Certainly the big race in the Evergreen State pits three-term liberal Democratic Senator Patty Murray against businessman Dino Rossi. The race is razor close and it is hard to say how it will turn out. Rossi and Murray have been exchanging the lead in the last few weeks and that usually helps the challenger as he builds his name ID. Rossi, however, has run for Governor twice and has almost 100% name recognition. For some reason, Republicans in Washington aren't as excited as their GOP compatriots around the country which has kept Rossi from overtaking Murray.
On election night we'll be able to guess how this race will turn out as other contests are decided in the Eastern and Central Time Zones.
In 2000, GOP voters around the country left polling stations without voting as Al Gore was declared the winner in Florida which led to defeats for Republicans across the country as hundreds of thousands of conservative voters failed to cast ballots. That year, Maria Cantwell defeated Slade Gorton in the Washington State Senate race by a bit over 2,200 votes which was a bit of a surprise. It is clear to me that had Gore not been declared the winner in Florida then Gorton would have prevailed. Certainly GOP voters are much more enthusiastic this year than Democrats and if Rossi is to win he'll have to make sure they all show up and vote in November.
In Washington CD 3 Democrat Brian Baird is retiring and the GOP candidate is easily running ahead of his opponent. Strangely enough, Democrats Rick Larson (CD 2) and Adam Smith (CD 9) are in very tough races as well and could both lose. Both districts are blue but not overly so which gives the GOP at least a puncher's chance to win. Larson and Smith are very liberal-much more so than their districts and have been unapologetic supporters of the President's agenda. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if one of them gets sent packing in November.
On a side note, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's sizable lead has shrunk down to single digits and it seems clear that she is in a bit of trouble as the election draws near. With the New York in a terrible fiscal predicament and its state government in chaos it is not out of the question that Gillibrand could lose-even with a very heavy Democratic voter registration advantage. If she does, the GOP could claim that seat immediately for the rump session of Congress in November. Along with Illinois, it would give the GOP 43 seats in the Upper Chamber for the last six weeks of the session. If the GOP were to win all the close Senate races (without, of course, winning the Wiccan seat in Delaware, Oregon or Connecticut) they would end up with 52 for January, 2011. Along with the sixty or so they'll pick up in the House they'll have control for the first time since 2006.
Currently I see the GOP controlling 50 seats in the Senate and winning 240 in the House. The electoral atomosphere continues to deteriorate for the Democrats and, with only a few weeks left, I don't think they can establish much of a defense. In the next post I'll be talking about the impending disasters in Ohio and Pennsylvania.