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Period Ending November 7, 2014

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This weekly roundup of election news and notes is compiled for Thompson Coburn by the The Ellis Insight.

Senate

Senate Overview: Election 2014 is now in the books, and what a stunning result it produced. Though pundits were predicting a Republican takeover for most of the last ten days, the polling data swung decidedly in Republicans’ favor over the last weekend. The predictions were the precursor to not only a Republican majority, but also the often-discussed GOP “wave” election. At this point in time, Republicans hold 52 seats for the new Congress, with Alaska almost assuredly coming their way when all of the outstanding remote votes are counted.

The Louisiana run-off election – made necessary when neither Sen. Mary Landrieu nor Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) could secure a majority of the vote – will occur on December 6th. Landrieu placed first with just 42% of the vote versus Cassidy’s 41%. The remaining six candidates split 17 percent. Should Cassidy come through in the secondary election, the Republican total will swell to 54 seats.

The Virginia seat, the other close call of the evening, will remain in Democratic hands. Sen. Mark Warner (D) defeated former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie by just 17,000 votes of more than 2.1 million ballots cast.

Incumbents defeated were:

Arkansas: Sen. Mark Pryor (D) (Rep. Tom Cotton (R) – winner; 57-40%)

Colorado: Sen. Mark Udall (D) (Rep. Cory Gardner (R) – winner; 49-46%)

North Carolina: Sen. Kay Hagan (D) (House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) – winner; 49-47%)

Democratic incumbent likely defeated:

Alaska: Sen. Mark Begich (D) trails former Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R) by more than 8,200 votes with approximately 40,000 to count.

Open Democratic seats going Republican:

Iowa: St. Sen. Joni Ernst (R) defeats Rep. Bruce Braley (D) – 52-44%

Montana: Rep. Steve Daines (R) trounces St. Rep. Amanda Curtis (D) – 58-40%

South Dakota: Ex-Gov. Mike Rounds (R) tops Rick Weiland (D) and Ex-Sen. Larry Pressler (I) - 50-30-17%, respectively

West Virginia: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) over Sec of State Natalie Tennant (D) – 62-34%

Republican seats held:

Georgia: Businessman David Perdue (R) tops businesswoman Michelle Nunn (D) – 53-45%

Kansas: Sen. Pat Roberts (R), thought to be losing heading into Election Day, proved all the pollsters wrong. He won a comfortable 53-42% victory over Independent Greg Orman.

Kentucky: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) trounces Sec of State Alison Lundergan Grimes – 56-41%

Democratic open seats held:

Michigan: Rep. Gary Peters (D) easily defeats ex-Sec of State Terri Lynn Land (R) – 55-41%

House

House Overview: Republicans exceeded all expectations, and will win at least 244 seats with 13 campaigns still undecided. Exceeding 247 seats will make the largest Republican majority since the 1928 election.

Last week, predictions were made. Not included were two Democrats defeating Republican incumbents. Both Reps. Lee Terry (R-NE-2) and Steve Southerland (R-FL-2) lost their seats despite the Republican wave.

This week we report on how our predictions and analyses matched up to the actual results (unbolded: original text from last week; bolded: actual results)

From Democrat to Republican (in alphabetical order):

AZ-1: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) in another tight race, this time with state House Speaker Andy Tobin (R). Kirkpatrick won 53-47%

AZ-2: Rep. Ron Barber (D) is trying to defeat former Air Force officer Martha McSally (R) for the second time, after winning a close race in 2012. Odds are much better for McSally now. This race is undecided with McSally leading by just over 1,200 votes with several thousand left to count.

CA-7: Both parties are spending heavily to either save or defeat freshman Rep. Ami Bera (D) in Sacramento County. Former Rep. Doug Ose is the GOP candidate. This contest is also undecided as Ose holds about a 3,000-vote lead with still more than 40,000 votes to count.

FL-26: Freshman Rep. Joe Garcia (D) is in a toss-up battle with Miami-Dade school board member Carlos Curbelo (R). Curbelo wins 51-49%.

IL-10: The re-match between Rep. Brad Schneider (D) and former Rep. Bob Dold (R) is going down to the wire. Dold was performing well early, Schneider battled back to take the lead, and now the race appears to be closing the Republican’s way. Either can win. Dold regains the seat he lost in 2012, 52-48%.

IL-12: The downstate southwestern seat is on the cusp of flipping. State Rep. Mike Bost (R) enjoys close leads against freshman Rep. Bill Enyart (D). Bost wins 53-42%.

ME-2: Thought to be a major sleeper race for Republicans, late polling is suggesting that Democrat Emily Cain will hold the seat for her party in a close race with former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin. Poliquin captures the seat, 47-42%.

MA-6: In a surprising development, several polls suggest that Republican Richard Tisei can defeat businessman Seth Moulton (D). It appeared that Moulton was a heavy favorite after unseating Rep. John Tierney in the Democratic primary, but the race has unfolded in a quite different manner than expected. Moulten scores the victory, 55-41%, suggesting the late polling was dead wrong.

NH-1: In another seat that flips back and forth between the parties, former Rep. Frank Guinta (R) appears well positioned to again defeat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D). Each individual has unseated the other as a challenger. Guinta wins 52-48%.

NY-21: Former White House aide Elise Stefanik (R) is poised to win this open North Country New York seat. She is now heavily favored against Brooklyn business owner Aaron Woolf (D). Rep. Bill Owens (D) is retiring. Stefanik wins 55-33% and, at 30 years old, becomes the youngest woman ever elected to the House.

NC-7: The Wilmington seat was destined for former state Sen. David Rouzer (R) once Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) announced his retirement. Rouzer wins 59-37%.

UT-4: Though the result will be closer that most people originally predicted, local Mayor Mia Love (R) will likely convert this seat for the Republicans. She is projected to defeat attorney Doug Owens (D). Rep. Jim Matheson (D) is retiring. Love wins a close race, 50-47%.

WV-3: Rep. Nick Rahall (D) is in the toughest campaign of his long 38-year congressional career. Several polls suggest state Sen. Evan Jenkins (R) could defeat him on Tuesday. Jenkins scores the victory, 55-45%.

Other Potential GOP Victories:

CA-26: Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R) vs. Rep. Julia Brownley (D) – Both candidates have 50% of the vote, with thousands of absentee ballots to count.

CA-52: Ex-Councilman Carl DeMaio (R) vs. Rep. Scott Peters (D) – DeMaio leads by just over 700 votes, with thousands of absentee ballots to count.

GA-12: Businessman Rick Allen (R) vs. Rep. John Barrow (D) – Allen defeats the incumbent, 55-45%.

IA-1: Businessman Rod Blum (R) vs. Pat Murphy (D) [open seat] – Blum scores the upset victory, 51-49%.

MN-8: Businessman Stewart Mills (R) vs. Rep. Rick Nolan (D) – Nolan hung on by a tight 48-47% margin.

NY-1: State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R) vs. Rep. Tim Bishop (D) – Zeldin unseated incumbent Bishop, 55-45%.

NY-24: Ex-DA John Katko (R) vs. Rep. Dan Maffei (D) – Katko thrashed Maffei, 60-40%.

Governor

Governors’ Overview: It was in this sector where Democrats were expected to score modest gains, but the exact opposite happened. With Alaska poised to defeat Gov. Sean Parnell (R) in favor of Independent Bill Walker, the Republicans still managed to gain two states, and moving them to the most lopsided gubernatorial split (in the GOP’s favor) in the modern political era. When all of the races are tabulated, Republicans will control 31 state houses, Democrats only 18, and one, Alaska, with an Independent.

The key to the Republican victories was vulnerable incumbents holding on to win re-election. Govs. Paul LePage (R-ME), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Nathan Deal (R-GA), Rick Scott, (R-FL), Rick Snyder (R-MI), and Scott Walker (R-WI) all performing better than expected led to them holding their positions.

One Republican defeated a Democratic incumbent. This occurred in Illinois as businessman Bruce Rauner unseated Gov. Pat Quinn, 51-46%. Republicans picked up surprising open Democratic seats in Massachusetts and Maryland. Only one Republican Governor lost to a Democrat. Businessman Tom Wolf (D) defeated Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R), 55-45%, in a result that was expected for months.