Wargaming Tuesday's Results

For all the talk early this year about another GOP wave election, the pundits, the politicians, and the poll-watching public spent the summer and early autumn watching for a wave which never materialized. But in the last week or so, the waiting seems to have ended as race after race seems to be breaking the GOP’s way.

The latest and least likely is in Virginia, which most everybody (including yours truly) had written off in favor of Democrat Senator Mark Warner. His challenger, Ed Gillespie, is hardly the type to excite voters into dumping a comfortable incumbent, and yet RCP just moved that race from "Likely Dem" to merely "Leans Dem." Jeffrey Anderson explains:

About two months ago, that polling found Gillespie trailing Warner by 22 points. About a month ago, it found Gillespie trailing by 12 points. Friday, it found him within 7 points. Over that span, Warner hasn’t merely failed to move undecided voters into his camp but has actually lost support. Indeed, across all polling, Warner has struggled to hit 50 percent support and is at 48.5 percent in the current RCP average, which suggests he still needs to move some undecided voters his way.

And what issue most clearly defines the difference between the two men? Obamacare, which we’ve been assured for months now was no longer a campaign issue of much significance. Warner has attempted to distance himself from President Obama, whom Gallup now pegs at 14 points underwater, but his perfectly leftwing voting record makes that difficult, and may explain why he’s been unable to seal the deal with independent voters. Virginia polls close at 7PM on Tuesday, making Warner vs Gillespie the race to watch if you want to catch early sight of a wave.

Moving south to Georgia, where the polls also close at 7PM, the waters may prove less wavy and more muddy. That’s an open race between Republican David Perdue, Democrat Michelle Nunn, and Libertarian Amanda Swafford. Recent polls have shown collapsing support for Nunn in what is expected to be a tight race. But unless Perdue can garner 50%+1 on Tuesday night, this one goes to a runoff. But if he wins outright, and Gillespie manages to make a serious dent of about 5 points or more in what is currently a 9/7-point polling deficit against Warner, then Tuesday could go very, very well for the GOP.

New Hampshire is still anyone’s best guess. Dem incumbent Jeanne Shaheen looks like she may walk away with this one, but a couple of polls have Scott Brown -- the former temp senator from Massachusetts -- with a slight lead. This one feels to me like a hold for the Donks, a strong part of their 50-seat firewall. If New Hampshire goes red, it would mark the beginning of a long and horrible night for the Democrats.

The real nailbiter of course is in North Carolina. Kay Hagan maintains a slight lead over the GOP’s challenger, Thom Tillis -- but like Warner, she has yet to grab better than 48% in any poll. Hagan remains a bad fit for North Carolina, but Tillis has proven to be an uninspired and uninspiring campaigner. This one might be decided by the lawyers.

Susan Collins is up by an average of nearly 32 points over the Democrats’ sacrificial lamb, Shenna Bellows, and West Virginia looks like an easy seat for a pickup with the GOP’s Shelley Moore Capito ahead by double digits over Natalie Tennant.