TheDC Election Outlook: Senate takeover may be out of reach, but big GOP gains likely

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Jon Ward
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      Jon Ward

      Jon Ward covers the White House and national politics for The Daily Caller. He covered the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency and the first year of Barack Obama's presidency for The Washington Times. Prior to moving to national politics, Jon worked for the Times' city desk and bureaus in Virginia and Maryland, covering local news and politics, including the D.C. sniper shootings and subsequent trial, before moving to state politics in Maryland. He and his wife have two children and live on Capitol Hill. || <a href="mailto:jw@dailycaller.com">Email Jon</a>

The conventional wisdom is that the Republicans have little chance of picking up the 10 seats in the Senate that they need to take control of the chamber.

California and West Virginia have trended away, to some degree, from Republicans in recent days, and so that conventional wisdom appears to be reasonable.

But in the closing days before Tuesday brings long-awaited election results in most races, the overall trend is clearly in the GOP’s favor. They are in position for gains that are much higher than most Democrats had hoped.

All of the closest races for seats held by Democrats that are tossups — in Illinois, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — look to be headed toward likely Republican wins. That’s in addition to three seats that are a lock to go from the Democratic column to Republicans, in Arkansas, Indiana and North Dakota.

And in the 16 most competitive races, the Real Clear Politics polling average moved in favor of the Republican candidate from Wednesday to Sunday in every race but one.

Some of these 16 races are ones where a Democrat is going to win. But they encompass the full roster of races that TheDC has watched closely in recent weeks, and even where Democrats are winning big, they lost points over the last few days. The only race not to move right was in Ohio, where Republican Rob Portman’s lead went from 18.5 points to 18.2.

Most notably, in Washington and California — the two most important races that are tight but have been leaning Democrat — the numbers there have tightened in the last several days.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, the incumbent Democrat, was thought to be edging toward winning safely. But the last few polls have shrunk her advantage to within the margin of error.

In Washington, the race is ranked as a tie, and statistician Nate Silver of the New York Times wrote Friday that “the race has moved a bit toward” Republican Dino Rossi, at the expense of Sen. Patty Murray, the incumbent Democrat.

Silver said Friday that he puts the GOP’s chances of a Senate takeover at 10 percent.

If West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin holds on to win his race, that would mean Republicans would have to win Washington and California to have any chance at Senate control.

The race in Alaska was always going to be a delayed decision, but now it appears that it could play a role in deciding who controls the Senate. It had been thought that Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski would caucus with the GOP if she wins her write-in candidacy. But, according to CNN’s Dana Bash, she began to hedge Sunday on the matter.

The results in Alaska may not be known for weeks, because of the write-in factor. If Republicans somehow pickup 10 seats but Murkowski’s allegiance is in question, that would make a legal dispute over write-in ballots highly charged.

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  • joltinjoe

    In trying to describe a candidate as either far left or far right almost everyone is far off the mark. Even a so called moderate Democrat is a left winger. The rest of the Democrats are left wing extremists, socialists, or worse. On the other hand, the Republicans are centrists or only slightly right of center. There are no extremists in the Republican party. The media and 30 percent of the country are totally unable to measure right or left. The American people decide who is left or right and extremists are hugly on the left side ie: Democratic side. Now you know!

  • carlyt

    The Dems must show up in force to send a clear message to the Tea Party/GOP that the majority of Americans do not want their far right candidates. One Bachmann is more than enough as indicated here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4leO4b1xgMQ