Monday, November 2, 2009

Pre-Election Day Predictions for VA, NJ, and NY-23

Last week I offered my assessment of the key 2009 elections one week out, I return as promised to offer predictions for tomorrow.

Virginia - It's all over but the counting. Tomorrow will be a big night for the GOP as Republican Bob McDonnell reclaims the governorship and the GOP wins all other statewide races (Lt. Governor and Attorney General). I expect the results to be quite lopsided with McDonnell winning by at least 10 points. This will have a down ballot effect and the GOP will probably add about 7 seats to its majority in the legislature. This means that the GOP will have total control of VA during the redistricting that will take place after the 2010 census.

New Jersey - Jersey continues to be a tough race to call, Christie's once commanding lead has gone, but Corzine's numbers have never improved and his approval rating is among the lowest for any governor. Independent candidate Chris Daggett appears to be fading and the late trend suggests a return for Christie. A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Christie up by 6 points. I stand by my prediction that Christie will win by about 2 percentage points, driven mostly by his continued lead among independents.

New York 23 - The most fascinating race of the year. The liberal Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava suspended her campaign on Saturday as it became clear that she could not win. Then on Sunday she endorsed the Democrats Bill Owens. Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman appears to have the momentum in the race, but it is unclear what impact Scozzafava's endorsement will have.  This race is getting attention with many seeing it as a microcosm of a coming civil war within the GOP between the conservative base and more moderate voices - but Scozzafava's decision to endorse the Democrat lends credibility to the many Republicans who felt that she simply was not a Republican. Embracing moderates is one thing, by most accounts Scozzafava was not a moderate Republican so much as she was a liberal to moderate Democrat running on the Republican ticket. I expect Hoffman to win by about 5 points.

So yes, I see a tremendous night for Republicans. Democrats will argue that Virginia and New Jersey were decided based on state issues and have nothing to do with the President or his agenda (even as Obama has now declared the NJ race as essential to his agenda). In NY-23 Democrats will argue that it shows that the GOP has no place for moderate or independent voices (a tough argument to make given that moderate and independent voters will be crucial to GOP wins in VA and NJ). If Hoffman wins by more than 5 points (assuming that he wins) in a district carried by President Obama the argument about GOP extremism will be very hard to make.

If there is a GOP sweep tomorrow expect this to seriously undermine key legislative initiatives such as health reform and cap and trade as moderate Democrats become increasingly concerned about 2010.

Stay tuned...

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