The Briefing, Vol. II, Issue 38

The Briefing, Vol. II, Issue 38

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From: Conservative Intel

What follows is Conservative Intel’s updated simple guide to watching the 2014 elections on Tuesday night, November 4. The states are arranged in order of when the polls close. Important races are highlighted, states with no important or competitive federal or statewide races are simply omitted. 

The original version of this guide was posted October 27, 2014. Some updates and changes have been made as warranted to account for developments in the final week.

Note that although there are predictions here for every important Senate and governor’s race, the point here is less to guess all the outcomes correctly than to give hints about what you should be watching for on election night to understand what it is you’re seeing. (But in case you’re wondering, the projections add up to a net House gain of nine for the GOP and 50 Senate seats on election night, most likely increasing to 52 after run-offs in Georgia and Louisiana.)

Most incumbents are safe and most seats don’t change parties. The knowledge of which races to look for is what will help you understand whether one party or the other is living up to expectations on Tuesday night.  For example, when Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins, R, wins re-election (“Safe Republican”), that’s not a big deal; but if Maine Gov. Paul LePage, R, wins (“Leaning Democratic Takeover”), that’s huge, and probably a sign that Republicans are having a very good evening. 

Most descriptions below are minimal in the interest of time and space, although the most important races get a slightly more thorough treatment.

Also, this is mentioned with reference to a few states, but be sure to keep an eye on state legislatures. Republicans have chances ranging from realistic to excellent to take over one or both chambers in Colorado, Iowa, West Virginia, Washington State, Kentucky, and New Mexico. 

Virginia – 6 PM ET close

Senate: The commonwealth is now talked about as a “Blue State,” but this could also be a passing phenomenon of the Obama era. In reality, it’s still a competitive state where Democrats have produced far better candidates than Republicans in recent years.

And Sen. Mark Warner, D, is one of their best candidates. Despite late scandal-talk associated with Warner, expect an early call on this race. Likely Democratic Retention.

HouseDemocrats got their hopes up on this one, but Del. Barbara Comstock, R, should win the competitive open House seat left behind by the retiring Rep. Frank Wolf. Dave Brat, R, who shocked the nation by defeating Rep. Eric Cantor, R, in the primary, should win easily as well. Net Change: 0.

Kentucky – 6 PM ET close

SenateHere’s the first truly consequential close race of the night. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R, having climbed out from the depths of unpopularity, is favored to win re-election against Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, D. If Republicans lose this one, a Senate majority is unlikely.

Democrats had given up on this one until the DSCC received some cash from raised by Grimes’ allies, a fraction of which they have dedicated to keeping this one interesting. Grimes made some late mistakes — such as refusing to admit she’d voted for President Obama — and she’s now taking a beating because for all of her minimum wage increase advocacy, her family business pays its tipped workers $2.13 an hour.

In the end, it’s just really hard when your party’s president has a 30 percent approval rating in your state. Leaning Republican Retention.

HouseNet Change: 0

Georgia — 7 PM Eastern

Governor: This one could go to a December runoff, but Gov. Nathan Deal, R, will probably prevail in the end over presidential grandson Jason Carter, D. It’s worth noting that Deal outperformed the polls in 2010 and avoided a runoff against former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes. But he’s not polling nearly so well this time. Leaning Republican Retention.

Senate: This is one of the more consequential races of 2014, and it’s probably not going to be resolved on election night, thanks to the requirement that the winner exceed 50 percent of the vote. Most late polls give Democrat Michelle Nunn the upper hand, but businessman David Perdue has to be considered the favorite anyway, especially if the race goes to a January 6 runoff. (Yes, it’s a different date from the potential governor’s runoff.) Leaning Republican Retention.

House: Republicans have been gunning for Rep. John Barrow, D, forever. They keep failing. Here’s why:

This might just be the year it happens, as Republican Rick Allen narrowly leads in one late poll. But Republicans have gotten their hopes up here before, only to have them dashed. Net Change: R+1.

New Hampshire – 7 PM Eastern

GovernorGov. Maggie Hassan, D, should narrowly fend off an unexpectedly strong challenge from businessman Walt Havenstein, R. The bigger question might be the state legislature, which is always volatile. Leaning Democratic Retention.

SenateIt’s a bit strange to see this race as competitive as it is. Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is still a favorite to win, but Scott Brown, R, the moderate former senator from Massachusetts, has clearly enjoyed a late surge and is close enough that an upset could be on the cards. One late poll shows him with a lead, and it would be huge for Republicans to pick this one up. Leaning Democratic Retention. 

HouseNew Hampshire has lately acquired a habit of throwing out its House incumbents, only to bring them back later. Former Manchester Mayor and Rep. Frank Guinta, R, is making a comeback against Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D, whom he defeated in 2010 and lost to in 2012. It’s going to be very close, slight advantage to Guinta. Rep. Annie Kuster, D, should be favored to hang on – although not by much – against state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, R, who may be back at some point in the future. Net change: R+1. 

Florida — 7 PM Eastern (8 PM panhandle)

Governor: One of America’s most expensive races this year, Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s re-election has been a real grind. Former Governor (and former Republican) Charlie Crist, D, seemed like a sure thing early on, but he has more baggage than an airport and Scott has ruthlessly exploited it. Scott’s late unforced error — he delayed his appearance at a debate as part of a dispute over the ground rules — turned this into a tie once again. It’s anyone’s guess how it turns out — by a hair, a Scott win would probably be the more surprising outcome. Leaning Democratic Takeover.

House: In the south, Carlos Curbelo, R, should prevail in Miami’s 26th district, ousting Rep. Joe Garcia, D. In the north, Rep. Steve Southerland, R, hopes to hang on for dear life in a close Second District race against Gwen Graham, daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham, D. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D, should survive in his Fort Pierce-area district on the Treasure Coast thanks to exceptionally strong fundraising and poor GOP recruitment. Net change: R+1.

West Virginia — 7:30 Eastern

Senate: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R, should win handily, and it will probably be the first called Republican Senate pickup of the night. Safe Republican Takeover.

House: Two races to watch here: In the second district, former Maryland State Sen. Alex Mooney, R, will struggle to hold onto Capito’s seat. Provided he wins, the defeat of Rep. Nick Rahall, D, in the Third District by party-switcher Evan Jenkins would turn the state’s entire House delegation Red. It’s also worth checking Wednesday morning to see if Republicans managed to capture the state House for the first time since 1928. Net Change: R+1. 

North Carolina — 7:30 Eastern

Senate: Sen. Kay Hagan, D, is hanging on for dear life against State House Speaker Thom Tillis, R. This one could really go either way, but a Tillis victory is probably slightly less likely. If Tillis does win, a Republican majority is a safe bet. He seems to have closed the gap in the final days after trailing by small margins throughout the entire campaign, but he has never taken a sustained lead. So far, early voting looks better for Democrats than it did in 2010. Leaning Democratic Retention. 

House: Republicans are favored to pick up the 7th District seat of retiring Rep. Mike McIntyre, D. They should also hang on to Rep. Renee Ellmers’ Second District seat — if she’s losing to singer Clay Aiken, it’s bad news for the GOP. Net Change: R+1.

Pennsylvania — 8 PM Eastern

Governor: There’s no nice way of saying it: Gov. Tom Corbett is a dead duck, and it’s been obvious for months. Democrat Tom Wolf will win without breaking a sweat — and in fact if you replaced him on the ballot with a dead body, it would win as well.

It’s actually kind of incredible that Corbett got through without a serious primary challenge — and there were shenanigans by the state party to throw one not-completely serious challenger off the ballot. The only question is how badly this top-ticket blowout is going to damage Republicans in the state legislature — will they also lose their majorities? Safe Democratic Takeover.

Texas — 8 PM Eastern

Governor: Nope, sorry, but late-term abortion is not the key to turning Texas blue. Attorney General Greg Abbott, R, will roll (haha, get it?) to a convincing victory, and everyone will pore over the exit poll data for weeks. The big question is how close he gets to 50 percent with Hispanic voters — and then, of course, how much time the party spends building on his victory. Safe Republican Retention.

SenateThere is an election for this, we think. Safe Republican Retention.

House: Pete Gallego is the favorite to win re-election in the  23rd District, but keep an eye on it — Will Hurd is the Republican candidiate. Net Change: 0.

Rhode Island — 8 PM Eastern

Governor: Interesting race this year. Bet on Gina Raimondo, D, but don’t count out Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, R, who will at least make it close. Because Gov. Lincoln Chafee changed parties, this would technically be a retention, but Raimondo would be the first Democrat elected governor in Rhode Island in more than 20 years. Leaning Democratic Retention.

Illinois — 8 PM Eastern

Governor: Can Illinois still elect a Republican governor? It seemed likely in 2010, and then Gov. Pat Quinn, D, pulled out a miracle. The polls suggest he might not be so lucky this time — after a few weeks of setbacks and an ad that backfired, Republican businessman Bruce Rauner looks like the narrow favorite once again. The state’s public employee unions feel they have a lot to lose here and will be out in force for Quinn on election day. Leaning Republican Takeover.

House: In suburban Lake County, keep an eye on former Rep. Bob Dold‘s challenge to Rep. Brad Schneider, D, who beat Dold in 2012 with an assist from strong Obama turnout. This is a bellwether district for moderate suburbanites. Downstate, Rep. Rodney Davis, R, should be fine. Rep. Bill Enyart is in some peril — he’s counting on voters to feel threatened by the mad-as-hell legislative outbursts of state Rep. Mike Bost, R, whereas Bost is proudly wears them on his sleeve to appeal to an angry electorate.  Net Change: R+2.

Connecticut — 8 PM Eastern

Governor: It’s a rematch from 2010. It’s going to be very, very close, as it was in 2010. This is a true tossup, but Republicans will be overperforming if Tom Foley pulls it out this time over Gov. Dan MalloyLeaning Democratic Retention.

Maine — 8 PM Eastern

Governor: There’s been a lot of wacky polling in this three-way race. The best way to put it is probably this: It’s nearly a miracle that Gov. Paul LePage still has a chance, and if he somehow pulls out a victory, it’s a sign that Democrats are getting murdered all over the map. A LePage victory also requires a strong performance by independent also-ran Eliot Culter. The most likely outcome is still for Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud to win. Leaning Democratic Takeover.

Senate: Susan Collins, of course. Safe Republican Retention.

House: Republicans have put up a very strong fight in the second-district race to replace Michaud, in the more Republican of the state’s two districts. The GOP contender, Bruce Polliquin, has led in late polls. As with Michaud, probably benefits from the presence of an independent candidate in his race against Democratic State Sen. Emily Cain, who is considerably more liberal than Michaud. Leaning Republican Takeover.

South Dakota – 8 PM Eastern (9 PM in the state’s west)

Governor: Dennis Daugaard, R. Safe Republican retention.

SenateIn spite of the late drama, former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds should win this three-way open-seat race handily, giving South Dakota an all-Republican delegation in Congress for the first time in decades. Leaning Republican Takeover.

HouseOne at-large seat, and it’s safe Republican. Net change: 0.

Massachusetts – 8 PM Eastern

GovernorStrong indications here that the Bay State will go back to electing Republican governors again. They don’t call the Democratic candidate Martha Choke-ly for nothing. Charlie Baker, R, a moderate, is strongly favored at this point. Leaning Republican Takeover.

HouseRepublican chances in the 6th District would have been better if Rep. John Tierney, D, hadn’t lost his primary. But a few polls still show moderate former state Sen. Richard Tisei, R, in the lead. This was also the case in 2012, and Tisei underperformed. Perhaps Obama’s absence on the ballot will make up for that, though. Also keep an eye on the 9th District, where Rep. Bill Keating, D, at least has a race on his hands. Net Change: 0.

Kansas — 8 PM Eastern

Governor: Gov. Sam Brownback, R, got himself into quite a bit of trouble this year, and will need a miracle (albeit only a small one) to survive against Paul Davis. As with the unusual Senate race, Republican victories are still possible and would not be shocking at all. Even so, when incumbents look this bad, it’s hard to call them favorites. That’s certainly the case with both Brownback and Roberts at this point. Leaning Democratic Takeover.

Senate: Given the weird nature of this race between Sen. Pat Roberts, R, and Democratic-leaning independent Greg Orman, it’s hard to say how this one comes out. Roberts seemed to have righted the ship, but at best he enjoys a very narrow lead going into the home stretch. It’s going to be close, and he seems to have much better chances than Brownback at this point. Leaning Democratic (Independent) takeover.

Arizona — 8 PM Eastern

Governor: If “Demographic change” is really a thing in elections, then this is the state where you’d start seeing it first. Not this year. Republican businessman Doug Ducey is a favorite over Democrat Fred DuVal, D. Leaning Republican Retention.

House: Two close contests here: The always-competitive seats of Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, D, and Ron Barber, D. Both seats are totally winnable for the respective GOP candidates. Either Andy Tobin or Martha McSally — who nearly knocked off Barber in a much tougher 2012 environment — could well win. Net change: R+1.

Arkansas — 8:30 PM Eastern

Governor: Republican Asa Hutchinson is expected to win. Leaning Republican Takeover.

Senate: Aside from Kentucky, this is probably the race where President Obama matters most. Rep. Tom Cotton, R, should defeat Sen. Mark Pryor, D, without too much trouble, or else it’s a sign Republicans are massively underperforming expectations. Leaning Republican Takeover.

House: Democrats are threatening to take over two open seats — the Fourth District, vacated by Cotton, and the Second, vacated by Rep. Tim Griffin, R. Their chances are better in the latter. Although the Democratic nominee, Patrick Hays, leads narrowly in one late poll, Republicans are on their way to a top-ticket blowout that makes Democratic victory a longshot. Net Change: 0.

Louisiana — 9 PM Eastern

Senate: Don’t stay up for this one on Tuesday, as it’s almost certainly going to a runoff. But the Tuesday outcome elsewhere — should Republicans take the majority — could seal Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu‘s fate by costing her the support of the state’s oil and gas industry. Either way, she cannot be considered the favorite. Leaning Republican Takeover.

Wisconsin — 9 PM Eastern

Governor: This could be the most important race of the night with the biggest long-term implications. It’s been a lot closer than Gov. Scott Walker, R, would like, but the last Marquette University Law School poll shows him emerging with a comfortable victory, and it’s been the most reliable poll in every single one of his statewide races.

If he wins, Walker could be president someday. If he loses, he won’t. Walker is a slight favorite over Democrat Mary Burke. He hasn’t made any obvious mistakes in his campaign. The unions want to taste his blood and put his head on a pike as an example for others. They tried and failed in 2012, and in 2010, and they will probably fail this time, too. Leaning Republican Retention.

Nebraska — 9 PM Eastern

Governor: Having tried and failed at a Senate run in 2006, Republican Pete Rickets should have no problem putting this one away. Safe Republican Retention.

Senate: Ben Sasse, R, could have started choosing his office furniture the minute he won the primary. Safe Republican Retention.

House: Democrats seem to have targeted Rep. Lee Terry, R, ever since House races were invented, and they always came up short, even when President Obama narrowly carried his district in 2008. But it looks like this might be the year he finally loses, in spite of a strong Republican tide elsewhere.

Terry, a very vocal opponent of Net Neutrality legislation, is no stranger to tough races, but he was softened up this year by a bitter Tea Party challenge and the prospect of an independent bid by a conservative. The latter would have doomed him for sure, but it didn’t happen. Even so, state Sen. Brad Ashford, D, is enough of a threat that the NRCC recently went nuclear with an ad reminiscent of Willie Horton. Never a good sign. Net Change: D+1.  

New York – 9 PM Eastern

GovernorFugetaboutit, Andrew Cuomo is going to win. But keep an eye on the State Senate, where things are always complicated. Republicans hope to re-establish it as their toe-hold in state government. Safe Democratic Retention.

HouseA few interesting contests here. Republicans are favored to take over the 21st District seat of retiring Rep. Bill Owens, D. If Elise Stefanik, R, is not victorious there, it’s a sign of big trouble for the GOP.

It’s also worth watching a few other races, any of which would signal big problems for Democrats if they’re losing. These include Democratic Rep. Rob Bishop‘s seat in the First District on Long Island and the upstate district of Rep. Sean Maloney, D.

Democrats’ hopes for pickups in the state seem to have evaporated – not only should Rep. Tom Reed skate in western New York and Chris Gibson in the northern suburbs, but even indicted Rep. Michael Grimm, R, of Staten Island is a slight favorite to hang on, as incredible as that seems. Net Change: R+1.

Michigan – 9 PM Eastern (10 PM Eastern in far west U.P.)

GovernorGov. Rick Snyder, R, appears set to win a close but decisive victory in his quest for a second term over former Rep. Mark Schauer, D. Although the race has received far less attention than the one in Wisconsin, it would arguably deal an even stronger blow organized labor, placing Michigan’s right-to-work law out of danger of repeal. Leaning Republican Retention.

SenateRepublicans found a reasonably strong and well-funded candidate in former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land – she even outraised Rep. Gary Peters, D, in the third quarter of 2014. But this race looks like it was a bridge too far for the GOP. This is especially evident as the NRSC and other outside groups focus resources on New Hampshire instead, sensing much stronger chances in toppling an incumbent there than in seizing the open seat in Michigan. Likely Democratic Retention.

HouseNo seats are likely to change hands, but keep an eye on Michigan-1 in the Upper Penninsula and Traverse City. Rep. Dan Benishek usually has a close race. Dave Trott, R, should be able to keep the northwest suburban Detroit 11th District in Republican hands. Republican Reps. Justin Amash and Tim Walberg should be fine. Rep. Fred Upton, R, is having to deal with a $23 million ad buy against him by Lawrece Lessig’s campaign finance SuperPAC, but the ads they’re running against Upton are pretty lame. Net change: 0.

Minnesota – 9 PM ET close

GovernorThe deterioration of the state Republican Party tells the whole story here. In just eight years, Democrat Mark Dayton has gone from being one of the nation’s most despised U.S. Senators, and someone Democrats were glad to have gone, to the heavy favorite for a second term as governor. His win in 2010 came against a Republican wave, thanks to poor GOP recruitment and one of the nation’s most inconsistent (but still not necessarily one of the worst) state Republican parties. Likely Democratic Retention.

SenateSen. Al Franken, D, won by the skin of his teeth in 2008 and was seated only after protracted litigation. But the state GOP found its bench far too thin to take him out this time around. It was probably a smart strategy to recruit a wealthy businessman like Mike McFadden in case a big enough wave formed – and the race did get somewhat close – but the wave just isn’t going to be anywhere near big enough to reach the top of this hill. Republicans have been pressed for resources this year because they have too many targets to aim at. Some races that perhaps could have gone better end up becoming casualties. Likely Democratic Retention.

HouseThere are two Democratic seats to watch. In the 7th District, Rep. Collin Peterson, D, should be fine. Rep. Rick Nolan, D, is in a lot more trouble in the 8th District in the Iron Range. Nolan’s district has behaved unpredictably in recent years, electing a Republican in 2010. Nolan also trailed badly in one late poll against his long-haired opponent, Republican businessman Stewart MillsNet change: 0.

Colorado – 9 PM Eastern

Democrats worked so hard to turn Colorado blue. They succeeded in 2004, against a national trend. But with an unpopular Democratic governor in the statehouse (Bill Ritter), they were on the point of losing control in 2010.

Then, a miracle occurred. Ritter stepped aside, Democrats found a strong candidate in former bar owner and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and the state Republican Party suffered a total collapse in candidate recruitment.

The expected GOP nominee for governor, former Rep. Scott McInnis of the western slope, fell off in a plagiarism scandal. His rival in the primary, Dan Maes, proved to be such an ethical mess that former Rep. Tom Tancredo, R, known mostly for his opposition to immigration, jumped in as an independent and eventually won over most of the party. The beneficiary of al this chaos was Hickenlooper, who won with a majority, again despite the national trend.

The Democrats’ downfall began in 2013. The Newtown Massacre did not move Congress to pass gun-control laws, but it occasioned draconian gun-control laws in some Democrat-held states. That included Colorado, where gun ownership is unusually widespread and popular. The law that eventually passed was offensive to many gun owners, but not nearly as offensive as the debate that had taken place and the versions they very nearly passed. The real problem: It became clear to law-abiding gun owners that they were at the complete mercy of people who knew nothing about guns.

As a consequence, Democrats suffered two huge setbacks in state Senate recall races, losing in two Democrat-leaning districts. They found themselves under enough pressure afterward that a third senator resigned to escape becoming another casualty and handing the state Senate over to the GOP. Democrats now face a very real chance of losing the state Senate and a small chance of losing the state House.

GovernorThe Republican candidate is former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, who once represented the northern and western Denver suburbs. He ran for this same job in 2006 but was sucked under by the blue tide that year.

Hickenlooper looks weaker and weaker in the late stages. What’s more, this year’s first-ever all-mail balloting – something Democrats passed into law – might be backfiring. Registered Republican areas are already converting ballots at a far more rapid pace than Democratic ones, and so far, the registration gap of those who have voted already has to be setting Democrats on edge.

Even so, the governor’s race will be very close, and probably won’t be called until quite late. Leaning Republican Takeover. 

SenateThe polling collapse of a once-strong Democratic ticket in Colorado came as a shock, but it was real enough to entice Rep. Cory Gardner, R, who represents the state’s flat, eastern farm counties, to jump into this race as a late arrival. He is arguably the strongest Republican candidate the state has seen since former Gov. Bill Owens, R, fell from grace. The man practically has a smile painted on his face, and he has turned the tables on Democratic Sen. Mark Udall‘s one-issue campaign on abortion. Thanks to all-mail balloting, the campaign is basically over. Gardner did everything right, and Udall did nearly everything wrong in this race.

A Gardner victory is a much surer bet than a Beauprez victory in the governor’s race. If he comes up short, then everyone polling the state will have been proven wrong. Leaning Republican Takeover. 

HouseProbably no changes here, but there is one race to watch. Democrats had high hopes at one point that Andrew Romanoff, D, could oust Rep. Mike Coffmann, R, in his marginal east-suburban Denver seat, but it looks unlikely now and the DCCC pulled funding a few weeks ago. Ken Buck, R, who bailed out of the Senate race for Gardner this year, will easily win Gardner’s House seat. Net change: 0.

Iowa – 10 PM ET Close

GovernorDemocrats gave up on this one about a month ago. Terry Branstad forever. Likely Republican Retention.

SenateOne of the most important races in the country, it also promises to be one of the closest. Based on the polls and the composition of the early absentee voting compared to previous cycles, Democrats appear to be in a lot of trouble here as they try to hang on to the seat of retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D. Reasonably expected results range from a near-tie to a blowout win for Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst.

It’s telling Ernst ended her campaign by avoiding the Des Moines Register (which might slightly hurt her) and running a bunch of light, humorous positive ads. Whether the former decision is wise or not, this is the sort of thing candidates do when they’ve trying to run out the clock because they think they’re ahead. And she probably is ahead, which is amazing, because Republicans had all but written off this seat by late 2013 for lack of a strong, high-profile candidate.

In stark contrast, her opponent, Rep. Bruce Braley, D, is by far the most disappointing Senate candidate in America in 2014. Win or lose, he has run perhaps the second-worst campaign after Mark Udall in Colorado. Now he is up on television with a spot where he personally faces the camera and slams his opponent – usually something you only do when you’re losing. That lines up with a recent report in National Journal that internal Democratic polls have Braley losing in all four of the state’s congressional districts, as well as the final Des Moines Register poll, which found Ernst up seven points. Democrats would not be launching public attacks on Harkin for failing to give Braley his unused campaign funds if they thought Braley was winning.

Even so, don’t expect an early call. Leaning Republican Takeover. 

HouseRepublicans are not only favored to retain the Third District seat of retiring Rep. Tom Latham, R, they’re also making inroads in Braley’s district, where businessman Rod Blum stands slightly better than even odds against former Democratic state House Speaker Pat Murphy. (The district was previously held by a Republican, Jim Nussle.) If Republicans win that one, it’s a sign they’re doing quite well. There’s also talk of a competitive race in the state’s Second District, but that’s probably too far-fetched. Net Change: R+1.

Montana – 10 PM ET Close

SenateDemocrats were probably going to lose this one anyway, but it didn’t help when their hand-picked candidate was forced to bow out over a plagiarism scandal. So, Senator Steve Daines, R-Mont. Safe Republican Takeover.

HouseThe at-large House seat that Daines left behind is a bit more interesting, but not too much. Democrats can and do win in Montana, but this probably isn’t the right year for John Lewis, D. Former state Sen. Ryan Zinke, R, is the clear favorite. Net Change: 0.

Utah — 10 PM Eastern

House: Mia Love, R, is favored to pick up the 4th District seat of retiring Rep. Jim Matheson, D, despite a recent poll showing her trailing narrowly. Another has her with a five-point lead — which is not great, considering the district. But if history is any guide, she will overperform the polls in picking up the seat for the GOP. Net Change: R+1.

Nevada – 10 PM Eastern

What in the world is going on here? Against all expectations and all recent history, the GOP is dominating early voting, even in heavily Democratic Clark County.

This might be a preview for Silver State Democrats of life after Harry Reid – once he and his machine are gone, the state will be anything but a sure bet. (Get it? It’s Nevada?) It has been long thought that Democrats might lose control of the state Senate this year, but now there is also talk of them losing the state assembly.

This could be the scene of a total Democratic wipeout. It’s a demonstration of the effort Sandoval has put into building up his state’s party. Ron Paul fanatics seized control of the official party apparatus, but he appears to have simply worked around them to build an effective get-out-the-vote machine.

Governor: Not even close. Brian Sandoval wins hands down. Safe Republican Retention.

HouseThe early voting numbers are bad enough for Democrats that it’s worth watching Rep. Steven Horsford, D, in Nevada-4. The most likely outcome, however…. Net Change: 0.

New Mexico – 9 PM ET Close

Not much to see here, unless Republicans manage to seize control of either house of the state legislature.

GovernorGov. Susana Martinzez, R, is heavily favored to win. Likely Republican Retention.

SenateSen. Tom Udall, D, will be much more fortunate than his cousin in Colorado, and stands the best chance of carrying forward the family name in politics. Likely Democratic Retention.

California – 11 PM Eastern

Governor: Jerry Brown, governor for life. It won’t be close. Safe Democratic Retention.

HouseA couple of important races here. The 31st District, held by retiring Rep. Gary Miller, R, will flip to the Democrats. Meanwhile, Democratic Reps. Ami Bera (7th District) and Julia Brownley (26th District) are both in very serious danger of losing their seats. Rep. Scott Peters, D, is right on the edge, despite rather embarrassing allegations against his Republican opponent Carl DeMaio.

Rep. David Valadao will win in his heavily Hispanic district, despite all the media hype surrounding his opponent, former Senate aide Amanda RenteriaNet Change: R+1.

Alaska – Midnight Eastern (1 AM Eastern in the Aleutians)

Congratulations if you’re still up this late – you’re an election addict. In the darkness of winter, Alaskans will be deciding two critical contests. 

GovernorThis race took a strange turn when former Gov. Sarah Palin, R, endorsed Independent candidate Bill Walker over her former lieutenant, Gov. Sean Parnell, R. Polling in the state tends to underestimate Republican support, but Parnell looks pretty weak and could well fall in a populist bloodbath, mostly thanks to an obscure state issue regarding an oil tax.

Walker, it should be noted, seemed a bit embarrassed by Palin’s endorsement and tried to downplay it. Leaning Independent takeover.

SenateRepublicans nominated a strong consensus candidate in former Attorney General Dan Sullivan, in a strongly Republican state. They stand to reap the benefits now. Sen. Mark Begich, D, won only narrowly in 2008 because his opponent, Sen. Ted Stevens, R, had just been convicted of a federal crime, the verdict of which would later be reversed due to prosecutorial misconduct. 

Begich will enjoy no such advantage this year, and he’s trailed in every poll taken since July. Likely Republican takeover.

HouseRep. Don Young, R, the state’s only House member, got himself in some hot water with comments about same-sex marriage and suicide. But he’s said much worse in the past. Young will win unless unless he both marries a man and kills himself before the election. Net Change: 0.

Hawaii – 1 AM Eastern

GovernorThis three-way race will be somewhat close, but Democrats seem likely to replace their current, hated Democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie, with another Democrat, state Sen. David IgeLikely Democratic retention.

SenateSafe Democratic retention.

HouseFormer Rep. Charles Djou, R, is trying to make a comeback in the Honolulu-based First District, the more Republican of the two seats in Hawaii. The polls suggest he has a serious chance. It will be very close, but don’t get your hopes up – it’s Hawaii. Net Change: 0.

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