I spent the night at Republican headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota, broadcasting on AM 1280 the Patriot. Considering that everyone knew it would be a tough night, the crowd was in great spirits. We interviewed Rudy Boschwitz, Vin Weber and others. Nationally, the Democrats are being projected to take the House. It’s still unclear, however, whether they will scrape by with a net gain of 15-20 seats, or score a bigger victory. Right now it looks like the former; there have been few surprises tonight, and nearly all the seats the Dems have picked up have been ones they were expected to win.
In the Senate, Jim Talent and George Allen are the firewall. Talent looks solid, Allen down to the wire in a race that shouldn’t have been this close. Still, at the end of the day it doesn’t look like the Dems will take the Senate.
Michael Steele’s race is generating controversy, since it was called for Cardin early, when Steele was ahead, and Steele is still ahead hours later. From everything I’ve seen the call was probably right, but the final totals should be very close.
Here in Minnesota, the biggest surprises are in the Constitutional offices. The Republicans who were expected to win are winning, for the most part: John Kline crushed Coleen Rowley; Michele Bachmann, one of the emerging stars of this cycle, is winning pretty easily; Jim Ramstad had no trouble. Gil Gutknecht, however, is locked in a tight battle with Tim Walz, and there is a chance he may lose. That would be an unexpected pickup for the Dems.
Mark Kennedy has conceded his Senate race against Amy Klobuchar, which is a disappointment but not a surprise.
The key remaining race is the Governor contest in which Attorney General Mike Hatch is challenging Republican incumbent Tim Pawlenty. Hatch has led from the beginning, with urban precincts in Minneapolis and St. Paul reporting first. No surprise there. What is surprising–shocking, really–is that Democrat challengers have opened up big leads over Republican incumbents in the races for Secreatary of State and Auditor. Those are pretty much non-partisan offices, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune even endorsed State Auditor Pat Anderson, presumably on the assumption that she was going to win regardless. What’s surprising is that 1) Anderson and Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer are trailing their challengers badly in the early going, while 2) Governor Pawlenty is down only two points, currently, to Mike Hatch. I take that to mean that Pawlenty may win an unexpectedly easy victory, since there is no way that Kiffmeyer and Anderson are going to lose by 12 to 15 points. But they may indeed lose, and my interpretation, as to Pawlenty’s race, may prove optimistic.
UPDATE: Paul’s post below is based on more recent information as to some of the Senate races; he thinks the Senate may in fact swing to the Dems. We won’t know until tomorrow, I guess, if then.
FURTHER UPDATE: Sure enough, Talent’s lead has evaporated. The Montana returns are still very early and I haven’t seen any meaningful analysis of them, but control of the Senate could well come down to a Virginia recount.
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