Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Day Eve

For us partisans, Election Day is something of a holiday, and the day before is of course a holiday eve. For Democrats, this election day is starting to feel like Christmas, so you can imagine how giddy with anticipation we are, as well as with trepidation that we won't get what we asked Santa to bring us. Nonetheless, it's shaping up to be a very good day for Democrats tomorrow. A survey of the polls finds Obama leading nationally by anywhere from two to thirteen points, depending on how the poll is being conducted. Obama maintains a steady and insurmountable lead among likely voters, and McCain's only hope is that an astonishingly high percentage of undecideds turn out to vote for him in key states, a possibility that is vanishingly slight. Given that Obama has several routes to victory, the compelling story may really be which formerly Republican states flip over to Obama.

As for the Senate, several races have shifted to the Democrats in recent weeks, though it does not appear likely that Democrats will seize the 60-member majority that was hoped for. The Stevens conviction has apparently sunk any hope the GOP had of retaining Alaska, Kay Hagan has pulled ahead of Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina, and Jeff Merkley has pulled ahead of Gordon Smith in Oregon. Franken and Coleman remain neck-and-neck in Minnesota. At the same time though, McConnell and Chambliss have opened up small leads over their opponents, and Texas appears to be out of reach for the Democrats and Rick Noriega. So, a seven seat pick up is likely, an eight seat pick up remains entirely possible, but anymore seats after that would require minor upsets which don't seem likely at this point.

Of course the not-so-secret Democratic weapon in all of these contests is turnout, and by a large measure early voting in Texas is dwarfing 2004 totals. This is of course inspired by the massive interest in the Presidential election, but early indicators about the affect this will have on down-ballot races in Texas are mixed at best. Democrats are turning out in huge numbers, but Republicans may turn out in significant numbers in certain districts to vote against Obama and down-ballot Democrats as well. There simply is no way to tell what impact turnout is having before the votes are counted tomorrow night.

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