Saturday, November 01, 2014

The Senate will be decided in a runoff in December

I wrote this post, re-wrote it, searched for and embedded links and then deleted them, waited as long as I could for late polling and I still can't predict with great confidence how it will wind up.  So I'm going with the most thrilling finish.  Reuters has the best summary, and they laid it out five days ago.

The fight for control of the U.S. Senate could last far past the Nov. 4 election, with possible run-offs in Louisiana and Georgia and surprising surges by independent candidates in Kansas and South Dakota creating new uncertainty for both parties.

All four states are critical to Republican efforts to pick up the six Senate seats they need to hold a majority of the 100-member chamber, and the added unpredictability could extend the battle for Senate control into December or even early January.

In Louisiana and Georgia, no Senate candidates are polling above the 50 percent level needed to avoid a run-off between the top two finishers. The Louisiana run-off would be on Dec. 6, and the Georgia run-off would be on Jan. 6, the day the new Congress is scheduled to convene.

Mary Landrieu will probably win the Louisiana runoff (despite trailing her Republican challenger Bill Cassidy next Tuesday).  Michelle Nunn could win the Georgia runoff (but it's still agonizingly close).  Kansas might boot Pat Roberts, but South Dakota is going to elect the Republican, Mike Rounds.

It will be Joni Ernst in Iowa.  Jean Shaheen will hold off Scott Brown's surge in New Hampshire.  But Alison Grimes won't knock off Mitch McConnell in KY, and Cory Gardner will beat Mark Udall in Colorado.  Kay Hagan in NC and Mark Begich in AK are likely to prevail.  David Pryor appears to be fading fast in Arkansas.  Michigan isn't being contended any longer by the Republican.

So where does that leave us?

The Republicans need six, and by my measure they are flipping five: West Virginia, Iowa, South Dakota, Colorado, and Arkansas.  Update: Nate Silver reminds me that Montana is also a flip, so they have their six.  But if Kansas turns blue, then they need one of Louisiana and Georgia.  To be decided in December, or maybe even after the holidays.  (That would be a month longer than we waited for Bush v. Gore in 2000.)

If it's a tie after that, then Joe Biden becomes the deciding vote in the Senate.  No more funerals in foreign countries for a couple of years, and you'll see senators showing up for votes more often than they skip them, as is now the case.  The consuming Congressional story in 2015 and '16 will be the whip counts for pivotal legislation.

Update (11/4): Booman waited until the last minute and came to the same conclusion as me.  He's pessimistic about the runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia, though.

Are we having fun yet?  Update: Bonus toons ahead of Sunday's regular Funnies.

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