Hour-By-Hour Guide to 2010 Election Returns Part 4-9:00 EDT 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 is here.

All times are Eastern Daylight Savings Time (EDT.)

9:00 PM: A lot of mountain and Midwestern states are closed at this point, giving us an idea how this region is voting.  The remaining eastern states also close.  Statewide polls close in Colorado, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  The rest of the polls in South Dakota close at this point.  Polls continue to close in Kansas and networks may call the state at this time, but a few polling stations will remain open as late as 11 PM, making this state potentially tricky to call.

This is likely to be the hour where the pace of news is almost as important as the news itself.  Republicans would, of course, like to hear House race after House race called their way as the Red Wave develops.  If the evening feels like it is grinding to a halt, it may mean better news for Democrats, with slower vote counting suggesting closer races making the expected On Trend scenario more likely, and opening the possibility for the Blue Escape if most races fall to their side.

An early announcement that Democrats have retained control of the Senate is possible but not very likely during this hour, but it matters a great deal whether the Democrats’ magic number has dropped from 3 to 2 (most likely with a win for Blumenthal in Connecticut), or even 1 (perhaps with a Manchin win in West Virginia).

Senate: There are two seats up for election in New York because state law requires Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) earn the seat she was appointed to fill when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State.  Neither this seat nor that of Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) seems likely to fall to the GOP, and calls are likely to be made fairly quickly.  Jerry Moran (R-KS) should easily win in Kansas, keeping Sam Brownback’s seat in Republican hands, and Senator John Thune (R-SD) is not even facing a Democratic challenger.

Incumbent David Vitter (R-LA) will most likely win re-election in Louisiana against Congressman Charlie Melancon (D). Melancon’s hard hitting ads reminding voters that Vitter has faced prostitution charges don’t seem to have had an effect, but voters’ negative feelings about President Obama and the Democrats in Washington have.

In Wisconsin, three-term incumbent Senator Russ Feingold (D) is facing a very tough challenge from businessman Ron Johnson (R) who has had success painting Feingold as a “Washington insider.”  Feingold has fashioned himself as an independent progressive Democrat with a “no” vote on TARP because it didn’t go far enough, but “yes” votes strongly defended for the Recovery Act and healthcare reform, despite the omission of the “public option” which Feingold championed.  Pollster rating – Lean Rep.

Colorado is another true toss-up race that could determine control of the Senate.  Senator Michael Bennet (D) was appointed to fill Ken Salazar’s seat and barely survived a challenge from the left by Andrew Romanoff.  His opponent, County District Attorney Ken Buck, defeated mainstream candidate Lt. Gov. Jane Norton to win the Republican primary by running at her from the right.  Buck has strong support from the Tea Party, has compared being gay to alcoholism and supports repealing the 17th Amendment allowing for the direct election of senators.

House: Eleven races are worth watching at this hour. New York finally closes its polls at this hour, bringing three of them.

D      R

__   __   NY-19/Toss Up: Incumbent John Hall (D) hopes to claim a third term against Nan Hayworth (R) in this close race.  He is a reliably liberal vote, voting for healthcare reform and the Recovery Act, in a swing region.

__   __   NY-23/Lean Rep: Incumbent Bill Owens (D) won here a little over a year ago in a special election after a moderate Republican dropped out and endorsed him to prevent a Conservative Party candidate from winning.  He now defends his seat against Matt Doheny (R) as well as Doug Hoffman (Conservative), the same spoiler from a year ago.

__   __   NY-24/Lean Dem: Congressman Michael Arcuri (D) won this typically Republican seat in 2006, but nearly lost it to Richard Hanna (R) in 2008, who is challenging him again this year.

__   __   LA-2/Lean DemCedric Richmond (D) is positioned to win against one term incumbent Joseph Cao (R) who won in this traditionally Democratic district due to scandals faced by former Rep. William Jefferson.  Both candidates are expressing support for Obama and pointing to their agreement with his policies in this district which is over 60% African American.

__   __   KS-3:  Incumbent Dennis Moore (D) is retiring, but his wife Stephene Moore (D) hopes to keep the seat in the family.  She is running against Kevin Yoder (R).

__   __   WI-7/Lean Rep:  Congressman Obey is retiring, and State Senator Julie Lassa (D) hopes to keep this seat blue against Real World cast member Sean P. Duffy (R), who enjoys Tea Party support.

__   __   WI-8/Lean Rep:  Congressman Steven Kagen (D) is defending his votes for healthcare reform and the Recovery Act while pointing out that challenger Reid Ribble (R) has questioned the legitimacy of Social Security. Many voters remain undecided quite close to Election Day.

__   __   SD-1/Toss Up:  Incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) is a conservative Democrat hoping to keep her seat against a challenge from Kristi Noem (R), a far-right conservative.

__   __   CO-3/Lean Rep:  Incumbent John Salazar (D), brother of Ken Salazar, is defending his seat of six years against Scott Tipton (R) for the second time.  He is generally moderate in this district which is balanced by rural Republicans and the liberal, wealthy ski crowd.

__   __   CO-4/Lean Rep:  Congresswoman Betsey Markey (D) is a freshman elected during the Obama surge hoping to continue to represent this district, but is being challenged by State House Minority Whip Cory Gardner (R). On the Daily Show, President Obama praised Markey for taking “tough votes.”

__   __   NM-2/Lean Rep:  Incumbent Harry Teague (D) is a freshman who won in the Obama surge after over 30 years of Republican rule in this district.  Teague is defending his votes for the Recovery Act and cap and trade while trying to win against former Representative Steve Pearce (R).  Both candidates are criticizing each other as the true “Washington insider“ in this contentious race.

Governor: Republicans should have wins with Senator Sam Brownback (R) in Kansas, Governor Dave Heineman (R) in Nebraska, Dennis Daugaard (R) in South Dakota, and Matt Mead (R) in Wyoming.  Democrats should have no trouble holding on to New York with Andrew Cuomo (D) and Colorado with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D).

With Bill Richardson (D) retiring, New Mexico will most likely go to Dona Ana District Attorney Susana Martinez (R), but Lt. Gov. Diane Denish is still fighting hard.  Denish is opposed to Arizona’s new immigration law and Martinez supports it.  Pollster rating – Lean Rep.

Rhode Island and Wisconsin are the states to watch this hour.  In Rhode Island, Donald Carcieri (R) is leaving due to term-limits and a three-way race is on to replace him.  His aide, John Robitaille (R) is unlikely to win, but may prove the spoiler in a race between State Treasurer Frank Caprio (D) and former Senator Lincoln Chafee (Ind.).   Pollster rating – Lean Ind.   In Wisconsin, Governor James Doyle (D), is retiring due to low popularity, leaving an open seat behind.  Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) is running against Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker (R).  Pollster rating – Lean Rep.

Part 1: Intro 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 is here.

Part 5: 10:00 EDT Poll Closings is here.

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

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