In what amounts to the Super Bowl for political science majors today is an even numbered Election Day!
This is a glorious moment where polls don’t matter anymore and people can rest assured that candidates, surrogates and media personalities will soon have to shut their trap.
It’s also a day for people like myself who majored in this shit to make some forecasts. Here are five friendly Election Day predictions I would bet a moderate amount of money on:
1.) LETICIA VAN DE PUTTE WILL GET MORE VOTES THAN WENDY DAVIS
The fact that liberals were excited about this gubernatorial race meant they were going to lose. Some attempts were made early on to remind voters that prior to filibustering abortion regulations Davis had protested cuts in education. Still, in a heavily Republican state the only people who prioritize social issues are conservatives. While Davis got plenty of recognition, the filibuster would have been a plus if she had pursued a congressional career in a safe DFW-area Democratic district.
In contrast, Leticia Van de Putte, nominee for Lt. Governor, got some recognition for her part in that filibuster but wasn’t the star. Combine that with her coming from a bellwether county (Bexar County), having fairly good relations with capital staffers, a long enough tenure in the legislature and you’ve got a real vote-getter.
It also helps that her Republican opponent, Dan Patrick, secretly drives people crazy. Coming out of a competitive Republican primary against incumbent David Dewhurst, there must be some dissatisfied GOP voters willing to defect.
2.) REPUBLICANS WILL BE ELECTED TO 52 SENATE SEATS PLUS ONE AS A BONUS
The GOP will pick up seven Senate seats tonight and pick up one more for a total of 53 after Angus King (I-ME) chooses to caucus with Republicans to keep his committee assignments.
3.) SCOTT BROWN WILL HAVE AN UPSET VICTORY AND GAIN STATURE
Just like two years ago, I would once again rate the Senate race with Scott Brown as the most interesting campaign in the country. Relocated to New Hampshire, it took a while for me to figure out what Brown hoped to achieve. He had passed on what looked like an easy win for Massachusetts governor against his 2010 opponent Martha Coakley (currently behind in the polls against Republican Charlie Baker).
Instead he visited Iowa, drummed up rumors of running for president and moved to New Hampshire. But by Jove, despite my early confusion I think he has a national headwind on his side and will prevail. Even if he’s defeated, Brown has placed himself in a prime spot for the next big election.
If he wins, he’ll be a pragmatic vote that’ll come in handy for the Mitch McConnell/John McCain* faction of the Senate GOP leadership. If he loses, he’ll have built a base in the first in the nation primary and could be a key player in the 2016 presidential contest. Picture a reverse Sarah Palin who chastises Republicans for not getting shit done instead of rewarding blanket opposition. Brown’s endorsement will now be valuable in 2016.
*Lord, after they slugged it out all the way to the Supreme Court over campaign finance reform, I never thought I’d group McConnell and McCain together…
4.) HERE IN AUSTIN, THE LIGHT RAIL EXPANSION WILL FAIL BY A SLIM MARGIN
Thinking back to 2000, Austin had a major light rail proposition on the ballot which failed in a nail-biter election. This was a divisive race with strong proponents and an equally stronger opposition.
Accordingly, this expansion of the scaled-down light rail that passed in 2004 will narrowly fail. The 2004 product, launched in 2010, did not get off to a great start and I don’t believe it will inspire any confidence for more. Combine the anti-tax argument in Travis County and the partisanship in newly formed city council boundaries, and I expect anti-rail forces to have momentum. Finally, I imagine people stalled at Airport and Lamar waiting on the train to pass won’t take kindly to MORE rail lines.
5.) DESPITE THE HOOPLA, NO ADDITIONAL INDEPENDENTS WILL BE ELECTED TO THE SENATE
While I’m more than willing to give independent/non-partisan candidates a chance I don’t expect the two most talked about Senate candidates to prevail. In Kansas, Greg Orman could have played the Jesse Ventura-like social moderate/fiscal conservative alternative but had to inherit the Democratic base when their candidate dropped out.
As a the de facto Democratic nominee, I feel Orman will lose a close race against stagnant incumbent Pat Roberts. Likewise, independent candidate Larry Pressler will wage a valiant campaign for third place in South Dakota.