Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gazing into the Crystal Ball

Over at National Review's "Campaign Spot," Jim Geraghty has an interesting update from his long-time mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the senior GOP operative who always provides fascinating insights on political races and polling data. According to Mr. Geraghy, Obi-Wan sees four potential scenarios for next week's mid-term elections:

First, THE FADING-GOP WAVE SCENARIO: This one is easy. If the generic GOP lead starts to fade and this continues through the weekend to a few points or nearly even on Election Day, then the GOP makes gains in the House but fails to take control, and gains three or four in the Senate. (With disappointments in places like Pennsylvania, Colorado, California and maybe Nevada.)

Second, THE OKAY WAVE SCENARIO: Polling stays about where it is — with strong generic GOP lead (5 to 9 percentage points or more) as GOP leads in many Senate races stay roughly the same; in places like Washington, California and Connecticut, Democrat candidates either break 50 percent or keep a steady gap or widen it. Still, a wave election, with House gains of up to 50 or 60. But GOP fails at Senate control by two to four seats, which shows that (1) to some extent the Democrats’ strategy of individualizing senate rates with harsh negative attacks worked or (2) voters just chose to channel their anger at the Obama administration in their House voting but were discriminating – picking and choosing — in the Senate races.

Third, THE HAPPY-TIMES WAVE SCENARIO: Polling stays about where it is — with strong generic GOP lead between 5 and 9 and GOP Senate candidates in Washington, California, and Connecticut still within reach (6 to 9 points down.) There you would see House gains of up to 50 or 60 or a bit beyond, and it’s a wave election that really does lift all boats and the GOP takes the Senate by a vote or two.

Fourth, THE SUPERWAVE: House gains of 60 to 90, even beyond. Senate races carried along as GOP ends up with three or four vote margin in Senate.

When Geraghty asked why he didn't offer signs of the "Superwave," Obi-Wan offered this observation, noting that we've "never seen this sort of thing before and in part because we're already there in some ways."

Still, Obi-wan stopped short of saying a GOP Superwave is upon us, suggesting that the election could still break in the direction of any of the four scenarios. But he did find a rather interesting nugget in a Battleground poll (commissioned by Politico), which was released on Monday. That survey showed the GOP with a five-point lead among likely voters, but the margin swells to 14 among a category called "most likely voters." That reflects continuing energy and excitement among the Republican base--and the mass defection of Independents to the GOP.

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