecutive free throws) in a tight race. Dudley has raised twice as much money as Kitzhaber and not until Labor Day did Kitzhaber campaign actively. His hard work seems to be paying off though because a few polls have shown Kitzhaber is taking a small lead. Still, Dudley has the money and it is a Republican friendly year. Also, Oregon is the only state that votes entirely by mail and many voters have mailed in their ballots. In the last two weeks though, Kitzhaber has had the wind at his back and Oregon is trending Democratic so Kitzhaber will probably pull it out but barely.
Do you think these races are all tossups? Should I add more races? Who do you think will win these races anway? Please feel free to share your thoughts.