Midterm Races in Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas

In Nebraska, there is an open Senate and gubernatorial race.  In the Governor’s race, Republican incumbent Dave Heineman is term-limited.  Pete Ricketts won the crowded GOP primary with only 26% of the vote and by the smallest margin- 1 percentage point- in 92 years.  In some states, this would send up red flags, but not in deeply red Nebraska.  Ricketts’ Democratic incumbent will be Chuck Hassebrook who ran for the Senate in 2012 and lost.  The most recent poll puts Ricketts up by 20 points and I believe this will be minimal win spread.

In the Senate race, GOP incumbent [mc_name name=’Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’J000291′ ] is retiring.  For the Republicans, the candidate is Ben Sasse.  He is s face to watch in the coming years in the Republican Party.  Every poll conducted (and there aren’t many) puts Sasse safely above the 50% mark over his Democratic opponent David Domina.  Sasse’s average poll lead is 21.75 points- about where it was in April of this year.  Simply, Domina has done little to increase his standing and Sasse has had to do little.  Prediction: Sasse by at least 20 points.

The only ballot issue in Nebraska would raise the state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour over a 3-year period.  This is a growing trend among states and one that will likely pass despite the noted potential negative economic consequences.

Nebraska’s congressional delegation is currently 3-0 Republican.  Both [mc_name name=’Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’F000449′ ] and [mc_name name=’Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S001172′ ] are safe bets for reelection.  The potential problem is the 2nd District.  Scant polling puts Ashford up by an average half a point.  However, both polls were commissioned by either the DCCC or Ashford.  Generally, polls commissioned by a party have their candidate up by much more than a point.  This leads me to believe that Terry will prevail, but it may be a close race (like 52-48).

Moving south, we have a gubernatorial and two Senate races in Oklahoma.  First, in the Governor’s race incumbent Republican Mary Fallin has built up a good 18-point lead in polling.  More importantly, she is trending upwards in those polls over Democratic challenger Joe Dorman.  I am predicting a 15 to 17-point victory for Fallin here.

In the first Senate race, GOP incumbent Jim Inhofe should easily win reelection over Democrat Matt Silverstein.  In the special election to replace the retiring [mc_name name=’Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C000560′ ] for health reasons, Jim Lankford had to survive a primary over his nearest challenger T.W. Shannon.  The primary was not as close as any predicted and Lankford avoided a runoff and will face Democrat Constance Johnson who did NOT exactly decimate her weak opponent in the Democratic primary.  Polling puts Lankford up by an average of 28 points, which sounds about right when all is said and done.

The Oklahoma congressional delegation favors the GOP 5-0 with one open seat, that of Lankford’s in the Fifth District.  Although all Oklahoma districts are strongly Republican, the 5th is the weakest among them.  Ex-state senator Steve Russell should easily be the next Republican representative after defeating his opponent, Al McAffrey.

In Texas, there will be an open gubernatorial election, a Senate election and the congressional seats.  In the Governor’s race what started off with great promise for the Democrats has turned into an embarrassing nightmare.  It became obvious shortly after the primaries that Wendy Davis was a one-trick pony and not a popular one at that.  Her abortion filibuster has actually come back to haunt her and is now a liability.  Further revelations have turned off the electorate even more towards her.

The problem is twofold for Davis and the Democrats.  First, most of her financial backing came not from Texas, but from liberal strongholds that traced back to New York, Connecticut and California.  One rule of thumb I use when looking at candidates for a state office: if the majority of your contributions are coming from out of state, you are not that popular in-state.  Second, despite her attempts to change the discussion to anything but abortion, she has failed.  Since she and her backers decided to live by abortion, they will go down because of abortion.  She miscalculated here where one would expect the Democratic/Hispanic southern part of Texas would support her.  But south Texas Hispanics are NOT supporting her specifically because of her stance on abortion.  She has also made some bone-headed statements along the way like saying her opponent, Greg Abbott, “doesn’t have a leg to stand on” knowing the man is bound to a wheelchair.  Her latest ad is nothing short of desperate at best and despicable at worse.  Prediction: Abbott by 12 points.

In the Senate race, after surviving a challenge in the primary, incumbent [mc_name name=’Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001056′ ] is poised for reelection for the GOP to the Senate over Democrat Dave Alameel.  Alameel has yet to crack 35% in any poll and no one is really watching this race and rightfully so.  Prediction: Cornyn by about 20 points.

All of this is underscored by a ridiculous effort by the national Democratic apparatus to “Turn Texas Blue.”  Not this year!  Although demographics would seem to indicate that the growing Hispanic population would give the Democrats an advantage, there are three considerations.  First, migration into the state from other states among the non-Hispanic population is having a negating effect on Hispanic electoral strength.  Secondly, the Hispanic population is growing in certain areas of Texas, not throughout the state and not evenly.  Although this may affect congressional races in the future, the GOP is grooming Hispanic candidates in these areas.  Third, as Davis is finding out, the growing Hispanic population- especially in the southern part of Texas- is more conservative on social issues.

The congressional delegation favors the GOP 24-12 in Texas.  There are several uncontested races on both sides.  However, there are two endangered Democrats- [mc_name name=’Rep. Pete Gallego (D-TX)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000572′ ] in the 23rd District and [mc_name name=’Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’H000636′ ] in the 15th.  Going back to 2006, Hinojosa has actually defeated his GOP opponent this year, Eddie Zamora, three times, the most recent being a 14-point victory in 2010.  Given the fact Zamora failed to win in that historic 2010 Republican wave election, its doubtful that a fourth time will be a charm.

In the 23rd District, [mc_name name=’Rep. Pete Gallego (D-TX)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000572′ ] won the election in 2012 by 5 points over Republican incumbent Francisco Canseco.  This is a district in electoral flux having alternated regularly between Republican and Democratic.  The district lies along the Mexican border and is ground zero in the Texas immigration debate.  His opponent, William Hurd, had to endure a tough primary against Canseco which forced a runoff.  Hurd had an easier time here.  If there is a race to be won for the GOP in Texas, this is it.  The Democrats are painfully aware that Gallego is vulnerable and they are fighting to keep this seat.  Hurd has done nothing to hurt his chances.  Going on a limb and predicting a Republican pick up here as part of the general trend in Texas this year.

After this article, the GOP picks up one seat out of Texas for a total of 5 thus far (no Governors and no Senate seats).

Next: Illinois

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