Saturday, November 05, 2016

Control of US Senate a tighter race than for White House

And the outcome means all the difference for the next two years.  The expert consensus four days from Election Day is a dead solid tie.

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-- First of all, I don't think Wisconsin's Russ Feingold is in as much trouble as all those screaming subject line fundraising emails we're getting would have us believe.

-- Evan Bayh, the Democrat who held a lead most of the year for the open seat in the Hoosier State, has coughed it up.  Reports like this aren't going to help him.  There are still a lot of undecideds as reflected in the polls, and perhaps the Libertarian, the only other candidate in the race there, can influence the result to some degree.

-- Roy Blount, the Republican incumbent in the Show Me State, will probably hang on.  He has to overcome whatever percentages the Libertarian and Constitution Party nominees may take away from him, the only question mark I see.  That makes MO and IN holds for the GOP, and that gets the Elephants to 50.  Nate Silver has them both turning pink just yesterday.

-- New Hampshire's presidential polling volatility, coupled with incumbent R Kelly Ayotte clinging to a small lead probably means the Granite State isn't so much of a tossup.  That's 51 for the Reds.

-- That leaves Nevada, and I'll predict that the Silver State elects Catherine Cortez Masto, riding on the coattails of Hillary Clinton.  See Robby Mook's confidence about NV in the most recent post.

This is the last of these I'll do unless news breaks something of value, so put me down for a Republican Senate by just one seat.  That pits me against Silver and the NYT's Upshot, who are both predicting a 55% chance of it turning blue as of this morning.  Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has the whip count at 48-47 Dems, with five tossups.

Update: Via Down with Tyranny, Rep. Alan Grayson (whom I wish was the Democratic nominee for the US Senate for Florida, and not Patrick Murphy)  has more detail, but sees it exactly the same way as I do.  Great minds and all that.

Here's a question I can't find the answer to: if somebody on the right side were to change parties, resign, or pass away in the next year or two, and a Democratic governor made an appointment to fill the vacancy that puts the upper chamber into a tie, does control of the Senate change mid-term or must it wait for the next election, special or regularly-scheduled in 2018?

Jim Jeffords' party switch in 2001 -- from Republican to independent caucusing with the Democrats -- flipped control, but the Senate was 50-50 at the time and Jeffords gave the Dems a pure 51-49 majority.  So by my understanding, pushing the body into 50-50 would only give a Vice President Tim Kaine the ability to break tie votes, and not change which party controls the flow of legislation, appointment of committee chairs, and the like.  Am I right or not?

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