- - Monday, November 3, 2014

In the homestretch, momentum is everything. Victory comes to those who can persuade supporters to stand in line at the polling station while the dispirited stay at home. Today, it’s Democrats who are dispirited, with Republicans enjoying a brisk wind at their backs, courtesy of President Obama. If the pollsters are right, as measured by the Real Clear Politics average of surveys, Republicans will win six seats and take control of the Senate. It’s a big “if,” but that’s the way nearly all the pols and pundits, Republican and Democrat, see it.

Of course, the spreadsheets and calculations of America’s finest statisticians don’t always get it right. Dewey didn’t defeat Truman, as The Chicago Tribune said he did in its early editions in November 1948. Republicans can fall short again tonight, but it’s more likely that unexpected turns of event will favor Republicans. If luck rides with the Republicans, the greatest shocker of the night would be in Virginia, where Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, threatens Sen. Mark R. Warner, a Democrat.

Mr. Warner has breezed through the campaign with a comfortable polling lead for months, only to see his margin melt away in recent days. Mr. Warner is bedeviled by a federal investigation of a “brainstorming” session where he proposed to recommend a state politician’s daughter for a federal judgeship as a means to advance Obamacare in Virginia. It’s smelly politics as usual for Mr. Warner, who promised to be a moderate voice in the Senate. Instead, his voting card has endorsed Mr. Obama’a every wish, want and desire. Virginians who demand better representation should cast a vote for Mr. Gillespie and surprise everybody.

Republican businessman Larry Hogan would be the night’s big surprise in Maryland, denying Democrat Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown’s ambition to move into the governor’s mansion. Polls taken three months ago showed Mr. Brown with a commanding 17-point lead, but voters have slowly come to realize they have an alternative to rising Democratic taxes and greedy speed cameras. The public has responded so enthusiastically to Mr. Hogan’s pocketbook proposals that the race is now a dead heat. Marylanders should vote for Mr. Hogan for two reasons — it would send a message to the Democrats in Annapolis that voters are fed up with rising taxes and rebuke outgoing Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley to put a “finish” to his 2016 presidential ambitions.

The rest of the action in Maryland and Virginia is in the House races. The conventional wisdom gives Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and a Republican, little chance against Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat in one of the bluest of blue states. Nevertheless, Mr. Bongino’s campaign in the Western Maryland district for lower taxes and greater economic growth has so fired enthusiasm that Mr. Delaney now realizes his seat is at risk. We urge Marylanders of the 6th District to shake up their one-party state with a vote for Mr. Bongino.



In Virginia, Rep. James P. Moran, a Democrat, is stepping down after 22 years on Capitol Hill, and offers voters in the 8th Congressional District a fresh candidate on a new day with a chance for a fresh start. Micah Edmond, a Marine veteran who served as a staff member on the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission, brings a healthy measure of fiscal sense to a district that hasn’t seen much of that in decades. Mr. Edmond is running against Democrat Don Beyer, the owner of several automobile dealerships in the area and is one of the few Democrats anywhere brave enough to advertise his close ties to Mr. Obama. It shows, among other things, how out of touch he is with those he asks for votes. We urge voters of Arlington, Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County to vote for Mr. Edmond and low-tax, pro-growth policies.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat, has represented the 11th District, which runs from Herndon to Quantico, since 2009. He has spent the past six years apologizing for every example of government sloth, waste and incompetence that comes to light. Sending his Republican opponent, Suzanne Scholte, a sturdy advocate for human rights, to Washington would broadcast an unmistakable message to incumbents that Americans are no longer impressed with an empty promise of “hope and change,” and demand actual change, the kind we think they would get with Mrs. Scholte.

An unexpected victory for Republicans in any of these races would shock the establishment. Oddsmakers have favored Democrats every step of the way in these races, and a victory for the underdog would be a dramatic measure of public disenchantment with Obamacare, as well as the administration’s weakness in confronting foreign challenges and the bleak state of the economy.

Other races worth watching involve Republicans in friendlier territory. Dave Brat, an economist at tiny Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., shocked the political establishment by defeating former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary in June. Mr. Brat, a solid conservative, faces Democrat Jack Trammell. The candidates are faculty colleagues at Randolph-Macon, but Mr. Brat stands out with a proven record of threatening the status quo in Washington. Voters in the 7th District should encourage him to continue the good work by sending Mr. Brat to Washington.

With longtime Rep. Frank R. Wolf, a Republican, retiring, voters in the 10th District, which stretches from Fairfax County to Loudoun and Frederick Counties, can choose between Republican Barbara Comstock, a state delegate, and Democrat John Foust, a Fairfax County supervisor. Mr. Foust has taken the national Democratic “war on women” theme to absurd heart, claiming to be the candidate most in touch with feminine needs, a stunning claim, to be sure. Mrs. Comstock is running a smart, focused campaign as a principled conservative who would reduce the taxes and regulations that are crippling job growth in the country.

Rep. Andy Harris, a physician who’s serving as Maryland’s lone elected Republican in the House of Representatives, is defending his Eastern Shore seat against Bill Tilghman, a lawyer pretending to be a moderate Democrat, but a follower of the brand that stands for everything wrong with the country. Mr. Harris has done an outstanding job in Washington, and we heartily endorse him once more.

Republicans continue to be on the offensive with a winning message. Democrats can’t run on their record, or that of the administration, which has turned everything it touches into a disaster, dragging down more than Democratic morale. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll confirms the enthusiasm edge with 55 percent of Republicans surveyed saying they’re committed to voting Tuesday, compared with 47 percent of Democrats.

With so many races offering the potential for upset, voters in Virginia and Maryland can astonish the political establishment by replacing big-spending liberals with small-government conservatives. Nearly all analysts expect Mr. Obama to suffer rebuke at the end of the night. That rebuke will sting most if it strikes where it’s least expected.

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