Congressional elections will be close, but exciting

Curtis Powers

Election season is now in full swing and the tea party folks have certainly proved themselves to be a force within the Republican Party. It remains to be seen, however, if they can win elections.

I was going to write an article about how Democrats shouldn’t be so excited about tea party candidates winning. After all, the more motivated and pissed off people are, the more dangerous they can be both to themselves and to others.

However, Roland Martin already wrote almost exactly what I wanted to say on CNN in a column called “Democrats has better fear Tea Party candidates,” so I will just point you to his article to read over there.

So I thought it’d be much more interesting to try and figure out how Congress might look after the election is over.

This could change in the coming weeks, especially after the Republicans unveil their campaign agenda — something akin to their “Contract with America” in 1994 — later this week. After all, they haven’t shown much in the way of ideas beyond saying no to anything the Democrats want or, “Obama’s a socialist.”

Let’s start in Iowa. Broadly speaking, it doesn’t look like anything will change in either the House or the Senate.

Current five-term senator, Chuck Grassley (R), holds a significant lead — 18 percent — over challenger Roxanne Conlin (D) in the polling I saw at Real Clear Politics. No surprise there. Grassley will likely be in the Senate as long as he’d like.

However, his recent ad claiming that “we beat the drug companies before and we will beat them again” was a bit disingenuous and quite outlandish. The other ads of his that I’ve seen have been legitimate, even a little humorous, like his Twitter one.

The five races for the House have all five incumbents with at least an 8 to 10 percent lead in the polls right now.

The one race that had looked promising for Republicans was the 3rd District race — the 3rd District covers Des Moines and the surrounding areas — with Brad Zaun taking on Leonard Boswell.

But things have turned as Zaun’s lack of understanding of public policy issues, as well as other details — harassing an ex-girlfriend a year after they broke up to the point that the police got involved, all while he was the mayor of Urbandale, almost a decade ago — have arisen. Boswell has since stormed back to lead the polls.

So, on the whole, it doesn’t look like there will too many exciting races here in Iowa, and that includes local and state races as well.

In the House of Representatives on the whole, I didn’t have the time nor the energy to try and figure things out race by race — but dagblog did, and I think it’d worth checking out. It looks like it will be really close with both parties having a legitimate shot at securing a majority.

In the Senate, there will definitely be 38 Democrats, two Independents who caucus with the Democrats and 20 Republicans, as some senators are not up for re-election.

Real Clear Politics’ current polling has the Democrats up 48-45 with seven races as toss-ups, and from the looks of things, I’ll make that my starting point. Those toss-up races are in California (Boxer-D), Nevada (Reid-D), Washington (Murray-D), Wisconsin (Feingold-D), West Virginia (Open), Illinois (Open) and Colorado (Bennet-D).

It’s hard for me to see Washington and West Virginia go Republican, so I’ll take the Democrats. I’d say that for California, too, but it’s Barbara Boxer.

I lived in California when she first got elected and remember that no one really liked her too much. They just disliked the other candidate more, and that’s been the trend except for her 2004 election when she won by 20 points.

Fortunately she’s running against Carly Fiornia, former CEO of HP, who is also really unlikable.

However, Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has dropped $119 million so far. Sometimes, other campaigns advertising can help out or hurt a candidate. In this case, I think it will push Fiornia into office and would be a major win for Republicans.

I’ll also take Republicans in 50/50 states like Wisconsin — a Daily Kos poll had the Republican by double digits — and Colorado. That makes it 50-48 Democrats with Illinois and Nevada left.

Those races are impossible to call. I’m from Illinois and have no idea how that one will shake out. As for Nevada, almost anyone but Harry Reid should win it. However, tea party candidate Sharron Angle is about as fringe as it comes in this election season, so who knows.

My gut tells me Illinois will go Republican — for Gov. Rod Blagojevich staying in the news doesn’t help Democrats at all — and the crafty Harry Reid will hang on by his fingertips.

That would make it 51-49 Democrats, which would give Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) lots of power once again.

If one thing is sure, this fall election season should be an exciting one full of good ole’ fashion mud-slinging and name-calling.