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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Senate Election Thread

Do you think we’re going to do it?


This is the Senate results thread.  My analysis and predictions for the new Senate are below the fold.  We’ll be following the races and discussing the results throughout the night.

12:18 am  Right now, Democrats have 56 seats with three undecided.  In Minnesota, Norm Coleman has a 10,000 vote lead with 43% of the vote.  In Oregon, Merkley is up big with 14% of the vote counted.  Polls in Alaska close in 40 minutes, but I won’t be awake that late.  It will be nice to wake up to 59 Senate seats in the morning.

Good night to all.  What a great night for Democrats!

11:56 pm NBC has called Louisiana for Landrieu.  Georgia still hasn’t been called, but Chambliss has a strong lead.  If no candidate reaches 50% there is a run-off.  Pollsters are likely waiting for someone to reach 50%.  Regardless this seat will most likely go to Chambliss.  Merkley (OR) has a strong lead in early returns, but the race hasn’t been called yet.

11:22 pm  With 32% back, Norm Coleman (R) has a slim lead in Minnesota.

11:15 pm  Mississippi goes to Wicker.  Georgia still hasn’t been called, but Chambliss has a huge lead in returns so far.  Oregon has been called for Obama, but the Senate race has not.  Merkley has a lead in the early returns.

10:39 pm  Completely unrelated to the Senate.  The gay marriage ban is leading in Florida 62-38.

10:27 pm Mississippi has been called for McCain but the Senate race still hasn’t been called.  Mary Landrieu (LA) is leading by 2000 with 49% of the precints reporting.  Louisiana has already been called for McCain.

10:01 pm We are one hour away from saying President-elect Obama, but the Senate is still uncertain.  We’re still waiting for Colorado, Minnesota, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, and Georgia.

9:43 pm  Thad Cochran’s (MS) seat has been called by NBC, but nothing on the Musgrove-Wicker race.  Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Georgia are too close to call.  Oregon and Alaska are still voting.  Oregon closes in about 17 minutes.

9:35 pm  Udall is ahead in Colorado in early returns but it hasn’t been called yet.  Some networks have called Texas for Cornyn, but others have not.

9:21 pm  Mississippi hasn’t been called yet???

9:14 pm  ABC has called Kentucky for McConnell.

9:10 pm  We’ve picked up 4 seats so far–VA, NC, NH, and NM.  Levin (D-MI), Roberts (R-KS), Thune (D-SD), Pryor (D-AR), Sessions (R-AL), Enzi (R-WY), Barrasso (R-WY), and Cornyn (R-TX) have all held their seats.

9:07 pm  Tom Udall wins in New Mexico!  Another pick-up for Democrats.

9:00 pm  It’s worth noting that Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Mark Pryor (D-AR), John Kerry (D-MA), and

Susan Collins (R-ME) will hold their seats.

8:55 pm  CNN finally calls NC for Hagan.  Polls in Minnesota, Colorado, and New Mexico closing soon!

8:33 pm  CNN notes that Mark Warner (D) is blowing out Jim Gilmore (R).  He has more than 60% of the vote.  Gilmore is a well-known former governor in a conservative state and he’s struggling to break 40%.

8:40 pm  Kentucky still hasn’t been called.  The Senate Majority leader seems to be in trouble.  The presidential race in Kentucky was called when the polls closed at 7pm.

8:33 pm  ABC notes that Kay Hagan was the Democrats third choice to run against Sen. Dole.  Other more prominent Democrats passed on the race because they thought it would be too difficult.

8:30 pm  MSNBC calls New Hampshire for Jeanne Shaheen!

8:29 pm  ABC called North Carolina for Hagan!

8:05 pm  New Hampshire hasn’t been called yet.  I’ve just noticed that Obama is out-performing Hagan in North Carolina.  They both lead in early returns, but Obama is further ahead of McCain than Hagan is ahead of Dole.  Very interesting.  Is this a sign that there are limits to Obama’s coattails?

7:54 pm  A little over five minutes until polls close in Mississippi and New Hampshire.  Kentucky, Georgia, and North Carolina are still too close to call.  Sixty seats may yet be within reach!

7:43 pm  WV Senate called for Jay Rockefeller.

7:32 pm  CNN isn’t making a call in North Carolina.

7:25 pm  Harold Ford (MSNBC) just said that the numbers in Alaska look good for Democrats.

7:20 pm  Lunsford up by 5 votes with 13% of the precints reporting.  There are a lot of McCain-Lunsford voters in Kentucky.  Who are these voters?  Independents?  Reform Republicans?  Any Kentucky voters out there to help out?

7:07 pm  Sen. Lindsay Graham keeps his seat in South Carolina.

7:04 pm  Virginia called for Democrat Mark Warner!

7:02 pm  Kentucky called for McCain, but CNN can’t make a projection in the Senate race.  A good start to the night.  Nothing in Georgia yet.  Another good sign.

6:55 pm  Five minutes from new poll closings.  Lunsford has a 4,000 vote lead in KY with 9% of precints reporting.

6:45 pm  NBC identifies the following five GOP Senators as most in danger of defeat–John Sununu (NH), Elizabeth Dole (NC), Ted Stevens (AK), Gordon Smith (OR), and Norm Coleman (MN).  Landrieu (D-LA) wasn’t even mentioned.

15 minutes until polls close in our first hot races–Kentucky, Georgia, and Virginia.

6:12 pm  Polls have closed in Eastern Kentucky.  The networks can’t call it until polls in the western part of the state close at 7:00 pm.

6:02 pm  I’m watching CNN tonight.  What are you guys watching?

In the 110th Congress, Democrats hold 51 seats, and the Republicans hold 49 seats.


I am projecting that Democrats pick up eight seats tonight, giving Democrats a 59-41 edge in January.


These are the key Senate races we’ll be watching closely tonight, listed by order of the poll closing times.  Incumbents are bolded.

Kentucky, Georgia, and Virginia–7pm.

Kentucky: Mitch McConnell (R) vs Bruce Lunsford (D)

There used to be a Senate tradition where party campaign committees did not target the leader of the opposing party. That ended in 2002 when Senate Republicans and Pres. Bush ran a campaign lies and false attacks against former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota. This would be a great revenge victory, but unseating a four-term incumbent is an uphill battle. In addition, Obama isn’t contesting Kentucky, so the Lunsford campaign and Kentucky Democrats are without the benefit of Obama’s GOTV organization. And although Lunsford has deep pockets, his record in Kentucky is less than impressive, having lost the gubenatorial races in 2003 and 2007. I don’t think the Senate shocker of the night will be in Kentucky. My prediction: McConnell 52, Lunsford 48.

Georgia: Saxby Chambliss (R) vs. Jim Martin (D)

Sen. Chambliss gives bad human beings a bad name. In 2002, he wage a campaign of vicious smears when he defeated Sen. Max Cleland, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a triple amputee. For Democrats, this race is personal. The tight polling and the heavy African-American turnout have given Democrats an opening. If there is going to be as shocker tonight, it will be this race. My prediction: Chambliss 49, Martin 50.

Virginia: Jim Gilmore (R) vs Mark Warner (D)

On Wednesday morning, Virginia Democrats should send thank you cards to 47 GOP party leaders who decided to choose their Senate nominee by convention rather than primary. This eliminated any shot that Rep. Davis, a moderate Republican, had of getting the nomination, assuring that the more conservative candidate, former Governor James Gilmore would face the Democratic nominee. That turned out to be popular former governor Mark Warner and he will win by a landslide. My prediction: Gilmore 39, Warner 61.

North Carolina–7:30 pm

North Carolina: Elizabeth Dole (R) vs Kay Hagan (D)

Once upon a time, I respected Elizabeth Dole. I began to doubt her when she endorsed Bush in 1999 after dropping out of the presidential race. When she said that Democrats were “content with losing” the war in Iraq on Meet the Press in 2006, I lost respect for her. The “Godless” ad she desperately ran against Kay Hagan actually made me pity her. I’ll enjoy seeing her swept out of office. My prediction: Dole 46, Hagan 54

Mississippi & New Hampshire–8:00pm

Mississippi: Roger Wicker (R) vs Ronnie Musgrove (D)

Roger Wicker holds the seat now, having been appointed to replace former Sen. Trent Lott. It’s hard to see a Democrat win, but Ronnie Musgrove is a former governor. Most of the polls have had Wicker ahead within the margin error until he started pulling away this week. Obama’s coattails may help bring African-American voters to the polls, but the GOP has countered by putting the Senate race at the bottom of a long ballot, hoping that Obama voters will miss it. I don’t think this is going to be our shocker of the night, but Musgrove will have a respectable showing. My prediction: Wicker 53, Musgrove 47

In New Hampshire, John Sununu (R) vs Jeanne Shaheen (D)

His father’s connections may have landed him the seat in 2002, but they won’t help him keep it. I haven’t seen a single public poll that put Sununu ahead this year and he’s only gotten with the margin of error once or twice.  From what I’ve read, he’s been a good senator for New Hampshire voters, but this is a bad year to be a Republican.  My prediction: Sununu 47, Shaheen 53

Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, and New Mexico–9:00pm

Colorado: Bob Schaffer (R) vs. Mark Udall (D)

This race has been over for months. My prediction: Udall by double digits.

Louisiana: John Kennedy (R) vs Mary Landrieu (D)

The only reason the media called this a close race was to have at least one Democrat in danger. John Kennedy failed as a Democratic candidate and thought switching to the GOP was the answer, but even if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.  My prediction: Kennedy 45, Landrieu 55.

Minnesota: Norm Coleman (R) vs Al Franken (D) vs Dean Barkley (I)

If there is going to be one disappointment tonight, it will be in Minnesota. The polls have been all over the place the last few days, but my gut tells me that Norm Coleman isn’t so unpopular that voters will replace him with a comedian. This will be the race that keeps us awake passed 3am. My prediction: Coleman in a squeaker (less than 1%)

New Mexico: Steve Pearce (R) vs Tom Udall (D)

It looks like Steve Pearce gave up his House seat for nothing. This race has been over for months. After Sen. Domenici (R) meddled in the firing of US attorney who would use his office to help election Republicans, his seat going to the Democrats after six terms is justice delayed. My prediction: Pearce 42, Udall 58


Oregon: Gordon Smith (R) vs Jeff Merkley (D)

Sen. Smith was a moderate Republican when he first ran, but he’s been drifting rightward. Oregon is a vote-by-mail state and reports indicate the turnout is down in GOP areas that he needs to hold his seat. I think the polls are right on this one. My prediction: Smith 44, Merkley 56


Alaska: Ted Stevens (R) vs. Mark Begich (D)

Alaskans are sick of the corruption and are embarassed by their felon Senator.  There are limits to pork.  My prediction: Begich breaks 60%.

So what do you think?  What are your predictions?


  1. fogiv

    …I’ll be flipping back and forth from MSNBC and CNN.  I’ll probably drop into Fox when things start looking really pretty for us.  Be on the lookout for a “Scanners” moment.


  2. NavyBlueWife

    CNN is a bunch of asshats, but it is fun to watch them fumble around…

    Faux News when we are majorly kicking ass.

    Chambliss GOING DOWN!

  3. psychodrew

    I just saw an ad for a local race here in Tampa.

    But the polls closed at 7pm.  Somebody really screwed up on their ad buy!

  4. psychodrew

    Paraphrase:  There are a lot of people being swept aside because of the (R) next to their names, irrespective of the merits.

  5. louisprandtl

    seat..the poll data from blue color Democratic Duluth is yet to come in. Only 50% Minneapolis area vote is in, and the third party candidate Barkley is pulling double the votes in conservative suburbia…

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