Midterm Races in North and South Dakota and New Mexico

In North Dakota, the only race of importance this year is the at-large congressional seat.  In 2013, it was reported in the Bismarck Tribune that both parties were confident in their chances in 2014.  However, a funny thing happened on the way to this election- the Democrats found it difficult to come up with a viable candidate against Republican incumbent [mc_name name=’Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001096′ ].  Eventually they settled on state senator George Sinner, the son of a former North Dakota Governor.  According to the Democratic Party, the political “winds are shifting in the state.”  Indeed they are- towards the GOP!  And why not?  Under a Republican Governor who enjoys high approval ratings and in a state dominated by Republicans- and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country thanks to Republican policies- the state’s winds have indeed shifted.  That is why despite a single poll commissioned by Sinner which shows him up by 2 points, [mc_name name=’Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001096′ ] WILL win reelection to the House.

There is one question on the North Dakota ballot this year- to mandate in the state constitution that life begins at the point of conception.  This was attempted in Mississippi and failed.  Nice try, but if it failed in Mississippi, it will likely suffer a similar fate in North Dakota.

Moving onto to South Dakota, there is is Governor’s race, an open Senatorial race for a seat held by a Democrat and a congressional race.  First, the congressional race where incumbent Republican [mc_name name=’Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’N000184′ ] will face Democrat Corinna Robinson.  Why this race is even polled is beyond me.  Those two polls- both by non-partisan entities- show Noem up by about 15 points which sounds about right.

In the Governor’s race, highly popular Republican incumbent Dennis Daugaard faces Democratic state representative Susan Wismer on November 4th.  Of 6 polls conducted thus far, only one by PPP- a Democratic outfit- shows Daugaard under the magical 50% mark.  Why there are even 6 polls in this race is questionable because it will not be remotely close.  Prediction: Daugaard by at least 25 points.

As was expected, Democratic [mc_name name=’Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’J000177′ ] announced his retirement this year.  There was little doubt that former Governor Mike Rounds would be the man for the GOP.  He will face Rick Weiland for the Democrats who is perhaps the best they can do in this state.  Despite the children/boobs/asses over at DailyKos trying to make something over nothing regarding Rounds and some obscure visa program, this is actually no race at all.

That being said, there are two things that give me pause for claiming this race in the bag- the presence of two viable independent candidates on the ballot: ex-state senator Gordon Howe and ex-Senator Larry Pressler.  Both could play the role of spoiler here and are more likely to drain votes from Rounds.  Still, it is clear that Pressler will not win (this is not Maine) and it is also clear there is no scandal here and that Rounds will win.  Despite the stepped up efforts by the DCCC, Pressler and Weiland, there has been no effect on Rounds’ lead in the polls.  The only effect we will see is Rounds being elected with less than 50% of the vote because of the two independent candidates.  Prediction: Rounds by 15 points.

South Dakota has the obligatory (it seems) minimum wage increase question on their ballot which would increase it to $8.50 per hour and is likely to pass.

In New Mexico, there is the Governor’s race, a Senate race and the congressional races.  First, the Senate race where [mc_name name=’Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’U000039′ ], the Democratic incumbent, will face Republican Allen Weh.  Weh had to win a competitive primary while Udall ran unopposed.  The closest Weh has come to Udall in polling was a single poll in July when he trailed by 7 points.  Every other poll has Weh down by double digits.  Basically, he has failed to gain any traction against Udall who appears poised for reelection.  Example: in July he trailed by about 16 points and 15.5 points in polling since then.  Prediction: Udall by 14-15 points.

The New Mexico congressional delegation is 2-1 Democratic and likely to stay that way as all incumbents are not endangered.  The Democrats have targeted the lone Republican- [mc_name name=’Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000588′ ] in the Second District- but not really going all out to win the race.

In the gubernatorial race, Democrat Gary King seemed like a good candidate against Republican incumbent Susanna Martinez until he attacked her Latina background.  The fact is she is a fairly popular GOP governor in a blue state.  Perhaps if King did not shoot himself in the foot this race would be closer.  Instead, look for Martinez to win by 10 points.

After this entry, the Republicans have gained 6 seats in the House and 1 Senate seat.

Next: Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia

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