Update 11/8: Final results for the 2006 midterm election can be found at CNN's site here.
OK, here's my final analysis before the election today.
New polls since my last update on 11/4 have resulted in some interesting changes.
On the Senate side, I am now showing the Republicans maintaining a one seat lead. However two races are actually tied with a third within one point. (These are actual ties, in contrast to the mythical "statistical tie" I also posted about this morning.)
- In Maryland, Michael Steele (R) is tied with Ben Cardin (D) at 47%, with only 3% undecided and 3% going to Kevin Zeese (I). Because Zeese is the nominee from all three of the Libertarian, Green and Populist parties, it is not clear whether he is siphoning off more votes from Steele or Cardin (i.e. whether a voter deciding to avoid the third-party candidate effect at the last minute would be switching to Steele or Cardin). Since I have the tie going to the incumbent party, I am showing Cardin winning.
- In Missouri, James Talent (R) seems to have pulled slightly ahead of Claire McKaskell (D), but only by a point or two. This is a change from my last analysis. Note that the third-party candidate, Frank Gilmour, is a Libertarian so voters avoiding the third-party candidate effect at the last minute would be more likely to switch to Talent.
- In Virginia, the lead has switched back and forth between George Allen (R) and James Webb (D). Right now, I have them listed as tied at 49%, which I show as a win for the incumbent (Allen).
It should be noted that there are 2% to 3% undecided in each of these races. Undecideds tend to lean more heavily against the incumbent (Talent and Allen, both Republicans; the Maryland seat is Paul Sarbanes (D) current seat, so Bill Cardin is of the incumbent party but is not himself the incumbent). At this point, these races are anyone's to win.
The table below shows Cardin, Talent and Allen winning, resulting in a one-seat majority by the Republicans. If the Republicans win all three, they will maintain a two-seat majority. If the Democrats win all three, the could achieve a one-seat majority. These are definitely the three races to watch right now.
Two other senate races that are still pretty close are Montana, where Jon Tester (D) leads Conrad Burns (R) by two points, and New Jersey, where Robert Menendez (D) leads Tom Kean, Jr. (R) by five points.
Finally, I should mention that I removed two seats from the in-play column, as Maria Cantwell (D) has pulled out to a 16 point lead over Mike McGavick (R) in Washington and Debbie Stabenow (D) has also pulled out to a 16 point lead over Michael Bouchard (R) in Michigan.
In the House, there have only been a few significant changes since my last posting, leaving the end result unchanged.
- NY-20 was added back to the in-play column as Kirsten Gillebrand (D) pulled ahead of incumbent John Sweeney (R) by three points after allegations of spousal abuse were made against Sweeney. Sweeney was previously up by 14 points.
- CA-50 was removed from the in-play column after incumbent Brian Bilbray (R) widened his lead from three points to 14 points over Francine Busby (D).
- In KY-04, the incumbent Geoff Davis (R) pulled ahead of Ken Lucas (D) by six points, after being down three points previously.
- In FL-22, Ron Klein (D) widened his lead over incumbent Clay Shaw (R) from two points to nine points.
There too many House races worth watching for me to give detail on each one. I will merely list the district and the current poll result from my analysis for each. My system for picking these races is simple, it represents all races that are within two points, plus the NY-20 race where the swing occurred suddenly based on new allegations. There are other races with two to five point spreads that are probably also worth keeping an eye on, and can be found in the the detailed pdf.
- AZ-01 (R +2)
- AZ-05 (D +2)
- CA-11 (D +2)
- CO-04 (R +1)
- FL-13 (D +2)
- IL-10 (D +2)
- IN-09 (R +2)
- IA-02 (R +2)
- NM-01 (D +2)
- NY-19 (D +2)
- NY-20 (D +3)
- OH-01 (D +2)
- WA-08 (R tie)
The table below includes all of these closest races as shown. If the Republicans win all of these closest races, they will still only have 206 seats in the House, leaving the Democrats with 229 seats and the majority. If the Democrats win all of these, they will have 242 seats.
In the Gubernatorial races, the only significant changes have been Democrats pulling ahead in three races.
- In Michigan, incumbent Jennifer Granholm (D) has increased her lead over Dick DeVos (R) from nine points to 14 points, removing it from in-play.
- In Arizona, incumbent Janet Napolitano (D) has increased her lead over Len Munsil (R) from eight points to 28 points, also removing it from in-play. (Note that this may not represent a huge gain, but may merely represent a poor choice on my part of the poll I used in the previous analysis. Few pundits have expressed any belief at any point that Napolitano's seat was in play.)
- In Ohio, Ted Strickland (D) increased his lead over Ken Blackwell (R) from nine points to 18 points. Note that I still keep this as in-play because I am including any seat changing parties as in-play (regardless of the lead).
Now that I've discussed the Governors races that are no longer close, here are some races to watch.
- In Alaska, in spite of disbelief that this seat is in play, Sara Palin (R) is only leading Tony Knowles (D) by two points. A third-party candidate, Andrew Halcro, is polling at 12%. Although a former Republican, his independent platform may be appealing to "change voters" from both sides of the aisle. It is not clear which candidate would be helped if some of his voters switch in order to avoid the third-party candidate effect.
- In Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson (R) leads Mike Beebe (D) by only three points.
- In Iowa, current Secretary of State Chet Culver (D) leads current House member Jim Nussle (R) by only two points.
- In Maryland, Martin O'Malley (D) leads incumbent Robert Ehrlich (R) by one point, in spite of relatively high approval ratings for an incumbent Governor.
- In Minnesota, Attorney General Mike Hatch (D) leads incumbent Timothy Paulenty (R) by only one point. Momentum has been on Hatch's side, though.
- In Nevada, Dina Titus (D) leads Jim Gibbons (R) by one point. Nevada's political leanings can be illustrated by noting that Jim Gibbons is disliked by approximately half of the electorate and has been accused of sexual assault, but is still running neck-and-neck.
- In Oregon, incumbent Theodore Kulongowski (D) leads Ron Saxton (R) by approximately half a point.
- In Wisconsin, Mark Green (R) leads incumbent James Doyle (D) also by approximately half a point. In this race, the Green Party candidate, Nelson Eisman, is polling at 4%. Voters avoiding the third-party candidate effect at the last minute would be more likely to switch to Doyle.
As with the Senate and the House tables, the summary below shows the outcomes as listed above. If the Republicans win all of these close races, they will only lose a total of two Governors' seats. If the Democrats win all of these close races, the will gain a total of ten Governors' seats.
I have mentioned the "third-party candidate effect" a number of times in this post. There have been cases where, in close races, voters who have previously indicated they will vote for a third-party switch to one of the main-line candidates. An example of such a thought process is as follows: "When the Democrat was losing by 10 points, I decided I would vote for the Green Party candidate to express my interest in the environment. Now that the Democrat actually has a chance to win, I will switch to voting for him/her."
To reiterate my methodology: As you may be able to tell, I am trying to inject as little of my own opinion into this analysis as possible. That is why I am allowing close races to switch back and forth between times I publish the list. The only place where my opinion matters is that I sometimes have to pick which of two or three polls I will include in the analysis. In such cases, I tend to favor polls that are (i) newer, (ii) by national non-partisan firms versus local organizations or partisan polling houses and/or (iii) favor the incumbent. Where there are three or more polls, I also try to exclude any outlyers.