And I thought Reid-Angle was hard.
For two years, I have rested on my laurels after ignoring the public polls, trusting my reporting and gut and predicting Harry Reid would defeat Sharron Angle. Now it’s time to once again leap into the oracular breach, with an even more difficult U.S. Senate race (yes, it’s harder to call this one based on data I have seen) and a state Senate matrix that is as blurry as can be.
Before I go over my 2012 forecast, a reminder of my record, so you can judge for yourself how seriously to take this and I can find something to fall back on if this year’s predictions are less than Delphic.
In 2010, I predicted Reid would win, Brian Sandoval would become governor (easy), Joe Heck would edge Rep. Dina Titus and that the Legislature would have 12 Democrats in the state Senate (it was 11) and 25 Democrats in the Assembly (it was 26).
In 2008, I foretold Barack Obama’s win here (pretty easy), Titus’ upset of Rep. Jon Porter, Rep. Dean Heller’s win (fairly easy) and both Bob Beers and Heck losing their state Senate seats (not easy).
In 2006, I said Jim Gibbons would beat Dina Titus for governor (expected), Ross Miller would barely defeat Danny Tarkanian for secretary of state (it was close), Porter would eke out a victory for Congress over Tessa Hafen, Heller would defeat Derby for CD2 and Kate Marshall would win the treasurer’s race.
So, I have done pretty well – I’d go through how close I was on some of the margins, but that would be unnecessarily boastful. But all of that will be forgotten, I’m sure, if I blow it this year.
Once you start a tradition like this, though, you can’t simply retire. So here we go.
PRESIDENT: I know the Romney folks and some RNC operatives believe they can still win, despite trailing by nearly 50,000 votes in early voting. But they need everything to break right – President Obama hemorrhages Democrats and independents vote in huge numbers for Romney, two things I do not see happening. It would be very difficult for Obama to lose Nevada, especially because I think more than two-thirds of the vote is in, so whatever turnout advantage the GOP has on Tuesday won’t be enough. Obama, 50 percent; Romney, 46 percent; others and “none of the above,” 4 percent.
U.S SENATE: Two years ago, I was pretty sure Reid was going to win, despite what the public polls said. This year, I have been pretty sure Heller would win, and the public polls have backed that up. But a few weeks ago, the cockiness of Team Heller seemed to dissipate as his advisers realized Romney was a drag and Obama might drag Rep. Shelley Berkley to victory. I would not be surprised to see her win now – I have seen data that backs that up. There may even be a recount – it is so close. (Trivia: Who presided over the last recount in a U.S. Senate race here? A secretary of state named….Dean Heller. 1998. Harry Reid and John Ensign. Get ready, Ross Miller.) I really think Berkley was cut at the end by the Heller ads on house-flipping and the Italy trip – the latter is obvious because her last spot was a defense against it. The seminal question is this: Can the Democratic machine save a congresswoman who has been caricatured as an unlikable and corrupt elected official and whose image is badly tarnished? My answer (and I am not confident in saying this): Almost. Heller, 49 percent; Berkley, 48 percent; others and none of the above, 3 percent. (Have I mentioned it could go either way?)
CD3: I always thought Rep. Joe Heck was the favorite here, but I also did not predict Speaker John Oceguera would seem so ill-equipped for a campaign at this level. Although he did better in his final “Ralston Reports” debate, Oceguera seemed bereft of knowledge of federal issues (unless he had a briefing book in front of him), seemed determined to simply mouth DNC talking points and seemed willing to use the most execrable attacks on Heck. If this were 2008, Oceguera might still win despite it all. It ain’t 2008. Heck, 53 percent; Oceguera, 45 percent; others, 2 percent.
CD4: Danny Tarkanian, in his fourth bid for office, is a better candidate than in his previous three. Steven Horsford, who has suffered from not being well known and some career missteps, has made a 13-point district into a close race. Democrats essentially went into panic mode a few weeks back when they saw the contest slipping away to Tark. Horsford was bleeding from the base, which had been introduced to him quite negatively, mostly thanks to the National Republican Congressional Committee. I think the Democratic machine has righted the ship in the nick of time. Horsford, 49 percent; Tarkanian, 47 percent; others, 4 percent.
STATE SENATE: This is the real crapshoot, folks. Of the five races in play, the only one I think both sides agree on is that Scott Hammond will win SD18. (Might Kelli Ross pull off an upset if Democratic turnout is huge on Tuesday? Maybe. But that seems unlikely compared to the other races because I think he is far enough ahead.) That leaves four races, which Democrats need to split to hold onto control. I am told by both sides that every one is super-close, so this is more gut than anything else. And it could go either way. I think the GOP will take control despite the Democratic turnout in Southern Nevada. It’s foolish to pick in these individual races, but all pundits are part fools: I say Republicans win all four of the other ones and have 12 seats in the upper house.
MISCELLANY: The Democrats will lose two seats in the Assembly and be left with 24. None of the ballot questions will pass, although I hope I am wrong on all three. (And I rarely say I hope I am wrong, as many of you know.)
So there you have it, folks. I’ll be celebrating with Glenlivet or dining on crow come Tuesday evening.