Sunday, November 05, 2006

How It Looks On The Last Weekend Before The Election

Here's a fairly decent round-up of Tuesday's important House and state governor's races (the Senate races have been pretty well covered all over the place, and are also detailed at the above link).

The Democratic swing in the House is most evident in states east of the Mississippi River, where scandals, retirements and disaffection with the war have combined to put almost three dozen Republican-held seats at risk.

Ohio, the swing state that assured Bush's second-term victory, has turned into a Republican killing field. Republicans face the loss of the governorship and a Senate seat, and five GOP House districts are in danger of switching. Republicans fear the loss of other statewide races and at least one house of the state legislature.

Other GOP danger areas include Pennsylvania, where a Senate seat and five House incumbents are at risk, and Indiana, where Democrats could pick up three House seats. In New York, where Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and gubernatorial candidate Eliot L. Spitzer (D) are cruising toward victory, Republicans are defending half a dozen House districts.

In Connecticut, Republicans are deeply worried about veteran Reps. Nancy L. Johnson and Christopher Shays and are only slightly more assured about Rep. Rob Simmons. Johnson appears to be the most endangered of the three. ...

Republicans face difficulties in virtually every region. There are multiple opportunities for Democrats in Florida, Kentucky, Colorado, Minnesota and Arizona. Single seats are at risk of switching in California, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

In addition to the 10 seats likely to fall to Democrats, there are 30 tossup races -- out of 63 competitive races -- in the closing days of the campaign, 29 of them for seats held by Republicans. The lone Democratic-held tossup is in Georgia.

The House has not changed hands without the Senate following suit since the popular election of senators began early in the 20th century. But the odds are steeper for the Democrats in their bid to take over the Senate, because they must win at least four states that Bush carried in 2000 and 2004, three of them with incumbent Republicans. ...

The distemper with Congress has lapped over into the governors' races. Six Republican House members are trying to move up to governors' mansions, and none has a clear path entering the final three days.

Rep. Bob Beaupez (R-Colo.) is badly trailing former Denver district attorney Bill Ritter (D) in Colorado. Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr. (R-Okla.) is far behind Gov. Brad Henry (D) in Oklahoma, while Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) is struggling behind the Democratic secretary of state, Chet Culver, in Iowa.

Three House Republicans are in tight gubernatorial races. Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.) has run neck-and-neck with Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) but may have slipped slightly in the final week. Nevada Rep. Jim Gibbons (R) has been hurt by allegations that he sexually assaulted a cocktail waitress, and his race against Democrat Dina Titus is now a tossup. In Idaho, Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter (R) is in a surprisingly close race with newspaper publisher Jerry Brady (D).

In three key states, Democrats not only are taking the governorship from Republicans but also are poised to roll up majorities that could affect the rest of the ticket.

In New York, Spitzer, the hard-charging attorney general, has not fallen below 66 percent in a public poll since Labor Day in his bid to succeed retiring Gov. George E. Pataki (R).

In Ohio, Republicans have controlled all statewide offices in recent years, but scandals have left retiring Gov. Bob Taft (R) with approval ratings in the teens. Republican secretary of state J. Kenneth Blackwell has struggled to reach 40 percent in his race against Rep. Ted Strickland (D).

In Massachusetts, another state whose governorship Republicans have controlled for more than a decade, Clinton administration assistant attorney general Deval Patrick (D) has a sizeable lead over Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R) for the seat of retiring one-term Gov. Mitt Romney (R), who is planning a presidential run in 2008.

Another Republican presidential hopeful, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, is also likely to see a Democratic successor, with state Attorney General Mike Beebe leading Asa Hutchinson (R), former No. 2 official in the Homeland Security Department.

But Republicans are expected to hold the three big Sun Belt anchors. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has come back from a drubbing on ballot initiatives a year ago and has a big lead over state Treasurer Phil Angelides. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is trying to fend off a field that includes country singer Richard "Kinky" Friedman.

In Florida, where Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is term-limited, state Attorney General Charlie Crist (R) holds a narrowing lead over Rep. Jim Davis (D) and will get a Monday push from the president, who will campaign in the conservative Florida Panhandle.

Republican hopes of defeating Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell and Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm have soured. Rendell holds a comfortable lead over former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann. Granholm faced a well-funded challenger in businessman Dick DeVos, who sought to capitalize on the state's weak economy. But she has moved ahead in the last month.

In Illinois, U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald has been investigating the administration of Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and has indicted his associates, but state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka (R) has struggled to overcome the barrage of negative advertising unleashed by the governor.

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