Sept. 17, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER
Vote Now: Where Should Roll Call Travel for the Midterm Elections?

State Waves Add to Democrats’ National Woes

Everyone agrees a political wave will hit on Nov. 2, though Democrats and Republicans disagree on the size of it. Some see a “normal” political wave, while others expect a political tsunami.

Obviously, with reapportionment and redistricting on the schedule for 2011 and 2012, a huge Republican victory has larger ramifications than merely who will control the House for the next two years.

Waves seem to work themselves down the ballot, and a national Republican Congressional wave surely is going to be mirrored by strong GOP gains in state legislatures and gubernatorial contests.

But an unusual dynamic also seems to be working against Democrats this year that could add to the party’s woes: the weakness of both Democratic Senate and gubernatorial candidates in some key states.

In Illinois, for example, there are signs of a GOP wave that could give Republicans the state’s governorship, a Senate seat and some House seats.

Voters in the state, certainly fatigued from the bizarre drama surrounding former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and angry about the economy, seem prepared to elect Republican Bill Brady over the sitting governor, Democrat Pat Quinn, who succeeded the discredited Blagojevich when he was impeached in 2009.

Brady has been leading Quinn in polling since the February primary, and voters seem to have lost patience with the state’s Democrats. That can’t be helping state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D), who was hoping to hold the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. Giannoulias may not be able to swim against the current in his race against Rep. Mark Kirk (R).

In the state’s Congressional races, Rep. Debbie Halvorson, a former state Senate Democratic leader, looks likely to lose her seat after just a single term. Democratic Rep. Phil Hare unexpectedly finds himself fighting for re-election in the state’s 17th district, and Rep. Bill Foster (D) is hoping to hang on by his fingernails in the 14th district.

And Republicans might be able to hang on to Kirk’s open seat because of the Illinois voters’ change of heart about the two parties this year. Remember, Illinois is no longer the swing state that it was 30 years ago. It’s solidly Democratic — normally.

Democratic prospects are just as bad in Pennsylvania.

Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) will defeat Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato (D) in the gubernatorial race, and I’ll be surprised if it’s close. The next question is who will vote for Corbett as well as Democratic Senate nominee Joe Sestak?

Democrats certainly hope Sestak does better in the Philadelphia suburbs than Onorato will, but recent polling suggests Sestak is trailing Republican Pat Toomey in the Senate race. On style points alone, Toomey has the edge. When you add Republican enthusiasm, the midterm dynamic and money, the GOP top of the ticket looks strong in the Keystone State.

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