The Official JABBS Election Prediction: The Senate (Barely) Stays With The Republicans
You've heard the refrain.
The Democrats need to pick up six seats to regain control of the Senate.
What follows is as comprehensive a breakdown of the Senate as you'll find anywhere. I've digested polls, poll averages, and historical voting patterns, in an effort to put together a prediction that hopefully will not only be compelling, but a reflection of what will happen on Election Day.
The short answer: The Democrats will pick up 4 seats. Factoring in Independent wins in Vermont and Connecticut (both seats that will caucus with the Democrats), today's election will leave the Republicans with a 51-47-2 advantage.
I gave the Republicans a slight bump in the polls -- the equivalent of Las Vegas giving the home team in football a 3-point advantage. (Reflecting superior get-out-the-vote efforts in recent elections and better name recognition of incumbents, among other things.) As a result, my predictions are (pardon the pun) more conservative than others. It also means that races within the margin of error are automatically toss-ups -- even if recent polls actually show the Democrat with a slight lead.
Of course, last-minute news items could change things since the most recent polls were taken. The announcement that Saddam Hussein will hang. Military newspaper editorials calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. Even the discovery that a Religious Right leader bedded a gay prostitute and used crystal meth.
And always, there's bad weather to consider.
That said, here's a breakdown, state-by-state, of all the races considered competitive. (R for Republican and D for Democrat. "Inc." denotes the incumbent, when there is one.)
Democratic Holds (2)
Democratic Pick-Ups (3)
Ohio, Brown (D) 56%, DeWine (R-Inc.) 44%
Pennsylvania, Casey Jr. (D) 55%, Santorum (R-Inc.) 45%
Rhode Island, Whitehouse (D) 51.5%, Chafee (R-Inc.) 48.5%
Toss-Ups Leaning Democrat (1)
Montana, Tester (D) 51%, Burns (R-Inc.) 49%
Toss-Ups Leaning Republican (2)
Missouri, McCaskill (D) 48.5%, Talent (R-Inc.) 51.5%
Virginia, Webb (D) 48%, Allen (R-Inc.) 52%
Republican Holds (1)
Tennessee, Ford Jr. (D) 46%, Corker (R) 54%
Republican Pick-Ups (0)
Connecticut, Lamont (D) 41%, Schlessinger (R) 5%, Lieberman (I-Inc.) 54%