5 Possible Upsets in Tuesday's Election

Four years ago, Republican Sharron Angle enjoyed the pre-election lead in the Nevada Senate race.  Polls found her opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, floundering below 45%.  Republicans nationwide, energized by an onrushing wave, were especially excited about the prospects of toppling one of their most bitter rivals.

Funny thing about pre-election leads, though.  They aren’t worth even one vote.  And when the real votes were counted, Senator Reid still owned his place behind the Senate podium.

In 2014, like every election year, upsets are bound to happen. Candidates who aren’t expected to outperform their opponents will carry the day. But which ones? Here are five races that might supply some of this year’s surprises.

Hawaii 1st District – OPEN (Hanabusa – D)

What is happening in the Aloha State?  This district wasn’t supposed to be competitive.  When Colleen Hanabusa decided to run for the Senate, most figured Democrats would retain the seat she left behind without much fuss.  For much of the year, that perception remained. Something happened along the way, however, and lately this race has become very tight.

Over the summer, Election Projection’s aggregation of pundit ratings had Democratic nominee Mark Takai up by 14 points.  By the end of September, that margin had been cut in half.  Now, Takai is up by just 4. And pundit ratings are just half the story.  Polling also shows a very competitive race. Of the four polls published in October, three peg the race exactly tied.  The fourth gives Takai a 7-point edge – but that poll was conducted by the Democratic polling firm Global Strategies.

Clearly, this race is becoming a nail-biter, one that Republican Charles Djou could win.  You might remember Djou from his 2010 special election victory.  He carried this seat by benefiting from a split opposition vote against several other candidates – only to become one of just two Republicans to lose congressional elections in the red wave elections later that year.  A Djou victory this year, in a regular election against just one Democrat, would be an upset of much greater magnitude than his 2010 triumph.