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Monday, November 6, 2006 - 8:15pm

Prediction Time

The Republicans are surging nationwide in the final days before the election and have closed the gap in a number of key races.  Will it be enough for them to hold onto the House or Senate?  Let's take a closer look at all of the battleground states.

  • We'll start with Rhode Island, the state in which I currently reside.  Chafee is ahead by 1% in the last Mason-Dixon poll, but Sheldon Whitehouse is ahead by 3, 14, 10, and 8% in USA Today/Gallup, Reuters/Zogby, RI College, and Rasmussen.  All of these polls are within the last three weeks.  The Mason-Dixon poll looks like the aberration, so I predict the Democrats pick this seat up. (+1)


  • In Ohio, Sherrod Brown is ahead in every poll.  The worst he is doing is up 6% in Mason-Dixon.  The Democrats will take this seat away from the GOP. (+2)


  • In Pennsylvania, Bob Casey is also ahead in every poll.  He is up by 17% in one poll and is no worse than up 8% in any.  The liberals grab this seat from the conservatives. (+3)


  • In Montana, Conrad Burns (R) has closed the gap on Jim Tester (D) to a virtual tie. Tester is a very strong candidate in a red state and he has been ahead all year.  However, the GOP has conducted smear phone calls against Tester in recent weeks which has helped Burns.  He is tied in the Mason-Dixon poll, but Jon Tester is still ahead by 1% in Reuters/Zogby, 2% in Rasmussen, and 9% in USA Today/Gallup.  This is one of those races you will have to wait up until 3am to determine the result, but I believe Tester will hang on for the win. (+4)


  • Missouri is another incredibly tight race.  Both candidates are very good.  In the latest Rasmussen poll, Jim Talent (R) is ahead by 1%.  Claire McCaskill is ahead by 1% in Mason-Dixon, 4% in USA Today/Gallup, and 9% in SurveyUSA.  All four of these polls were conducted within the last week, but the Rasmussen one is the last.  This could go either way, but I'll take the candidate who is ahead in three of the last four polls. McCaskill will win Missouri, but not by much. (+5)


  • Virginia is a nasty race that pits George Allen (R) against Jim Webb (D).  Both of these guys are conservative and the race is in a dead heat.  Allen was winning throughout the year, but Webb has surged ahead in the last two weeks.  Allen holds the lead in USA Today/Gallup by 3%, but that is the only poll he now leads.  In the Rasmussen poll, the candidates are tied.  James Webb holds the lead by 1% in Reuters/Zogby, 1% in Mason Dixon, 4% in CNN, and 8% in SurveyUSA.  This also could go either way, but Webb has the momentum and leads in the most polls.  I believe Webb will win. (+6)


  • In Tennessee, Harold Ford Jr. (D) has run a brilliant campaign, but it looks like he will come up short against his opponent.  Corker (R) now leads in every poll, with his lowest margin being up 3% and his highest up 12%.  The Republicans already hold this seat and I believe they will keep it.


  • New Jersey is a race against a shady Democrat, Robert Menendez, and Thomas Kean, Jr. (R).  Outside the Northeast, Kean would probably win.  However, New Jersey is about 2-1 Democrats, so Menendez has a huge, built-in advantage.  Although this race was close for a bit, Menendez is now ahead in every poll.  At the low end, he leads by 3% and by the high end, he leads by 10%.  The Dems will retain this seat.


  • Maryland is a state that always goes to the Democrats, but this race is much, much closer than anyone expected.  Republican Michael Steele has run a solid campaign and has closed the gap on Ben Cardin (D).  Steele had pulled even in the SurveyUSA poll, but the latest one out shows Cardin up 3%.  Ben Cardin also leads by 3% in Mason-Dixon, 5% in Rasmussen, and 5% in Reuters/Zogby.  The Democrats will hold on and keep this seat, but not by as much as they normally would.

I am going strictly by the polls here, but if they are to be believed, the Democrats will pick up six seats and take control of the Senate 51-49.  Many of the races above are toss-ups, so they could go either way depending on turnout.


In the House, most would agree that the Democrats will take over.  The question is by how much.  I believe this will be closer than the experts believe.  The experts are projecting a gain of about 21-26 seats, but I think it will be closer to an 18 seat pick-up.  The Dems will take over control of the House by a narrow margin.


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