01 November 2010

The Pre-Election Landscape

If you have not mailed in your early ballots yet... DON'T! The deadline to mail them in was Oct. 29th, and if you stick them in the mail today, they will not be counted! That being said, you can drop early ballots off at ANY polling place (doesn't have to be your own... just anywhere you see the big "VOTE HERE" sign) tomorrow from 6am-7pm. If you mailed your ballots in AFTER the deadline and are worried about your vote not being received in time or counted, you can go to your polling place (and yes, it must be YOUR polling place) tomorrow and ask to vote a "provisional ballot." You cannot be denied this right, just bring your proper identification with you (picture ID works best with your most current address on it). If you have any problems or questions, contact the Arizona Secretary of State's election offices or your local County Recorder's Office. That information can be found at http://www.azsos.gov/ on the "Elections" page.

Okay, now that my words of warning are out of the way, it is time to take a good hard look at the pre-election political landscape. I've done a lot of statewide posts recently, and all signs point to a close election in CD-1, CD-3, CD-5, CD-7, and CD-8. Republicans may win big here, and will certainly retain many of the statewide offices, such as Governor and Secretary of State.

Nationally, Republicans are poised to capture upwards of 40, perhaps 50 or more, seats in the House of Representatives, and will make it a lot closer in the Senate with pickups of around 7-9 seats. The way the Congress currently looks is 255 Dems-178 Reps in the House, 59 Dems-41 Reps in the Senate. And as of this morning, the polls are indicating that the House is going to be 168-224 to the GOP with 43 tossup districts. It only takes 218 votes to lead, so all indications point to a big Republican landslide there this year. The Senate is much closer, with http://www.realclearpolitics.com/ saying that it's looking like 48-45 to the Democrats with 7 tossups. I'm thinking it'll end up 52-48 blue.

Another interesting angle is the Tea Party, which nationally was the talk of everyone from the political analysts to the kitchen-table moms and dads. It was supposed to be this big, enormous, Libertarian-ish movement capturing the votes of the politically disenfranchised and the grassroots activists, but it seems that in reality, Tea Party campaigns aren't really faring much better than regular old established Republican campaigns, and while many candidates are claiming Tea Party morals, support, and ideals, in reality few are actually associated with the movement itself. I predict that after this election, when the GOP takes the House, the Tea Party movement will be forgotten as just another fad of the last decade.

1. Exit polling. Due to better security of exit polling data, there won't be many of those cryptic "Senator X is pulling ahead in the exit polls" before about 5pm Eastern time. So for those of us in Arizona, come about 2:15pm, we'll start seeing the very first accurate exit polls for the East Coast. Disregard most of everything before that, especially if you're watching the major news networks, whose only goal is to get you to watch their network over their competitor.

2. The weather! It might sound crazy, but when it rains/snows, less people turn out to vote. Who knew?! Fortunately for almost everyone, http://www.weather.com/ is showing that most of the country will stay relatively dry and clear tomorrow. The exceptions being snow showers in Washington state which could accumulate up to a foot of snow over the next 48 hours, and 1-5" of rain in the Louisiana-Arkansas-Mississippi-east Texas area. No big problems, though, so although turnout in Louisiana could be lower than expected, it shouldn't affect the big picture.

3. Turnout. Speaking of turnout, it's usually really low in midterm elections - under 40%. Anything higher probably means Democrats are turning out in higher numbers, and that could mean a few surprises throughout the night. The demographic information will be important as well and could point out the winners before anything else. If reports show 18-29-year-olds turning out in greater than 10% numbers, Democrats might have a less-than-awful night. Conversely, if we're seeing more than 50% of the voters as over-50, Republicans likely will make huge gains.

4. 3pm and 4pm. The first polls close in parts of Indiana and eastern Kentucky at 6pm EST (3pm for Arizona). 4pm marks the first major round of poll closings on the East Coast. In IN/KY, three "bellweathers" marking close contests could show how the night'll turn out for the political parties, as the IN-2, IN-9, and KY-6 contests are close ones between moderate candidates. Also, the KY Senate race being called in favor of Rand Paul (R) by a wide margin could have people huffing about the Tea Party impact.

Either way, sit down with your families and watch the results pour in. Talk to your kids about what's going on, how to interpret the results, what it means for the country, and such. Or do what I did and print out blank maps of your state's Congressional or legislative districts and as the returns roll in, color them red/blue/green/yellow for the different political parties! Should be a very fun night!

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