- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 31, 2010

The candidates aren’t the only ones competing Tuesday: The pollsters, pundits and party chiefs who are paid to gauge, as accurately as possible, the country’s political temperature have a lot riding on the results as well.

Here is a roundup of final predictions from some of those prognosticators:

• Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, was one of the first to predict the Republicans would reclaim the House this year, and as the season has unfolded, he’s moved more and more races into the Republican column.

The longtime political handicapper now has Republicans gaining 55 seats in the House and eight in the Senate, two short of the 10 needed to get to 51 seats and take control of the upper chamber.

“Ten [in the Senate] was always a stretch,” he said.

He also has the Republicans picking up eight or nine governorships.

• Political analyst Charlie Cook says Republicans will gain 50 to 60 seats — and he says the wave could be larger.

“The midterm maelstrom pulling House Democrats under shows no signs of abating,” he writes on his website, the Cook Political Report. “If anything, it has intensified.”

Mr. Cook sees better prospects for Democrats in the Senate, calling for “a net gain for Republicans of 6 to 8 seats, down from 7 to 9 seats.”

“While it is becoming increasingly likely is that Republicans will hold all 18 of their own seats,” he writes, “Democrats’ prospects in three of their 19 seats have improved in recent days. Sens. Barbara Boxer in California and Patty Murray in Washington now appear to be headed for re-election, albeit by small margins. In the special election in West Virginia, Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin now holds an advantage.”

Among governors, Mr. Cook has the GOP with a “6 to 8 seat net gain.”

• Analyst Stuart Rothenberg said Democrats face a “potential bloodbath.”

The founder of the Rothenberg Report predicts six to eight new seats for the GOP in the Senate and a whopping 55 to 65 in the House.

There are, however, some observers who remain unconvinced — at least publicly — that the Republican wave will be a tsunami.

“I have the Republicans picking up 45 House seats but losing four for a net gain of 41 seats, which is lower than most people,” says Ken Rudin, NPR political director. He joked on the air last week that “I guess the reason is because NPR is liberal, and that’s why we’re rooting for the Democrats.”

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