Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wilson Research Strategies: How To Tell For Certain What's Happening Nationally Tonight

WRS’s Scorecard for the Early Bird

Maybe you want to know what’s going to happen in the House before your friends. Maybe you’re so exhausted after a long election year that you just want to turn in early (that will certainly be me after attending my son's last regular season football game of the year—they’re 8 – 1 in case you were wondering). Whatever the reason, it’s fair to wonder if you really have to wait for west coast results to know what’s happening—the answer is “No.”

Following are 16 races that should tell all we need to know about how the evening will turn out.

First in our Scorecard for the Early Bird are ten toss-up districts. Democrats need to win approximately 75% of toss-ups nationwide to hold the house. So if Republicans win five or more of these, the House is very likely to flip. If Republicans win most, or all, of these then a 60 seat or higher pick-up is in the cards.

- Georgia 2 (Bishop)
- Indiana 2 (Donnelly)
- Indiana 9 (Hill)
- Kentucky 6 (Chandler)
- Virginia 9 (Boucher)
- North Carolina 7 (McIntyre)
- North Carolina 8 (Kissell)
- Ohio 6 (Wilson)
- Ohio 16 (Boccieri)
- Ohio 18 (Space)

Next are six early seats that, if Republicans can win a few coupled with a near-sweep of the early toss-ups, will mean historic gains in the high 60s or beyond. These should be seats Democrats hold, but if the wave really is a tsunami then Republicans will win some of them. If Republicans pick off more than one of these, it will be a very long night for Democrats.

- Georgia 12 (Barrow)
- North Carolina 2 (Etheridge)
- North Carolina 11 (Shuler)
- Ohio 10 (Kucinich)
- Virginia 11 (Connolly)
- West Virginia 3 (Rahall)

The Senate: What can early races tell us?
Make no mistake; the odds of Republicans actually gaining the upper hand in the Senate are long. This was always the case due to the relatively small number of Democrats up for re-election in 2010 and the friendly terrain many of them occupy (e.g., New York, California, Washington).

That understood, there is some possibility for a Republican takeover. Because much of the swing action in the Senate takes place in the Mountain (one state), Pacific (three states), or Alaska time zones, it may seem as though a late night would be needed to find out the answers.

But, we will know a lot about how the Senate will turn out just by watching the first few states to report.

- The overall probability that Republicans will capture the Senate given the latest polling is less than one-in-ten.
- But, if John Raese manages a seemingly unlikely win in West Virginia (polls close at 7:30), that probability jumps by more than four times. If he loses, it is nearly zero.
- The next polls to close will be Illinois. If Raese wins in West Virginia and Mark Kirk wins in Illinois, then Republicans are a little below even-money to take control of the Senate.

So for Senate watchers, pay attention to West Virginia and Illinois. If Republicans win both (or there’s a startling Republican win in a state like Connecticut), then we’re in for a long night as the story won’t be told until the Pacific time zone states report in. If Republicans lose one or both of West Virginia and Illinois, then we can go to bed early knowing that Republicans are all-but-certain to fall short of taking the Senate this time. ~ Chris Wilson

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