The chief reason I’m confident of a Romney victory tonight is I believe there will be a massive GOP turnout. Virtually all of the polling, especially at the state level, is based on a false premise that Democrats will come close to or even exceed the turnout advantage they enjoyed in 2008. That isn’t going to happen. From everything I see, GOP voters are intentionally breaking glass so they can walk across it to vote. If I’m right, the GOP may very well take control of the Senate tonight.
Currently, Democrats hold 53 seats in the Senate against the GOP’s 47. The GOP needs a net gain of 3 seats, if Romney wins, or 4 seats if Obama wins. 67 seats aren’t in contention this year, with the GOP holding 37 of these to the Democrats 30. Of the seats up this year, Democrats are safe in 7 (CA, MD, NY, VT, MN, DE, RI). The GOP is safe in 5 (TX, MS, WY, TN, UT). That takes us to 42-R, 37-D.
Democrats have the edge in 6 more states (HI, MI, WV, NM, WA, NJ). The GOP has the edge in 4 (NE, AZ, NV, ND). That takes us to 46-R, 43-D. The remaining states are toss-ups where turnout will decide the outcome. These are:
Indiana, Florida, Wisconsin, Missouri, Montana, Virginia, Maine, Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts.
Missouri and Indiana are probably “own goals” for the GOP. But for two flawed candidates, these would be easy wins for the GOP. Both may be saved with a huge GOP turnout, but they are probably gone.
Massachusetts is a very tough race for Republicans to win. Sen. Brown won the seat in a special election and this year will have a much larger, more Democrat turnout. His opponent gained in the polls as Obama fell. Brown’s fortunes seem to be inversely related to Romney. If MA voters are confident in an Obama victory, polls suggest they will support Brown as a check. If they think Romney could win, they will support Warren as a check.
Giving these three to the Dems gets us to 46-R, 46-D. The remaining 8 states will then decide control. One weird quirk about Senate elections is that, while they are individual contests, in recent history they’ve all moved in waves. In 2006 and 2008, Democrats picked up seats without losing any of their own. In 2002 and 2010, the GOP picked up seats without losing any of their own. It is likely that these 8 toss-ups states break towards one of the two parties.
Final polls in each of these states find the races neck-and-neck. But, again, these polls are largely based on samples that replicate the Democrats’ turnout advantage in 2008. That isn’t the electorate that is showing up today. If the GOP turns out in the numbers I expect, I think the GOP wins 6 of these 8, and takes control of the Senate.