The national Senate outlook just keeps changing in the final sprint to the finish line. Conrad Burns is neck-and-neck with Jon Tester in Montana. Mason-Dixon has Lincoln Chaffee just ahead of Whitehouse in Rhode Island — which could be a major statistical outlier, or Mason-Dixon could be picking up on something the others aren’t. Mason-Dixon also has Bob Corker up by 12 points, which suggests that either Mason-Dixon is systematically oversampling Republicans or the other polls are undersampling them.
Right now, it looks like the Republicans will lose Ohio and Pennsylvania. Neither DeWine nor Santorum are even close to victory. The loss of Santorum is especially troubling — when it comes to issues such as fighting AIDS in Africa, Santorum has been one of this nation’s strongest voices. To have him lose, especially to a schlub like Bob Casey, Jr., is a tragedy.
Allen is neck-and-neck with Jim Webb, which shouldn’t have happened. Allen had all the advantages going in, but the VA race has become one of the dirtiest races in the country. Allen torpedoed any chances for him to be viable in 2008, and is in danger of losing what should be a safe seat. I don’t particularly see him losing at this point, but it’s going to become a lot closer than it should have been had Allen run a stronger campaign and kept his mouth shut.
Kean is down, but not out. He’s run a strong campaign, he’s a smart guy, and he should win, but New Jersey is as Democratic as they come. No doubt this will be one of the states where the usual Democratic army of the undead rise from their graves on Election Day to pull the level for Democratic candidates. The New Jersey Democratic Party makes the Sopranos look like the Flanders, and until that rat’s nest is cleared no Republican has a chance.
Jim Talent is hanging on for dear life against Claire McCaskill, with Mason-Dixon showing McCaskill up by 1 against Talent. Talent needs to be ahead to counteract the usual voter fraud in St. Louis (another place where hoards of zombies rise to vote Democrat every two years). Talent may yet win, but this one is going to be a nail-biter, and will depend on GOP turnout being great enough to outweigh voter fraud.
Cardin should win in Maryland by the polls, but I’m not so sure the charismatic Michael Steele can’t pull it off. All Steele needs to do is get 25% of the African-American vote, and he wins. With the Democrats having taken Kweisi Mfume out of the race and Cardin’s weakness, that’s quite possible. I think Steele might just pull it off, but it’s going to be down to the wire, and could come down to the distribution of African-American votes and GOP turnout.
If I were to guess at the moment, I’d say that the Republicans very narrowly keep the Senate. Corker’s as sure a bet as there is right now. DeWine and Santorum are out (although I’m still praying for a miracle in Pennsylvania…). Allen, Talent, and Burns are on the fence. Kean and Steele provide the wild cards. The Democrats are going to have to do very well in key races to take the Senate, which remains possible, but less possible than it was before. If Mason-Dixon is right, and both Burns and Chafee are back from the political dead, that means that the Democrats are losing ground. Many of these races will be down to the wire, but the overall trendline looks somewhat positive for the GOP.
UPDATE: Jim Geraghty also notes that ABC has the GOP down by only 6 on the generic ballot question. Now, the generic ballot question is not an accurate predictor of actual electoral results, but it does show that the GOP’s turnout may be as strong as expected, if not stronger. Certainly an energized GOP will help GOP incumbents in red states — I’m looking at Conrad Burns here.
UPDATE: It looks like the GOP surge may be real — Gallup has the Democrats up by 7 in the generic ballot question. Remember that the generic ballot almost always favors the Democrats, and the Democrats have had a double-digit lead for almost this entire electoral cycle. If it’s closing to single-digit territory, that means that the Republicans seem to be closing the sale. The Democrats are still radically out of phase with the American mainstream, so it’s not all that surprising that the American electorate are starting to think about what the consequences of a Democratic takeover would really be.
It’s still going to take every GOP voter getting to the polls, but the GOP’s turnout machine is the best it’s ever been.