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Friday, September 06, 2002

Who's Got Crystal Balls?-Larry Sabato, "the Official PoliSci Prof for the Washington media," has a 2002 Crystal Ball Predictions site up-thanks to Quasipundit for the heads-up. Good news for the GOP- they keep the House. He's got the Republicans with 217 seats leaning or better, with 16 toss-ups. This means that the Democrats will have to run the toss-up table (and knock off a few leaners, since a couple of conservative Dems might defect if they're the swing vote) in order to get to Speaker Gephardt. Not-so-good-news. The Senate is a jump ball in the prof's eyes. He has six toss-up seats: four Democratic (Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey(!) and South Dakota) and two Republican (Arkansas and New Hampshire); everything else leans towards the status quo. However, the polling seems to give the Republicans the edge in all but Arkansas, where Hutchenson's divorce may cool his support on the right. He has an interesting take on the Louisiana race, which will likely end in a December runoff.
And if the Senate's party control depends on a December run-off in Louisiana, expect the political equivalent of nuclear war, with records set for campaign spending and street money (vote-buying). Plus, everyone covering politics gets a tax-deductible trip to New Orleans. We can hardly wait.
Of the leaning list, there are more Democratic senators that could be surprised, such as Harkin in Iowa, Landrieu in Louisiana and Cleland in Georgia, than there are Republicans in similar trouble, such as Cornyn in Texas. I'm calling for an over/under at +3 (make that +2.5 Vegas style) for the Republicans at this point, picking up four Democratic seats (MN, MO, SD and either NJ or one of the leaners) and losing Arkansas. If Bob Smith wins his primary, I'm adjusting down to a +2.

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