Final Pre-Election Forecast

Democrats will gain control of the House of Representatives, gaining 20-30 seats in that chamber, primarily with gains in the Northeast and West, in particular Pennsylvania and New York. Some real stunning results may occur, such as a potential win in Idaho, Wyoming, or Kansas. This will create potential veto-overriding coalitions possible on tough regional issues or issues like stem cell research where there is no clear Republican position.

In the Senate, Democrats will pick up seats in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, and Virginia, resulting in a 50-50 (48-50-1-1) chamber narrowly controlled by the Republicans through Dick Cheney, giving the Democrats a constant talking point, and setting the chamber up for strong gains in 2008. It should be noted that the tough races in this campaign will strengthen downticket Democrats even though it looks like Harold Ford will be kkkept out of the Senate, and Claire McCaskill is losing steam as well. I do believe Liebermann will win in Connecticut, even though I think it will be a lot closer than the polls suggest (1 or 2 points) due to Lamont’s ground game and Schlesinger’s 11th hour heroics. Fortunately, if Liebermann does switch parties, it won’t change things much.

If the rumors are true that Harry Reid has offered to step aside to Hillary as minority leader, she would be wise to do so if the 50-50 split occurs, giving her 18% Cheney to use as her whipping boy, while ignoring the more photogenic Frist (who still has some chits to call in with the religious right) or his potentially nasty successor McConnell.

UPDATE: A recent poll shows a gain of 37 seats for a total of 240. I’m not that optimistic. I think especially in the South, the GOP’s ground game and institutional support will keep close races there from being lost.