Friday, October 27, 2006

ELECTION NIGHT CHEAT SHEET Here's your hour-by-hour guide to election night 2006, as promised.

There are bound to be at least a couple mistakes and misjudgments buried in here. (Spot one? E-mail us.) On the whole, though, this rundown should give readers an idea of what to watch for as the evening of November 7 unfolds.

Five preliminary notes:

1) Results in many congressional races will be slow to trickle in. In some cases it may be hours (or weeks!) until we know the winner. So the hour-by-hour rundown below is very much a theoretical snapshot. The actual counting of votes is likely to be more fluid, especially where the numbers are close.

2) This rundown isn't a tally of all the seats that could conceivably change hands. Instead, I've focused on the House and Senate races where there is a substantial chance that one party or the other will gain a seat. (Sorry, no governors races here.) I've also highlighted (in bold) some bellwether races that may help us see where the evening is headed.

Those are obviously judgment calls, and I take responsibility for all the judgments. (Although MyDD and Election Central have been invaluable.) If you think I've left an especially tight race off the list entirely, please let me know.

3) Races in italics are potential Republican pick-ups. All other races are potential Democratic pick-ups.

4) For uniformity's sake, Republicans are listed first in all races.

5) All times are ET.


Polls close in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.

RACES TO WATCH: (Republican v. Democrat)


VA: Sen. Allen v. Webb


GA 12: Burns v. Rep Barrow
IN 02: Rep. Chocola v. Donnelly
IN 07: Dickerson v. Rep. Carson
IN 08: Hostettler v Ellsworth
IN 09: Sodrel v Hill
KY 03: Northrup v Yarmuth
KY 04: Rep. Davis v Lucas
VA 02: Drake v Kellam

ANALYSIS: It wasn't the GOP plan, but the Virginia Senate race is now a must-win for Republicans. So if Sen. George Allen goes down to an early defeat here, Democrats ought to be giddy about their prospects. On the other hand, if challenger Jim Webb loses handily--by 8+ points--we're likely on track for yet another "better-than-expected" election night performance from the GOP.

On the House side, election analyst Charlie Cook's prediction seems like a sound one: Democrats will have a hard time picking up the fifteen seats they need to take the House without winning two of Indiana's competitive seats; and Republicans need at least one of the two Kentucky toss-ups to prevent disaster.

So in Indiana, keep an eye on Rep. Chris Chocola: Democrats are unlikely to meet Cook's test without knocking him off. In Kentucky, watch Rep. Geoff Davis' numbers. If he falls, the GOP may be in the early stages of a disaster that even Katherine Harris can't rescue them from.


Polls close in Ohio and West Virginia.

RACES TO WATCH: (Republican v. Democrat)


OH: Sen. DeWine v. Brown


OH 01: Rep. Chabot v. Cranley
OH 02: Rep. Schmidt v. Wulsin
OH 12: Rep. Tiberi v. Shamansky
OH 15: Rep. Pryce v. Kilroy
OH 18: Padgett v. Space

ANALYSIS: If Sen. Mike DeWine survives in Ohio, Dems are in for a long night. It'll mean that the pre-election conventional wisdom was wide of the mark and that Karl Rove's October optimism was rooted in something other than fantasy. Expect a week's worth of discussion of the GOP's vaunted "72 hour-plan" and nasty public exchanges between Chuck Schumer and Howard Dean.

Ohio's 15th and 18th districts are two more contests that Democrats believe they'll win handily, while the 2nd is more of a stretch. If neck-and-neck battles develop in the first two races, Nancy Pelosi dreams of ear-flicking President Bush during the State of the Union will be all but dashed.

But if Victoria Wulsin is able to unseat Dem nemesis Rep. Jean Schmidt in the Republican-leaning 2nd district, a loudmouth pol will have received her comeuppance and Democrats will be on track for a big night.


Polls close in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

RACES TO WATCH: (Republican v. Democrat)


CT: Sen. Lieberman (CFL) v. Lamont
MD: Steele v. Cardin
MO: Sen. Talent v. McCaskill
NJ: Kean v Sen. Menendez
PA: Sen. Santorum v. Casey
TN: Corker v. Ford


CT 02: Rep. Simmons v. Courtney
CT 04: Rep. Shays v. Farrell
CT 05: Rep. Johnson v. Murphy
FL 08: Rep. Keller v. Stuart
FL 13: Buchanan v. Jennings
FL 16: Rep. Foley/Negron v. Mahoney
FL 22: Rep. Shaw v. Klein
IL 06: Roskam v. Duckworth
IL 08: McSweeney v. Rep. Bean
IL 10: Rep. Kirk v. Seals
IL 11: Rep. Weller v. Pavich
NH 02: Rep. Bass v. Hodes
NJ 07: Rep. Ferguson v. Stender
PA 04: Rep. Hart v. Altmire
PA 06: Rep. Gerlach v. Murphy
PA 07: Rep. Weldon v. Sestak
PA 08: Rep. Fitzpatrick v. Murphy
PA 10: Rep. Sherwood v. Carney
PA 18: Rep. Murphy v. Kluko

ANALYSIS: The night's busiest hour. Missouri and Tennessee are where the rubber meets the road for Republicans: If they don't pull out one of these two senate races, their days in the majority are probably numbered. On the other hand, if Democrats fail to pickup even one of these seats, discussion will focus on the RNC's race-baiting "Playboy Party" ad, Claire McCaskill's Michael J. Fox spot, and the persistent failure of Democrats to capitalize on red state opportunities.

After 8pm, House Democrats will have a much better sense of their fate: If long-popular blue-state Republicans like Rep. Chris Shays survive, it will show that Rahm Emanuel's "northeast strategy" was a failure. It may be hours--or years--before the House changes hands.

But if the GOP can't hold Clay Shaw's seat in Florida, Republicans are in line for some serious pain: A 30+ seat swing is likely taking shape. Watch for Bill Kristol soberly explaining to Fox News viewers that Republicans would have fared much better if they'd all just followed his advice.

We'll also have our first evidence, at 8pm, of the effects of the multiplying GOP congressional scandals: Rep. Curt Weldon's FBI woes and Rep. Don Sherwood's adultery problems. If their ethical lapses put these entrenched incumbents out of business, fire up the YouTube: We'll be in for some unusually entertaining concession speeches.


Polls close in Arkansas and North Carolina.

RACES TO WATCH: (Republican v. Democrat)


NC 08: Rep. Hayes v. Kissell
NC 11: Rep. Taylor v. Schuler

ANALYSIS: Larry Kissell is the kind of longshot, grassroots candidate who has nonetheless emerged in recent weeks as a serious contender. If he's able to unseat Rep. Robin Hayes, Bush administration lawyers would be wise to ready themselves for a raft of John Conyers-signed Judiciary Committee subpoenas.


Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraka, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

RACES TO WATCH: (Republican v. Democrat)


RI: Sen. Chafee v. Whitehouse


AZ 05: Rep. Hayworth v. Mitchell
AZ 08: Graf v. Giffords
CO 04: Rep. Musgrave v. Paccione
CO 07: O'Donnell v. Perlmutter
MN 01: Rep. Gutknecht v. Walz
MN 02: Rep. Kline v. Rowley
MN 06: Bachmann v. Wetterling
NM 01: Rep. Wilson v. Madrid
NY 19: Rep. Kelly v. Hall
NY 20: Rep. Sweeney v. Gillibrand
NY 24: Meier v. Arcuri
NY 25: Rep. Walsh v. Maffei
NY 26: Rep. Reynolds v. Davis
NY 29: Rep. Kuhl v. Massa
TX 22: Rep. DeLay v. Lampson
WI 08: Gard v. Kagen

ANALYSIS: By now House Democrats will either be biting their nails or on the way to a landslide. If the battle for control remains close, part of the reason will be the GOP's intensely negative TV strategy; Michael Arcuri in New York's 24th--a victim of one of the worst smears of the election season--will probably be one of the losers. But if Arcuri triumphs it means that Rove and crew have finally have met an electoral climate so unfavorable that even well-timed slime has little impact.

All eyes will focus on Thomas Reynold's race, also in New York. A Democratic victory against the Foley scandal-tarred RCCC chair will be especially sweet for Dems, and doubly brutal for Republicans. The same is true in the Texas, where Nick Lampson faces a write-in campaign by a DeLay replacement. If this seat winds up providing the Democratic margin for victory, somewhere Shakespeare will be smiling.


Polls close in Iowa, Montana, Nevada and Utah.

RACES TO WATCH: (Republican v. Democrat)


Montana: Sen. Burns v. Tester


IA 01: Whalen v. Braley
IA 02: Rep. Leach v. Loebsack
IA 03: Lamberti v. Rep. Boswell

ANALYSIS: If Democrats have run the table, a Montana victory for Jon Tester would catapult them into control of the Senate. Conversely, if Abramoff-entangled Sen. Conrad Burns defies the pundits and pulls out this race, he probably won't be the only compromised pol to survive. Markos Moulitsas will not be amused.

On the House side of things, Democrats better hope they've reached the magic number of fifteen net pick-ups once this hour's results have trickled in; if not, their chances of making it over the top at 11pm will be slim. But if Democrats are by now padding their victory margin, somewhere on cable TV Robert Novak will calling this the least important election in American history.

10pm is also the Republican party's last best chance for a pick-up. They're unlikely to gain any seats at 11pm--but they could still bleed a few more at that hour.


Polls close in California, Hawaii, Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington.

RACES TO WATCH: (Republican v. Democrat)


CA 04: Rep. Doolittle v. Brown
CA 11: Rep. Pombo v. McNerney
ID 01: Sali v. Grant
WA 08: Rep. Reichert v. Burner

ANALYSIS: We're into icing-on-the-cake territory here--for one side or the other. Will Richard Pombo win in a walk, solidifying a narrow GOP majority? Or will he be the last Republican in a GOP-friendly district to go down in an upset? If Pombo gets his pink slip at 11pm, he'll have plenty of GOP company.

Sources: The Green Papers: 2006 Poll Closing Times.

Find an error? E-mail us.

UPDATE: Glad the cheat sheet has generated so much interest.

A programming note: On Tuesday, we'll be tracking election returns all night long here. Stop by early, stay late.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.