- - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The envelope please.

After months of wannabe know-it-all pundits like myself backseat driving this year’s campaigns, it’s time for this particular pundit to finally put his money where his mouth (or keyboard) is, and go on the record with what I think will happen when the American people finally have their say on Nov. 4th.

With the Republicans in no danger of losing their majority in the House of Representatives, the battle is for control of the U.S. Senate. Republicans need a net gain of five seats to wrestle control of the chamber away from obstructionist-in-chief Harry Reid. I not only think they’ll win those seats, but will do so with room to spare.

Let’s start with the obvious pickups. Arkansas, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia are all over but the crying for Democrats. So that’s four of the five pickups the GOP needs right there.

Seats solidly leaning GOP include Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and Louisiana.

Alaska is a solidly Republican state, so that race was primarily about uniting the party after another divisive primary. Cory Gardner has been consistently leading the polls in Colorado for weeks now, and the Democrats’ contrived attempt to falsely accuse him of lying about his background backfired badly. In my home state of Iowa, Joni Ernst has taken every shot the Democrats have and has emerged largely unscathed. Losing Leftist hero Tom Harkin’s seat to a Republican is bad enough for the Democrats, but seeing a female with a 100 percent pro-life voting record become the first woman Iowa sends to Washington is salt to the wound of the phony “war on women” meme. Finally, Louisiana’s “jungle primary” means we won’t officially give that state to the Republicans until the runoff. But make no mistake, with Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu only at 36 percent in the latest polling there, once Republicans unite in that run-off she is toast.

Now to the races that are true toss-ups.

It’s hard to imagine “Ditch” McConnell losing his seat in Kentucky, yet he is struggling to pull away from Alison Grimes’ gaffe-ridden campaign the Democrats have all but given up on. Mr. McConnell will win, but it will be closer than it should’ve been.

Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan has been defying this hostile environment for months, but she is now holding on for dear life in North Carolina and Republican Thom Tillis has his first real momentum of the general election campaign. The Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh is currently at 5 percent in the Real Clear Politics polling average, but I would be surprised if he ended up that high. I think the momentum of the current climate is in Mr. Tillis’ favor, thus he pulls out an excruciatingly close victory.

It looks like Greg Orman’s Cinderella run as an independent in name only is coming to a close in Kansas. He currently has less than a point lead in the latest Real Clear Politics average, and even with Democratic help he’s probably not going to have the ground game on Election Day to pull it off against incumbent Republican Pat Roberts.

Though he’s no conservative, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown has done one of the best jobs this campaign cycle of putting his Democratic opponent on the defensive on issues where he does lean right — illegal immigration and Common Core. He’s in a dead heat with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, which was unthinkable even two months ago. Still, Ms. Shaheen has never been below the 45 percent danger zone for an incumbent in any poll since before the first of May, so she won’t go quietly. Mr. Brown has put forth a valiant effort in aggressively wooing voters, better than most Republicans have this cycle, and for the first time is now ahead in a credible survey. He has the momentum and I predict he pulls off the shocker on Tuesday night.

This brings us to Georgia, where Republican David Perdue has run an uninspiring campaign that offers voters everything they didn’t like about Mitt Romney and none of the things they did. Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (one of the last true moderate blue state Democrats of yesteryear), has capitalized on her legacy and is currently tied in a state Mr. Romney won by seven points in 2012. Georgia law requires the winner to clear the 50.1 percent threshold even in a general election to avoid a runoff, and there’s no question a January run-off would favor Republicans. So, given the GOP’s larger margin for error, the environment and the demographics of the state, I predict Mr. Perdue will win either on Election Day or in the runoff.

All this means I’m projecting the Republicans not only capture the majority in the Senate, but end up with 55 seats compared to the Democrats with 45 when it’s all said and done. Not bad for a political party whose strategy from the beginning was to try and win by default.

(Steve Deace is a nationally syndicated talk show host and also the author of the new book “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” You can “like” him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.)

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