President George W. Bush is hoping to be underestimated one last time. Promising that his Republicans will hold both the House and the Senate on Tuesday, the President used Air Force One to hopscotch the Sun Belt and Midwest as he closed out a campaign that could determine whether he spends the next two years on offense or defense.
This blog has been silent throughout much of the campaign. Personal and professional reasons are to blame. With twenty-four hours to go before the election Emerson Darcy has decided to voice opinions on a few influential races.
• Md.: Steele vs. Cardin
• Pa.: Santorum vs. Casey
• Mo.: Talent vs. McCaskill
• R.I.: Chafee vs. Whitehouse
• Nev.: Ensign vs. Carter
• N.J.: Menendez vs. Kean
• Wash.: Cantwell vs. McGavick
• Conn.: Lieberman vs. Lamont
• Ohio: DeWine vs. Brown
• Mont.: Burns vs. Tester
TN: Corker vs. Ford, Jr.
In Maryland, Democrat Ben Cardin has held Steele off by 7 points in the latest Rasmussen poll. The 10-term congressman from Baltimore has formed strong alliances in the state, including one with his primary opponent, Kweisi Mfume, the former president of the NAACP. In addition, Cardin, who voted against the Iraq-war resolution, has brought in Sen. Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton to help shore up support among the base. Emerson Darcy predicts a Cardin win.
Pennsylvania’s junior senator, Republican Rick Santorum, is fighting for his political life. After narrowing the lead of Democratic challenger, state treasurer Bob Casey, to single digits in August, polls now show Casey's lead back near double digits. Of these Quaker state players, Emerson Darcy predicts a Santorum loss and President Bush will lose one of his most consistent and conservative allies in the Senate.
It may well be the closest Senate race in the country; Missouri’s showdown between Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill has been remarkably polite. Talent, the Republican incumbent, and McCaskill, the state’s auditor, are both well liked locally. However, Emerson Darcy predicts the conservative state will stay conservative with a Talent victory.
Who would have thought that in the famously independent state of Rhode Island, a left-leaning Republican senator is in a tight race with a party line Democrat. Lincoln Chafee trails Democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse by about two points, according to the latest polls. Whitehouse, who was formerly the state's attorney general, has campaigned on an aggressively national platform, saying not just Rhode Island's future but “the structure of power in Washington” is at stake. This may be nice campaign spin but nothing more. Rhode Island will stay independent with incumbent Lincoln Chafee.
Nevada's first-term Republican senator, John Ensign, has faced little strong resistance, from Democrat Jack Carter though Ensign’s once sizable lead has been cut to 9 points in a recent Rasmussen poll. Carter believes that Ensign is a Bush clone, vulnerable in a state where the president's approval ratings are in the 30s. Much depends upon voter turnout tomorrow. Emerson Darcy predicts an upset win for Democrat Jack Carter.
New Jersey seems like an easy Senate seat for the Democrats to hold on to. The incumbent, Democrat Bob Menendez, who was appointed in January when Sen. Jon Corzine became the state's governor, is a seven-term former congressman. The state has been solidly Democrat in the last four presidential elections and disapproval of President Bush is high. However, polls show a dead heat between Menendez and his challenger, Republican Tom Kean Jr., a state senator whose father was formerly the popular governor of New Jersey and grandfather a congressman. Kean's attempts to paint Menendez as the product of a broken New Jersey political system, rocked by scandal over the last decade will work. Governor Corzine will be handed a political defeat as Emerson Darcy predicts a Kean victory.
Washington Senator Maria Cantwell's double-digit lead in January over Republican challenger Mike McGavick has dwindled to four points, according to a recent Rasmussen poll. She is also facing heat from some fellow Democrats over her vote in support of the war in Iraq and her refusal to back troop removal timetables. However, Democratic Senate heavyweights Barack Obama and Russ Feingold, who have both come to Seattle on her behalf and former President Bill Clinton support for her will help her keep her small lead and ultimate victory in tomorrow’s election.
It has been an interesting autumn. The former vice presidential candidate lost his primary to challenger Ned Lamont. Lamont’s victory emboldened progressives and old liberal Democrats across the country. Lieberman’s main vulnerability: steadfast support for the war in Iraq proved fatal in the primary. In a state that is increasingly disdainful of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy such vulnerability is what Mr. Lamont has hammered upon. However, in a three-way general election run, Emerson Darcy predicts that Lamont loses, showing Democrats that an independent bid was Lieberman’s best shot and their worst nightmare.
It’s a political platitude “as Ohio goes, so goes the nation.” If it’s true, the GOP is probably a bit nervous about the Buckeye state. Democrat Sherrod Brown, the progressive congressman from Avon, has taken a narrow lead to unseat two-term incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine. Both parties have pulled out all the stops for their respective candidates: President George Bush has plans to attend a private fund-raiser for the senator in Ohio and both former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Sen. John McCain will lend their support. On the other side of the ticket, Sens. Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton have thrown their high-wattage support behind Brown. Current scandals involving the high-ranking state GOP leaders will affect the popular incumbent and widely perceived moderate nice guy Mr. DeWine. Emerson Darcy predicts Ohio will chose Mr. Brown.
The big question facing Big Sky voters is whether they agree with Jon Tester, an organic farmer, former teacher and the president of the Montana Senate or want to stick by the senator who has brought $2 billion in federal funds to the state over the past 18 years. Montana's three-term Republican senator, Conrad Burns, has turned into one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country seeking re-election. Burns, ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff is his downfall and Emerson Darcy predicts a Tester win.
In Tennessee, Senate GOP candidate Bob Corker has one advantage that the man he replaced, Sen. Bill Frist, did not: Corker is not an incumbent. Democrat Representative Harold Ford, a shrewd and dogged campaigner, did his best to tie Corker to Bush’s Washington throughout the campaign. But this is a contest that boils down to who is more “Tennessee,” Corker has an out that most other Republican candidates this year did not. Also, the Republican’s cheap, race-baiting TV ad (“Harold, call me”) worked, sadly, but not in the obvious way. The controversy it generated actually was the first time many voters in East Tennessee learned that Ford was an African-American, a fact that can still cost votes in that region and sadly precious ones for Mr. Ford. Emerson Darcy predicts a Corker victory.
It will be an exciting election. Upsets are guaranteed as well as surprises. This is one prediction Emerson Darcy know he is right about. On a final note, all readers are strongly urged to vote! This campaign season has been negative and intense. It is the nature of the beast known as American politics. To those sick of politics, historically, there have never been “good old days” because American politics have always been dirty to some degree. Let this knowledge not be a determent, rather resolve that through participating in the experiment called American democracy you lessen the degree of negativity.