There are going to be two parts of this diary; Benchmarks and Race Predictions. I’m going to be doing President, Senate, Governor, AND House (House is Part 2, though). So please read through it all, since I put forth all this effort. Note that many of my Senate and Governor write-ups will be identical or very similar to those I posted in my last diary. Senate unless otherwise noted. Note that I have Obama winning the popular vote 51-48.
Double Digit Races:
Connecticut President: Barack Obama 56, Mitt Romney 43
The only real question is if Romney wins Litchfield County.
Maine President: Barack Obama 55, Mitt Romney 43
I have Romney winning five counties here, up from John McCain’s one (his only county in New England, in fact).
New Jersey President: Barack Obama 55, Mitt Romney 44
Somerset and Salem Counties should flip back to red.
New Mexico President: Barack Obama 56, Mitt Romney 43
The blue trend continues; Obama only loses 1.5% here from 2008.
South Carolina President: Mitt Romney 56, Barack Obama 43
Colleton County will flip back to red, and three others should be 50-50.
Maine Senate: Angus King (I) 47, Charlie Summers (R) 34, Cynthia Dill (D) 15
Angus King once looked dominant, but his star has faded a bit (although not as badly as Tommy Thompson's.) He was once expected to get over 50%, but despite some committee spending showing this to be a competitive race, an thirteen point margin is decent for King Angus.
New Jersey Senate: Bob Menendez (D) 54, Joe Kyrillos (R) 44
I wouldn't be shocked if this was closer to 6 points than 10; Menendez has always been underwhelming and Kyrillos has no flaws (although no great qualities either). But this is where I'm pegging the race. Hurricane Sandy and the prostitution allegations are both wild cards here. An incumbent underperforming the President in a close election is pretty weak-sauce.
Washington President: Barack Obama 54, Mitt Romney 44
I have five small counties flipping red; Clark and Spokane should both be pretty close. I’d give Romney Spokane but not Clark just based on my gut, but who knows.
Oregon President: Barack Obama 54, Mitt Romney 44
Washington’s Southern Twin (KS/NE, ND/SD, and OR/WA are the three sets of “twin states” in my opinion, although MD/DE is arguable too) should have a more classic map; Marion and Jackson will go back to the light red they usually are. Tillamook, Wasco, and Clackamas should stay blue despite going for Bush in 2004.
Missouri Governor: Jay Nixon (D) 55, Dave Spence (R) 44
Nixon's been between a seven and fifteen point lead all cycle, and I'm pegging him right in the middle. Spence is better than Peter Kinder, so there's that at least. Kinder and Akin atop the ticket would be absolute doom for the Missouri GOP.
Indiana Governor: Mike Pence (R) 54, John Gregg (D) 44
I was never very optimistic about this race, especially with Obama not contesting the state, and it appears I was right (not that I'm happy about it). Super-conservative Mike Pence will likely be Indiana's next Governor, and by a decent margin. Gregg should do pretty well in the Ohio River area, though, as he's clearly a Blue Dog. Mourdock seems to have hurt Pence a bit, but not too much.
High Single Digits:
Pennsylvania Senate: Bob Casey (D) 53, Tom Smith (R) 45
Casey seems to be on cruise control, which will hold down his margins, and Smith has lots of money to use. So this could end up closer, although I can't see it within six. Like Florida, the interesting thing here is how the Democrat does in the Demosaur areas (Western Pennsylvania and to a lesser extent, parts of NEPA.) Also curious if Smith can eke out a win in Montgomery County, although my gut says it’s just too blue at this point.
Georgia President: Mitt Romney 53, Barack Obama 45
The Dem trend here, due to minorities, is real. Georgia should be contested in 2020. I have Newton County and six South Georgia counties flipping back.
Missouri Senate: Claire McCaskill (D) 50, Todd Akin (R) 41
3rd parties should do better here, since many moderate Republicans won't be willing to vote Akin yet don't want to vote for McCaskill. For much of 2011 and the first half of 2012, we worried about Claire McCaskill's path to 50%, and I'm honestly not sure she'll make it to 50 even with Akin's gaffes. But she definitely won't lose.
Nevada President: Barack Obama 53, Mitt Romney 45
This state won’t be considered a classic swing state in 2016 unless Republicans can appeal to Hispanics better; otherwise it’s another New Mexico.
Florida Senate: Bill Nelson (D) 53, Connie Mack (R) 45
Mack was supposed to be the GOP's savior, but he's everyone's stereotypical spoiled kid who thinks he's a hotshot. 45% is weak for a Republican in Florida, but that's what I expect him to get. The most interesting thing about this election will be how many Demosaur counties in Northern Florida Nelson wins this time around, to see if he still has the conservaDem appeal he did six years ago. Based on no trend in the Demosaur areas, Nelson would win ten North Florida counties Obama didn’t. We’ll see if that holds true.
North Carolina Governor: Pat McCrory (R) 53, Walter Dalton (D) 44
Bev Perdue's unpopularity made this race impossible from the start, and Dalton's done about as average a job as possible.
New Mexico Senate: Martin Heinrich (D) 53, Heather Wilson (R) 46
The Republicans have given up here, but I don't think Wilson will end up below 45, because of her only somewhat conservative record (she wasn't Mike Castle, but she wasn't that conservative either) and her being well-known from 2008. Heinrich is the most likely Presidential nominee among 2012 candidates on either side, in my opinion, along with Cruz for the Republicans.
Michigan President: Barack Obama 53, Mitt Romney 45
Obama does 4 points worse here than 2008, but it’s still not very close. Republicans seem to think Michigan is redder than it is. I have Obama losing: Ontonagon, Iron, Delta, Alger, and Schoolcraft (all in the UP); Presque Isle, Alpena, Leelanau, Benzie, Mason, Oceana, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Clare, Gladwin, Arenac (all in the North); Gratiot, Clinton (Central); Kent (Grand Rapids); Berrien, Cass (Southwest); St. Clair, Lenawee, Macomb, Monroe (Near Detroit). LOTS of swing counties in Michigan.
Minnesota President: Barack Obama 53, Mitt Romney 45
Similar to Michigan, there are tons of swing counties with little population. However, not too many should flip back. Marshall, Pennington, Aitkin, Pine, Stevens, Lincoln, Murray, Watonwan, and Olmsted (Rochester) are the ones I have flipping.
Montana President: Mitt Romney 52, Barack Obama 45
I have Rosebud, Cascade, and Lake Counties flipping back to the Republicans. Cascade is the only populous one; it contains Great Falls.
Indiana Senate: Joe Donnelly 51 (D), Richard Mourdock 44
Last Time I Wrote This: “Donnelly hasn't been able to get into the high forties in polling, and in a red state that's a big problem. Mourdock's mouth could still cost him the race, but I'm less and less optimistic here as time goes on.” Guess I was proven right.
Pennsylvania President: Barack Obama 53, Mitt Romney 46
Another light blue state. I only have Elk and Carbon Counties flipping back to red.
Indiana President: Mitt Romney 54, Barack Obama 45
Lots of counties flip back here with Obama not contesting the state this time. Porter and Starke in the Northwest, Madison (Anderson), Vanderburgh (Evansville), and Spencer (Demosaur). That only gives Obama nine counties.
Wisconsin President: Barack Obama 53, Mitt Romney 46
Wisconsin also has tons of swing counties. My predicted flips: Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, Barron, Langlade, Marinette, Oconto, Shawano, Waupaca, Calumet, Waushara, Marquette, Jefferson, and Racine.
Nebraska Senate: Deb Fischer (R) 52, Bob Kerrey (D) 46
Kerrey’s been improving in the polls over the last couple weeks, but I just don’t think it’s enough. I wouldn’t be shocked by a Kerrey win, but I’d be very surprised. He’s certainly exceeded expectations. Counties I’m giving Kerrey: The Big Two (Lancaster and Douglas), Nance, Greeley, Sherman, Red Willow, Saline, Fillmore, Thayer, Jefferson, Gage, Johnson, Butler, Thurston, Burt, and Dakota. That’s a very decent map for a Democrat.
Arizona President: Mitt Romney 52, Barack Obama 46
This will be the only state Obama outperforms 2008 in. He should win the same 4 counties he did four years ago.
Missouri President: Mitt Romney 52, Barack Obama 46
Buchanan (St Joseph), Jefferson (St Louis Area), and Washington/Iron (Demosaur) all go red, leaving Obama with only five county victories.
Ohio Senate: Sherrod Brown (D) 52, Josh Mandel (R) 46
Sherrod Brown is one of my five favorite senators ideologically (I'd also add Merkley, Reed, Whitehouse, and Harkin), and I'm glad to see him beating Josh Mandel, who has quickly become my least favorite Republican running this cycle. Hopefully Mandel loses his Treasurer position as well in 2014. After winning 56-44 in 2006, I have Sherrod Brown losing Seneca, Richland, Marion, Geauga, Coshocton, Noble, Washington, Morgan, Meigs, Jackson, Lawrence, Clark, and Montgomery Counties. If you plot that out, it’s a huge regional divide, with Mandel winning the entire Cincinnati and Dayton Areas, even counties Obama won. But the “7” shape in Ohio’s North and East won’t be as complete this year, as the Demosaur areas are getting redder downballot as well.
Connecticut Senate: Chris Murphy (D) 51, Linda McMahon (R) 46
McMahon's flubbing of social issues has cost her here, as has Connecticut's blue lean. But Murphy, who was my pick for rising star of the 2012 cycle on our side, has seen his star diminish between his inability to put McMahon away and his mortgage/tax issues.
Massachusetts Senate: Elizabeth Warren (D) 52, Scott Brown (R) 47
Warren's taken the driver's seat (no truck pun intended) of this race ever since the convention, benefitting from being tied more closely to Obama and his popularity in the state. While she’s never been one of my heroes, I think she’ll be a very solid senator. Worcester, Plymouth, and Barnstable Counties (I know counties don’t mean much in New England) should be solid for Brown, while Hampden, Norfolk, and Essex will be very close.
The Tilt Races (My Predictions Could Be Wrong Starting Here):
Note: I’ll also start putting “Counties to Watch” Here
Arizona Senate: Jeff Flake (R) 50, Richard Carmona (D) 47
I’m not as optimistic on Carmona as many others here, but he’s run a good race.
Virginia Senate: Tim Kaine (D) 51, George Allen (R) 47
I’m really, really glad George Allen will most likely not return to the Senate. He’s really despicable. Kaine broke this open (well, compared to how it was for the 12 months prior) in the last six weeks.
Counties to Watch: Prince William, Caroline, Westmoreland, Sussex, Suffolk City, Alleghany, Montgomery, Loudoun, Russell, Chesapeake City
Washington Governor: Jay Inslee (D) 52, Rob McKenna (R) 48
The Rain Man appears poised for defeat here, which is great news for every state but Oregon (they're 2nd to Washington in most consecutive years of Democratic Governors). Predicted Obama/McKenna Counties: Clark, Cowlitz
Counties to Watch: Whatcom, Snohomish, Grays Harbor, Pacific
Wisconsin: Tammy Baldwin (D) 51, Tommy Thompson (R) 48
Along with many others, I thought Thompson would win this one by around five. Thankfully, I've been proven wrong. His campaign is horrible, and Baldwin is campaigning well.
Predicted Obama/Thompson Counties: Many (too many swing counties in Wisconsin for me to predict)
Counties to Watch: Iron, Price, Forest, Door, Barron, Pierce, Dunn, Buffalo, Jackson, Adams, Columbia, Grant, Lafayette, Kenosha
New Hampshire Governor: Maggie Hassan (D) 51, Ovide Lamontagne (R) 48
Ovide isn't an old-school Yankee Republican in any way, shape, or form. Maggie Hassan appears poised to be the only Democratic female Governor. This mirrors my Presidential prediction for the state.
New Hampshire President: Barack Obama 51, Mitt Romney 48
Carroll, Belknap, Rockingham, and Hillsborough should all go back to the Republicans, which leaves us with the 2004 county map.
Counties to Watch: Carroll, Hillsborough (note that both are pale red)
North Carolina President: Mitt Romney 51, Barack Obama 48
Predicted Obama 2008/Romney 2012 Counties: Gates, Martin, Hyde, Caswell, Bladen, Richmond, Jackson, Watauga. Obama will exceed beltway predictions here.
Counties to Watch: Chowan, Tyrrell, Hyde, Nash, Franklin, Lenoir, Bladen, Richmond, Caswell, Watauga, Madison, Swain
Ohio President: Barack Obama 51, Mitt Romney 48
Ohio mirrors the popular vote, and the electoral college comes down to Ohio. So yeah, Ohio is very important.
Obama 2008/Romney 2012 Counties: Lake, Tuscawaras, Jefferson
Counties to Watch: Wood, Sandusky, Ottawa, Lake, Stark, Tuscawaras, Belmont, Monroe, Montgomery, Hamilton.
Predicted Obama/Mandel (!) Counties: Montgomery, Hamilton
Predicted Romney/Brown Counties: Huron, Medina, Columbiana, Carroll, Harrison, Guersney, Muskingum, Perry, Hocking, Vinton, Scioto, Ross, Pike
North Dakota: Heidi Heitkamp (D) 51, Rick Berg (R) 49
Only Heitkamp could make this race competitive, and she has, in a way that exceeded nearly everybody's expectations. Her ads have been great, and she's really connected with North Dakota voters. Even a month ago, I still had Berg winning this one, but his campaign still isn't picking up any steam.
Counties to Watch: Williams, Burke, Ward, Adams, Griggs, Cass, Richland
Nevada: Dean Heller (R) 48, Shelley Berkley (D) 48
Polling of Nevada just isn't very good, but I'm going to go with my gut (and head) over my heart, although some users may vehemently disagree. Ironically, since Heller's quasi-incumbency may have given him the winning margin, so we might have John Ensign to thank for Heller keeping this seat red.
Montana: Denny Rehberg (R) 49, Jon Tester (D) 48
What a difference a point makes. After winning 49-48 six years ago, I'm predicting Tester loses by that same margin this time around. You can chalk it up to the bad climate relative to 2006; Rehberg's better than Burns (that isn't saying much), but Tester's incumbency makes up for that. Tester's done everything right, and I really like him, but he just hasn't shown enough polling leads.
Counties to Watch: Mineral, Lake, Chouteau, Cascade, Gallatin, Park, Yellowstone, Sheridan
Romney/Tester Counties: Mineral, Lake, Sheridan, Park
Montana (Governor): Steve Bullock (D) 49, Rick Hill (R) 48
What a difference a point makes, part two. Partially because of the difference between state and federal races, I have Bullock winning here despite Tester's loss. I'd definitely prefer a Tester victory and Bullock loss than vice versa, though.
Virginia President: Barack Obama 50, Mitt Romney 49
This one’s super close, and I keep flipping back and forth on whether Obama will win it, but in the end I think he does, very narrowly.
Obama 2008/Romney 2012: Chesapeake, Buckingham
Counties to Watch: Loudoun, King and Queen, Nelson, Prince Edward
Romney/Kaine: Dickenson, Buchanan, Rappahannock, Alleghany
Obama/Allen: Prince Edward, Essex, King and Queen, Southampton
Colorado President: Barack Obama 50, Mitt Romney 48
Colorado and Virginia are both “new” swing states, the two wealthiest swing states (and only 2 of the 10 wealthiest states not to be blue), and should have similar margins.
Obama 2008/Romney 2012: None
McCain 2008/Obama 2012: I’m going to go out on a limb and say Chaffee County, Colorado is the only McCain 2008/Obama 2012 county in the nation.
Counties to Watch: Larimer, Broomfield, Jefferson, Ouray, San Juan, Las Animas, Huerfano, Conejos
Iowa President: Barack Obama 50, Mitt Romney 48
Obama 2008/Romney 2012: Emmet, Palo Alto, Kossuth, Franklin, Hardin, Hamilton, Crawford, Carroll, Audubon, Greene, Iowa, Warren, Clarke, Union, Adams
Counties to Watch: Winnebago, Mitchell, Bremer, Delaware, Jones, Cedar, Wapello, Tama, Poweshiek, Jasper, Marshall, Webster, Boone
Florida President: Mitt Romney 49, Barack Obama 49
Florida will to a recount once again, just like in 2000. Fun times to be had by all.
Obama 2008/Romney 2012: Flagler, Jefferson
Counties to Watch: Jefferson, Flagler, Volusia, Monroe, Sarasota
This puts us at +1 in the Senate (gains in IN, ME and MA, losses in NE and MT), and at -1 in Governorships (NC).
The House is Part II. Comment away!