Wednesday, November 08, 2006

US Midterm Elections

I've been following these all night, as, I'm sure, have many other Lib Dems.

CNN have just "called" Missouri for the Democrats, which leaves just two seats to be decided in the Senate, and, while there are twenty-odd undecided House seats, the trend in that body is pretty clear.

The Democrats have won back control of the House of Representatives, which they lost in 1994. They have won a victory of near-landslide proportions. Getting on for one in ten of the seats have changed hands, which is amazing when you consider how many seats are gerrymandered to be safe for one party or the other. At the time I type this, CNN have 26 Democrat gains from the Republicans with 27 seats undecided. Essentially all the "undecided" seats were Republican in 2004, and all of them are 50-50. Assuming they split evenly between the parties, that's 39 or 40 Democrat gains, in a chamber of 435 Representatives. Like I said, near-landslide.

Turning to the Senate, which has been close all night, there are 100 seats in the Senate. 67 Senators - 40 Republicans and 27 Democrats - are not up for election this year. Of the 33 that were up, 15 were Republican and 18 Democrat (a reflection of the strong Democrat year of 2000). The Democrats have lost two seats: Vermont to Bernie Sanders, a Socialist, who will sit with the Democrats in the Senate, and Connecticut to Joe Lieberman, the sitting Democrat Senator, who lost in the primary election, but has committed to sit with the Democrats in the Senate. Lieberman is a moderate, so will not be a sure Democrat vote - but that was the case even when he was officially a Democrat.

The Democrats have gained four seats: Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island and have held the other 16 seats that were up for election. The Republicans have successfully retained only nine seats. That puts the state of the parties overall at 49 Republicans, 47 Democrats and two Independents who are allied with the Democrats.

The two remaining states are Montana and Virginia. While Montana is very close, Jon Tester looks to have enough of a lead - 50%-47% with over 70% of the vote counted - that I would expect to see an official "call" made (the point at which the media organisations estimate that only one result is now probable) within the next few hours that the Democrats will win Montana.

Virginia is a completely different story. The official count shows that with 2435 out of 2443 precincts (polling stations) having declared their results, the election is insanely close. The Democrat, Webb, has 1,169,373 votes to the Republican's 1,161,739, a difference of 0.32%. Because Dick Cheney, the Republican Vice-President, has the casting vote in the Senate, 50 Republicans constitute a majority. Apart from Virginia, there are 49 Republicans and 50 Democrats (and allies). So the winner of this tightest of tight races gets to control the United States Senate. Virginia has an automatic recount if the result is within 0.5%. Guess what: 2.3 million votes are going to be counted again. And they're going to be scrutinised to within an inch of their lives. There are still those eight precincts to declare: two in Richmond City (D 72-26), one in Fairfax City (D 56-43), one in Loudon County (D 50-49), two in James City County (R
53-46), one in Isle of Wight County (R 57-41) and one in Halifax County (R 59-40). If there is any trend here, it's Democrat. Averaging those numbers out, the Democrats might expect to win the remaining eight precincts 53-46, which will extend their lead marginally, but is unlikely to be quite enough to get them over that 0.5% threshold.

I think it's unlikely that we'll see three or four thousand votes change hands on the recount, so my final prediction is that sometime in early December the Democrats will win Virginia's second Senate seat and control of the United States Senate - and therefore both houses of Congress.

W: You're a lame duck.

Update: 10:11 GMT Two more Virginia precincts have declared, and they're the key Richmond City precincts. They broke D: 1,313; R: 588 so extending the lead to 0.36%. That will now come back down, but I'm now pretty confident of a Democrat lead going into the recount.

However, I'm starting to worry about Montana, the 3 point lead at 0700GMT is down to 1 point at 1000 GMT with only 15% more reporting - 70% to 85%. Assuming the 70%-85% tranche is representative of the 85%-100% tranche (which is likely), then there's enough momentum to hand the state to the Republicans.


Joe Taylor said...

The Dems didn't lose the Vermont senate seat as it was held by an independent Senator, who, like Sanders, is expected to caucus with the Democrats.

By the same token, Connecticut isn't really a "loss" given that the new Independent Senator is the same guy as the old Democratic Senator. ;-)

All in all - a dismal night for Republicans, which is what I'm sure we all wanted to see...

Liberal Neil said...

I went to bed just after Webb edged ahead and thought Missouri was going the same way.

I think my prediction is one out for each house - not a bad result!

Sadly the excellent Jay fawcett didn't quite manage it this time :-(