Going back at least two years, I have spent no more than one hour the night before Election Day rapidly writing down my thoughts for some of the key races that will happen the next day. What follows are all of the thoughts that I could muster in 60 minutes about some of the more interesting races that will happen across the country in just a few hours.
It is that time of year where everyone plays political pundit and writes down their predictions for posterity. I am going to join the chorus of those who share their thoughts on how the American people will vote.
Let’s begin with the presidency. I’ll add some commentary where I feel like the result is going to be particularly noteworthy.
Final Count: Clinton, 322; Trump, 210; McMullin 6
Some of the key states:
Maine: Trump is poised to pick up a single electoral vote from the swingier district that is currently held by Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin (who is also poised to win reelection). Trump has campaigned several times in Maine all for a single electoral vote.
New Hampshire: Trump may be closing the gap, and it did deliver him his first victory in the primaries, but Scott Brown couldn’t pull a win off in a good year I don’t see how Trump wins.
New York: Trump has insisted repeatedly that he will win here. He will not.
Pennsylvania: Trump may very well be gaining ground here, but it is more likely than not that this is just a repeat of 2012, where the Romney campaign thought they had an opening to win, only to be disappointed by the results on Election Night.
Virginia: the Trump campaign has pulled out of Virginia. They did some last minute investments, but he is unlikely to win.
North Carolina: Romney won this state in 2012, but Obama won it in 2008, and I think that it’s unlikely that Trump can replicate a Romney win here.
Florida: Romney just barely lost Florida in 2012. For Trump to win here, he would have to keep Romney’s base of support and then add to it, and I don’t see how that is possible.
Ohio: it is virtually impossible for a Republican to win the White House without winning Ohio, but Trump is very likely to win Ohio and lose the White House. He is probably being helped by the incredible campaign that Rob Portman is running. Even though John Kasich voted for John McCain, it is likely that Trump will get enough voters elsewhere to put the state in his column.
Michigan: there are rumors that this is a competitive state, but I think it is similar to Pennsylvania’s status in 2012 in how it is simply too far out of reach for Republicans to win. If Trump does in fact lose close states like Florida and North Carolina by narrow margins, he will probably regret spending all of this time in Michigan in the past few days.
Iowa: Iowa and Ohio are the two Obama states that I have Trump flipping. There are a lot of reasons for this, and I detail them at great length here.
Colorado: it is indefensible that Colorado fell of the map this cycle for both the presidency and the Senate. In one of the most important counties in the state, Trump has a 12 year old co-running his campaign office.
Utah: Evan McMullin has been running an incredibly strong third party campaign here. Trump is absolutely loathed here, and this has given McMullin a natural constituency to grow his support from.
Nevada: despite tremendous recent success in Nevada, the early voting numbers mean that Trump would need an absolutely historic turnout in the areas outside Las Vegas, and this is extremely unlikely.
Final Count: Republican, 51; Democratic, 49
Some of the key states:
New Hampshire: Trump has recovered enough in New Hampshire so that I feel relatively bullish on Kelly Ayotte’s chances. I think that control of the Senate comes down to this state, and the election is likely to be close.
Pennsylvania: Pat Toomey has gone the entire election cycle without answering the question of who he is going to vote for. This by itself is an impressive feat, but it is going to be unlikely for him to outperform Trump by the margin that he will need to do in order to win his seat once again. Democrats had serious fights before their primary, with national Democrats openly preferring Katie McGinty over Joe Sestak. If Toomey does win, Sestak is going to be very angry since he will argue that he could have won.
North Carolina: Richard Burr annoyed Republicans by telling them that he would not start his campaign until around October, and there was a period when he looked like a goner. However, his opponent was the former head of the ACLU in North Carolina so she just isn’t the kind of candidate who could keep this race competitive at the end.
Florida: Marco Rubio will waltz to victory. Many Democrats are annoyed that they let Rubio off the hook, but there was no way they were going to sink him.
Ohio: Democrats have virtually no bench in Ohio. Rob Portman will cruise to victory just like how John Kasich did two years ago.
Indiana: this seat has seen more ups and downs than any other race in the country. Todd Young was a sure winner before Evan Bayh jumped in the race, but Bayh has been under relentless scrutiny for the past several months, and Young is now favored to keep this seat in Republican hands.
Illinois: I am too sad by the outcome of this to have anything to say.
Wisconsin: despite rumblings that this race would all of a sudden become competitive, I don’t see a way for Ron Johnson to win. He’s tying himself to Trump, telling voters to vote for the Ronald and the Donald, but this is a terrible strategy in a state that Trump is guaranteed to lose in.
Iowa: Chuck Grassley is an unbeatable figure in Iowa. Democrats had thought they were going to knock him off, but that is an impossible feat. He’ll probably win with over 60% of the vote.
Missouri: Jason Kander was probably the best Democratic recruit of the cycle, running an unforgettable ad of him assembling a gun blindfolded that really put him on the map. He has done everything possible to win this seat, but Roy Blunt has effectively portrayed him as a Hillary clone, which will seal his fate in this state that is certain to vote for Trump.
Colorado: again, there is no excuse for letting this seat fall off the map. The polls are tightening just because Republicans are beginning to realize that there is a Republican on the ballot, but there is no way this race goes Republican.
Arizona: Democrats thought that McCain was vulnerable at one point, but that is plainly not the case.
Nevada: winning Harry Reid’s seat would be a nice victory for Election Day, but Joe Heck is actually suffering for his denouncing Trump. That factor, combined with massive surges in early voting, probably has doomed his candidacy. Heck has shown he knows how to win tough races before, but I think that too much is out of his control.
For races for both Governors and the House I used dark blue or red to signify what the result will be just for clarity, not to signify how large the margin will be.
Final Count: Republican, 34; Democratic, 15; Independent, 1
Some of the key states:
It will become apparent that I am very bullish about Republican chances in most of these races. I could easily be wrong about New Hampshire, West Virginia, Montana, and Indiana.
New Hampshire: I think that since this race has gotten far less attention than the presidential and Senate elections in the state, voters will turn to the candidate they know better. Republican Chris Sununu has one of the best last names for politics in the state, and that fact alone makes him a slight favorite in my book.
Vermont: although Vermont is the state that has given us Bernie Sanders, it has actually only elected 1 Democrat to the Senate, 7 Democrats to the House, 7 Democrats as Lieutenant Governor, and 6 to its Governor’s Mansion in its 225 year history! It also has gubernatorial elections every 2 years, and a Republican almost knocked off its incumbent governor in 2014. Republican Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott is looking for a promotion. He has a history of winning statewide elections in Vermont, and Democrats had a messy primary. Scott will probably win on Election Day, and many will be surprised, although it shouldn’t come as one.
North Carolina: Pat McCrory has been deeply unpopular for a while, and the closeness of the presidential race doesn’t bode well for him either.
West Virginia: a lot of predictors are giving this race to Democrats, but I think it will be very difficult for Democrat Jim Justice to run potentially 20 points ahead of Clinton in this state. By that factor alone, I’m giving it to Republican Bill Cole. West Virginia has a long history of electing Democrats, so it is possible that they stick to that.
Indiana: I have long thought that Mike Pence accepted Trump’s VP slot because he thought that he would lose reelection if he had stayed on for it. Trump is likely to carry Indiana, and with Young now looking like the favorite to win the Senate seat, I think that it will be tough for Democrats to win this. 2012 was also a low point for Hoosier Republicans because Richard Mourdock was on the ticket as the Senate candidate, and he actually forced a lot of close races down ballot.
Montana: this race has not gotten much attention, and as a result I think that Democratic Governor Steve Bullock is favored to win another term.
For the House, I only went through the competitive races that 270towin found, so there are potentially some other swing races that I didn’t factor in as being swing ones. I am clearly very bullish for Republicans, but I also think that this is justified. I don’t think that many incumbents of either party will lose. Despite the thoughts that this is an anti-incumbent year, hardly any members of Congress lost their primaries. The main difference between my predictions and those of the professional pundits is that I think that California House incumbents will mostly hold on. It is possible that Republicans get swept out from California, but I don’t see it being that likely for most of these districts.
Final Count: Republican, 241; Democratic, 194
We’ll know soon enough if I had the slightest idea what I was talking about. Now, remember to get out and vote!