I promise this will be the last pre-election post; and I aim to keep it short. For more commentary I refer you to the ones I did last month, my extended one in March (on the three-ring circus), in July (on the deluge of campaign emails asking for money), and a brief one in May.
Of the many, many predictions I have seen so far, the best I have seen so far is from Taegan Goddard, that the battle for control of the Senate may not be determined Election Night (he used "may", not "will", but I will give him credit for making the call, as he supported it with a short, accurate list of arguments). There are too many close races, plus a strong possibility of subsequent run-off elections in Louisiana, and now in Georgia, the uncertainty about which party Independent Greg Orman in Kansas may choose (if he wins, which is quite likely), and the possibility of indeterminate outcomes (requiring re-counts, or at least days of counting before final results are determined) in several more races. So, even if you are keen on knowing the outcome, don't resolve to stay up until the question is determined
I have received numerous emails that present the prospect of "victory" in various forms. As for me, I will consider the election outcome a modest victory for our democracy if the most hated targets go down, something which will help achieve the greater result of devaluing the idea that infinite amounts of big money contributions will buy our elections. To put a score on it, I will be happy if I get a result score of 100 or more points, with the following scoring:
1) Republicans don't end up with clear control of the Senate, 51 committed seats in their caucus (40 points);
2) Rick Scott loses--Gov. FL ( 30);
3) Scott Walker loses--Gov. WI (30);
4) Mitch McConnell loses--Sen. KY (40);
5) Greg Abbott loses--Gov. TX (50);
6) Rep. Steve King loses--IA (20);
7) Thom Tillis loses - Sen. NC (20);
8) Cory Gardner loses - Sen. CO (20);
9) David Perdue loses - Sen. GA (20); and
10) Joni Ernst loses - Sen. IA (20).
As you can see, for me it's more about the bad guys losing the elections than the "good ones" winning them. I don't have much hope that the Republicans' margin in the House will decrease. There is also a correlation effect, in that numbers 4, and 7-10 all contribute to 1), so that it would be hard, though not impossible, for the Democrats to hold onto a majority unless a couple of those happen. 5) and 6) are considered long-shots by most of the pundits (but not, to read their emails, by those candidates' opponents, who are Wendy Davis and Jim Mowrer, respectively). My over-under (median) prediction is 110 points, and a slightly more specific prediction is that the night will finish (when Alaska is called for the Republican candidate) with a 49-49 result, with two races (or party alignments) yet to be determined.
As soon as the news value of the 2014 elections is played out (it may happen sooner than Election Day: One last prediction is that 2014 will set an all-time low for voter turnout, which is a victory of sorts for the Republicans, I suppose), attention will turn to 2016. I think the most likely outcome of 2016 will be a significant wave in the Democrats' favor, due partly to the weakness of the Republican candidates likely to run, and partly to Hillary Clinton's candidacy and probable election landslide. Especially if she takes my advice and announces herself early on for "The Polk Option", promising she will serve only a single term.
The nature of the Clinton landslide, however, is far from clear. The Republican primary should boil down to a three-man contest: an Establishment candidate (I'm thinking Jeb Bush, probably not Mitt Romney or Chris Christie), the Tea Party loyalists' candidate (someone from the South, maybe Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio, if he "rehabilitates" himself by sufficiently condemning "amnesty"), and Rand Paul. Rand is by far the most interesting potential major candidate the Republicans can field, because he dares to challenge orthodox Republican beliefs, both Tea Party and Establishment, so I think he can carve out a large enough voting bloc within his party to last through the first rounds of primaries. As for Hillary, unless something happens to her health or she commits a fatal error of some kind, she will have an easy time winning the nomination; I don't think either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren will run against her.
I do think there is the danger of party splits--for both parties--if it ends up being Clinton vs. Bush again. (I say "again", though the only Clinton-Bush race so far was '92, Bill vs. George Herbert Walker Bush. The Bush family is aching still for revenge for that one, which is one reason I think Jeb will decide to run.) That potential for splitting could manifest itself in a true 4-way race (the only real precedents are, 1948, to some extent, and 1860), or more likely, a major third candidate, someone who can place himself/herself in a position to attract the disaffected of both parties and Independents. That's a tricky objective--both Clinton and Bush would have to be defined as middle-of-the-road, on the phony Liberal-Conservative spectrum, and that would tend to marginalize a rebel from the extremes of both parties--so it would probably be a hugely rich populist of some kind, someone who doesn't get along with either party but can be credibly portrayed as a friend of the downcast middle class, something like a native-born Arnold Schwarzenegger or a sane Ross Perot. That person would be identified (or self-identified) in the spring of 2016 if it appears inevitable to be Hillary vs. Jeb.
Finally, I've got a couple more small donations to give--my last one was an impulse contribution for Michelle Nunn in Georgia, as David Perdue's incredible "I'm proud of my career in outsourcing" statement looks like it could be a self-inflicted mortal wound--and then I'm done. The DCCC is getting my House money now--it's too hard to decide among the many money claimants--and I will probably finally give something to Wendy Davis in her quixotic struggle to redeem Texas' soul, as a reward for fighting this long and still having a puncher's chance at a knockout victory.