As we are now a month from the midterm elections, I will boldly predict their outcome. Before readers prepare for information that may cause them to place bets and take risky gambles on the election results, I should mention that my last foray into this sort of thing was my endorsement of a candidate for mayor of Toronto a couple of weeks ago, which received a good deal of approval for about 48 hours, at which point my candidate withdrew from the race. I don’t have a bad record for predicting U.S. presidential elections, 13 of 14 in my conscient life (I thought Humphrey would win in 1968), but this year’s prediction, which I reserve the right to alter if there are radical shifts in the next few weeks, makes no pretense to more than intuition and reading the polls. The Republicans will win control of both houses of Congress. (I’m less concerned with state races, though I still think Meg Whitman will be the winning candidate for governor in California, and that Nikki Haley will win in South Carolina.)
The Republicans should win a majority of about 15 in the House, consigning the Pelosi era to the proverbial dustbin. She will be remembered as a stylish and elegant woman who always got the votes for her president, but was identified almost unerringly with dumb causes. I think the Republicans will not lose any Senate seats they now hold and will pick up those at stake in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The latest polls I have seen have them leading all of those races except California, where I think Fiorina will win because she is a more competent and presentable candidate than the incumbent, Barbara Boxer. Senator Boxer is intellectually unimpressive, and Carly Fiorina is an accomplished career woman who will gain votes from having been fired as CEO of Hewlett-Packard — a humbling experience many can identify with in these times — and from being a successful cancer patient.
Harry Reid has been the least distinguished Senate majority leader since the trivia-question trio of Wallace H. White, Scott Lucas, and Ernest McFarland, who held the post for two years each between two of its storied occupants, Alben W. Barkley (1937–47) and Lyndon B. Johnson (1953–61), who both went on to national office. The campaign of his opponent, the peppy Tea Party populist Sharron Angle, has essentially consisted of emerging twice a day like a cuckoo clock to announce: “I am not Harry Reid.” He would be the only Senate majority leader to be denied reelection to the Senate since the above-named Lucas and McFarland, and his most memorable statement was the solemn declaration in 2007 that the U.S. had “lost” the Iraq War. Few of these races or the personalities in them are especially interesting. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington is defending her assertion that she was not sure if hiding under a school desk would be an efficient defense against a hydrogen-bomb attack, and the Illinois race for President Obama’s seat pits a Republican plagued with hallucinatory recollections from a career he did not have and a Democratic executive of a failed bank identified with some of the pelagic sleaze of the Chicago Democratic party that helped fund the president. If the Republicans fall a seat short, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut could be expected to suffer another case of the waffles and, in exchange for the chairmanship of an adequately influential committee, might undergo the grace of conversion to Republicanism.