Newt Gingrich shares his thoughts on Tuesday’s election:
Of course, nothing is over until it’s over. Hard campaigning and a few changes in the news can shift races, and there are a lot of races within the margin of error in polling. However, as my colleague Joe Gaylord, with whom I worked on campaigns for 30 years, points out: “in tidal years everything collapses against the losers the last weekend.” He remembers races in 1982 where our incumbent was up by 10 points on Friday and lost on Tuesday.
My take is that this is going to be a tide if not a tidal wave. Why? Because in most races, Democrats will stay home, Republicans will vote and independents will break heavily against the Democrats. Recent polls indicate the younger voters (millennials) are likely to break Republican after two massive victories for Obama in that age group. Latinos seem much more favorable to Republicans than many expected and much less likely to turn out for Democrats. Meanwhile, the margin for Democrats among women has shrunk dramatically, and in some races Republicans are now carrying both men and women (and that really would create a tidal wave).
And while the African American community remains the most loyal to President Obama, even there a fight has been developing. A new series of ads appealing to African Americans to leave the Democratic Party are stirring up a lot of attention, so it will be fascinating election night to watch for African American turnout and for a small but real increase in the Republican vote among African Americans (note, for example, Governor John Kasich’s endorsement by a leading African American newspaper in Ohio).
Overall, I think Republicans will gain 6 to 10 Senate seats, with 10 being more likely than 6. Actually, winning more than 10 (think New Mexico, Virginia, Minnesota in that order) may be more likely than winning 5 or less. If Scott Brown, who has run a brilliant race, beats Senator Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire (and she has run a terrible race) it will signal a big night for Republicans.
A key question is whether Republicans win Georgia outright, or have to win a special election on January 6 – three days after the new Congress assembles. That turnout is made more complicated if the governor’s race also goes into a runoff, which would be December 10, and it will be very hard for Democrats to win a turnout fight immediately after New Year’s.
Louisiana will almost certainly go to a runoff, and the Republican will almost certainly win on December 6.
In the House, Republicans will likely gain 7 to 14 seats. Since they start at 234 seats, a 12 seat gain would match the 1946 post World War II high point. If they grab 14 seats, they would have more seats than at any time since 1928.
Governorships are a mixed bag, and so intensely local that I really don’t have a good read on what is likely to happen. Republicans start the evening ahead 29 to 21, and they could add Massachusetts, Connecticut, Colorado, Arkansas and Illinois. However there are four or five states where the Republican incumbent is embattled and in a very close race. If Republicans break even or add one or two governors, I think we could describe it as a very good night for the party.
At the state legislative level, which has huge implications for the growth of young, future lawmakers, the ability to experiment with new solutions at the state level, and control of Congressional reapportionment, look for the Republicans to gain 300 state legislative seats and control of six more legislative bodies, giving them the all time high mark in Republican history.
But more than the raw numbers, it will be interesting to keep an eye on some specific trends. New England, for example, might see a big resurgence of the GOP. If Republicans win governorships in Massachusetts and Connecticut and the Senate race in New Hampshire, something big will clearly be happening.
Another trend could be the election of new solution-oriented, bright and articulate Republican senators. Ben Sasse in Nebraska has been ignored because he is so clearly going to win, but he will be one of the most intellectually prepared conservatives since Bob Taft. Cory Gardner will be a superstar if he wins Colorado, while Joni Ernst has already become a national figure. Scott Brown will, for his part, have earned star status by winning in two states.
All that said, Florida may be the hardest fought campaign in the country. Governor Rick Scott has been a very successful manager of the state, but is not a natural politician. Former Governor Charlie Crist is a great politician, but his swings from Goldwater Republican to Obama Democrat have made it impossible to predict what kind of governor he would be. This race has so much money going into it, and is so intense, that it is extremely difficult to predict what will happen on Tuesday. A Scott win would be a signal that Democrats simply are refusing to turn out. A Crist win would be a signal that the Democratic machine has been able to mobilize apathetic and disappointed voters.
One last thing to keep an eye on next week: exit polling on women, Latinos, Asian Americans, African Americans and millennials. If Democrats are losing ground in most or all of those groups, the coronation of Hillary Clinton may have to be postponed for a while. And if all the harsh Democratic advertising fails it may be a sign, as Molly Ball suggests in The Atlantic, that “cranky social issues warriors” whose campaigns are “obsessed with social issues” may now be defining Democrats and not Republicans.
Let’s hope he’s right.