2010 Election Forecast – Mike Keller's Electoral Prognostications ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Monday, November 1, 2010

2010 Election Forecast – Mike Keller's Electoral Prognostications

Sometime Tuesday night we shall know....in the meantime, see what our local electoral guru Mike Keller has to say:

U.S.  House of Representatives – Leaning Republican. 

Analysis:  Howard Beale in the 1976 film, Network, thundered “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”  That emotion seems to capture the mood the American electorate, anger tinged with a pervasive pessimism about the future.  The 2010 midterm elections are shaping up as a mighty wave with a crimson tide.  The outcome will reflect an indictment of the performance of Democrats on the critical issues of employment and housing rather than any enthusiasm for the proposals of the Republicans.   Having been disappointed  by one party control of Congress and the White House, the voters seem ready to try divided government once again.  But there is no lost love for either party.  In a recent Gallup survey, 58 percent of Americans said the country needs a strong third party – the highest percentage since this question was introduced in 2003.  While the “talking heads” on the cable news stations chatter about the “enthusiasm gap” between Republicans and Democrats, the most telling statistic is among independents. 

In 2006 and 2008, independents voted for Democrats by double digits.  If polls are accurate, they will break by the same margins for the GOP this year.  Democratic strategy has focused on duplicating President Obama’s successful 2008 strategy of turning out unprecedented numbers of youth and African Americans.  But these groups have been hit disproportionately harder by the Great Recession, and surveys seem to indicate a sense of disillusionment with the political process that will impact the number who vote.  Having made outsized gains in the House in the last two election cycles, the Democrats were fated to surrender seats this time and their losses will be exaggerated by the sour public outlook.  Going forward, President Obama will have two models from which to choose:  Bill Clinton in 1994, who moved right after the GOP captured control of Congress and co-opted Republican positions such as debt control and welfare reform, or Harry Truman in 1946, who confronted the Republican Congress and successfully won election two years later by attacking the “no account, do nothing 80th Congress.”  But both Clinton and Truman had the advantage of  strong economic winds to their back.  It is hardly assured that Obama will be similarly fortunate.

Prediction:  The Republicans will capture control of the House in a sweep, with a 58-seat pickup.  The composition of the new House:  236 Republicans, 199 Democrats.  In the only competitive House race in Maryland, Republican State Sen. Andrew Harris will oust freshmen Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil in CD 1.        

(ACP Notes--Mike has consistently ignored the potential impact of the Libertarian and Independent write-in challenger, each of whom will siphon votes from Harris. Kratovil has gotten major organizational and   newspaper endorsements and has managed fairly well, I believe, to paint Harris an an extremist--which he truly is. I think that Kratovil will eke out a victory. If Harris wins, it could be a harbinger for the true direction the GOP will go.....)  

U.S. Senate – Toss-Up. 

Analysis: Analysis:    In elections characterized by strong national currents, most of the close Senate races go to the party that is the beneficiary of the prevailing sentiments.  The 2010 midterms will be no exception to this pattern, producing victories by candidates who would not prevail in normal years.  These results will be most evident in “red” and “purple” states.  Hence, a couple of the most extreme “tea party” candidates – libertarian insurgent Rand Paul in Kentucky and the downright strange Sharron Angle in Nevada – will win their toss-up races.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thought the Republican electorate had done him a favor by nominating Angle, but it appears as though Angle was lucky to draw Reid – a symbol of the national Democratic leadership.  Republican candidates also will win closely fought contests in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Obama’s home state of Illinois.  Alaska will solidify its reputation for political goofiness by re-electing GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski as a write-in candidate over the very conservative Sarah Palin-backed candidate who defeated her narrowly in the primary.  But Democrats will prevail in tight races in the “blue” states of California, Washington and Connecticut, and will triumph in West Virginia where conservative, popular Gov. Joe Manchin will defeat a perennial candidate who has advocated abolishing the minimum wage in one of the poorest states in the country.   In Maryland, Sen. Barbara Mikulski will win in a walk.

Prediction:  The Republicans will pick up eight seats, but the Democrats will cling to control of the Senate by a margin of 51-49 (counting the two independents who caucus with the Democrats).       
(Shouldn't we at least say something about Christine O'Donnell in next-door Delaware?)

Maryland Governor – Leaning Democratic. 

Analysis.  Time has expired for Robert Ehrlich, whose career in Maryland politics may end with this election.  Polls have consistently found him trailing Gov. Martin O’Malley by wide margins.  Maryland is doing better than most states in the economic downturn, largely because of its exposure to federal largess.  Hence, Ehrlich was not able to make hard times as much of an issue as have Republican challengers elsewhere.  In addition, O’Malley skillfully dented Ehrlich attacks on the tax increase which the incumbent pushed through in his first year by pointing to fee hikes and similar levies imposed by Ehrlich during his single term in office.  Plus, unlike in many other states, President Obama retains considerable popularity in Maryland and  especially among African Americans who make up a large voting bloc.  So Ehrlich could not depend on outside factors to sweep O’Malley out of office as it did to him in the anti-Bush deluge of 2006.  Ehrlich has a strong lead among Republicans and Independents, and that would be enough in most states.  But not in Maryland, where Democrats hold a two-to-one edge in registration.  In the end, Ehrlich had to persuade large numbers of Democratic voters in Baltimore City, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County to abandon O’Malley and thus acknowledge that they had erred by choosing him over Ehrlich four years  ago.  Absent a serious scandal by the incumbent, there was never a serious prospect that would occur especially since Ehrlich’s performance during his term is still fairly fresh in the minds of  Democratic voters who remember his ongoing fights with the leadership of the General Assembly and his attacks on progressive interest groups.  After Ehrlich’s election in 2002, there  was much postulation about the possibilities of Maryland moving to “purple” status.  This year’s election should end such delusions. 

Prediction:  O’Malley will defeat Ehrlich 55% to 44%.  

(Well, early voting across the state is showing stronger than anticipated Democratic turnout which will certainly help O'Malley but I think that only a very strong turnout for Ehrlich in the Baltimore burbs will save him--and that he would still need to overcome strong pro-O'Malley voters in the vote-rich and deep-blue center of the state around Washington. I think Mike may be a little too optimistic about the huge vote gap but a solid O'Malley win is likely. The only other thing I might add is to once again watch the Fifth District race where I really think Charles Lollar will perform very strongly especially in the southern areas of the district. Hoyer is probably untouchable in the vote-rich Prince Georges County and he will prevail, but look for Lollar to get between 40 and 45%)

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