Tomorrow I'm off for a brief trip to the Southwest, and will check out firsthand how the Dems seem to be doing in New Mexico and Arizona. I'm back just before the election, but I voted early just in case some factor between now and then might prevent me from casting a ballot on November 7. Like what? A Halloween attack on Iran? More likely bad weather or some problem with the arilines.
The Senate seems to have come down to 3 races, MO, TN and VA. It looks like Menendez is ahead in NJ just enough to take it (and I think the fact that the New Jersey Supreme Court decided that the Legislature could let straights keep the magic term "marriage" if the rest of us could just have equal rights won't matter). Harold Ford has an ad that uses a bit of humor to defuse the racist ads Corker and his allies are running, and with the rivers of dreck running in so many districts, that, and a little bit of backlash, will probably help him. If Claire McCaskill gets a little help, she could win as well.
The House has the feeling of a stream that is somewhat placid on the top but with strong currents underneath. There seems to have been some firming up of GOP support, but the same races seem to be leaning towards the Dem column, just a little stronger with each new update by the pros. Chuck Todd analyzes five House bellwethers as a key to the race, and Bob Novak is out with a new ranking of the races. Novak sees a 20-seat Dem pickup. Novak's thinking is shockingly closer to mine than Todd's on many races.
In the Dem column, in my view, are first the open seats in AZ-08, FL-16, and TX-22, plus the embattled incumbents in IN-08 (Hostettler), PA-07 (Weldon), PA-10 (Sherwood). Also leaning Dem are the open seats in CO-07, FL-13, IA-01, MN-06, NY-24 (silly ads about mistakenly dialing a sex hotline are the best the GOP can do) and OH-18 (where no amount of money seems to be able to rescue Joy Padgett from Bob Ney's shadow). Also seemingly slipping out of the GOP's grip are IN-02 (Chocola), IN-09 (Sodrel), NC-11 (Taylor), NM-01 (Wilson), NY-26 (Reynolds) OH-15 (Pryce) and PA-06 (Gerlach). That's more than enough to elect Nancy Pelosi speaker.
Even as the CT races look harder to handicap (despite the NY Times endorsing Dems in almost all suburban seats around NYC, with Shays in CT-04 looking the shakiest), the above races have solidified for the Dems. Also moving more towards the Dems are the seats in KY-03 (Northrup), NH-02 (Bass), NV-02 (open), NV-03 (Porter), OH-01 (Chabot), PA-08 (Fitzpatrick), AZ-05 (Hayworth, the temple incident), and WY-AL (Cubin, who threatens wheelchair-bound Libertarian).
By contrast, the GOP candidates look to be holding leads in KY-04 (Davis), VA-02 (Drake) and maybe FL-22 (Shaw). No news from WI-08, but IL-06 continues to look close.
Most interesting are the races that are newly or potentially could become competitive. Watch over the next week for polls in all the upstate NY races, as this is one major determinant whether the Dems score big gains. Both national parties are putting money in CO-04, ID-01, OH-02 and WA-05. Money is being raised for Scott Kleeb in NE-03. In the Pittsburgh area, Jason Altmire is within striking distance of Melissa Hart in PA-04, and he was endorsed by the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. There are rumors the GOP is worried about IN-03 (Sauder). New allegations of shady land deals have hit Rick Renzi in AZ-01. Billbray in CA-50 is only 3 points ahead of Francine Busby, and the DCCC is on the air against Pombo in CA-11, finally. KS-02 looks a little shaky for Jim Ryun and Pat Tiberi in OH-12 is new to Todd's list. I'm still hoping for 32 Dem House seats, but I'd settle for just over half that.