Jeremy dares me to predict the elections… and while I’m terrible at this sort of thing, I think I know enough now to make some educated guesses.
– Republicans narrowly lose the House but retain the Senate. The House losses are almost all east of the Mississippi river and north of the Mason-Dixon line – the party gets eaten alive in the Ohio Valley and New England. They lose three seats in Pennsylvania, three in Indiana, two in Ohio, and two in Connecticut. Surprisingly, they lose the House seats of both Minnesota’s Mark Kennedy and Wisconsin’s Mark Green, two comers who picked the wrong year to move up the totem pole. But strong performances in the Southwest and Southeast keep their numbers above 210.
– A historic number of incumbent senators lose – six Republicans (Mike DeWine, Rick Santorum, Jim Talent, Conrad Burns, Lincoln Chafee, George Allen), one Democrat (Bob Menendez), and one independent (Joe Lieberman). Menendez’s race is the closest.
– Both parties spend the winter recess disgracefully lobbying the opposing party’s members to switch parties, or at least vote against the majority party’s Speaker/Leader candidate. Republicans almost get Democrat Gene Taylor to vote for John Boehner instead of Nancy Pelosi, until Pelosi promises him a key chairmanship.
– Democrats win most of the key governorships, starting with New York, Ohio, Maryland, Colorado and Rhode Island. They take Massachusetts and Arkansas, cooling some of the buzz around departing governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Arnold Schwarzenegger and – in a surprise – Tom McClintock are elected governor and lieutenant governor of California.
– Only one African-American candidate wins statewide office as Deval Patrick becomes governor of Massachusetts. The GOP’s vaunted “year of the black Republican” storyline implodes, with only Maryland’s Michael Steele losing respectively enough (less than 6 points) to be considered a candidate for future office.
– Mark Warner becomes the first 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, announcing his run in Richmond, Virginia in December alongside Sen.-elect Jim Webb and Gov. Tim Kaine. Newt Gingrich becomes the first announced Republican candidate.
On to John.