What to watch election night

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you might not be aware of the fact that tomorrow is the midterm election in the United States. People have been characterizing it as a referendum on Trump. If you dislike him and what he stands for, this is your opportunity to do something about it. Especially after the Kavanaugh hearings, both sides are highly motivated.

Poor weather expected throughout much of the country tomorrow may impact turnout. I have tried to analyze what that potentially means, but have driven myself crazy. On the one hand, people tend to vote if they have decided to vote for somebody. That is why turnout is so high in Presidential years. Obviously, this year, people have largely decided who they want to vote for. On the other hand, younger voters tend to shy away from the polls if weather is bad. That could hurt Democrats. God only knows what will happen. The rest of us will know tomorrow night.

There is too much at play to watch anything other than the totals for the House. Hopefully, the projections are correct and the Democrats will at least take this chamber. If we don’t win that, all hope is lost.

Nevertheless, I have not lost hope for the Senate. In fact, if I had to choose between taking the House or the Senate, I would choose the Senate — it is the gateway to controlling the judiciary. If we are to stop the right from continuing to pack the Federal Courts with judges of their ideology, we can only do so if we win the Senate.

To see where we stand, here’s a quick primer. First, the Democrats need to win every seat we currently hold. Most seats seem pretty safe — something remarkable considering how many Senators represent states Trump won. Watch Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Bill Nelson in Florida, John Tester in Montana, and Bob Menendez in New Jersey. All these Democratic incumbents face strong challenges, but will hopefully survive. To win the Senate, they must win.

Heidi Heitkamp is in big trouble in North Dakota — her winning at this point would be a miracle. If she wins, the Democrats are in for a really big night.

More realistically, the Democrats will have to win three of the four following races: Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Tennessee.

Arizona and Nevada seem the likeliest Democratic pick-ups. Although Kyrsten Sinema looked pretty solid early on, the race has since tightened up, driven by embarrassing statements by Sinema that came to light as well as a strong Republican candidate in Martha McSally, a former fighter pilot. In Nevada, Dean Heller is the only Republican incumbent running in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton. Both races remain too close to call. Democrats need to win both of these to take the Senate, and the potential for two victories here is definitely realistic.

Then things get tougher. If the Democrats lose North Dakota, as seems likely, they need to win either Texas or Tennessee. Texas is where liberal social medial darling Beto O’Rourke is challenging Ted Cruz, perhaps the least popular member of the Senate. Beto has run a great campaign, but it is Texas. Similarly, in Tennessee former Governor Phil Bredesen is fighting Marsha Blackburn to replace Bob Corker who decided to retire. This is a battle between moderation and extremism — remember that this is the race Taylor Swift tweeted about. Winning one of these races is possible, although everything will have to go right to do so. Both these states were comfortably won by Trump, and he remains relatively popular in them. Nevertheless, to take the Senate, the Democrats need one or the other. Losing both precludes a Senate majority.

As I wrote before, the odds are against the Democrats. Currently, FiveThirtyEight gives the Democrats just an 18.1% chance of winning the Senate. Nevertheless, 18.1 percent is not zero. We have a chance, we just need all the chips to fall our way.

I have already voted since I will be outside my community for much of election day. If you have not voted, let me add my voice to the chorus of people exhorting you to vote. People have literally died for this right, and if we’re not careful, it might die here in the United States. Too much is at stake to sit this one out. Please vote!

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Mike is an Assistant Professor of Management for Legal and Ethical Studies at Oakland U. Mike combines his scholarship with practical experience in politics.

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