Hour-By-Hour Guide to 2010 Election Returns – Part 3 – 8:00 EDT Poll Closings

by Allan Rivlin Sheri Rivlin Julia Kurnik on October 31, 2010

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Part 1: Introduction and 6:00 EDT Poll Closings is here.

Part 2: 7:00 and 7:30 EDT Poll Closings is here.

Part 3: 8:00 EDT Poll Closings

All times are Eastern Daylight Savings Time (EDT.)

8:00 PM: The pace picks up quite a bit with polls closing statewide in AlabamaConnecticutDelawareIllinoisMaineMaryland,
MassachusettsMinnesotaMississippiMissouriNew Jersey, OklahomaPennsylvania, and Tennessee.  The majorities of Michigan and Texas will also close, but small pieces of each state are in Mountain Time and will close at 9 PM EDT.  Polls begin to close in South Dakota and Kansas, but the majority of these state’s polls will not close until 9 PM.

Senate: As many as eight races could be called quite quickly including Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) who should win easily for the Republicans and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) should be called quickly for the Democrats.  With the defeat of Mike Castle by Christine O’Donnell in the Republican primary, Joe Biden’s former seat in Delaware also looks like a fairly early call for Democrat Chris Coons.

Republican chances for a takeover of the Senate would be helped a great deal if they could take Chris Dodd’s former seat in Connecticut.  Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) appears to be pulling ahead of professional wrestling magnate Linda McMahon (R) and if he notches a win this would be counted among the three victories Democrats need to maintain control of the Senate.  Both candidates were engaged in street campaigning during the final days leading up to the election.  Pollster rating – Strong Dem.

Missouri seems to be leaning toward the GOP.  Pollster rating – Lean Rep.  Handicappers would be surprised if Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) managed to beat former Representative Roy Blunt (R) in, but the votes have not yet been counted.

In Pennsylvania, Progressive darling Representative Joe Sestak (D) defeated the establishment candidate Republican-turned-Democratic Senator Arlen Specter, in the Democratic primary, after Specter switched parties.  He is now in an uphill battle against Pat Toomey (R), who is backed by the Tea Party. There have been attempts to link Toomey to Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell in neighboring Delaware.  Pollster rating – Lean Rep.

The 8:00 hour brings one real toss-up race that we expect to be watching as votes are counted for many hours, President Obama’s former seat in Illinois. Embattled Senator Roland Burris is not running for election, leaving an open seat between State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) and Representative Mark Kirk (R).  Do not expect an early call in this close and contentious race that would count toward the Democrats’ magic number of 3 if Giannoulias were to pull ahead.

House: A lot happens at 8 PM in House races as well with an additional 22 of CenteredPolitics’ Top-70 races closing.  At this juncture we should have some idea which scenario is coalescing.  If the marks below, combined with the ones coming in from earlier closing states, are split fairly evenly, we are On Trend.  More than half and the RED Wave is cresting.  The Blue Escape would need nearly all of them to fall in the D column.

D  —  R

__   __   PA-3/Lean Rep: This is one of five races in PA where Democratic incumbents are looking to keep their seats.  In the northwest edge of the state, Kathy Dahlkemper (D) won the seat in 2008 and has been successful at fundraising, but her “yes” vote on healthcare is being challenged by her opponent, former Notre Dame football star Mike Kelly (R).

__   __   PA-8/Toss Up: North of Philadelphia, Iraqi war veteran Patrick Murphy (D) is fighting for re-election after four years in office, challenged by Michael Fitzpatrick (R) in a well-funded race on both sides.

__   __   PA-10/Toss Up: Near Scranton, incumbent Chris Carney (D) has also been in the House for 4 years and is being challenged by Thomas Marino (R).  Vice President Biden has come to campaign in his hometown and Carney has far out-raised Marino, but Republican PACs are pouring in money.

__   __   PA-11/Toss Up: In the neighboring district including Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Paul Kanjorski (D) is also enjoying Biden’s support.  Kanjorski has held the seat since 1984 and is facing Lou Barletta (R) for the third time in the closest race yet.

__   __   PA-12/Lean Dem: This southwestern district leans Democratic, but newly appointed Mark Critz (D) but who replaced John Murtha about 6 months ago is in a close race against Tim Burns (R).

__   __   NJ-3/Toss Up: Freshman John Adler (D) is hoping to win re-election against former Eagles football star Jon Runyan(R).  Adler voted against healthcare, and is now facing allegations that he helped get a Tea Party candidate on the ballot.

__   __   MI-7/Lean Dem: Incumbent Mark Schauer (D) fasces Tim Walberg (R) in a rematch of 2008.

__   __   MI-9/Lean Dem: Freshman Congressman Gary Peters (D) faces Rocky Raczkowski (R).  Peters has the fundraising edge but is being challenged to defend his support for nearly all of the “Obama/Pelosi agenda.”

__   __  MO-4/Lean Dem: Long-time incumbent Ike Skelton (D) is proving that over three decades in the House no longer guarantees easy re-election.  Vicky Hartzler (R) is challenging Skelton in a region that used to be solid, rural Democratic territory.

__   __   MS-4/Toss Up: A 22 year House veteran, Gene Taylor (D) is counting on a large African American turnout to hold off Steven Palazzo(R).

__   __   MS-1/Lean Rep: Freshman Travis Childers (D) faces Alan Nunnelee (R).  Childers is also being hit from the left by MoveOn.org for taking funding from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

__   __   TN-8/Lean Rep: John Tanner (D), one of the original Blue Dogs is retiring after 22 years and throwing his support behind Roy Herron (D) who looks to follow in his footsteps if elected.  He faces farmer and gospel singer Stephen Fincher (R).

__   __   TX-17/Lean Rep: Incumbent Chet Edwards (D) has kept his seat in a Republican leaning district, including Waco, for twenty years.  He is being challenged by Bill Flores (R).  Hispanic voters are the key to this one.

__   __   TX-23/Lean Rep: In the southwest, Ciro Rodriguez (D) is seeking a third term against Quico Canseco (R) in a districts that is two thirds Hispanic.

Governor: There are five key Governor’s races that close at 8:00: Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Illinois.

Democratic Incumbents are looking to defend their seats in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois.  In MarylandMartin O’Malley (D-MD) is battling former Governor Robert Ehrlich (R) in a re-match of 2006.  Pollster rating – Lean Dem.

In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick (D) is running for a second term against former health executive Charlie Baker (R) and State Treasurer Tim Cahill (Ind).  He is ahead in polls, but no one would rule out another Massachusetts surprise in this election. Pollster rating – Lean Dem.

In Illinois, Governor Patrick Quinn (D) is facing conservative State Senator Bill Brady (R).  Brady has little name recognition, particularly in Chicago, but Quinn is still facing a tough battle.  His state has a $12 billion deficit and he was Lt. Gov. under Rod Blagojevich, giving him quite a hole to climb out of in order to win.  Pollster rating – Lean Rep.

There are open seats up for grabs in Maine and Minnesota.  In Maine, Governor John Baldacci (D) is term-limited.  State Senator Libby Mitchell (D) is battling Waterville Mayor Paul LePage (R).  Mitchell only enjoys lukewarm support, but LePage may be too conservative for this moderate state and former aide to Senator Edmund Muskie, Independent Eliot Cutler is rising in late polling. Pollster rating – Lean Rep.

There is also a three-way race going on in Minnesota.  Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) is retiring, and former senator Mark Dayton (D) is ahead in polls over State Representative Tom Emmer (R) and Tom Horner (Ind.).  Pollster rating – Lean Dem.

Incumbent Governor Rick Perry (R) is leading Houston Mayor Bill White (D) in Texas.  In Connecticut, Governor Jodi Rell (R) is retiring, and Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy (D) is in a tight race with former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley (R).  Pollster rating – Toss Up.

Handicappers would be taken by surprise if Democrats were to capture any of the open seats in Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.  In Alabama, State Congressman Robert Bentley (R) is running against Commissioner of AgricultureRon Sparks (D).  In Michigan, embattled governor Jennifer Granholm (D) is stepping down due to term limits, leaving a fight between Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D) and businessman Rick Snyder (R).  In Oklahoma, Lt. Gov Jari Askins (D) is trying to keep this seat blue but it looks like former Lt. Gov. and now Congresswoman Mary Fallin (R) will pull through.  In swing-state Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell (D) is term-limited.  State Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) is trying to beat out Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato (D).  Finally, in Tennessee, Governor Phil Bredesen (D) is yet another term-limited Democrat.  Mike McWherter (D) is fighting an uphill battle against Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam (R).

8:30 PM: Only Arkansas closes at 8:30 PM.

Senate: Congressman John Boozman (R) leads incumbent Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).  Senator Lincoln faced an extremely tough primary challenge, with progressive-supported Bill Halter forcing the race into a run-off.  Yet, after barely overcoming the challenge from the left, with support from former President Bill Clinton, she now is seen as likely to lose to the right.  Her “yes” votes on TARP, the Recovery Act, and healthcare reform have set her up as a primary target for Republicans in this conservative state.  Pollster rating – Strong Rep.

House: Just one of CenteredPolitics’ Top-70 races is closing at this time, but it is attracting national attention.

D   —   R

__   __  AR-1/Toss Up: Incumbent Marion Berry (D) is retiring after 14 years.  His former staffer Chad Causey (D) is facing Rick Crawford (R).  This seat has been in Democratic hands for over a century, but Republicans believe it is theirs in 2010.

Governor: In Arkansas, incumbent Mike Beebe (D) enjoys widespread popularity and should coast to a victory here over Jim Keet(R).


Part 1: Introduction and 6:00 EDT Poll Closings is here.

Part 2 7:00 and 7:30 EDT Poll Closings is here.

Part 4 9:00 EDT Poll Closings is here.

Part 5 10:00 EDT Poll Closings is here.

Part 6: 11:00 EDT Poll Closings is here.


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