CHICAGO—While the presidential race remains tight in the lead-up to Nov. 6, congressional elections also contain some nail-biting races.
According to Kyle Kondik, analyst and house editor with the Center of Politics at the University of Virginia, there are likely to be a number of changes in both the House and the Senate, and many are just too close to call.
Republicans currently hold a majority in the House by 25 seats. Kondik predicts that they will maintain a majority, but that redistricting will see demographic changes for many candidates. He added that the House could lose up to seven seats.
“It’s just a matter of how many seats they end up losing,” he told reporters at a press briefing in Washington, D.C., adding, “It doesn’t look like the Republicans will add seats.”
Unlike in the House where representatives serve two-year terms, senators serve six years in the United States, with one-third of them elected every two years.
It is likely that the Democrats will remain in control of the Senate, although Kondik predicts that they will lose one seat, giving them a 52 to 48 majority.
He said that the outlook for Democrats is better than earlier in the year, when it looked like Republicans might have the edge in a number of states including Missouri, New England’s Massachusetts, and the mid-Atlantic state of Virginia.
Missouri, a Republican leaning state likely to vote for Romney for president, opened up for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) after challenger Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) controversial remarks about rape victims. He refused to back down from the remarks, and Kondik believes that the damage will show at the polls, giving McCaskill the edge.
Massachusetts, home of iconic former Democratic Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy, fell to Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in a shocking loss following Kennedy’s death in 2009. Democratic challenger this year, Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren, has put up a good fight and Kondik predicts that she will take the seat.
“We believe that basically Massachusetts is just too Democratic to re-elect Brown,” he said.
In Virginia, where former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) missed out by one percentage point against Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) last election, the race is again tight and looks like it will remain Democrat, with former Gov. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) marginally ahead.
“Even though it … looks like Mitt Romney is now leading the presidential race in Virginia, we’re comfortable saying that we think that Tim Kaine, the Democrat, will edge out George Allen, the Republican, just barely,” Kondik said.
“It’s just a matter of how many seats they end up losing … It doesn’t look like the Republicans will add seats.”
– Kyle Kondik, analyst and house editor, Center of Politics at the University of Virginia
He said that there are six states that he believes are just too close to call: Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, North Dakota, Nevada, and Wisconsin.
Arizona, traditionally a Republican seat and known for its long-serving senators, has become a contest with the retirement of Sen. Jon Kyl Jr. (R-Ariz.). Kyl is 70 years old and one of the party’s most senior congressmen.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is hoping to fill those shoes, but with changing demographics in the region and a growing Hispanic population, former U.S. surgeon general and New York-born Puerto Rican Democrat, Richard Carmona, is a worthy opponent.
“We have only had 10 U.S. senators in a hundred years,” Flake told PBS, “So when there’s an open seat, then it’s heavily contested.”
A similar challenge is surfacing in Indiana where, after serving the state since 1976, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), lost the Republican nomination to newcomer Richard Mourdock, treasurer of Indiana. Lugar is considered moderate when compared to Mourdock.
Under Lugar, Indiana was considered so safe for Republicans that Democrats had given up fielding candidates. This year, however, Indiana opened up for challenger Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) following Mourdock’s statement that pregnancies from rape were “something God intended to happen.”
In Wisconsin, home of Romney running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), five-term Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) is retiring, paving the way for former secretary of Health and Human Services and former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-Wis.) to challenge Democrat nominee Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). Although Kondik predicts that Democrats will hold the seat, he said that if Obama loses there things could change.
“If Romney were to win Wisconsin, it’s highly likely that Thompson would also win, based on the coattails from Romney’s victory,” he said.
Nevada, traditionally Republican, could also be a challenge for Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) if Obama does well there, giving Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) an opportunity, according to Kondik.
In Connecticut, Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman is retiring after serving the state since 1988. Lieberman leans Democrat, and the state is expected to support Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). However, Republican candidate Linda McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, is holding her own.
Kondik said that while Republicans will definitely hold the House and that Democrats are likely to hold the Senate, things could still change.
“The Republicans still have an outside shot to win the majority, maybe to get to 50-50,” he said, adding, “Of course, the new vice president would break ties, but we think the Democrats are in a decent position in the Senate.”
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.