Chris Graham: Obama, Kaine, Goodlatte
If not for that one night of lethargy from the president, we’d never have come across the term “Ro-mentum,” likely not had to endure 90 minutes of guffaws from Joe Biden a few nights later – and few would have cared that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie decided to focus on his job instead of presidential politiics at the worst of Hurricane Sandy.
As it turns out, “Ro-mentum” was little more than a passing fancy, as the race post-Denver slowly, but definitely, fell back into the pattern that had taken shape for the months leading in. The 2012 race was destined to look like a mirror image of 2004, when George W. Bush withstood the challenge of a Massachusetts politician with a penchant for taking every conceivable position on the issues.
For Bush, it was stalemate in Iraq and Afghanistan. For Obama, it’s been stalemate on an economy that has only in the last year started to pick up any … dare we say momentum?
The recovery is far from complete, but the economy has been strongest, fortunately for Obama, in the right states – Ohio and Virginia chief among the battlegrounds with economic conditions on the uptick of late.
At the end of Election Night, Obama will win Ohio, win Virginia, win New Hampshire, win Iowa, keep a close hold on Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota, take Colorado by the skin of his teeth, and make things interesting in Florida and even North Carolina on his way to a relatively close but still convincing Electoral College victory.
Turning our attention to the race for the open U.S. Senate seat in Virginia, we may see a case of reverse coattails, as Democrat Tim Kaine rolls up a victory over Republican George Allen outpacing that of Obama over Romney in the presidential race in the Old Dominion. In a race where neither candidate did much to distinguish himself, Kaine has seen his numbers slowly but steadily improve over the past several weeks as Allen’s have muddled along.
(He could have used some “Ro-mentum,” obviously.)
Democrats, meanwhile, will maintain control of the Senate, with Kaine holding on to the Democratic seat held by retiring Sen. Jim Webb, Claire McCaskill holding on to her seat in Missouri in a race that had been Todd Akin’s to lose before his controversial abortion comments, and taking GOP seats in Indiana (Joe Donnelly defeating Richard Mourdock) and Massachusetts (Elizabeth Warren defeating Scott Brown).
The House of Represenatives stays Republican, easily, with the GOP maintaining the advantage largely as a result of gerrymandering, with an electorate basically split down the middle on generic congressional ballots nonetheless primed to give Republicans a 30-seat-plus majority.
Sixth District incumbent Republican Bob Goodlatte will be among those returned to Washington. Goodlatte has been tested only slightly by his Democratic Party challanger, Andy Schmookler, who suffers from the disease, notenuffofya, that afflicts Democrats across those parts of Virginia outside the Golden Crescent.
As was the case for the 2008 Democratic Party nominee in the Sixth, Sam Rasoul, Schmookler will struggle to keep pace with the top of the ticket, with a key difference being that Schmookler isn’t running with the relative tailwind that (again, relatively) pushed Rasoul in 2008. Rasoul was able to get 36.6 percent of the vote in his 2008 campaign, the best showing by a Democrat in the Sixth since Goodlatte’s first election in 1992, but by comparison, Obama was able to get 41.9 percent in the Sixth in ’08, and Mark Warner, in his Senate bid, got 58.1 percent of the vote in the Sixth.
It’s safe to say that neither Obama nor Kaine will do as well in the Sixth 2012 as Obama and Warner did in 2008. I’d project the drag on the top-of-the-ticket candidates to be between four and six points, which if that continues to the last slot on the ticket could push Schmookler into the low 30s.
I’d actually put the over/under for Schmookler at 31 and expect the money to distribute roughly evenly on both sides at that betting line.