November 3, 2002
KISSING YOUR SISTER:Democratic House Is Less Likely Than GOP Senate: Parties Seem to Be Headed For Status Quo in Congress (David S. Broder and Dan Balz, November 3, 2002, Washington Post)
Ken Mehlman, the White House political director, said, "If Republicans are able to keep control of the House, President Bush will have had the best off-year election in 40 years. If Republicans are able to win back the Senate, it will have been an even more historic day."
The first seems much more likely than the second. Counting carryovers who do not face the voters until 2004 or 2006 and safe seats up this year, Republicans have 44 assured Senate votes and Democrats 45, not counting Independent Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont, who will support the Democrats on organization matters.
Each party has three races that are leaning its way, but are not certain. For the Republicans, those states are Missouri, North Carolina and Texas; for the Democrats, Arkansas, Georgia and Minnesota. Missouri appears the likeliest seat to fall to the Republicans, while Arkansas represents the Democrats' best opportunity to gain a seat -- offsetting one another.
If those followed form, Republicans would have 47 seats, Democrats 48, again not counting Jeffords.
The true tossup races are in Colorado, New Hampshire and South Dakota, but Louisiana must be added to the list because it is uncertain whether Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), who leads the field in an all-party primary including three Republicans, will receive 50 percent of the votes as the state constitution requires. If not, she will face a runoff with a Republican on Dec. 7, in which her chances might not be as good. Republicans would need victories in three of those four states to reach the magic number of 50.
A business-oriented political operative, who maintains close contact with Republican campaigns, said, "My own guess is that Republicans will wind up closer to 46 than to 50."
If you assume the GOP can pull out one of those tossups they get back to 49 and the election's a draw. That's a historic victory, but folks are bound to be disappointed. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 3, 2002 6:53 AM