Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Prediction segment: 2014 midterm elections. (UPDATED WITH ACTUAL RESULTS)

If you've read this blog...well.....ever.....you pretty well know my political leanings are well to the right of center. Despite being an optimist, I never take for granted that my preferred political party will take advantage of a grand opportunity to make sweeping gains across the country.

Nevertheless, I feel the Republican party has done a fantastic job recovering from the debacle that was 2012 and will have a good showing this evening as election results come in.

Minnesota Governor: If the campaign cycle lasted just 1 or 2 more weeks, I firmly believe GOP challenger Jeff Johnson would overtake incumbent Mark Dayton (sounds similar to what we said in 2010 when it was an open seat battle between Dayton and Tom Emmer). Unfortunately, it appears Johnson (who was down double digits just 2 weeks ago) will fall short, thanks in no small part to loser-tarian Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet siphoning off about 3-4% of the vote. Call it Dayton 48%, Johnson 44%, Nicollet 4% and other third party hamsters accounting for the remaining 4%.
Actual: Dayton 50%; Johnson 44.5%; Nicollet 2.9%; Others 2.6%

US Senator from MN: Caustic, belligerent "comedian" Al Franken managed to keep a low profile during his six five-and-a-half year term by doing virtually no town hall meetings in Minnesota and declining pretty much all national TV appearances, except when he can whine about the prospects of a Time Warner Cable-Comcast merger. It will be interesting to see how quiet he can remain when, for the first time in his Senate career, he'll be in the minority party (Oops. Just gave away another prediction). Franken 53%, McFadden 44%, Other 3%.
Actual: Franken 53%; McFadden 43%; Others 4%

Secretary of State: Dan "Doc" Severson has been one of a few MN Republicans who realized early on that it's not good enough to woo minority voters mere months before an election. Severson has been engaging folks in the Somali and Hmong communities for at least a few years now, knowing it would be an effort that would have to endure over multiple election cycles. I feel as though he will reap the benefits this election cycle as he defeats DFL candidate Steve Simon by about 2-3% (Severson lost the SOS race by 3.5% in 2010 to retiring officeholder Mark Ritchie).
Actual: Simon 47%; Severson 45.9%

Auditor: I had high hopes for this race given Republican Randy Gilbert's impressive resume as mayor of Long Lake as well as an actual accounting background (handy credentials for someone aspiring to audit financial data, eh?). Unfortunately, Gilbert had some personal dalliances revealed on KSTP TV news that may likely hurt his electoral chances against incumbent Rebecca Otto. As such, Otto wins by 7-10%.
Actual: Otto 51.5%; Gilbert 40%

Attorney General: I'm 45-years old. In my lifetime, a Republican has held this office exactly once. I don't have any inkling incumbent Lori Swanson will break that trend against Scott Newman. Swanson wins by 15-20% .
Actual: Swanson 52.6%; Newman 39%

MN Supreme Court justice: Incumbent justice David "Darth" Lillehaug 93%, assorted write-ins 4%, GOP challenger Michelle MacDonald 3%. Check out my Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague Mitch Berg's blog post  from this past August to see how this race got to this point.
Actual: Lillehaug 53.2%; MacDonald 46.5% (My 93% was a bit hyperbolic)

MN House: With the Democrat majority in MN Senate not up for election this cycle and Gov. Mark Dayton likely to be reelected, it is paramount the GOP wrest control of the MN House from the Dems. Right now, the DFL holds a 73-61 majority, meaning the GOP needs a net gain of 7 seats to win a majority. I believe it will happen, as the DFL has been playing defense in a lot of the districts which typically lean Republican but Dems were able to win due to high Democrat turnout in 2012.

I say the Republicans pick up nine seats (giving them a 70-64 majority), with some of the key flips coming courtesy of wins by Stacey Stout, Heidi Gunderson, Barb Sutter, Jen Wilson, Roz Peterson, Kirk Stensrud and Ryan Rutzick, just to name a few.
Actual: GOP gained 11 seats, mostly with flips from outstate. Only Peterson won of the metro area GOP candidates I named. Oh well. 

MN Congressional District 1: This is an R+1 district, yet Tim Walz has never won by less than five points since being elected in the Democrat wave of 2006. That trend continues with a comfortable win over Jim Hagedorn.
Actual: Walz 54.2%; Hagedorn 45.7%

MN Congressional District 2: Insufferable TV talk show host Bill Maher targeted this CD with his "Flip a District" movement. The idea was to try to wield his over inflated sense of self-importance by advocating for the removal of Republican Congressman John Kline by replacing him with Democrat Mike Obermueller. Hint: The effort will have proven to be a colossal failure as Kline will win by about 20.
Actual: Kline 56%; Obermueller 39%

MN Congressional District 3: I couldn't tell ya who is opposing 3-term incumbent Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) in this race. Truth is, it doesn't matter. Paulsen wins by double digits.
Actual: Paulsen 62%; Sund 38%

MN Congressional District 4: My fellow Harding High alum Sharna Wahlgren is a terrific candidate and an even better person. CD4 would be many times better off with her representing the district in Washington as opposed to the shrill and unaccomplished Betty McCollum. The best opportunity to unseat McCollum was the GOP tidal wave election of 2010 when another terrific candidate, Teresa Collett, was the Republican nominee. Nevertheless, Betty still won by about 24 points.

The district is a little different (and slightly more amenable to right-of-center candidates) after redistricting in 2012, given the addition of suburbs Woodbury, Stillwater, Lake Elmo, etc. However, it's still a D+11 district, which means McCollum easily wins an eighth term in Congress.
Actual: McCollum 61.2%; Wahlgren 33%

MN Congressional District 5: With zero percent of the precincts reporting, Democrat Keith Ellison is the projected winner of a fifth term in Congress.
Actual: Ellison 70.8%; Daggett 24%

MN Congressional District 6: The reddest district in the state sees Republican Tom Emmer easily elected to his first term in the U.S. House.
Actual: Emmer 56.3%; Perske 38.4%

MN Congressional District 7: It's been said that the millisecond veteran Democrat rep Collin Peterson retires, this CD flips to Republican representation for the long term (Cook PVI lists this as an R+6 district). However, I'd prefer to see Peterson retired via the ballot box. GOP challenger Torrey Westrom is making this an incredibly close contest, one in which the New York Times dubs as a "race to watch." While I'm ripe for a surprise, I believe Peterson survives with a single digit victory.
Actual: Peterson 54.2%; Westrom 45.7%

MN Congressional District 8: This race has garnered national attention with Democrat Congressman Rick Nolan receiving a legitimate challenge from an unconventional candidate (in a good way) by the name of Stewart Mills.

While the DCCC ads against Mills have chided him as little more than a suave, spoiled rich guy who inherited his millions, it hasn't resonated in the typically blue district (only once in the past 65 years has a Republican been elected in CD8). Mills has run a serious, issues-based campaign that has earned him some high profile endorsements from the Brainerd Dispatch, Duluth News Tribune and, of all things, the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Right leaning political groups have spent more than $2 million on this race, something that was unfathomable just 5 years ago.

Mills' hard work and terrific messaging pays off as he upsets Rep. Nolan in what will be a close, hard-fought victory.
Actual: Nolan 48.5%; Mills 47.1%

US Senate: I already spoiled it earlier, so I will just say that I believe Republicans regain control of the Senate and send insufferably whiny hack Harry Reid to the minority. Right now the Democrats have a 55-45 majority (including 2 Independent senators who caucus with the Dems).

You can pretty much mark down South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia as GOP gains, making it 52-48 Dems.

Republicans have increased what were once slim leads in Iowa, Colorado and Arkansas, which puts the Senate at a 51-49 GOP advantage.

After incumbent Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu stepped in it recently, it appears challenger Bill Cassidy may win this tonight (if no candidate gets 50% of the vote +1, it goes to a runoff which I believe Cassidy wins). The state of Georgia also will have a runoff of the top two finishers if no candidate attains 50% +1. The latest polls show incumbent David Perdue with a 3-4% lead over Dem challenger Michelle Nunn (CORRECTION: Georgia was an open race as incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss did not seek reelection). If there is a runoff election, I believe Georgia remains in Republican hands. It's now 52-48, Republicans.

The GOP challenger in Alaska, Dan Sullivan, has consistently led and appears to be distancing himself. The tally is now 53-47.

The state where a GOP incumbent is vulnerable is Kansas, where Independent candidate Greg Orman maintains a less than 1% lead over Pat Roberts. Since it's likely Orman caucuses with the Dems, the GOP majority is down to 52-48.

The only other possible GOP gains can come from either North Carolina or New Hampshire, where challengers Thom Tillis and Scott Brown, respectively, are each within less than a single point. Just on gut instinct, I believe the Republicans will get one but not both.

My final tally has the GOP with a 53-47 majority in the US Senate.
Actual: GOP currently up 52-46, but Alaska will likely flip to GOP with Dan Sullivan leading incumbent Senator Mark Begich 49%-45.3%. Louisiana will also go Republican as incumbent Mary Landrieu is likely to lose to Bill Cassidy in December's runoff election. That makes it 54-46 GOP, meaning I only erred on the Kansas Senate race. 

WI governor: Incumbent governor Scott Walker will win his third election (including the recall election from 2+ years ago) in four years, as he will defeat Democrat Mary Burke by about 3-4%

The only question remaining is will Walker attempt to make it four electoral wins in six years with a run for President in 2016?
Actual: Walker 52.3%; Burke 46.6%

Happy voting!!


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