I’m going to start this every-two-year analytical march across the United States looking at the election. Instead of doing a 50-state extravaganza, initially the analysis will be on a regional basis, and I’ll look at the all-important individual states later in the series. However, be advised that things may change between the publication date and actual Election Day, so I will likely come back to some races later in the series to make the needed adjustments.
To get the series off to a bummer of a start for the GOP and President Trump, I am starting with the New England states. So away we go!
Let’s start in tiny and insignificant Rhode Island. There is very little if any drama here. Senator Jack Reed is up for reelection against Republican little-known Allen Waters. Reed is the slightly less crazy Senator from the Ocean State; the real cuckoo is Sheldon Whitehouse. Neither Democrat member of the House is in danger of losing their seat and I think it is safe to say that Biden will win their 4 electoral votes. If there is any drama, it is with a referendum question. You see: The state of Rhode Island is not really “The State of Rhode Island.” Its official name is “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation.” Uh-oh! You see the problem- they used the word “plantation.” Having that word in the official name of the state- a fact I venture 95% of Rhode Island residents do not even know exists- must be placed in the memory hole along with those Confederate battle flags and gendered pronouns. But there is good news: after the Census, Rhode Island will likely lose a seat in the House.
Next up is Vermont which is so bats*** crazy, they regularly elect a doddering old socialist to the Senate every six years and an old, bald pompous-ass two years later. I’m talking about the dynamic duo of Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy. Thankfully, they only get one House member. There is a gubernatorial race where nominal Republican incumbent governor Phil Scott takes on Lt. Governor David Zuckerman who won the Progressive Party’s primary as a write-in candidate so his ballot label is “Progressive/Democrat.” This writer will be very surprised if Scott wins this race as even the few conservatives left in Vermont have soured on him. Oh…and Biden will win this state.
This state is so liberal that they elect a donkey like Elizabeth Warren to the Senate. All nine of their Congressmen are Democrats, including Ayanna Pressley of “squad” fame. Any drama here was in the Democrat primary for Senate where Ed Markey held off a challenge by Joseph Kennedy III. Hence, come 2021 there will not be a Kennedy prowling the halls of Congress looking for a secretary to drown. Markey will be up against Kevin O’Connor, a nice-sounding Irish name in Massachusetts, but this is the Bay State and, quite frankly, some of O’Connor’s positions leads one to believe he is a stealth Democrat. He really likes the gun laws in Massachusetts, an interventionist foreign policy, and there is just too much talk about “sustainability” when it comes to energy. As for those nine Congressional seats, they will remain in the hands of Democrats. In fact, there are no Republican challengers in three of the nine districts. And there is no way in hell Trump wins this state.
This writer does not see anything hopeful out of this state. IF there is any hope it would be in the Fifth District which encompasses the eastern part of the state along the New York border. Even then, the chances are slim to none. Biden will win here.
Now… Maine is an interesting story since Republican Susan Collins likely faces the challenge of her career to return to the Senate as she faces Democrat Sara Gideon. There is a Maine lobster boatload of money flowing into this race on the side of Gideon as Democrats are dead serious about winning. Fortunately, dollar bills don’t vote and, unfortunately, Susan Collins is the best the GOP is going to get out of Maine in 2020. Former governor Paul LePage showed another side of GOP politics and was, in some ways, Trumpian before Trump. This will be a close race and despite the enthusiasm in the Democrat camp, it will go down to the wire and we may not know the results until well after Election Day.
Here is the problem in Maine: ranked choice voting. The experiences in 2018 in the Second District are illustrative. In 2018, Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin “won” the election by over 2,000 votes. Since he did not exceed the 50% threshold, ranked choice voting kicked in where the the second choice of the person receiving the least votes were elevated to first choice. As a result, Jared Golden ended up defeating Poliquin by 4,000 votes since he was the the second choice of that lowest vote getter. This year, there are two other candidates on the Senatorial ballot who will most likely prevent either Collins or Gideon from reaching that 50% threshold to hold off ranked-choice voting.
With ranked choice voting for US Senate, there are two other candidates on the ballot- an independent and a candidate from the Green Party. If neither Gideon nor Collins reaches the 50% threshold initially, the the second choice of the lowest vote getter (most likely the independent) is applied to either Gideon or Collins. Here is the problem: we know the Green Party candidate’s second choice will go to Gideon. The bigger problem is that the likely lowest vote getter- Max Linn, the independent- sounds like a Democrat on steroids. The question then becomes whether his voters want to stay the course with Collins, or do they want new Democrat blood in the Senate?
As for that Senate race, Gideon enters Election Day with some #MeToo baggage when she was a member of the state legislature. If Collins survives, and at this point I think incumbency counts for something, it will be by the skin of her teeth. I am putting this one in the GOP column for Collins at this point, but ranked choice voting may likely be the political death knell for Collins. I will revisit this race later.
Maine, like Nebraska, splits electoral votes by Congressional district (they have two) with the winner of the statewide vote getting the additional two votes. It is conceivable that Trump can walk away with an electoral vote out of Maine, if not three but that would be overly optimistic. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just give all four electoral votes to Biden at this point, although one poll out of ME-2 showed a victory for Trump. Hence, it is possible he may get an important electoral vote out of Maine.
This is one of three states really hard to prognosticate (Wisconsin and Minnesota being the other two). There is a gubernatorial, Senate, Presidential and two House seats up for grabs this year in the Granite State. Republican incumbent governor Chris Sununu is up for reelection and should prevail since the name “Sununu” is big in the state. In the Senate race, Jeanne Shaheen, the Democrat incumbent, will take on Bryant Messner for the GOP who held off challengers in the primary. Given the schizophrenic nature of politics in New Hampshire, Shaheen should not pop the cork on the celebratory champagne bottle just yet. You have to believe that the top of the ticket is good for some votes for Messner, which brings me to the Presidential sweepstakes.
As stated, New Hampshire is hard to predict. Let’s start with polling. In 2016, the pollsters were off by a magnitude of 2.7 points between Trump’s performance electorally and the RCP average as of Election day 2016. During the depths of Trump’s tenure in the summer of 2020, he stayed relatively even with Biden. We all know that the media suppresses certain polls which led this writer to think, “Why are there so few polls out of New Hampshire?” Currently, Trump stands where he did in 2016 among polls in New Hampshire. There is a propensity regarding the RCP averages in swing states for the the projected winner (according to the polls, Clinton in 2016) to hold steady while undecided voters, according to the pollsters, tended to break towards Trump.
That, therefore, brings me to my fearless prediction out of New England. Although Sununu will be reelected Governor, as will Shaheen to the Senate and both Democrats will be returned to the House, Trump will take their four electoral votes in November. Call it a feeling, or call it logical analysis, or wishful thinking, but at this point, I’m going with Trump here.
After this first series of states, Democrats control the House 21-0 and the Senate 11-1. Biden leads in the electoral vote count, 29-4. But, fear not because…
The Deep South minus Georgia.