Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Presidential Election Liveblog

I will be running a liveblog for this election so you can see the results.

6:58: Things are not looking too good in North Carolina. We got our voters out but the Republican turnout seemed to have increased higher than I would have liked.

6:53 MSNBC calls New Hampshire for Obama!

6:47: Two pickups in the Senate! Warren and Donnelly!

6:45: Obama leading by 140,000 in Ohio. People still in line there, it will take awhile to call many of these states.

6:41: Looking at these results, I think there is one person who is the happiest person in politics. No, it's not Obama. It's Nate Silver.

6:38: Virginia narrows a bit. Romney 51%, Obama 48%. Looks like Democratic areas are coming in.

6:35: Jefferson and Araphaoe Counties, the big bellwethers in Colorado are looking good for Obama.

6:30: Wisconsin goes to Obama! First battleground state to go! Thought it would be closer but that Maruqette poll showed Obama ahead. Looks like that is happening.

6:26: Looks like MSNBC called Pennsylvania for Obama. Was a bit worried about that but it looks like we are fine there.

6:17: 78% in at Florida, Obama ahead by only 2,000 votes. Polls showed a close race. However, I think Obama still narrowly pulls it out because the I-4 Corridor still has not reported everything and I see Obama overperforming there.

6:13 Obama actually did better in Pensacola now than he did in 2008. Also, there are still more votes in Miami Dade and Broward. Early voting went well for Democrats there, reported early but it is reporting later.

6:10: David Gergen said that one more state may flip to the Democrats in the Senate. I think he is looking at Indiana.

6:06: Looks like Wisconsin should go our way. Minnesota though is a bit closer than I would like. The problem with Minnesota is that polls always overstate the leads for Democrats there.

5:58: Feeling much better about Florida. Except for the Panhandle, northern Florida which is pretty conservative is almost all in. Miami Dade just has 1% of non early votes in so I am not super worried yet. I think we pull out in Florida but by less than 100,000 votes. Obama currently ahead by only 3,000 votes.

5:56: Lots of these Senate races like Ohio and Missouri still too early to call although Democrats have a lead.

5:51: Carville says Florida is looking good for Obama. I would agree. Obama up by 5 in Pinellas, 5 in Hillsborough County (these are all bellwethers.) Only worry is that the conservative Panhandle has not reported strongly yet. Palm Beach is almost all in, Broward County is on its way too.

5:50: Elizabeth Warren is ahead by about 5, I think she is going to pull this out! Sorry Scotty.

5:48: Still too close to call in Florida. It is going to be a long night there.

5:32 Chris Murphy (D) wins in the Connecticut race. Linda McMahon (R) spent $41 million but still could not win. She ran in 2010, made it close in September but it was not enough.

5:28: Numbers not looking the best in NC. Not liking that Wake County, 2nd biggest NC county, Obama won by 13%, is leaning toward Romney.

5:27 Franklin County in Ohio, Obama needs 59% to win statewide, has 66% there. Still, it is the early voting.

5:18: Florida shows Romney ahead but this is a total glitch. Broward County has Romney with 70%. I would expect that to be the other way around, Broward County is a very strongly Democratic county.

5:14: If Obama wins Florida, it is checkmate. It will make it nearly impossible for Mitt Romney to win.

5:03: New Jersey too early to call. Interesting, would have expected it to go more strongly for Obama. Looks like Sandy had a big effect.

4:58: Democrats +3 in Florida, we will see how the Independents go.

4:50 pm: Florida is looking very good for Obama. Baseline for Miami Dade was 57%, he has 62%. Baseline for Osceola was below 60%, he has 63%. Obama is ahead by 140,000 votes so far and Broward County which is strongly Democratic is 0% in.

4:48 Republican areas in Virginia traditionally report early. Romney ahead 141,000 to 101,000. Similar in 2008, do not freak out yet Democrats. Fairfax County is not in yet.

4:41: Looks like Obama is barely going to pull it out in the bellwether Vigo County.

4:29: Obama ahead by 9 in Hillsborough County. That county is the bellwether. Also, Obama ahead now with NOTHING from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami Dade.

4:28: 39% Democratic, 30% Republican in Ohio. Please pray the exit polls are correct! 59% approve auto industry bailout.

4:24: Obama ahead by 7 in Pinellas. Basically matches his percentages in 2008. Problem is that Romney ahead by only 19,000 votes in Florida with 1.3 million votes in with NOTHING from Broward, Palm Beach and Miami Dade.

4:23: Worth watching IN Governor race. Republican ahead by only 3, Romney ahead by 16. Exit polls did not project good numbers for dems.

4:13 pm: Orange County early votes go 152,000 to 96,000 for Obama. Really good news, he needs to break 60% in Orange County to win statewide and he got 61% of the vote there so far. Hopefully the early votes match the results.

4:12 pm: For Virginia, watch Fairfax County. Obama must get above 57% there and Obama needs to win by around 100,000 votes to win statewide.

4:08 pm: national bellwether Vigo County in Indiana is 78% in. 49-49 tie with a very slight Romney lead. Still could go the other way.

4:06 pm: Exit polls show Romney +1 in Virginia. Not reading too much into that, I remember 2004. However, Mourdock is behind by about 5 points in Indiana. We will see.

3:57 pm: Looking close in IN-09. Expecting a big Republican win but Shelli Yoder (D) is an energetic and young candidate. Maybe she has a shot?

3:56: Mourdock ahead by 4, Romney ahead by 22 in Indiana. If Mourdock can't do as well as that, then Mourdock is in trouble.

3:19: Indiana is starting to report. So far, Romney is ahead 63%-35% but the main counties reporting include Shelby County, a Republican leaning county in the Indianapolis suburbs. Mourdock is leading 54%-41%. I am expecting Obama to lose Indiana by less than 15 points (and Romney is overperforming Mourdock by 15 points.) This is not good for Mourdock. However, Shelby County just started reporting, results could change.

3:16 So far, the early exit polls are showing according to Politico that half of voters blame Bush for the economic recession, 39% say the economy is getting better and the #of people saying the economy is getting worse is at 31%, according to ThinkProgress.

3:16 Kentucky's first polls have closed and they are showing a large Romney lead. The counties reporting though are in the southern part of the state which is heavily Republican. Kentucky is expected to go Republican but if Romney gets a large margin out of Kentucky (greater than 20%,) then expect a good night for him.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Last California Congressional District Rankings

These are my last rankings before the Presidential election on California's Congressional Districts.

After the California Redistricting Commission shuffled around all the California Congressional District lines, they created opportunities for Democrats in seats such as CA-07, CA-10, CA-26, CA-36 and CA-52. The Democrats are looking to gain somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 seats in California. Although they are not expected to gain back the House, they are expected to perform well in California, making takeover in 2014 a much easier task. 

Anyway, this analysis will only examine races that are competitive or potentially competitive. This analysis will not examine races such as CA-13 where Rep. Barbara Lee (D) is easily winning reelection or CA-37 where Rep. Karen Bass (D) is winning easily too in her 84% Obama district. The post will examine races pundits expect to be close such as CA-10, CA-26 and CA-52 for example. 

Anyway, here is my past post on the California Congressional Districts: http://racesandredistricting.blogspot.com/2012/05/analysis-of-californias-congressional.html

http://www.mpimaps.com/wp-content/gallery/congress/03.png (district demographics and partisan data. Each link next to the district summary has the demographics and partisan info.) 
The competitive primary here was on the Republican side, yet Garamendi won a majority with 53% of the vote in this district without general election turnout from UC Davis. Also, the competitive primary was on the Republican side instead of the Democratic side. This 55% Obama district should be considered a Tossup but Garamendi is a good fit for this district because of his understanding of agricultural issues which are important in the northern part of the district. Also, his opponent Kim Dolbow Vann (R) is from the northern part of the district so it should be harder for her to make inroads in the southern part of the district which is heavily Democratic. Also, Republican PACs have been pulling out of this district, I am not worried about Garamendi. 
Likely Democratic

This race should be one of the most competitive and close races in this election cycle. It contains the Sacramento suburbs which used to be strongly Republican but have been trending Democratic recently. Democrats have gained the two State Assembly seats in the Sacramento suburbs, gaining one in 2010 which was the only seat they gained in the State Assembly that year. Democratic challenger Ami Bera (D) has outraised Lungren but Lungren is raising money quickly too which shows he will not be caught napping. Lungren beat Bera by 10 points in the June 5th Primary but the June 5th Primary is not a good indicator of the general election because Bera was assured a spot in the top two primary so Democrats did not need to turn out extra heavily to support him. Also, a poll from the Hill in late August showed a tied race but Bera’s favorables were +4 higher than Lungren’s.

Gregg Imus (R) and Assemblyman Paul Cook (R) are facing each other in this extremely red district covering exurbs in San Bernardino County and the desert. There have been no polls in this heavily Republican district and Imus won 16% of the vote to Cook’s 15% in the primary so both candidates are close. Cook though seems to have the slight advantage because he has outraised Imus 4-1 but there have been no polls on this race so it is difficult to tell who is leading. Until a new poll is released, I will give Cook the advantage.
Lean Cook

Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) did well in the top two primary against Ricky Gill (R) and since the primary had lower Democratic turnout than the general election usually does, especially in the valley, this is a good sign for McNerney. Although Gill has been a strong fundraiser, McNerney is no slouch either when it comes to fundraising. Also, Gill’s experience is an issue because Gill is in his mid 20s and is a UC Berkeley law student. Even though Gill has money and moderate views, McNerney has faced tough races before and won. McNerney even won in 2010 in a more Republican district so if McNerney can survive 2010, he should be able to survive 2012. Also, the registration advantage for the Democrats is strong here and Obama is expected to do well in this district so that should help McNerney.
Lean Democratic

This district voted 50-47 for Obama which in California means a Republican leaning district because Republicans tend to over perform in down ballot races. Also, the Republican candidate is State Sen. Jeff Denham (R) who frequently won in a Democratic leaning district. The Democrats though found a strong candidate in former Astronaut Jose Hernandez (D). He has received strong financial backing from the DCCC and is a strong campaigner. He has a strong slogan saying how Washington is full of lawyers who know how to argue but he is an engineer who knows how to solve problems instead of just arguing about them. He also mentions his agricultural roots and his hard work to become an astronaut which is an inspiring life story. A poll was released showing Hernandez leading by 2. Although it is from the DCCC, it shows Obama leading Romney by 1 which is similar to Obama’s 3 point lead in 2008 so there may not be much oversampling of Democrats. Therefore, I am moving this race to Tossup from Lean Republican. Republicans may still have a slight advantage here due to the district's demographics but it is still close. 

Rep. Pete Stark (D) has been a representative in Congress since the 1970s when he ran as the young candidate challenging an elderly incumbent. The tables are reversed this time though with
Eric Swalwell (D) running as the young candidate challenging the elderly incumbent. Recently, Stark came under fire for recent gaffes so Swalwell has a strong shot. Also, the redrawn district added areas Stark is unfamiliar with the voters such as Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore and San Ramon. These areas are less liberal than Hayward and Union City which Stark has always represented. Swalwell is hoping to capitalize on support in the inland areas to beat Stark. Stark won 42% of the vote to Swalwell’s 36% so Swalwell has room to grow.
Tossup between Swalwell and Stark.

This race is one where Hispanic Chamber of Commerce member David Hernandez (D) has underrated chances. State Assemblyman David Valadao (R) performed well in the primary, winning 57% of the vote. At a first glance, this suggests that Valadao should win easily but I expect a much closer race. The reason is that Hispanic turnout which should favor Hernandez was extremely low in this district during the primary. Low Hispanic turnout in the primary was felt in other areas too. Grace Napolitano's (D) district for example was heavily Hispanic and had much lower turnout than usual. In most elections though, Hispanic turnout is higher in the general which should help Hernandez. However, Washington folks do not Hernandez's chances. There was one article that was discussing how Jose Hernandez was a great candidate while criticizing John Hernandez. Hispanic turnout could make it close but Democrats needed a better candidate here. 
Lean Republican

Rep. Lois Capps (D) the incumbent did not do well in the primary because she won less than 50% of the vote, suggesting former Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado (R) has a shot. The problem in the primary was that UCSB had very low turnout like it did in 2010. Obama however seems to have regained excitement with young voters so he should be able to turnout voters there. I expect Capps to win. Also, Capps has won tough races before including in the 90s when her district had similar lines and was less Democratic. I used to live in Santa Barbara actually and it was much more Republican in the early 2000s when I lived there. The district is interesting with liberal Santa Barbara on the coast but the inland areas are very conservative and resemble the Central Valley in a way. Also, Maldonado is from Inland SB County which will help him but as long as Democratic turnout is high, Capps should win. 
Lean Democratic

This race is definitely one of the most if not the most competitive race in the state. Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D) faces State Senator Tony Strickland (R) for the seat which covers all of Ventura County except heavily Republican Simi Valley. Brownley faced Strickland and Ventura Supervisor Linda Parks (I) in the primary but Parks received 3rd place so Brownley will be competing against Strickland. Brownley has attacked Strickland for his views on a woman’s right to choose and contraception in this district with many suburban women who are swing voters. The Thousand Oaks and Camarillo areas are more fiscally conservative but Democrats have an opening on social issues. Brownley has been sending out mailers too which worked for her in the primary. Emily's List has been involved in the race too and sent out many mailers as well.  A recent poll showed Brownley ahead. This is a very competitive race but I would give Brownley the slight edge because Strickland just seems too conservative for the district. Also, Brownley has been receiving endorsements such as from the LA Times, she seems to have the wind at her back in this district.
Tilt Democratic

The battle of the titans it is! Democratic Reps. Howard Berman (D) and Brad Sherman (D) are running in the same district. At first, Berman seems to have the advantages because he has received endorsements from almost all of the high profile Democrats. Sherman though has outraised Berman $3.5 million to $2.7 million and his old district covered 58% of this one compared to 20% for Berman. Also, Sherman won 42% of the vote in the primary compared to Berman’s 32%. Berman though has tried to win the 1/3 of the district which votes Republican by receiving endorsements from Republicans such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R) from the San Diego area. Trying to win over Republicans though may hurt Berman so I am going to give the race to Lean Sherman for now.
Lean Sherman

Democrats had a chance to win this district with Redlands mayor Pete Aguilar (D) but other Democratic candidates stole votes from him so he could not make it to the top two. The Democrats mostly focused on helping Julia Brownley in CA-26 and while they got her into the top two, they did not focus on this race. The two Republican candidates are State Senator Bob Dutton (R) and Rep. Gary Miller (R) who is carpetbagging. In 2014, Democrats will have a good chance to win this 56% Obama district but Dutton is trying to win over Democrats. He has announced a few endorsements from Democrats but Miller has an advantage because he has support of the national Republicans as well as more money.
Lean Miller

Mary Bono Mack (R) is moderate and very popular in this district. She has won close elections in 2008 and 2010, even while the Democrats had a strong candidate in Steve Pougent (D) the mayor of Palm Springs. The Democrats found another strong candidate though with Dr. Raul Ruiz (D). He is a doctor and the first Hispanic to receive three graduate degrees from Harvard. Bono Mack though seemed to be leading because Obama only won 50-47 here and she had moderate views. She also won tough races in the 2000s in a 52-47 Obama district but she had conservative Murrietta in her district which anchored her (Murrietta is not in her new district.) Also, Bono Mack recently referred to Coachella which is in her district as a “third world toilet," and more a few more gaffes.  The DCCC has been spending heavily here, hitting Bono Mack for her votes on the Ryan budget which would end Medicare as we know it. Ruiz though made a small gaffe by saying he supported Leonard Peltier when he attended a pro Native American rights rally. However, Ruiz recovered pretty easily and Bono Mack's gaffes outweigh his. A Ruiz internal showed Ruiz leading by 6. I am going to place this race at Tossup for now although I believe Ruiz definitely has an advantage.

This district in Riverside County voted 59% for Obama and has a high Hispanic population but the Republican candidate Riverside County Supervisor John Taviglione (R) is running a competitive campaign here. The Democrats have a strong candidate too though in Mark Takano (D) who is openly gay and ran for a similar seat in 1992 and lost by less than 1 percent. Being openly gay may not play well with the large number of socially conservative voters in the district (the district voted strongly for Prop 8,) but Takano’s campaign skills and the district’s Democratic lean should be enough to help him.
Lean Democratic

Rep. Laura Richardson (D) and Rep. Janice Hahn (D) face off in this district. Although Hahn’s current congressional district only has a small portion of the new 44th, her former city council district covered a large part of the 44th so many voters here are familiar with her. Richardson though is in trouble due to ethics issues. Also, she has run racially divisive campaigns in her primaries which will make it hard for her to win over the 68% Hispanic population in the district. Hahn though is popular in the Hispanic community and she won in the primary with 60% of the vote. Richardson is in trouble.
Safe Hahn

State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D) faces Long Beach City Councilmember Gary DeLong (R). This race at first seemed competitive, despite the district’s Democratic lean because Lowenthal had trouble raising money. Lowenthal though seems to have stepped up his fundraising and polls show him leading DeLong. This district also should have high turnout in the Long Beach portion in the 2012 election, cancelling out the Republican leaning areas in Orange County.
Likely Democratic

This is another extremely competitive race in California. Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) is a moderate Republican who represented a 51% Obama district but redistricting increased it to 55%. The Democrats also have a strong candidate in Scott Peters (D) who is the Port Commissioner for San Diego and the former City Council President. Peters has been running a strong campaign and has been attacking Bilbray over his career as a lobbyist and receiving two taxpayer funded pensions. Also, Peters received the endorsement of the Independent San Diego Mayoral candidate who was a former Republican. As for polling, it has been all over the map with Bilbray internals showing Bilbray leading and Peters internals showing Peters leading. I believe that Peters should win in the end due to the Democratic overperformance here in the June primaries but this race is still very close. 
Tilt Democratic

Friday, November 2, 2012

Senate Ratings: My Last Ratings This Cycle

These are my last Senate race ratings before election day. I have really enjoyed writing these ratings and I cannot wait to get start writing up Senate ratings for the 2014 midterm cycle. Here are my previous Senate ratings this cycle: http://racesandredistricting.blogspot.com/2012/10/senate-ratings-democrats-likely-to-keep.html

In the 2011 cycle, conventional wisdom suggested that Republicans would gain control of the Senate, mainly because of opportunities in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Missouri and Virginia. However, indications are suggesting that Republicans have a 50% chance of actually losing seats. Democrats have surged in states such as Virginia and Massachusetts where Nate Silver has given the Democrats a greater than 80% chance of winning. Also, Missouri and Indiana originally resembled Republican wins but the Republican candidates Todd Akin (R) and Richard Mourdock (R) hurt their chances with offensive comments about rape. Republicans still hope they can gain seats in the high prairies in NE, MT and ND. Although they have a shot in NE, MT and ND are both close races where likeable Democrats face not so likeable Republicans in states where personality is important. Anyway, here are my ratings. By the way, I have removed the tossup column because I believe by now, Senate seats should shift one way or the other (even though in a few states, specifically AZ, MT, NV, and ND, it was particularly difficult to make a decision.) 

On another note, I am not including writeups on most Safe and Likely seats, they can be found here though: http://racesandredistricting.blogspot.com/2012/09/senate-rankings-september-2012.html

Dark blue = Safe Democratic
Blue =Likely Democratic
Light Blue = Lean Democratic
Very Light Blue=Tilt Democratic
Light Red=Tilt Republican
Red=Lean Republican
Dark Red/Brown=Safe Republican
Dark Green = Safe Independent
Green =Likely Independent
Gray= no election

Projected Senate turnover: Democrats +2
Republicans gain two: NE, ND
Democrats gain four: IN, MA, ME, NV

Safe Democratic (10 seats) CA, DE, MD, MI, MN, NJ, NY, RI, WA, WV

Likely Democratic (5 seats) FL, HI, NM, OH, PA

Lean Democratic (4 seats) CT, MA, MO, VA

Tilt Democratic (4 seats) IN, MT, NV, WI

Tilt Republican (2 seats) AZ, ND

Lean Republican (1 seat) NE

Likely Republican (0 seats)

Safe Republican (5 seats) MS, TN, TX, UT, WY

Safe Independent (1 seat) VT

Likely Independent (1 seat) ME

Seat changes favoring Democrats
IN-Tossup-Tilt D
NE Likely R-Lean R
NV-Tossup-Tilt D
VA-Tossup-Lean D

Seat changes favoring Republicans: 
AZ Tossup-Tilt R
ND-Tossup-Tilt R
WI Lean D-Tilt D

Overall, how do Republicans gain a path to a Senate majority? Well, they already have 47 seats and need 4 seats to win a majority, assuming Obama wins reelection and Biden is the tiebreaker. Nebraska is already Lean R and Maine is Likely Independent (Angus King probably will caucus with the Democrats,) so Republicans need to sweep all tilt R and tilt D which includes retaining AZ, IN and NV and picking up WI, ND and MT. That still only gives them +3 so they must win one of the leaning Democratic seats, CT, MA, MO or VA. Democrats have leads in all those states so it makes it difficult for Republicans to make a surprise win and I am 100% certain Republicans cannot sweep all the tilt D and tilt R states. Overall, Republicans have a very difficult path to the Senate majority.

Anyway, here is a more in depth look at the Lean and Tilt seats. 

Lean Democratic (4 seats) 

Connecticut (Open-Joe Lieberman): Rep. Chris Murphy (D) is facing Linda McMahon (R), former WWE CEO who spent around $50 million in the 2010 Senate race (she lost by 11 points) but is running closer in the polls than in 2010. In late August, McMahon was tied in the polls after she sent an ad blitz into Connecticut. Murphy though was boosted after the DSCC spent money to help him. Although September showed a close race, the newer polls are showing around +5 for Murphy, suggesting a similarity with the 2010 race where McMahon ran a close race in September but lost points close to the election. 

Massachusetts (Scott Brown (R)): Brown seemed to be invincible after winning Ted Kennedy's (D) former Senate seat in this heavily Democratic state in a 2010 Special Election until Elizabeth Warren (D), Obama's nominee for the Consumer Protection Bureau decided to run. Warren has been a prolific fundraiser and is one of the top 15 highest fundraisers in Senate history. She also raised $12.4 million in the 3rd Quarter (compared to 7.45 million for Brown) and has performed well in the debates. Brown said his role model was Scalia which plays into Warren's strategy that a vote for Brown is a vote for a Republican to control the Senate. This is Warren's strategy because polls including a PPP one released on October 11th shows that 53%-36% of Massachusetts residents want Democrats to control the Senate. Brown has been running away from the Republican party but Warren has been tying him to the unpopular Republican Congress. Also, Brown probably feels sad he did not accept Super PAC money because Warren is outraising and outspending him. Brown also skipped the last debate. Also, Brown has led in only one poll since mid September. Warren should win this seat. 

Missouri (Claire McCaskill (D)): I was at first very worried about McCaskill's chances here because of Missouri's sharp turn to the right (it was the only swing state in 2008 to support John McCain and it voted Republican for Senate by 13 points in 2010.) Then Republican candidate Todd Akin (R) said his famous legitimate rape comment which turned a 5 point Akin lead into a 5 point McCaskill lead. The NRSC and other Republican groups have come back and spent money here but McCaskill still has a strong advantage here. 

Virginia (Open Jim Webb (D)): This race pits two former Governors against each other, Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R). For Kaine to win, he has to perform well in Northern Virginia, winning with 60%+ in Fairfax County and carrying bellwether Loudon County. Also, high African American turnout in the Hampton Roads/Richmond area should help Kaine too. Kaine and Allen are both well known so most voters have chosen a side so the candidates have to focus on turning out their voters. Recently though, Kaine has opened a lead with even Rasmussen showing him leading Allen. I considered placing this seat in Tilt Democratic but after the favorable polling data for Kaine, I am planning on moving it into "Lean Democratic." 

Tilt Democratic (4 seats)

Indiana (Open Richard Lugar (R)):  The Republican Legislature gave Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) a Republican leaning seat after redistricting which urged Donnelly to run for Senate. Mourdock defeated 36 year incumbent Lugar in a primary by claiming Lugar was not conservative enough for Indiana (Democrats may win though because Mourdock may be too conservative for Indiana.) To win, Donnelly needs to convince the voters that is the case. He also needs to perform well in not only Indianapolis and the Chicago suburbs but also win a big margin out of St. Joseph County (South Bend,) which is in his district and hit 40%+ in heavily Republican Elkhart County which is also in his district. Polls show many undecided voters are Lugar backers in the Republican primary so Donnelly has been tying himself to Lugar, including mentioning how Lugar and him both backed the auto bailout which saved Indiana jobs. At first, I expected those disaffected Lugar voters to move to Mourdock in the end but after Mourdock's rape comments, a Howey-DePauw poll (they are very reputable in Indiana,) showed Donnelly with an 11 point lead. I expect Donnelly to now win here. 

Montana (Jon Tester (D)): Rep. Danny Rehberg (R) is challenging Tester, a popular incumbent with strong campaign skills (who can forget his haircut ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joQi27QG7CsRehberg however is well known and popular throughout this Republican leaning state, making it more difficult.  Like in 2006, this race could be one of the last Senatorial races decided and the polls reflect a very tight race. What Tester has to do is to win over some Romney voters who are conservative on guns while capitalizing on Obama turnout in the cities. In 2006, Tester won by carrying Native Americans and urban voters. He needs to replicate this to win. Also, Tester should keep margins down in the rural areas by talking about his authenticity as a regular Montanan while portraying Rehberg as a false Montanan. This race should be a nailbiter but I am giving the edge to Tester because even Rasmussen showed a 1 point lead for him and Rehberg seems to be a poor fit for Montana voters. 

Nevada (Dean Heller (R)): This is another chance for a Democratic pickup as Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) from Las Vegas challenges appointed Senator Heller, a former Representative from the northern part of the state.   Recently Berkley is making a wise campaign move by campaigning heavily in Reno because voters there are unfamiliar with her. She does not want to repeat the 2006 gubernatorial race where Dina Titus (D), a Las Vegas centric candidate over performed in Vegas but lost because she underperformed in Reno. Heavy turnout in Las Vegas should help Berkley (early voting in Clark County so far is 47% Dem and 33% Rep,) but unless she can win Clark County by more than 10 points, she needs to make inroads in Heller's base.  Also, Nevada is underpolled in the Democrats favor. There are two reasons for this, the first one is that most polls do not have a Spanish speaking option (and the ones that do such as Mellman which was the only polling firm to predict Reid's 2010 win showed Berkley up 3,) and the 2nd is Nevada's Democratic Party's organization strength. The underpolling made a big difference in 2008 when polls showed Obama leading by 6 but he ended up winning by 12 in Nevada. Also, the Harry Reid organization is working strong for Berkley. This was a tough decision for me but I decided to rank Nevada at Tilt Democratic because of the Democratic organization but I expect a very close race here. 

Wisconsin (Open Herb Kohl (D)): Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) from Madison is running for the seat against former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R). At first, Republicans thought that this seat would be an easy pickup for them because Thompson is moderate and won reelection with 60%+ as Governor. Conventional wisdom also said Baldwin was too liberal for the state. What conventional wisdom did not say though was that Baldwin would campaign extremely hard throughout August and September while Thompson made only a few campaign appearances due to his "frail health." Baldwin gained a lead in September and was helped when Thompson's son said, "Obama should go back to Kenya," which should hurt the Thompson campaign. However, Thompson has been bouncing back, even leading in a few recent polls although Baldwin still has a slight advantage. 

Tilt Republican (2 seats)

Arizona (Open Jon Kyl (R)): Democrats have a strong candidate, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D). He served under George W. Bush and was a registered Independent until recently. He also is campaigning as an Independent frustrated with gridlock and has criticized the Bush Administration which is helping him with Independents. The Republican candidate is Rep. Jeff Flake (R)-Mesa who was leading early this year but polls show a narrowing race. In early October, a few polls showed Carmona leading. No polls were released last week though and the last poll released was a Rasmussen one showing Flake ahead by 6. I am extremely unsure about whether to rank this race Tilt Republican or Tilt Democratic but I decided on Tilt Republican because of how although Hispanics are underpolled here like in Nevada, Arizona lacks the strong Democratic organization of Nevada. This was a tough decision for me and I believe Flake has a <60% chance of winning here. 

North Dakota (Open Kent Conrad (D)): This race resembles the Montana race. It is a primarily rural and Republican leaning state with a moderate likeable Democrat facing a not so popular Republican U.S House member. Many North Dakotans vote for the person, not the party and Berg is not very personally popular which works in Heitkamp's favor. She is very likeable and a news reporter described her as "the person who hugs everyone in the room while Berg is the person in the room who gives talking points about why you should vote for him."  North Dakota really likes personally popular candidates (Kent Conrad won easily because he is personally popular,)  but it is a Presidential year and North Dakota should go for Romney. Berg's new theme though is "you may like Heidi but she likes Obama." I personally believe this race is very close but I will give the edge to Berg for now, noting how the undecideds are Republican leaning voters. Heitkamp still has a strong chance and I expect this race to be 1 point either way. 

Lean Republican (1 seat)
Nebraska (Open Ben Nelson (D)): Conservative Democrat Ben Nelson has retired and Democrats found former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D), their best candidate to retake this seat. Republicans picked Deb Fischer (R). Kerrey was once very popular in Nebraska but since his Senate retirement, Kerrey has been President of Eugene Lang College in New York City, hurting his Nebraska roots. Kerrey received a recent boost from comedian Steve Martin who endorsed Kerrey and released a strong ad for him here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/05/steve-martin-bob-kerrey_n_1942521.html (Martin also has not endorsed candidates until now.) Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) endorsed Kerrey too and this momentum has narrowed the race. An Omaha World Herald poll on October 25th showed Fischer with a 3 point lead, down from a 16 point lead in September. Kerrey has narrowed the race but I think it is too late to win (although a win would be a very pleasant surprise.)