How Sure Are We That Beto O'Rourke Will Lead Blue Wave In Senate? REAL DAMN SURE!
Election's on Tuesday, and the prospects for Democrats to take the US Senate back remain pretty much what they were when we started profiling all this year's Senate races in March: Long shot, but definitely could happen. And in several races, Dems' prospects look better now than they did in the spring. Also a huge factor: if polling in midterms is usually iffy, polling for the 2018 midterms has more ifs than David Brooks holding a seance with the shade of David Broder.
The annoying thing is that it looks so deceptively easy: Donald Trump is widely despised, Trump insists the election -- like everything else in the universe -- really is all about him, AND Dems only need to pick up two seats to take control of the Senate. But then all the math stuff and the structural challenges of this' year's Senate map come into play. Of the 33 seats up for grabs, far more -- 23 -- are held by Democrats than by Republicans, and ten of those are in states won by Trump in 2016. Only one Republican up for reelection, Nevada's Dean Heller, is from a state won by Hillary Clinton.
Still, a lot of Democrats who were on the Endangered Senators List in the spring are looking better the weekend before the election. Joe Manchin, in West Virginia, benefited from a Republican primary field that included the bugfuck nutso coal baron Don Blankenship, who did the nation the dual services of being comedically assholish and also losing the primary. We think that may have something to do with Blankenship's attempt to run against Mitch McConnell and "Chinapeople," although as several sharp political experts pointed out neither were actually on the ballot.
As of this weekend, Manchin is narrowly favored to hold his seat against Republican nominee Patrick Morrisey, who is so boring that he barely merits mention. It's going to be a squeaker, like a lot of races, but a lot of pundits had proclaimed Manchin dead meat after Trump's 2016 win.
In Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, where Trump and running mate Jill Stein got just enough votes to eke out an electoral majority (ask him about election night; he just might remember it), Democratic incumbents Tammy Baldwin, Debbie Stabenow, and Sherrod Brown are all doing just fine, thank you, although of course to be on the safe side we just went outside, turned around, spat, and cursed. Even Indiana's Joe Donnelly, who looked to be in trouble in May, when we profiled his race against Republican never-ran Mike Braun, seems to have a pretty fair chance of staying in the Senate now.
The prospects for a couple of Democratic women in very red states, Missouri's Claire McCaskill and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, on t'other hand, are far iffier. McCaskill's polling against Republican Josh Hawley has been extremely close, but going into the weekend looks dead even. Claire: Keep reminding people Hawley's lying like crazy about pre-existing conditions and is literally suing to end patient protections. (Also, best headline this weekend: "Can Marijuana Save Claire McCaskill?" Groovy. Let's hope so?)
In North Dakota, Heitkamp is down by ten percent in average polling, and it doesn't at all help that Republicans have done everything possible to suppress votes of Native Americans, the state's most solid Democratic-leaning constituency. The one bright spot, just maybe: Native voters are very, very pissed, and it's just possible a surge in Native turnout could save Heitkamp's bacon, and Democratic prospects for taking the Senate.
Then there's this intriguing what-if assessment from the New York Times:
If Democrats manage to lose just the Heitkamp seat, they have a (remote) chance of winning the Senate. They would have to win three of these four Republican-held seats: Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee.
Hmmm. In the race to replace Arizona invertebrate Jeff Flake, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema looks pretty good against Republican Martha McSally, following a Republican primary full of loonybirds. And in Nevada, Democrat Jacky Rosen may very well have the edge against Republican Dean Heller. As the Times notes, Latino turnout in both states could be a HUGE factor, and Donald Trump's attempt to whip up immigration panic could hurt the Republican candidates far more than it helps.
In Tennessee, where the polling is nuts, all over the place, and maybe worthless. Yr Wonkette's Evan Hurst has a good feeling about former governor Phil Bredesen against Republican and certifiable crazy person Marsha Blackburn, and damn, we hope he's right.
And that brings us right back where we started this tour: In Texas, where Beto O'Rourke has been running close to Ted Cruz in the polls, and where again the polls could very well be missing a lot of new voters who've been energized by Beto's campaign. Cruz spent the weekend just plain lying about O'Rourke, which is about what you'd expect, isn't it? It's all going to come down to turnout, and how's this for possibly good news for Beto: The early vote in Texas this year has already been bigger than the total vote for the 2014 midterms. Wouldn't it be nice for Texas to have a senator who doesn't make people cringe? We have been listening to Lyle Lovett all morning for good electoral juju.
We've linked the campaign sites of all the Democrats named in this roundup, and hey, if you want to donate in one place to ALL the red-state Democratic incumbents, click right here. Get out the vote, drive people to the polls, and we'll be there with you for all the insanity.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.