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THE POLITICS1 ELECTION FORECAST - 2006:

Over the next several days, in lieu of the normal news postings, I'll be making these state-by-state election forecasts that have been a regular feature on Politics1 since the site's launch during the 1998 election cycle. Some years I was highly accurate in calling these federal and gubernatorial contests (2000 and 2004, in particular). Then again, I've been way off the mark once in a while, too (2002). Also important to note: these are predictions based upon a combination of analyzing all the data on the various contests, and then mixing in a healthy dose of my political gut instincts gained from having worked as a professional campaign consultant on over 130 races since the mid-1980s. They are not, however, endorsements -- nor are they my hopes as to who I would like to see win these races.

ALABAMA:
GOVERNOR: If a week can be a lifetime in politics, then Governor Bob Riley (R) is very fortunate that his abysmal approval ratings of a 1-2 years ago are now ancient history. Riley earned the high negatives after his unsuccessful attempt to push through the highest tax hike in state history. Ousted State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy "The Ten Commandments Judge" Moore -- a hero to the most hardcore of Religious Right activists -- challenged Riley in the primary. After what initially looked to be a tough primary, Riley rebounded strongly and defeated Moore by a wide margin. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Lucy Baxley (D) cruised to an equally strong primary win over former Governor Don Siegelman. Although the Riley-Baxley matchup once looked competitive, Riley has held a solid lead in the polls for months. Don't look for any upset here, as Riley will score a comfortable victory.
US HOUSE: Democrats have credible challengers who are running spirited campaigns in CD-1 and CD-3, but I don't see any House incumbents losing in Alabama.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 10.31.06 | Permalink |

ALASKA:
GOVERNOR: Unpopular Governor Frank Murkowski (R) -- with the second lowest approval ratings in the nation -- was routed in his primary. Embarrassingly, Murkowski placed a distant third in the vote. Former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin (R), who lost a 2002 race for Lieutenant Governor, scored an impressive primary victory. Palin is running as a political outsider, and has had considerable momentum since the primary. The Democratic nominee is former two-term Governor Tony Knowles, who lost a 2004 race for US Senator. Knowles was clearly the strongest possible candidate the Dems could have placed into the race, and he's steadily narrowed the gap over the past month. Former Republican State Representative Andrew Halcro is running as an Independent, and touting himself as the only real conservative in the race. Both Palin and Knowles are political centrists. The final numbers will be fairly close, due to Halcro drawing votes that normally go to the GOP. However, Palin is a fresh, attractive candidate who will ride into office on the crest of the same anti-Murkowski wave that also helped her win the primary. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: Congressman Don Young (R) is safe and will get two more years to continue pushing his costly "bridge to nowhere" boondoggle. RESULT: NO CHANGE.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 10.31.06 | Permalink |

ARIZONA:
GOVERNOR: Governor Janet Napolitano (D) will cruise to a landslide victory over Religious Right activist and attorney Len Munsil (R). RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Jon Kyl (R) has held the lead in the polls from the start. Wealthy businessman and former State Democratic Chair Jim Pederson (D) has run an aggressive campaign. From time to time, Pederson has even narrowed his deficit to the 6-10 point range. Conventional wisdom dictates that Kyl wins -- and I agree he will, too, but by a very thin margin. However, it would not surprise me if the national wave is strong enough to give Pederson an upset win. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: The Democrats will register a surprisingly strong showing in the Arizona congressional races. CD-1: Congressman Rick Renzi (R) was hit in the closing month with news reports he is the subject of at least two preliminary federal corruption investigations. Wealthy attorney Ellen Simon is running an energetic campaign and is lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. The combination of the national wave, along with Renzi's own ethics problems, will help Simon score a very unexpected victory. CD-5: Conservative firebrand Congressman J.D. Hayworth (R) is being challenged by State Senator and former Democratic State Chair Harry Mitchell (D). Hayworth is another one of the Republican incumbents hit with extensive bad press due to his ties to disgraced former lobbyist and felon Jack Abramoff. Polls regularly show this contest as close. Mitchell will score an upset win. CD-8: Former State Senator Gabrielle Giffords (D) will score a third Dem gain in this open seat race. Former State Representative Randy Graf (R) is far too conservative for this swing district -- so much so that even retiring Congressman Jim Kolbe (R) declined to endorse Graf after he won the crowded primary. Graf is an avowed acolyte of radical anti-immigration Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO). Giffords will win big. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 3 SEATS.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 10.31.06 | Permalink |

ARKANSAS:
GOVERNOR: Governor Mike Huckabee (R) -- gearing up for a 2008 Presidential run -- is term-limited. Republicans initially had high hopes for Lieutenant Governor Win Rockefeller holding the seat. Sadly, Rockefeller became ill, withdrew from the race in late 2005 and died earlier this year. By default, that left Rockefeller's primary opponent -- former Congressman and former Drug Enforcement Administration head Asa Hutchinson -- as the only real candidate for the GOP nomination. From the start, Hutchinson has trailed Attorney General Mike Beebe (D) in the polls by wide margins. Several independent polls have even placed the gap in the 20+ point range. I think Hutchinson's deficit is less, probably in the 10-15 point range. Beebe has has run a safe campaign and will win by a comfortable margin. Democrats also appear poised here to sweep all of the other statewide offices this year. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US HOUSE: The most competitive House race is the CD-2 contest between Congressman Vic Snyder (D). and former State Economic Development Department official Andy Mayberry (R) -- and Snyder will still win by a double-digit margin. All the other incumbents are safe, too. RESULTS: NO CHANGE.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 10.31.06 | Permalink |

CALIFORNIA:
GOVERNOR: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has yet again transformed himself politically. Gone is the conservative, union-bashing "Governator" of 2005. Now he has retooled himself back into the moderate, socially liberal, consensus-builder Arnold of 2003. State Treasurer Phil Angelides (D) depleted his campaign dollars in his costly primary against State Controller Steve Westly, allowed the incumbent to be on the air with TV spots from months with virtually no response. The resourceful Schwarzenegger will defeat the hapless Angelides, despite the big advantage Democrats traditionally hold in California. The only question is who will be Governor next year: Arnold the moderate or Arnold the conservative? RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US SENATE: Republicans failed to recruit a first-tier candidate to challenge US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) this year. She'll easily defeat former State Senator Dick Mountjoy (R) by a landslide margin. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: Only a handful of the state's 53 congressional districts appear to merit any attention. CD-4: Congressman John Dooliittle (R) is one of the top targets of federal prosecutors in the Abramoff corruption case that already resulted in several felony indictments against others on Capitol Hill. Democrats have a strong candidate in retired Air Force office Charlie Brown. He has done everything right and hammered home the Abramoff/corruption message for months. Unfortunately, the district is so heavily Republican that it would be nearly impossible for any Democrat to even come close here. Brown will come close -- which is a big achievement -- but I don't think it will be close enough to oust Doolittle. CD-11: Congressman Dick Pombo (R) is also under an ethics cloud, giving Dems hope for an upset here. Wind turbine manufacturer Jerry McNerney unexpectedly won the Democratic primary, defeating a highly touted military veteran who was recruited into the race by the DCCC. McNerney's win dampened the DCCC's enthusiasm, but McNerney remains feisty and undeterred. Like CD-4, this is another heavily Republican district that make a Dem win rather unlikely. Pombo will win another term. CD-22: State Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy (R) -- retiring Congressman Bill Thomas' hand-picked heir -- will keep this seat in the GOP column. CD-50: A late October poll, coupled with news reports of ethics problems for Congressman Brian Bilbray (R), placed this seat back into play. Congressman Duke Cunningham (R) pled guilty to bribery and other corruption charges and resigned in 2005, setting up the special election Bilbray won in June. College professor Francine Busby (D) is making her third run for this seat within the past two years. However, if the "culture of corruption" message didn't carry Busby to victory when the Cunningham scandal was fresher a few months ago, don't look for it to produce a different result this time. RESULTS: NO CHANGE.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 10.31.06 | Permalink |

COLORADO:
GOVERNOR: Former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter (D) has run a very strong campaign for this open seat. By contrast, Congressman Bob Beauprez (R) has run a largely inept campaign to succeed term-limited Governor Bill Owens (R). This is an easy call: Ritter will handily win. In fact, Ritter may have strong enough coattails to help some of his Dem runningmates score pickups with other statewide offices. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US HOUSE: Several hot races in the Rocky Mountain State. CD-4: Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave (R) is facing a hard-charging challenge from State Representative Angie Paccione (D). Complicating the race -- and hurting Musgrave -- is the candidacy of Eric Eidsness (Reform), a former top-ranking EPA official during the Reagan Administration. Eidsness, a lifelong Republican, believes Musgrave's nearly single-issue focus in Congress (sponsoring a series of anti-gay rights legislation) has embarrassed and financially hurt the district. Polls have shown the race to be close, but I believe Musgrave will survive yet another close call (and I'd like to be wrong on this one). CD-5: State Senator Doug Lamborn -- the most conservative of the hopefuls -- won the crowded GOP primary for this open seat after a nasty primary contest. In so doing, Lamborn defeated the hand-picked heir of retiring Congressman Joel Hefley (R). Hefley, in turn, publicly announced he was so disgusted with Lamborn's primary campaign that he would not endorse Lamborn and urged Republicans who felt likewise to consider abstaining in this race. Dems were hopeful that Hefley's comments would help the candidacy of retired USAF office Jay Fawcett (D). It may, but not nearly enough for Fawcett to win. Lamborn will win this race by at least several points. CD-7: This is a swing district, so highly competitive races here are not uncommon. With Congressman Beauprez giving up this seat to run for Governor, expect it to be especially competitive. Former State Senator Ed Perlmutter (D) has held an advantage over former State Higher Education Commission Chair Rick O'Donnell (R) for months. O'Donnell -- after some early stumbles -- has gained ground on Perlmutter in the final weeks by sharply distancing himself from President Bush and questioning the need for the US to remain in Iraq. Perlmutter, however, will still win this seat and score a Democratic pickup. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 1 SEAT.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 10.31.06 | Permalink |

CONNECTICUT:
GOVERNOR: Governor Jodi Rell (R) is immensely popular, holding one of the strongest approval races of any governor in the nation. She will cruise to a big victory over New Haven Mayor John DeStefano (D). RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Joe Lieberman may not have been a team player when he decided to stay in his race for re-election as an Independent after narrowly losing the Democratic primary to businessman and anti-war activist Ned Lamont. However, it was an astute move for Lieberman. Former State Representative Alan Schlesinger (R) has only been a nominal factor in the race, as the GOP and the White House seem generally aligned with Lieberman. While Lieberman is a social liberal and repeatedly vowed to caucus with the Dems if reelected, he is also a staunch supporter of the Iraq War (thus explaining the Bush Administration's support for him). Lamont, by contrast, has had trouble solidifying the Democratic base after the primary -- as the blue collar Dems have remained fairly loyal to Lieberman. Look for Lieberman to win a fourth term. RESULT: INDY/DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE:
Three GOP centrist incumbents in swing districts are facing very aggressive Democratic challengers, all of whom are running on anti-war platforms. All of the embattled GOP incumbents are running campaigns stressing their purported political "independence." CD-2: Congressman Rob Simmons (R) has significant clout in the House on the Iraq War and other similar foreign policy matters because of his experience as a former CIA officer. Simmons is a supporter of the Iraq War. Former State Representative Joe Courtney (D) -- who lost to Simmons in 2002 -- is making a second run for the seat. The change in the national political climate makes the rematch much more competitive than the original race of four years ago. This race will be very close, but look for Simmons to narrowly win a fourth term. CD-4: The CD-4 race is also another rematch. Ten-term Congressman Chris Shays (R) is another supporter of the Iraq War, although he recently seems to be waffling on his stance. Former Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell (D), the '04 nominee, is making a second run after a narrow defeat last time. She got a boost from some recent Shays gaffes and from the withdrawal of the Green nominee from the contest. Shays had a very long run in a very Democratic district, but I think his time is up. Farrell will defeat Shays. CD-5: Twelve-term Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R) for months looked well-positioned to hold her swing seat. Unfortunately for Johnson, State Senator Chris Murphy (D) seems to be building momentum and peaking at just the right time. Like Shays, Johnson will come close -- but not close enough -- to win again. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 2 SEATS.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 10.31.06 | Permalink |

DELAWARE:
US SENATE: US Senator Tom Carper (D) will score a landslide re-election victory over law professor and former INS Assistant Commissioner Jan Ting (R). RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE:
Despite recent medical problems (two minor strokes), Congressman Mike Castle (R) will win big in his race for an eighth term. RESULTS: NO CHANGE.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 10.31.06 | Permalink |

FLORIDA:
GOVERNOR: Polls all year have given the Republicans an advantage in holding the seat being vacated by term-limited Governor Jeb Bush (R). Attorney General Charlie Crist (R) -- a capable and affable politician who has already won statewide office twice -- has run a very well-financed and safe campaign. He emerged from his primary largely unscathed (although public questions of his sexual orientation and hypocrisy continue to swirl). By contrast, Congressman Jim Davis (D) won a primary that inflicted some bruises on the nominee. It forced Davis to waste some time repairing the damage. Crist also outraised Davis by more than a 2-to-1 margin (disclaimer: I'm a Davis contributor and supporter). While Davis has been narrowing the gap in recent days -- cutting Crist's advantage to the single digits and winning the two televised debates -- Crist still will likely win. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Bill Nelson (D) will easily defeat Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R) by at least a 2-to-1 margin. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE:
CD-8: Congressman Ric Keller (R) was once viewed as vulnerable, but he should have no trouble defeating businessman Charlie Stuart (D). CD-9: "The King is dead. Long live the King." Retiring 12-term Congressman Mike Bilirakis (R) will have no trouble handing his seat over to his son. State Representative Gus Bilirakis (R) will defeat former Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky (D) -- a credible candidate -- by a comfortable margin. CD-11: Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor (D) is a lock to win Congressman Davis' open CD-11 seat by a landslide margin. CD-13: Based upon reported spending, this is the most expensive US House race in the nation. Auto dealer Vern Buchanan (R) spent millions from his own deep pockets to win the primary for Congresswoman Harris' open seat. In so doing, Buchanan left lots of hurt feelings that remain unhealed. Those rifts -- and some gaffes and missteps by Buchanan -- have helped wealthy bank president Christine Jennings (D), who is also spending from her own pockets. Jennings will score an upset and win this seat -- and set Jennings up as a top NRCC target for 2008. CD-16: The Democrats can bank this GOP seat as a "gimme," thanks to disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley (R). Foley resigned from the House and quit the race last month, but too late for the Republicans to put replacement nominee Joe Negron on the ballot. Voters must vote for Foley to vote for Negron -- so place venture capitalist Tim Mahoney (D) in the win column. CD-22: Congressman Clay Shaw (R) is facing the toughest fight of his political life, in what is the second most expensive House race in the nation. State Senator Ron Klein (D) has assailed Shaw for being too close to President Bush. Keep in mind this was a district -- even though redrawn in 2002 to help Shaw -- won in 2004 by John Kerry. Shaw has countered with attacks on Klein for being "a lobbyist." Shaw also likes to claim he will be the next Ways & Means Committee Chair, although there is almost no chance of this coming true (as anyone inside the Beltway could tell you the W+M Chair will be either Republican Jim McCrery or Democrat Charlie Rangel, depending upon which party controls the House next year). This is the first time -- after years of failed DCCC hype that "Shaw can be beaten" -- that I believe Shaw will actually lose. The national political climate will claim Shaw as a victim, as Klein will win by a close margin. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 3 SEATS.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.01.06 | Permalink |

GEORGIA:
GOVERNOR: Governor Sonny Perdue (R) appears to be heading towards a landslide re-election win over Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor (D). RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-4: DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson (D) already won this seat when he ousted controversial Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D) in the primary. The general election is just the coronation for Johnson. CD-8: Former Congressman Mac Collins (R) lost the GOP primary for US Senate in 2004, and is now attempting to return to DC by challenging Congressman Jim Marshall (D) in this redrawn district. He's run a credible campaign, but Marshall will survive. CD-12: Former Congressman Max Burns (R) is challenging freshman Congressman John Barrows (D), the man who ousted him in 2004. This rematch race won't end any differently than did the last one. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.01.06 | Permalink |

HAWAII:
GOVERNOR: Governor Linda Lingle (R) will win in a landslide over former State Senator Randy Iwase (R). This sets up Lingle's likely run for US Senator in 2010. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US SENATE: Once US Senator Dan Akaka (D) survived the primary challenge from Congressman Ed Case (D), he was on cruise control to victory in November. Akaka will have no problem defeating State Representative Cynthia Thielen (R) by a wide margin. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-2: Former Lieutenant Governor Mazie Hirono (D) will have no problem winning Congressman Case's open seat. She will defeat State Senator Bob Hogue (R) by a comfortable amount in this safe Dem district. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.01.06 | Permalink |

IDAHO:
GOVERNOR: Congressman Butch Otter (R) is locked in a surprisingly tight contest with newspaper publisher Jerry Brady (D). Brady -- who was the Dem nominee four years ago -- ran a respectable race in 2002. This year, with the national political climate, Brady's chances are even better. Polls in these closing days show the race virtually tied. However, the colorful Otter will score a surprisingly narrow win in this reddest of red states. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-1: Democrats rejoiced when controversial State Representative Bill Sali won the crowded GOP primary for Otter's open seat. Sali -- an arch-conservative -- is a bombastic "loose cannon" despised by nearly all his GOP colleagues in the state legislature. In fact, the Speaker and other Republicans have worked to undermine Sali's campaign. Businessman Larry Grant (D) is the beneficiary of this GOP in-fighting. Grant may become a "one-termer" in this heavily Republican district, but he'll still win this seat in 2006. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 1 SEAT.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.01.06 | Permalink |

ILLINOIS:
GOVERNOR: Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) may be mired in the taint of scandal, but that isn't stopping him from rolling to a second term over hapless State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka (R). While Blagojevich has yet to be formally charged with anything -- or even officially named as a target of the swirling investigations (although he was clearly the unnamed "political official" in a recent pay-to-play corruption indictment of a crony) -- the Republicans are also tied to a legacy of corruption in the Illinois Governor's Mansion. Attorney Rich Whitney (Green) will finish in the double-digits merely as a protest voted cast for the only seemingly untainted candidate in the race. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: In national tidal wave election years in the past, Illinois frequently produced at least one of the totally unexpected House upsets. That said, these races are already holding attention of pundits. CD-6: In the race for the open seat of retiring Congressman Henry Hyde (R), State Senator Peter Roskam (R) is locked in a tough race with disabled Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth (D). In normal circumstances, Roskam should win handily due to district demographics. Instead, he'll win by a relatively close margin. CD-8: When Congresswoman Melissa Bean (D) was first elected in 2004 by upsetting an entrenched GOP incumbent, Republicans vowed Bean would be a one-termer. Instead, she looks positioned to easily defeat wealthy investment banker David McSweeney (R). CD-17: Congressman Lane Evans (D) is retiring for health reasons. Phil Hare (D) -- Evans' Chief of Staff -- will likely defeat former TV news anchor Andrea Lane Zinga (R) by several points. RESULTS: NO CHANGES..
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.01.06 | Permalink |

INDIANA:
US SENATE: No Democrat even bothered to file against US Senator Dick Lugar (R), guaranteeing him a sixth term in the Senate against his Libertarian Party challenger. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: For a red state, Indiana is looking surprisingly purple this year -- in large part because of a combination of the national political climate and high disapproval ratings for Governor Mitch Daniels (R). CD-2: Congressman Chris Chocola (R), a two-term incumbent, is facing a rematch this year against attorney Joe Donnelly (D). For whatever reason, voters here have never developed very warm feelings towards Chocola. Polls have shown Chocola trailing for months, by varying margins. Donnelly will win the rematch in this swing district. CD-7: Congresswoman Julia Carson (D) is a perennial GOP target. She runs weak campaigns, yet somehow Carson survives each time. One October indy poll showed Carson trailing wealthy auto dealer Eric Dickerson (R), but it appears to be an outlier. Carson will win another close one. CD-8: Democrats incorrectly predict the imminent electoral demise of Congressman John Hostettler (R) every two years. A chronically poor fundraiser, Hosteller struggled to victory in all of his past reelection contests -- including the ones against weaker challengers. Hostettler's luck will run out this year in his run for a seventh term, as Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth (D) will defeat him. CD-9: 2006 marks the third time in a row that Congressman Mike Sodrel (R) and former Congressman Baron Hill (D) will face-off. Hill won the 2002 race, while Sodrel won the 2004 rematch. Sodrel has trailed in all of the indy polls since Labor Day. It's time for the seesaw here to flip again, as Hill will win round #3 (setting up Hill-Sodrel rematch #4 in 2008). RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 3 SEATS.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.01.06 | Permalink |

IOWA:
GOVERNOR: Governor Tom Vilsack (D), the current DLC Chair and a possible 2008 White House hopeful, is voluntarily term-limited. The gubernatorial race appeared to be one of the best opportunities in the nation for the GOP to score a pickup in an otherwise gloomy electoral year. Congressman Jim Nussle (R) is a strong candidate with a unified party behind him -- and Nussle was able to regularly win crossover votes in past years in his CD-1 swing district. However, Secretary of State Chet Culver (D) -- who is sometimes viewed as a bit of a lightweight -- also is running a fairly strong campaign. In any other year -- with the field being fairly level -- Nussle would scrape out a win. This year, however, Culver will win. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: Three races to watch. CD-1: Excluding Nussle's wins here, this district is otherwise fairly solidly Democratic in its propensities. Both parties nominated strong candidates: former Iowa Trial Lawyers Association President Bruce Braley (D) and restaurant chain owner Mike Whalen (R). Both men are wealthy and have been able to help with self-financing. With Braley, the Dems will finally reclaim this former Dem bastion. CD-2: Nobody is paying much attention to this district, but it could be one of the sleeper races to watch. Congressman Jim Leach (R) -- one of the most moderate Republicans in the House -- is facing an energetic challenge from college professor Dave Loebsack (D), a grassroots progressive activist. While Leach holds a major fundraising advantage, Loebsack will keep this race surprisingly close. Leach should win, but it won't be by much. CD-3: Republicans would really like to defeat Congressman Leonard Boswell (D), as he's a frequent NRCC target. The GOP initially had high hopes for State Senate President Jeff Lamberti (R), but he has lagged far behind Boswell for months in the polls. While the Republicans are still is warmly backing Lamberti -- at least, in words of praise -- the NRCC cut-off his financial support a month ago to instead concentrate on defending embattled GOP incumbents. Boswell will survive again, and by a fairly comfortable margin. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 1 SEAT.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.01.06 | Permalink |

KANSAS:
GOVERNOR: Governor Kathleen Sebelius -- a centrist DLC-style Dem -- is an anomaly: a highly popular Democrat in one of the reddest states in the nation. And, like in 2002, Sebelius again selected a former Republican as her Lieutenant Governor runningmate in order to take advantage of the chronic rift here in the GOP between Religious Right conservatives and more socially-moderate, fiscal conservatives. State Senator Jim Bennett (R) is not a bad candidate, but he still will lose by at least 10-points. The Dems also have the potential to unexpectedly pickup 1-2 statewide offices, largely on the strength of Sebelius' coattails and the ongoing GOP in-fighting. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: The Democrats have fielded some credible House candidates here -- particularly pharmaceutical researcher Nancy Boyda (R) in her rematch against CD-2 Congressman Jim Ryun (R) -- but don't expect any miracle upsets here. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.01.06 | Permalink |

KENTUCKY:
US HOUSE: CD-3. Congresswoman Anne Northup (R) is another perennial DCCC target, yet she survives (and sometimes by rather significant margins) in this swing district. Her opponent this year is liberal newspaper publisher John Yarmuth (D). Independent polls since Labor Day have essentially shown the race as a virtual tie, with Yarmuth possibly holding a very slim advantage. Despite this, look for Northup's luck to hold up with her bucking the national wave and winning yet another term. CD-4: In 2002, Congressman Ken Lucas (D) held off a stiff challenge from military veteran Geoff Davis (R). In 2004, Lucas honored his voluntary term-limits pledge and retired -- giving Davis the opportunity to win the seat. Now, in 2006, it is retired Congressman Lucas challenging freshman Congressman Geoff Davis (R). Polls have shown the lead swinging back and forth between the two men. This race is close: so close that either man stands a nearly equal chance of winning. But, since I have to make the call, I'll say Davis survives by the narrowest of margins. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.01.06 | Permalink |

LOUISIANA:
US HOUSE: Under Louisiana state law, an open congressional primary involving candidates from all parties will be held on November 7. If no one candidate wins a majority of the vote, then the top finishers (regardless of party) will advance to a December run-off. CD-2. Congressman Bill Jefferson (D) is in big trouble. The FBI raided Jefferson's New Orleans home and found over $90,000 cash from purported bribes hidden in the freezer. The FBI also raided Jefferson's Capitol Hill office and a top Jefferson aide already pled guilty to helping facilitate those bribes -- so it's only a matter of time before Jefferson is indicted. Based upon all of this, the state Democratic Party endorsed State Representative Karen Carter (D) in her race against Jefferson. In addition to Carter, 11 others are also running. Carter will win this race -- the only question is whether she does it outright in the primary (unlikely) or in the run-off. CD-3: Freshman Congressman Charlie Melancon (D) is facing an aggressive fight rematch from State Senator Craig Romero (R), an '04 hopeful who narrowly missed making the run-off. Despite the challenge, Melancon will win a second term. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.01.06 | Permalink |

MAINE:
GOVERNOR: Governor John Baldacci (D) may hold a fairly low approval rating, but he will still win a re-election by a comfortable plurality. State Senator Chandler Woodcock (R) -- who is too conservative to be truly competitive in this center-left state -- will limp in at a distant second place. Interestingly, both State Representative Barbara Merrill (Independent) and radio talk show host Pat LaMarche (Green) appear headed to respectable double-digit finishes. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Olympia Snowe (R) will score a landslide re-election -- possibly by the largest margin this year of any US Senate race in the nation. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE:
CD-8: Both incumbents are very safe. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.02.06 | Permalink |

MARYLAND:
GOVERNOR: Governor Bob Ehrlich (R) was elected in an upset four years ago in this heavily Democratic state, in large part because of the inept campaign run by his then-opponent. This time, however, Ehrlich will not be so fortunate. Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) is a strong contender and has run a decent campaign. Some indy polls in recent months showed Ehrlich closing the gap (and then losing ground again), but not one has shown him leading O'Malley. Look for O'Malley to win by at least several points. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US SENATE: US Senator Paul Sarbanes (D) is retiring. Ten-term Congressman Ben Cardin (D), Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele (R) and peace activist Kevin Zeese (Green) are running to replace him. Steele has shown surprising strength for a Maryland Republican, with polls frequently showing him in a virtual tie with Cardin. Despite a fairly conservative record, Steele has worked to distance himself from President Bush's agenda. Despite this, Steele will find it very hard to overcome the Democratic wave on Election Day. Cardin will win, probably by a margin of at least 4-points. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-3: Attorney John Sarbanes (D) -- the son of the retiring US Senator -- will easily win Cardin's open House seat. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.02.06 | Permalink |

MASSACHUSETTS:
GOVERNOR: After just one term, Governor Mitt Romney (R) did not seek re-election in order to concentrate on laying the groundwork for a 2008 Presidential run. Former US Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick won the competitive Democratic primary with surprising ease, and has held an solid advantage ever since. Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) has lagged far behind, seemingly having trouble crossing the rather low 30% threshold in polls. Wealthy Republican businessman Christy Mihos was pressured out of the GOP contest, so he is running instead as an Independent -- and further hurting Healey by siphoning away some GOP votes. Patrick will win by a very big margin, making him the state's first ever African-American Governor and the first Democrat to win a gubernatorial race here since 1986. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US SENATE: US Senator Ted Kennedy (D) will score yet another landslide re-election victory. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: No competitive congressional races -- and 5 of the state's 10 incumbents were already reelected without any opposition at all. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.02.06 | Permalink |

MICHIGAN:
GOVERNOR: When billionaire Amway executive Dick DeVos (R) launched his campaign last year against Governor Jennifer Granholm (D), polls showed the incumbent was highly vulnerable. A weak state economy seemed to further hurt Granholm. However, the national anti-Republican wave and an aggressive campaign by the incumbent propelled her back into a comfortable lead in recent weeks. Despite high early GOP hopes here, Granholm will win a second term -- likely by at least 10-points. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) is facing a surprisingly energetic challenge from Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard (R). However, Bouchard is under-funded and running in a bad year for Republican challengers. Stabenow will win by at least 10-15%. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: Democrats fielded decent challengers in several districts -- and any one of these candidates has the potential of being in the right place at the right time to capitalize on the national wave with an upset win -- but right now the incumbents all appear likely to survive. CD-7: Former State Representative and Religious Right activist Tim Walberg ousted moderate freshman Congressman Joe Schwarz in the GOP primary. The district is fairly solidly Republican, and paralegal and farmer Sharon Reiner (D) is not viewed as a particularly strong nominee. With little resources, Reiner will come closer than anyone expects, but Walberg will still win the seat. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.02.06 | Permalink |

MINNESOTA:
GOVERNOR: Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) looked strong and his proclaimed independent streak seemed to help him distance himself from the national GOP in this Dem-leaning state. Further, the Democrats nominated Attorney General Mike Hatch, an unexciting candidate who has run twice before for Governor. Respected former State Finance Commissioner Peter Hutchinson (Independence) -- who was also an advisor to Governor Jesse Ventura (Independence) -- is also running. The national Democratic wave will claim Pawlenty as another one of the many GOP victims, but the final margin will be rather close. This will also end any talk of Pawlenty as a possible candidate for President or VP in 2008. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US SENATE: US Senator Mark Dayton (D), somewhat of a political gadfly, is not seeking a second term. Republicans quickly proclaimed Congressman Mark Kennedy (R) as the frontrunner for the open seat and touted him as the "strongest" shot in the nation for the GOP to score a pickup in the Senate. Well, that was all a long time ago. The Democrats quickly unified behind Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar (D) and she roared into a solid lead. Kennedy is simply too conservative and too pro-Bush to win this seat in the current political climate. In fact, Kennedy is trailing Klobuchar by a rather wide margin. Klobuchar will easily keep this seat in Democratic hands. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: Lots of unexpectedly close House races here, any of which could go either way. CD-1: Congressman Gil Gutknecht (R) is facing a surprisingly aggressive challenge from military veteran and teacher Tim Walz (D). This could be one of the sleeper races if the national wave is of tsunami proportions. I'm going out on a limb here, but I predict Walz will narrowly win defeat Gutknecht in a major upset. CD-2: Retired FBI Agent Coleen Rowley (D) was highly touted by the DCCC against Congressman John Kline (R) -- but then Rowley proceeded to run a bumbling campaign for months. With some summer staffing changes, Rowley seems to finally have her act together. This race will be much closer than anyone thinks, but Kline will survive. CD-5: This open seat is solidly Democratic, so State Representative Keith Ellison (D) is a lock to win -- and to become the first Muslim to serve in Congress. CD-6: State Senator Michelle Bachmann (R) and child safety advocate Patty Wetterling (D) are locked in a very competitive race for the seat being vacated by Congressman Kennedy. Bachmann is one of the most socially conservative members of the state legislature, but this does not seem to be hurting her (as Kennedy was also very conservative). Wetterling is a quality candidate with a compelling personal story, and has a real shot here. Polls show the lead shifting back and forth. Look for Bachmann to score a narrow win. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 1 SEAT.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.02.06 | Permalink |

MISSISSIPPI:
US SENATE: US Senator Trent Lott (R) will win a landslide re-election victory over State Representative and former LaRouche activist Erik Fleming (D). This will pave the way -- with Rick Santorum gone from the Senate -- for Lott to seek the Republican Whip position in the next Congress. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: The GOP challenger in CD-2 is a credible candidate, but all of the Mississippi incumbents are safe. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.02.06 | Permalink |

MISSOURI:
US SENATE: The seat held by US Senator Jim Talent (R) has a rather volatile recent electoral history. In 2000, incumbent John Ashcroft (R) lost to deceased Governor Mel Carnahan (D). As promised, the Governor appointed Carnahan's widow to serve the two-year term. In 2002, Talent ousted Carnahan. Further, this is a state highy-prone historically to being influenced by national trends. This year, look for the Democrats to reclaim the seat with a victory by State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D). McCaskill -- just two years after narrowly losing the 2004 gubernatorial race -- is running a smart campaign. She has also exploited Talent's weaknesses, particularly on issues like his waffling opposition to stem cell research. McCaskill will give the Dems one of the key seats they need for control of the Senate. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US HOUSE: None of the Congressional races here appear to be very competitive. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.02.06 | Permalink |

MONTANA:
US SENATE: US Senator Conrad Burns (R) has spent the 2006 campaign dogged by news reports of serious corruption allegations involving his close ties to disgraced lobbyist and felon Jack Abramoff. Adding to Burns' problems is his propensity to repeatedly shoot himself in the foot with a series of embarrassing verbal gaffes. Combined with the national wave and recent Democratic gains in Montana (the Dems captured the Governorship and control of the state legislature in 2004), this spells defeat for Burns. State Senate President Jon Tester (D) is an unapologetic prairie populist. Burns may correctly label Tester "a liberal" but it won't matter because Tester will still win by several points. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US HOUSE: State Representative Monica Lindeen (D) is a decent candidate, but she won't come anywhere close to defeating Congressman Denny Rehberg (R). As an aside: Rehberg probably made a misstep a few months ago when he decided to not challenge Burns in the US Senate primary, as he may well have won the primary and been able to hold the seat for the GOP against Tester. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.02.06 | Permalink |

NEBRASKA:
GOVERNOR: Governor Dave Heineman (R) has one of the top approval ratings of any US Governor. In the May primary, Heineman scored a political miracle by handily defeating legendary Nebraska football coach and Congressman Tom Osborne. Heineman will win the general election with at least 70% of the vote. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Ben Nelson is probably the most conservative Democrat currently in the Senate. He is also a good match for this seat, as Nebraska has a modern history of sending like-minded Democrats to the Senate. Although wealthy former Ameritrade executive Pete Ricketts (R) has been spending lavishly from his own pocket, he won't come anywhere close to defeating Nelson. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: Democrats are fielding a strong slate of candidates for all three of Nebraska's US House seats. Former Lieutenant Governor Maxine Moul (D) in CD-1 and former Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Director Jim Esch (D) in CD-2 will both come close in their runs against GOP incumbents. Both Dems have run strong enough races to require the national Republicans to recently divert some dwindling funds to defending these normally safe seats. CD-3: The race to watch in Nebraska is the contest for Congressman Osborne's open seat. State Senator Adrian Smith (R) holds very fiscally conservative views -- including his opposition to federal farm subsidy programs and his free-trade views. Whether you agree or disagree with Smith's stances (and they are one of the reasons the conservative Club for Growth is strongly backing him), the views are hurting him significantly here. Rancher Scott Kleeb (D) is a telegenic candidate who is is effectively exploiting Smith's weaknesses with the district's huge agricultural base. Kleeb will score a shocking upset for the Dems in this solidly GOP district. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 1 SEAT.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.02.06 | Permalink |

NEVADA:
GOVERNOR: Governor Kenny Guinn (R) is term-limited. Guinn's longtime nemesis within the Nevada GOP -- Congressman Jim Gibbons -- is the Republican nominee to succeed him. That explains why Guinn frequently bad-mouths Gibbons to the media and has declined to endorse Gibbons in the gubernatorial race against State Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus (D). Titus is not a very strong candidate. She certainly is more liberal than the breed of past Democrats who have won major statewide races in Nevada. Fortunately for Titus, Gibbons is a highly flawed candidate has has to deal with with last-minute scandals in the closing days. First is the ongoing "he said"/"she said" soap opera over the late night incident just days ago in a casino hotel parking lot with a waitress. The woman called 911 and claimed Gibbons tried to sexually assault her. Gibbons said they both had been drinking, but he only helped grab her to stop he from falling when she tripped in the parking lot. A casino parking lot videotape has gone missing. The second problem are statewide TV news reports that the anti-illegal immigration Gibbons knowingly had an illegal alien working for several years in his household -- and then tried to cover it up when he feared the story would leak. These problems suggest Titus will score a narrow win -- not because of anything she is doing, so much as it is the public damage Gibbons is inflicting on himself in these final days. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US SENATE: US Senator John Ensign (R) has faced a surprisingly energetic challenge from businessman and Presidential scion Jack Carter (D). Carter is an earnest hopeful, but Ensign has run a very safe campaign. Ensign will win by at least 10-points. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: While CD-1 Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D) is safe, the other two districts are worth watching. CD-2. Secretary of State Dean Heller (R) and State University System Regent Jill Derby (D) are facing-off for Congressman Gibbons' open seat. Heller, a GOP moderate, narrowly won a very contentious primary over more conservative opponents. The contest was so bitter that the second place finisher unsuccessfully sued in state court to set-aside the CD-2 primary results and hold a re-vote. Derby is a good candidate -- and recent polls show the two leads essentially tied -- but Heller will win this race by at least 5-points. CD-3: This is another sleeper race to watch. Congressman Jon Porter (R) is being challenged by Tessa Hafen (D), a former top aide to US Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Hafen will come close, closer than anyone expects, but she won't defeat Porter. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.02.06 | Permalink |

NEW HAMPSHIRE:
GOVERNOR: Governor John Lynch (D) will win a second term in a landslide, likely finishing above the 70% mark. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-2: A recent indy poll showed attorney Paul Hodes (D) leading Congressman Charlie Bass (R), but it seemed to be an outlier since other polls place Bass ahead in this rematch of the 2004 race. Hodes will do well -- better than he did two years ago -- but Bass should still hold the seat. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.03.06 | Permalink |

NEW JERSEY:
US SENATE: Congressman Bob Menendez (D) was appointed to the US Senate vacancy a year ago, and has struggled ever since to hold his seat against hard-charging State Senator Tom Kean Jr. (R). Kean has blasted Menendez for months for various purported ethics problems. In return, Menendez blasted Kean -- a GOP centrist -- for his ties to the unpopular Republican leadership in DC. The lead has swung back and forth between the two men for months. While Menendez may be a weak candidate, the overall Democratic propensities of the Garden State should help Menendez win a full-term in the Senate by a narrow margin. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE:
An upset is always possible in any of these more competitive contests, but none are currently on the "sleeper" radar. In the open CD-13 race, State Assembly Speaker Albio Sires (D) is a safe bet to win. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.03.06 | Permalink |

NEW MEXICO:
GOVERNOR: Governor Bill Richardson (D) -- a likely 2008 White House candidate -- will cruise to a landslide win over former State GOP Chair John Dendahl. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Jeff Bingaman (D) will likewise score a landslide win for a fifth term. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE:
CD-1: Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R) has regularly survived tough Democratic challenges in this swing district. This year, however, her luck will run out. Attorney General Patricia Madrid (D) has either been tied with or slightly leading Wilson in most independent polls since Labor Day. Both women are strong candidates running aggressive campaigns. The national wave, and the strength of the Dems at the top of the NM ticket, will conspire to give Madrid the victory. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 1 SEAT.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.03.06 | Permalink |

NEW YORK:
GOVERNOR: Governor George Pataki (R) did not seek reelection to a fourth term in order to prepare for a possible White House run. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) has been a lock to win this race -- and win it big -- from the start. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US SENATE: US Senator Hillary Clinton (R) will score an easy win for a second term against former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer (R). RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE:
Several seats in play here, due in part to both the national Democratic wave and coattails from the incredible strength of the Spitzer-Clinton ticket within the state. CD-3: Congressman Peter King (R) is facing an aggressive challenge from Nassau County Legislator Dave Mejias (D) in this swing district. Recent polls show King holding a single-digit edge -- and this could be another of the sleeper races -- but King appears likely to survive. CD-11: New York City Councilwoman Yvette Clarke (D) is a safe bet to win this open seat, as the September primary was the only real fight here. CD-19: Congresswoman Sue Kelly (R) is facing a very strong challenge from former Ulster County Legislator and 1970s rock band member John Hall (D). Hall has proven to be a much tougher foe than Kelly seems to have anticipated, and polls show this race is very close. This one is a coin toss, but I'll call it for Hall in an upset. CD-20: The nasty and personal contest between Congressman John Sweeney (R) and attorney Kirsten Gillibrand (D) has been on the national radar for months. Several news reports hinted that Governor Pataki and his GOP allies are quietly helping the Dem, as Sweeney is one of Pataki's leading critics within the NY Republican Party. Gillibrand is an attractive candidate, but the district's demographics heavily favor Sweeney -- so much so that it should allow Sweeney to survive the challenge. CD-24: Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R) -- a prototypical RINO representing a swing district -- is retiring. State Senator Ray Meier (R) and Oneida County District Attorney Mike Arcuri (D) are facing-off for the open seat. Meier is much more conservative than Boehlert, so he'll be a harder sell for the GOP in this center-left district. Dems have had their eye on this seat for years, waiting for Boehlert's retirement to place it into play. Look for Arcuri to score a Dem pickup. CD-26: Congressman Tom Reynolds (R) -- the current NRCC Chair -- is facing a very tough rematch against wealthy retired industrialist and former Republican Jack Davis (D). Reynolds' apparent knowledge of and cover-up of the Mark Foley congressional page sex scandal -- possibly for nearly a year before the scandal publicly broke -- put the incumbent on the defensive. In fact, it appears Reynolds last year convinced Foley to seek re-election in 2006 when Foley was thinking of retiring, and then got Foley to donate $100,000 to the NRCC. This race could go either way, despite the district's natural Republican lean, and polls have shown the lead swinging back and forth between the two men. Chalk up Reynolds as another victim of the wave, as Davis will score a narrow win (probably making Davis the oldest incoming freshman in the next Congress). CD-29: Democrats initially had high hopes for the candidacy of retired Navy officer Eric Massa (D) against first-term Congressman Randy Kuhl (R). Massa served as an aide to General Wes Clark when Clark was the NATO Supreme Allied Commander in the 1990s. Massa's campaign, however, made several stumbles and generally under-performed. That should enable Kuhl to survive in this very bad year for New York Republicans. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 3 SEATS.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.03.06 | Permalink |

NORTH CAROLINA:
US HOUSE: CD-8: Teacher and former textile plant manager Larry Kissell (D) is waging a much-stronger-than-expected challenge to Congressman Robin Hayes (R). However, Hayes will survive. CD-11: The DCCC has targeted Congressman Charles Taylor (R) repeatedly during his eight-terms in the House, yet he always survived. However, the longer Taylor has served, the more the ethics problems mount. On top of that, Taylor cast some locally unpopular free trade votes and the Dems recruited a top-notch challenger in former pro football player and real estate executive Heath Shuler (D). Shuler will defeat Taylor, likely by at least several points. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 1 SEAT.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.03.06 | Permalink |

NORTH DAKOTA:
US SENATE: US Senator Kent Conrad (D) has the highest approval ratings of any Democratic Senator in the nation. He will win in a landslide over Anderson Town Councilman Dwight Grotberg (R). RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE:
Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D) will have no problem fending off an energetic challenge from farmer Matt Mechtel (R). RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.03.06 | Permalink |

OHIO:
GOVERNOR: Term-limited Governor Bob Taft (R) pled guilty last year in a plea bargain to misdemeanor corruption charges, yet remained in office despite numerous calls for his resignation. In response, Ohio voters have given Taft possibly the highest negative rating ever recorded for a sitting Governor (at one point earlier this year, an independent poll showed only a dismal 9% of residents approved of Taft's overall performance). Fair or not, the "Taft taint" has poisoned nearly everyone and anyone in the Ohio Republican Party who is locked in a competitive race this year. Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R) and Congressman Ted Strickland (D) are seeking the open seat. Blackwell is a social conservative who defeated a Taft ally in the GOP primary. Strickland is a moderate, pro-gun Democrat. Blackwell has trailed Strickland by double-digits for months, prompting Blackwell to act more desperate and, in turn, lose even more support. Strickland will win in a landslide -- and carry near all of the statewide Democratic slate to victory on his coattails. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US SENATE: US Senator Mike DeWine (R) looked in good shape for reelection just a year or so ago, but his numbers have declined with the demise of Taft and the Ohio Republicans. Congressman Sherrod Brown (D) has run a strong campaign against DeWine, bashing him for his pro-Bush and pro-Iraq War record. The NRSC poured money into the state a few weeks ago in a wave of anti-Brown advertising attacking him as "a liberal." When it barely dented Brown's lead, the NRSC canceled the remaining TV buys and financially pulled the plug on DeWine. Brown will win by several points. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US HOUSE:
Thanks to Governor Taft (the gift that keeps giving to the Democrats), the Dems will score several congressional pickups that were inconceivable just a year ago. CD-1: Congressman Steve Chabot (R) is being challenged by Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley (D). The two men first met in the 2000 race, which Chabot won. Chabot will lose the rematch for the same reason as DeWine: because he's an Ohio Republican in a swing district. CD-2: Dems would love to oust Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R), who earned their enmity with her nasty House floor remarks last year accusing decorated Korean War veteran and Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) of "cut and run" cowardice. This district is overwhelmingly Republican, yet Schmidt is locked in a close fight with physician Victoria Wulsin (D). In part, this is because many Republicans here have also not warmed to Schmidt. A month ago, I'd have called this race for Schmidt. However, several independent polls show Wulsin has momentum and a slight lead. Look for Wulsin to score a major upset, even though she may well be a one-termer because of the district's demographics. CD-3: Two-term Congressman Mike Turner (R) is being challenged by former Assistant US Attorney Dick Chema (D). Place this one on the list of possible sleepers, but Turner should win. CD-4: State Senator Jim Jordan (R) is expected to defeat former Lima Law Director Rick Siferd (D) by a comfortable margin, in the race for this open GOP seat. CD-6: State Senator Charlie Wilson (D) will cruise to a big win over State House Speaker Pro Tem Chuck Blasdel (D) for Congressman Strickland's open seat. CD-12: Former one-term Congressman Bob Shamansky (D) is surprisingly giving Congressman Pat Tiberi (R) a real run for his money. Shamansky hasn't held elective office in over 20 years, but the Iraq War is resonating with voters as a solid issue for him. Tiberi will win, but it won't be an impressive win. CD-13: Former State Representative Betty Sutton (D) is headed to a surprisingly easy victory over Lorain Mayor Craig Fultin (R) for Congressman Brown's open seat. At one point, this open seat was high on the NRCC radar. CD-15: Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R) has been a rising star in the House Republican Leadership. Now that status -- and her past support for partially privatizing Social Security -- are coming back to hurt her. Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D) is a running a very aggressive, in-your-face campaign that appears likely to topple Pryce. The incumbent has fought back with a real intensity, trying to bolster her credentials as a political independent, but Kilroy will win this race. CD-18: Congressman Bob Ney (R), who recently pled guilty to federal felony corruption charges, quit his race for re-election here. Ney and other Republican leaders quickly recruited State Senator Joy Padgett (R) -- a close Taft ally -- as the replacement GOP nominee. Dover Law Director and hotel developer Zach Space (D) has run a creative, energetic campaign. He may be too liberal to win this GOP district in your average year, but this isn't an average year. Even the NRCC has canceled any further expenditures on behalf of Padgett, because she is too far behind in both public and internal polls. Space will win by at least several points. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 4 SEATS (and maybe more).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.03.06 | Permalink |

OKLAHOMA:
GOVERNOR: Governor Brad Henry (D) is coasting to a surprisingly easy win over Congressman Ernest Istook (R) -- possibly by as large as a 2-to-1 margin. Why did Istook give up his safe House seat in favor of this impossible race? RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-5: Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin (R) will defeat surgeon David Hunter (D) by a huge margin for Congressman Istook's open seat in this safe GOP district. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.03.06 | Permalink |

OREGON:
GOVERNOR: Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) holds lukewarm approval ratings, yet he'll still win a second term thanks to a relatively weak GOP nominee. Former Portland School Board Member Ron Saxton (R) -- who was a pro-choice GOP centrist in his 2002 primary run for Governor -- is now repackaged as a pro-life conservative. Just as the unions are fairly tepid in their support for the centrist Kulongoski, social conservatives are equally wary of Saxton. Adding to Saxton's woes is the candidacy of Mary Starrett (Constitution), a popular retired TV news anchor and pro-life activist. It won't be a convincing win for Kulongoski, but a win is still a win. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: A few credible challengers are running, but all of the Congressional incumbents look likely to win new terms. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.03.06 | Permalink |

PENNSYLVANIA:
GOVERNOR: Governor Ed Rendell (D) will win a second term by a wide margin, in what he promises is the final campaign of his lengthy political career. Retired pro football player Lynn Swann (R) proved to be a disappointing and lightweight candidate. GOP leaders helped clear the primary field for Swann, but his best day in the polls was when he launched his campaign last year. It went all downhill from there. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Rick Santorum (R) has been at the top of everyone's "most endangered incumbent" list for nearly two years. The outcome of this contact -- matching Santorum against State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. (D) -- was never in doubt. Yes, once in a while Santorum narrowed his deficit to the single digits, but he's generally trailed Casey by 10+ points throughout the campaign. Santorum's backers and the Republican Party financed a n extensive petition effort to get the Green Party's nominee on the ballot, in the hope of siphoning away Dem votes, but the signature drive and subsequent GOP-financed legal challenge fell short. Even after a multi-million dollar NRSC ad blitz bashing Casey, Santorum failed to narrow the gap. Casey will score the most anticipated Dem pickup of this electoral season. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US HOUSE: CD-4: Congresswoman Melissa Hart (R) is locked in a surprisingly tough race for a fourth term, having never before faced a competitive challenge. Former Congressional aide and hospital lobbyist Jason Altmire (D) is running an aggressive campaign, and recent indy polls show him within reach of Hart. Altmire appears to have the momentum in these final days, and he'll come very close, but look for Hart to survive. CD-6: Congressman Jim Gerlach (R) -- a top Dem target -- represents a swing district won by Kerry in 2004. This year he is facing a rematch with attorney Lois Murphy (D), who lost by 2-points last time. The national demographics this year are different -- and more favorable -- for Murphy. Look for her to reverse the outcome of the '04 race. CD-7: This is an easy call: Congressman Curt Weldon (R) is a sure-thing goner. Weldon was already locked in a very tough battle against retired Navy Admiral Joe Sestak (D) -- and that was before the FBI conducted multiple raids on several locations tied to Weldon's family and associates last month related to corruption allegations. Sestak will win handily. CD-8: Freshman Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R) seems an unlikely fit for this district, as he's a conservative Republican representing a very moderate constituency (Kerry defeated Bush here by 3-points in 2004). This seat was represented for years by a GOP centrist, so voters here are certainly very willing to send a Republican for Congress. Iraq War veteran and attorney Patrick Murphy (D) is a top-notch candidate for this seat. However, Fitzpatrick has run a good campaign. Recent polls have given the incumbent a slight edge, and this seat could easily go either way. Fitzpatrick will scrape out a very narrow win. CD-10: Scandal -- not any national wave -- is the cause of the political demise of Congressman Don Sherwood (R). After winning election as a "family values" conservative, the married Sherwood was revealed as a phony when his mistress called police to report Sherwood tried to strangle her after an argument. When she failed to cooperate with the police, the police were unable to pursue criminal charges against Sherwood. On Friday the AP reported why: Sherwood had secretly entered last year into a written settlement agreement with the mistress in which he will pay he $500,000 in installment payments in exchange for her silence. He's paid over half so far, so she won't be talking anytime before Election Day. After Election Day nobody will care, as Sherwood will no longer be in Congress. Naval Reserve officer and college professor Chris Carney (D) is going to destroy Sherwood by a wide margin. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 3 SEATS.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

RHODE ISLAND:
GOVERNOR: If the Dems can hold the governorship in a solid red state like Kansas, then it is only fair that the Republicans can hold the governorship in a solid blue state like Rhode Island. Governor Don Carcieri (R) is possibly "too conservative" for many voters. However, in a state where political corruption unfortunately seems de rigueur, Carcieri is seemingly untouched by scandal. For many voters, that may be reason enough to re-elect him. For the record, Lieutenant Governor Charlie Fogarty (D) is a career public servant who also appears to be an honest, decent guy. Carcieri, however, will win by several points. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US SENATE: If Carcieri is a Republican too conservative for many Rhode Island voters, US Senator Lincoln Chafee is a GOP centrist with views much more aligned with state voters. That's why it is so ironic that Carcieri will survive while Chafee will be defeated by former Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse (D). Chafee is not a good fit for the GOP: he supports gay marriage and abortion rights, is vocal in his criticisms of President Bush's domestic surveillance program, and told reporters he did not vote for President Bush in 2004. In fact, Chafee barely survived his primary this year from a social conservative challenger. Had Chafee simply switched parties in 2002 -- a topic he acknowledged discussing back then with some Dem Senators -- he would be headed to an easy re-election victory this year. Whitehouse convincingly argues that so long as Chafee votes to make the Republicans the majority party, it results in conservative chairmanships and policies sharply at odds with Rhode Island values. Whitehouse will win by at least several points. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US HOUSE: No competitive House races. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

SOUTH CAROLINA:
GOVERNOR: Governor Mark Sanford (R) is an incumbent with a long list of enemies within his own party and the state legislature. They dislike his uncompromising obstinacy and loose cannon behavior. Although some prominent Republicans are openly backing State Senator Tommy Moore (D), Sanford will still easily win a second term. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-5: Republicans had high hopes last year of ousting Congressman John Spratt (D), or at least giving him a close race. However, State Representative Ralph Norman (R) has proven to be a weak challenger. Spratt will win in a landslide. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

SOUTH DAKOTA:
GOVERNOR: Governor Mike Rounds (R) will defeat former State Representative Jack Billion (D) in a landslide. The only question: Will Rounds then use this big win as a springboard into the 2008 contest against US Senator Tim Johnson (D)? RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth (D) is not facing any serious opposition. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

TENNESSEE:
GOVERNOR: Governor Phil Bredesen (D) is a good fit for Tennessee. He'll win a second term by a huge margin over State Senator Jim Bryson (R). RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R) is retiring, in anticipation of making a 2008 White House run. Former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker (R) and Congressman Harold Ford Jr. (D) are competing for the open seat. Corker, a GOP moderate, won the primary because two conservatives split the conservative base. Ford, like Corker, is also a centrist -- and certainly the most conservative African-American currently serving in Congress. Ford was gaining on Corker for much of October, but momentum now seems to have shifted back to the Republican. Corker will win by at least a few points. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-1: Congressman Bill Jenkins (R) is retiring. Republicans have held this seat since the end of the Civil War. Don't expect that tradition to change now. State Representative David Davis (R) will win this open seat. CD-9: This race for Congressman Ford's open seat -- a safe Dem seat -- is particularly tough to predict. State Senator Steve Cohen (D) -- who is white -- won the very crowded primary over a large field of African-American hopefuls. Black voters make up a large amount of the district. Congressman Ford's brother -- pharmaceutical sales representative Jake Ford (Independent) -- moved back to Tennessee earlier within the past year just to seek this seat. The incumbent has made no endorsement and Jake Ford vows to caucus with the Dems if he wins. Despite the Ford name and the racial undertones, look for Cohen to win. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

TEXAS:
GOVERNOR: This is probably the most colorful gubernatorial contest in the nation, featuring four viable candidates. Governor Rick Perry (R) is being seriously challenged by former Congressman Chris Bell (D), State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn (Independent) and outspoken musician/author Kinky Friedman (Independent). All three challengers are scoring in the double-digits in indy polls. Perry, meanwhile, is mired around the 40% mark -- meaning he could have been in trouble in a head-to-head contest. Since none of the challengers were willing to exit in favor of a single "anti-Perry" unity candidate, Perry will win a plurality victory. Bell will finish second (something that was once in doubt). RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) will win re-election in a landslide over her earnest -- yet hapless -- opponent. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-17: Congressman Chet Edwards (D) will have to fight hard for victory every two years in his gerrymandered, conservative district. Edwards is a conservative "Blue Dog Democrat" backed by groups like the US Chamber of Commerce, NFIB and the Farm Bureau that rarely back Democrats. Iraq War veteran Van Taylor (R) is a credible candidate, but Edwards will win again (possibly by a margin in excess of 10-points). CD-22: Resigned House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R) will see a Democrat win his open seat due to his own bungled attempt to withdraw from the race. When a judge vetoed DeLay's attempt to let the GOP replace him on the November ballot, he withdrew his name entirely. In turn, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (R) is running as a write-in candidate and is backed by the NRCC. Two other Republicans are also running as write-in candidates. Former Congressman Nick Lampson (D) -- a victim of DeLay's 2004 redistricting plan in a nearby district -- will win this seat. CD-23: Democrats would like to oust Congressman Henry Bonilla (R), but I don't see it happening. Bonilla will win another term, either on Tuesday or in the December run-off (if needed). RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 1 SEAT.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

UTAH:
US SENATE: US Senator Orrin Hatch (R) will win big over internet executive Pete Ashdown (D). RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: All three Congressional incumbents will win re-election by wide margins. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

VERMONT:
GOVERNOR: Former State Democratic Chair Scudder Parker has been steadily gaining on Governor Jim Douglas (R) over the past month. However, the moderate incumbent is well-respected and will win another term by at least several points. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Jim Jeffords (Independent) is retiring. Congressman Bernie Sanders (Independent) -- a self-proclaimed "socialist" -- will score a wide win over wealthy software executive Rich Tarrant (R). Sanders --like Jeffords -- has vowed to caucus with the Dems. RESULT: INDY/DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: The race for Congressman Sanders' open seat was very close for months, but State Senate President Pro Tem Peter Welch (D) moved out to a significant lead over the past month. Retired State Adjutant General and USAF Major General Martha Rainville -- a pro-choice moderate closely aligned with Governor Douglas -- was probably the strongest candidate her party could have nominated this year. Unfortunately for Rainville, this is a hyper-partisan year and she will not be able to overcome the hurdle of her party label in this generally liberal state. Welch will win. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

VIRGINIA:
US SENATE: US Senator George Allen (R) should have had this one in the bag, as it was his race to lose. He was holding a massive lead in the polls over his likely Senate rivals and the Inside-the-Beltway crowd had already anointed Allen as the leading conservative rival to McCain for the 2008 Presidential nomination. And then Allen started being Allen. The stupid Macaca has ineptly spun by his own campaign from a minor problem into a major crisis. More bad press followed, including Allen's angry and flip-flopping reaction to the reports (which he since acknowledged) that his mother's family is Jewish. Former Reagan Administration Navy Secretary and bestselling author Jim Webb (D) -- who switched parties to make the race -- has proven to be an aggressive challenger. Even at Allen's worst moments, Webb moved into a virtual tie with Allen but did not pass him. In many ways, these numbers were like those from last year's Kaine-Kilgore gubernatorial race in which the Republican held an ever-dwindling advantage until near the very end. Webb seems to be peaking at the right time, and the national wave should also benefit him. Webb will win by the narrowest of margins. RESULT: DEM GAIN.
US HOUSE: CD-2: Congresswoman Thelma Drake (R) finds herself locked into a surprisingly close race race against Virginia Beach Commissioner of the Revenue Phil Kellam (D). Independent polls show the lead switching back and forth, although Kellam may have peaked a bit too early. This is a swing district that went for Bush in 2004 by 16-points, but then went Dem in the '05 Gov race by 3-points. Look for Drake to win a second term. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

WASHINGTON:
US SENATE: US Senator Maria Cantwell (D) rebounded from weak summer poll numbers against insurance executive Mike McGavick (R). These days, she again looks positioned to score a convincing win for a second term. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-5: Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (R) is locked in a much tougher than expected race against scientist and rancher Peter Goldmark (D). Goldmark's surprising strength forced McMorris to run a heavy volley of attack spots and import big name Republicans to campaign for her. McMorris will win, but Goldmark is well-positioned to be taken more seriously by the DCCC if he makes a second run in 2008. CD-8: Freshman Congressman Dave Reichert (R) is a top DCCC target in this swing district. Former Microsoft executive Darcy Burner (D) has raised a large amount of money and hammered Reichert in TV spots for promising to be independent-minded when in reality Reichert is essentially a solid pro-Bush and pro-Iraq War vote in the House. While that kind of record may help in many area of the nation, it would not be a plus in this district. Burner will score a Dem pickup here. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 1 SEAT.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

WEST VIRGINIA:
US SENATE: US Senator Robert C. Byrd (D) first was elected to Congress in 1952. Now, more than five decades later, he will easily win yet another term in DC. Wealthy businessman and former State GOP Chair John Raese -- who espouses elimination of both the federal minimum wage and air pollution controls -- will lose his third statewide campaign. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-1: Congressman Alan Mollohan (D) could have been in trouble, had he faced a tougher foe this year. Mollohan is under investigation for possible corruption involving a sweetheart land deal with a federal contractor. State Delegate Chris Wakim (R) turned out to also be a flawed candidate, who admitted his campaign materials falsified claims about his military service (falsely claimed to be a Gulf War veteran) and an Ivy League graduate degree. Mollohan will win. CD-2: Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R) is a perennial Dem tareg in this swing district. This time her opponent is former State Democratic Chairman and former State Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Callaghan (D). He's a credible candidate, but Capito will win yet again. RESULTS: NO CHANGES.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

WISCONSIN:
GOVERNOR: Governor Jim Doyle (D) is facing an aggressive challenge from four-term Congressman Mark Green (R). Doyle's poll numbers have been fairly lackluster, but still he always managed to hold an advantage over Green. Doyle likely won't win big -- but he'll still win. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Herb Kohl (D) will win in a landslide over his gadfly GOP opponent. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US HOUSE: CD-5: Dems like to claim college professor Bryan Kennedy (D) is giving House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Sensenbrenner (R) a real run for his money. Kennedy may be a decent candidate, but Sensenbrenner should win again. CD-8: In the race for Congressman Green's open seat, State Assembly Speaker John Gard (R) is facing a tough race against wealthy physician Steve Kagen (D). Kagen was an upset winner in the primary, and looks strong for the general. Although Bush won this district by 11-points in 2004, the free-spending Kagen seems to have the momentum in these final days. Kagen will win this race. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 1 SEAT.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

WYOMING:
GOVERNOR: Governor Dave Freudenthal (D) will romp to a second term in a landslide win. RESULT: DEM HOLD.
US SENATE: US Senator Craig Thomas (R) will also win in a landslide -- the only real question is whether Freudenthal's landslide will be higher than Thomas' landslide. RESULT: GOP HOLD.
US HOUSE: Congresswoman Barbara Cubin (R) is in trouble. First, voters seem to view Cubin as generally ineffective in DC. Second, an unknown GOP primary foe with no money captured 40% against Cubin this summer. Next, add in the recent gaffe when Cubin -- post-TV debate and still being recorded -- told her paraplegic Libertarian opponent that she'd slap him in the face if he wasn't in a wheelchair (because he had dared to ask in the debate about money she received from certain tainted lobbyists). These missteps seem to be helping Teton County School Board Chair Gary Trauner (D). Polls show Trauner now has momentum and has turned the race into a near tie. Under normal circumstances, Cubin would win. However, this is an unusual year and Cubin is running a fairly poor campaign. Trauner should score a rare Dem win for this House seat -- the first since the late Teno Roncalio (D) held this seat 30 years. RESULTS: DEMS GAIN 1 SEAT.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

SOME FINALTHOUGHTS ON THE COMING DEM TSUNAMI ...
Here is what these forecasts from the fifty states total:

GOVERNORSHIPS: Democrats +8.
US SENATE: Democrats +6.
US HOUSE: Democrats +32.

This paragraph is a key qualifier to my 2006 predictions. I'm obviously one of those pundits who sees an anti-Republican tsunami sweeping the nation this year. That is why, above and beyond any of the specific races I projected herein, I think we'll see maybe 5 more GOP House incumbents fall to largely overlooked challengers (bringing the Democratic score in House races to around +37). Attribute it to President Bush, the unending Iraq quagmire, the Abramoff-Foley-DeLay-Taft scandals, or whatever -- but there are lots of reasons why angry voters are fed-up and going to vote for change on November 7.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.06.06 | Permalink |

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