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Crystal Ball 2006: THE PREDICTIONS

Just how Democratic a year is 2006?

Five days out, let’s rephrase the question this way: when’s the last time a major political party has failed to capture a single House seat, Senate seat, or governorship of the opposing party in a federal election year?

We bet it’s never happened before, and it certainly hasn’t happened in the post-World War II era. After all, even when a party suffers miserable net losses, it usually picks up at least several consolation prizes in the form of open seat pickups or an against-the-tide incumbent defeat.

Yet look at our 2006 predictions: at this moment, the Crystal Ball cannot identify a single election for Senate, House or Governor in which a Republican is likely to succeed a Democrat in office. Just imagine how devastating an absolute shutout would be in the eyes of history if this proves to be true!

Sure, we could easily be fooled by more than a few outcomes in this regard on Election Night, and we would probably place the odds of this historical unlikelihood’s occurrence at no better than 50/50. But the very notion such a scenario is within the realm of possibilities is a testament to the lopsidedness of this year’s theaters of battle.

If little changes between now and Tuesday, there remains little question that the GOP is headed towards devastating losses. And though candidates continue to stress various issues, only one has truly come to define our politics this year: war. Future historians may well look back on this wave election as “The Iraq Midterm,” much we look back on the 1966 and 1974 elections as “The Vietnam Midterm” and “The Watergate Midterm” respectively.

Just as in 1975, it is likely that a substantially Democratic freshman class will be sworn into Congress in 2007 (though 2007’s won’t be nearly as big). Some entering members may prove “one term wonders” and others may show staying power. Most we will have seen coming. But if history is any guide, a handful will have scored fluke victories with under-the-radar, last-minute momentum. Wave elections are volatile, and in our years of publishing, we have never gazed into a stormier Crystal Ball.

Here’s our best reading from the perspective of today, and as always, we’re sticking our neck out on every race–no fence-straddling allowed–even if “he who lives by the Crystal Ball ends up eating ground glass!”

THE SENATE: Democrats + 6 = 51D, 49R

No one credibly argues that Democrats aren’t going to win at least 3 or 4 Senate seats, bringing the GOP down to 51 or 52 seats. But increasingly it looks like they will win five (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, and Rhode Island, in that order, and at least one of Missouri, Virginia, or Tennessee). To get the magic 6 they need for control, Democrats need 2 of those 3. Gravy would be all 3, giving them a 52 seat majority.

The Crystal Ball sees either 5 or 6 seats going to the Democrats, resting party control of the Senate squarely on the edge of the butter knife. Are there places the GOP could gain a seat? The only nearly even-money bet is New Jersey, followed closely by Maryland, but both states usually disappoint Republicans in the end. Long-shot possibilities are Michigan, Nebraska, and Washington, with none looking likely at the moment.

Several weeks ago, we collectively referred to the races in Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia as the “Fundamental Five.” But with New Jersey and Rhode Island looking less likely to fall to the GOP, we might as well refer to the remaining great triumvirate as the “Threshold Three.” Whichever party wins the heart of these races will win control, and as of now, here are our best bets:

Senate Predictions

(Note: These calls are susceptible to change as events warrant!)

  • ArizonaLeans GOPSen. Jon Kyl (R) will win reelection over Jim Pederson (D). For Jon Kyl, the fact his lead has held steady through October is far more important than the fact his lead is modest. >>> Read more
  • ConnecticutLeans LiebermanSen. Joe Lieberman (D) will win reelection over Ned Lamont (D). In August, anti-Iraq War activists knew they could only send an immediate message by targeting Lieberman, but in November they finally have Republicans to target and Lamont has badly lost steam. >>> Read more
  • MarylandLeans DemBen Cardin (D) will defeat Michael Steele (R). Though Steele has had a comparatively good month, we just don’t buy the argument that he is within striking distance of the more ideologically in-step (if boring) Cardin. >>> Read more
  • MichiganLikely DemSen. Debbie Stabenow (D) will win reelection over Mike Bouchard (R). Why national Republicans won’t give up on this race is beyond us; many argue Bouchard is gaining back some ground, but we say too little too late. >>> Read more
  • MinnesotaLikely DemAmy Klobuchar (D) will defeat Mark Kennedy (R). The GOP is headed for an unpleasant year in Minnesota, and no matter what new tricks Kennedy tries, Klobuchar’s lead just continues to grow. >>> Read more
  • MissouriToss-upClaire McCaskill (D) will unseat Sen. Jim Talent (R). This race couldn’t be closer, but here’s our rationale: “Show Me” a slightly more red-than-blue state in a very Democratic year, and I’ll show you a slightly more blue-than-red Senate outcome. >>> Read more
  • MontanaLeans DemJon Tester (D) will unseat Sen. Conrad Burns (R). Burns has ably portrayed Tester as well left of Montana’s mainstream, but the Abramoff drumbeat may be insurmountable for him and Tester was quick to criticize Sen. Kerry’s recent statement. >>> Read more
  • NebraskaLikely DemSen. Ben Nelson (D) will win reelection over Pete Ricketts (R). What started out as a rickety effort to unseat Nelson never really started rolling (sorry Pete, we couldn’t resist), and Nelson will win a second term. >>> Read more
  • New JerseyToss-upSen. Bob Menendez (D) will defeat Tom Kean (R). In our estimation, the race in the Garden State remains Republicans’ best opportunity to pick off a Democratic-held Senate seat, but that’s not saying much. >>> Read more
  • OhioLikely DemSherrod Brown (D) will unseat Sen. Mike DeWine (R). Whether or not national Republicans have abandoned hope in Ohio, it is clear that DeWine’s campaign is in a tailspin as Brown continues to attack him aggressively. >>> Read more
  • PennsylvaniaSolid DemBob Casey (D) will unseat Sen. Rick Santorum (R). Santorum’s combativeness on the trail and in debates has only seemed to confirm what voters do not like about him, and the easy-going Casey is now a safe bet to win. >>> Read more
  • Rhode IslandLeans DemSheldon Whitehouse (D) will unseat Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R). It’s often forgotten that the Ocean State is the nation’s most Democratic, and that’s just about the only reason we believe Chafee will suffer a narrow defeat at the hands of Whitehouse in just a few days. >>> Read more
  • TennesseeToss-upBob Corker (R) will defeat Harold Ford (D). The Corker-Ford grudge match continues to both entertain and confound us, but the presence of a gay marriage amendment on the ballot may be just enough to boost Corker’s fortunes in spite of national GOP missteps. >>> Read more
  • VirginiaToss-upJim Webb (D) will unseat Sen. George Allen (R). Of course we’re not counting him out altogether, but Allen’s slow self-destruction has been nothing short of breathtaking, and we at the Crystal Ball are still somewhat shocked to find ourselves at the epicenter of the fight for the Senate. >>> Read more
  • WashingtonLikely DemSen. Maria Cantwell (D) will win reelection over Mike McGavick (R). This great hope of national Republicans never materialized in the fall, as McGavick stumbled and the political atmosphere became only more hostile to the GOP, especially on the “Left Coast.” >>> Read more
  • New 2006 Senate Crystal Ball HotRaceTM Readings

    Each race is categorized by its current Crystal Ball Outlook, with a colored arrow denoting noticeable momentum in one direction or the other. Red arrows () indicate momentum for the Republican candidate, while blue arrows () signify momentum for the Democratic candidate.

    Republican Held Seats up for Election in 2006: 15 (out of 55 held)

    Solid R (7) Likely R (0) Leans R (1) Toss-up (3) Leans D (2) Likely D (1) Solid D (1)
    IN (Lugar) AZ (Kyl) VA (Allen) MT (Burns) OH (DeWine) PA (Santorum)
    ME (Snowe) MO (Talent) RI (Chafee)
    MS (Lott) TN (OPEN)
    NV (Ensign)
    TX (Hutchison)
    UT (Hatch)
    WY (Thomas)
    WV (Byrd)
    WI (Kohl)
    NY (Clinton)
    NM (Bingaman)
    ND (Conrad)
    MA (Kennedy)
    HI (Akaka)
    FL (Nelson)
    WA (Cantwell) DE (Carper)
    NE (Nelson) CT (Lieberman*)
    NJ (Menendez) MD (OPEN) MI (Stabenow) CA (Feinstein)
    Solid R (0) Likely R (0) Leans R (0) Toss-up (1) Leans D (1) Likely D (4) Solid D (12)

    Democratic Held Seats up for Election: 18 (out of 45 held)

    The Brutal B – November 2, 2006: +5 to +6 D

    Click here for individual Senate race analysis.

    THE HOUSE: Democrats + 27 = 230D, 205R

    In a volatile election year such as 2006 (and volatile is a big understatement), the playing field can expand quickly, and it only expands more rapidly closer to the election. Our list of truly competitive House seats is now up to about 60, and its composition only vaguely resembles the target lists of 30 to 40 both we and party committees adhered to in the summer and early autumn. Lucky for us, we don’t have to shell out any money to add a new race to the Crystal Ball’s competitive list!

    For leaders of partycommittees, though, an expanding field is a complex nightmare and seeking to plug in to every district legitimately in play is like playing a game of whack-a-mole. They must plot and re-plot to cover as many contestable races as possible without spreading resources too thin. The side that adapts with the most speed and agility usually comes out on top.

    We at the Crystal Ball have this creeping suspicion: the decision of both parties to go to bat in the neighborhood of 50 target districts means that Democrats will likely win more than enough races to take control (+23 to 30), but will end up leaving several of their 2nd or 3rd tier candidates stranded on 2nd or 3rd base with 47 or 48 percent of the vote on Election Night. Below are our best bet predictions for the current “toss-up” races; for the rest of our forecasts, see the following HotRace Readings chart.

    House Toss-up Predictions

    (Note: These calls are susceptible to change as events warrant!)

  • AZ-05Toss-upHarry Mitchell (D) will unseat Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R). >>> Read more
  • CA-11Toss-upRep. Richard Pombo (R) will win reelection over Jerry McNerney (D). >>> Read more
  • CO-04Toss-upRep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) will win reelection over Angie Paccione (D). >>> Read more
  • CT-02Toss-upJoe Courtney (D) will unseat Rep. Rob Simmons (R). >>> Read more
  • CT-04Toss-upDiane Farrell (D) will unseat Rep. Christopher Shays (R). >>> Read more
  • CT-05Toss-upChris Murphy (D) will unseat Rep. Nancy Johnson (R). >>> Read more
  • FL-16Toss-upTim Mahoney (D) will defeat Joe Negron (R). >>> Read more
  • FL-22Toss-upRon Klein (D) will unseat Rep. Clay Shaw (R). >>> Read more
  • IL-06Toss-upTammy Duckworth (D) will defeat Peter Roskam (R). >>> Read more
  • IN-09Toss-upBaron Hill (D) will unseat Rep. Mike Sodrel (R). >>> Read more
  • KY-03Toss-upRep. Anne Northup (R) will win reelection over John Yarmuth (D). >>> Read more
  • KY-04Toss-upKen Lucas (D) will unseat Rep. Geoff Davis (R). >>> Read more
  • MN-06Toss-upPatty Wetterling (D) will defeat Michele Bachmann (R). >>> Read more
  • NH-02Toss-upRep. Charlie Bass (R) will win reelection over Paul Hodes (D). >>> Read more
  • NM-01Toss-upPatricia Madrid (D) will unseat Heather Wilson (R). >>> Read more
  • NY-20Toss-upRep. John Sweeney (R) will win reelection over Kirsten Gillibrand (D). >>> Read more
  • NY-26Toss-upJack Davis (D) will unseat Rep. Tom Reynolds (R). >>> Read more
  • OH-01Toss-upRep. Steve Chabot (R) will win reelection over John Cranley (D). >>> Read more
  • OH-02Toss-upRep. Jean Schmidt (R) will win reelection over Victoria Wulsin (D). >>> Read more
  • OH-15Toss-upMary Jo Kilroy (D) will unseat Rep. Deborah Pryce (R). >>> Read more
  • TX-22Toss-upNick Lampson (D) will defeat Shelly Sekula-Gibbs (R). >>> Read more
  • PA-08Toss-upRep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) will win reelection over Patrick Murphy (D). >>> Read more
  • VA-02Toss-upRep. Thelma Drake (R) will win reelection over Phil Kellam (D). >>> Read more
  • WA-08Toss-upRep. Dave Reichert (R) will win reelection over Darcy Burner (D). >>> Read more
  • WI-08Toss-upSteve Kagen (D) will defeat John Gard (R). >>> Read more
  • New 2006 House Crystal Ball HotRaceTM Readings

    Each race is categorized by its current Crystal Ball Outlook, with a colored arrow denoting noticeable momentum in one direction or the other. Red arrows () indicate momentum for the Republican candidate, while blue arrows () signify momentum for the Democratic candidate.

    Republican Held Seats in Play: 81 (151 Safe/Solid R)

    Likely R (22) Leans R (22) Toss-up (25) Leans D (9) Likely D (3)
    CA-26 (Dreier) AZ-01 (Renzi) AZ-05 (Hayworth) FL-13 (OPEN) AZ-08 (OPEN)
    CO-06 (Tancredo) CA-04 (Doolittle) CA-11 (Pombo) IN-02 (Chocola) CO-07 (OPEN)
    FL-05 (Brown-Waite) CA-50 (Bilbray) CO-04 (Musgrave) IA-01 (OPEN) IN-08 (Hostettler)
    FL-08 (Keller) CO-05 (OPEN) CT-02 (Simmons) NY-24 (OPEN)
    FL-09 (OPEN) ID-01 (OPEN) CT-04 (Shays) NC-11 (Taylor)
    IL-11 (Weller) IL-10 (Kirk) CT-05 (Johnson) OH-18 (OPEN)
    IL-19 (Shimkus) IA-02 (Leach) FL-16 (OPEN) PA-06 (Gerlach)
    IN-03 (Souder) KS-02 (Ryun) FL-22 (Shaw) PA-07 (Weldon)
    MI-07 (OPEN) KY-02 (Lewis) IL-06 (OPEN) PA-10 (Sherwood)
    MI-08 (Rogers) MN-01 (Gutknecht) IN-09 (Sodrel)
    MI-09 (Knollenberg) NE-03 (OPEN) KY-03 (Northup)
    MN-02 (Kline) NV-02 (OPEN) KY-04 (Davis)
    MT-AL (Rehberg) NV-03 (Porter) MN-06 (OPEN)
    NE-01 (Fortenberry) NJ-07 (Ferguson) NH-02 (Bass)
    NH-01 (Bradley) NY-19 (Kelly) NM-01 (Wilson)
    NJ-05 (Garrett) NY-25 (Walsh) NY-20 (Sweeney)
    NY-03 (King) NY-29 (Kuhl) NY-26 (Reynolds)
    NY-13 (Fossella) NC-08 (Hayes) OH-01 (Chabot)
    OH-12 (Tiberi) PA-04 (Hart) OH-02 (Schmidt)
    PA-18 (Murphy) VA-10 (Wolf) OH-15 (Pryce)
    WA-05 (McMorris) TX-23 (Bonilla) TX-22 (OPEN)
    WV-02 (Capito) WY-AL (Cubin) PA-08 (Fitzpatrick)
    VA-02 (Drake)
    WA-08 (Reichert)
    WI-08 (OPEN)
    WV-01 (Mollohan)
    IA-03 (Boswell) VT-AL (OPEN)
    IL-08 (Bean) TX-17 (Edwards)
    GA-12 (Barrow) OH-06 (OPEN)
    GA-08 (Marshall) LA-03 (Melancon)
    Likely R (0) Leans R (0) Toss-up (0) Leans D (4) Likely D (5)

    Democratic Held Seats in Play: 9 (194 Safe/Solid D)

    The Brutal B – November 2, 2006: +24 to +30 D

    Click here for individual House race analysis.

    THE GOVERNORSHIPS: Democrats + 7 = 29D, 21R

    The part of the election that is arguably most important gets the least coverage, and here the Democrats are nearly guaranteed to do very well. Don’t forget that there are nine open REPUBLICAN governorships and just one open DEMOCRATIC governorship (Iowa). Most change occurs in open races, ergo, the Democrats have had a superb chance to make gains from the beginning. And they’ve capitalized on it.

    The Crystal Ball projects that Democrats will easily claim a majority of the statehouses after the votes are counted, moving from 22 today to 28-30. The prized pickup for Democrats will be Ohio: although the Empire State’s population dwarfs the Buckeye State’s, Ohio towers over New York in presidential importance and a big win there will give the state’s Democrats newfound confidence and institutional thrust moving forward towards 2008. Colorado and Arkansas will also be key Democratic pickups; Maryland and Massachusetts are guaranteed to vote Democratic in 2008 so gubernatorial gains there won’t matter as much for the White House.

    Note that the endangered Democratic incumbent governors may all win–not because they are strong, but because the GOP is so weak this year (think Michigan, Oregon, Maine, Wisconsin, and Illinois). Also keep in mind that even strong GOP governors may lose simply because of the R next to their name (think Maryland and Minnesota). Here are our best bets:

    Governor Predictions

    (Note: These calls are susceptible to change as events warrant!)

  • AlaskaLeans GOPSarah Palin (R) will defeat Tony Knowles (D). Our sources continue to tell us that Knowles is running hard as ever for his old job and may be closing the gap, but that Alaskans are ready for a fresh face. >>> Read more
  • ArkansasLikely DemMike Beebe (D) will defeat Asa Hutchinson (R). Hutchinson chose the wrong year to migrate from Washington back to state politics, and Beebe might as well start practicing the oath of office. >>> Read more
  • CaliforniaLikely GOPGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) will win reelection over Phil Angelides (D). The Governator continues to dominate his perfect foil Angelides, whose most substantial pre-election press coverage involved looking on as John Kerry badly “botched” a joke. >>> Read more
  • ColoradoLikely DemBill Ritter (D) will defeat Bob Beauprez (R). It is a shame that the race between two of the most competent candidates for governor anywhere isn’t closer, but 2006 is a mile-high year for Colorado Democrats and it’s Ritter’s turn to lead. >>> Read more
  • FloridaLeans GOPCharlie Crist (R) will defeat Jim Davis (D). Davis may end up making this race closer than expected, but we expect “Chain Gang Charlie” to carry the day for Florida’s GOP. >>> Read more
  • GeorgiaLikely GOPGov. Sonny Perdue (R) will win reelection over Mark Taylor (D). Yes, we remember what happened last time around when everyone thought the incumbent governor was a shoo-in, but this year we bestow upon Mark Taylor the award for winning the nation’s pettiest pointless primary. >>> Read more
  • IowaLeans DemChet Culver (D) will defeat Jim Nussle (R). The Hawkeye State’s candidates are at about even strength, so the lay of the land leads us to tilt the race to Culver. >>> Read more
  • IdahoLeans GOPButch Otter (R) will defeat Jerry Brady (D). You know things are getting bad for Republicans when their most popular politician in Idaho is hanging on for dear life, but we’ll still bet Otter turns back Brady, who hopes his second time running is the charm. >>> Read more
  • IllinoisLeans DemGov. Rod Blagojevich (D) will win reelection over Judy Baar Topinka (R). Blagojevich continues to underwhelm, but it may take several more election cycles for Illinois Republicans to finally get their act together. >>> Read more
  • KansasLikely DemGov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) will win reelection over Jim Barnett (R). Sebelius will prevail with serious crossover Republican support, enough that the congressional GOP worries she could help topple Second District Rep. Jim Ryun (R) in the process. >>> Read more
  • MassachusettsLikely DemDeval Patrick (D) will defeat Kerry Healey (R). Healey simply is not as skilled a candidate as her GOP predecessors, and Patrick will end his party’s 16 year exodus from the Bay State’s governorship. >>> Read more
  • MarylandLeans DemMartin O’Malley (D) will unseat Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R). Ehrlich is a tough campaigner who has taken to urging his supporters to vote absentee to avoid election administration problems, but we’re inclined to believe O’Malley will narrowly prevail, no matter how the vote is sliced. >>> Read more
  • MaineLeans DemGov. John Baldacci (D) will win reelection over Chandler Woodcock (R). In any other year, Baldacci could easily find himself in deep trouble, but we think Woodcock will fall just short even as Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) cruises to victory. >>> Read more
  • MichiganLeans DemGov. Jennifer Granholm (D) will win reelection over Dick DeVos (R). Michigan seems to have moved back to its Democratic roots slightly in the final month of the campaign, and Granholm will edge DeVos as she points a finger at Washington for her state’s economic woes. >>> Read more
  • MinnesotaToss-upMike Hatch (D) will unseat Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R). Though Hatch is a dreadfully unexciting career pol and Pawlenty has been a moderately popular govenor, the anti-GOP storm in Minnesota may well put a second term for Pawlenty out of reach; we’re not at all sure about this one. >>> Read more
  • NevadaLeans GOPJim Gibbons (R) will defeat Dina Titus (D). Many observers are mildly surprised that allegations of a drunken sexual advance in a parking garage haven’t marred Gibbons’ poll numbers more, but Gibbons appears to have recovered his footing for now. >>> Read more
  • New YorkSolid DemEliot Spitzer (D) will defeat John Faso (R). This lopsided victory has been years in the making. Fuggitaboutit!!! >>> Read more
  • OhioLikely DemTed Strickland (D) will defeat Ken Blackwell (R). In the wake of the Taft scandals, Republicans don’t stand a chance of holding the governorship here – bad news for party efforts in 2008. >>> Read more
  • OregonToss-upGov. Ted Kulongoski (D) will win reelection over Ron Saxton (R). We doubt the very weak Kulongoski could win reelection in any other year, but at the moment we’ll bet he just sneaks by Saxton in this heated battle. >>> Read more
  • PennsylvaniaLikely DemGov. Ed Rendell (D) will win reelection over Lynn Swann (R). “Fast Eddie” has thoroughly intercepted Swann’s much-hyped challenge, and the only remaining question is whether he can take some down-ballot Democrats to the governor. >>> Read more
  • Rhode IslandLeans GOPGov. Don Carcieri (R) will win reelection over Charlie Fogarty (D). The Crystal Ball has a hunch Rhode Island voters will split their ticket by voting for Carcieri rather than Chafee; after all, Carcieri doesn’t have to vote on which party gets to control Congress. >>> Read more
  • WisconsinLeans DemGov. Jim Doyle (D) will win reelection over Mark Green (R). Doyle’s first term met with lukewarm public approval, but in the climate of 2006, the biggest consequence of this race could be that Democrats will capture Green’s House seat. >>> Read more
  • New 2006 Governor Crystal Ball HotRaceTM Readings

    Each race is categorized by its current Crystal Ball Outlook, with a colored arrow denoting noticeable momentum in one direction or the other. Red arrows () indicate momentum for the Republican candidate, while blue arrows () signify momentum for the Democratic candidate.

    Republican Held Seats up for Election in 2006: 22 (out of 28 held)

    Solid R (6) Likely R (4) Leans R (5) Toss-up (1) Leans D (1) Likely D (4) Solid D (1)
    CT (Rell) AL (Riley) AK (OPEN) MN (Pawlenty) MD (Ehrlich) AR (OPEN) NY (OPEN)
    HI (Lingle) CA (Schwarzenegger) ID (OPEN) CO (OPEN)
    NE (Heineman) GA (Perdue) FL (OPEN) MA (OPEN)
    SD (Rounds) SC (Sanford) NV (OPEN) OH (OPEN)
    VT (Douglas) RI (Carcieri)
    TX (Perry)
    WY (Freudenthal)
    TN (Bredesen)
    WI (Doyle) PA (Rendell)
    MI (Granholm) OK (Henry)
    ME (Baldacci) NM (Richardson)
    IA (OPEN) NH (Lynch)
    OR (Kulongoski) IL (Blagojevich) KS (Sebelius) AZ (Napolitano)
    Solid R (0) Likely R (0) Leans R (0) Toss-up (1) Leans D (5) Likely D (1) Solid D (7)

    Democratic Held Seats up for Election: 14 (out of 22 held)

    The Brutal B – November 2, 2006: +6 to +8 D

    Click here for individual Governor race analysis.

    Overall Outlook

    The Democrats will have to TRY to lose this election. Yes, they’ve had a lot of experience in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and Sen. John Kerry is doing his best to provide two of those election years in a row (Brilliant remark, John, absolutely brilliant, proving why you lost in ’04 and why you’re not going to be the Democratic nominee again in ’08).

    We are probably headed for a familiar period of divided government, just we had in 1947-48, 1955-60, 1981-92, 1993-2000, and June 2001-2002. Six Presidents have experienced divided government since World War II, including George W. Bush via the Senate for 18 months. Life goes on. Americans in many ways like to build in more checks and balances to the Founders’ model of separation of powers. Dividing power reduces the potential for abuse of power, or so the theory goes, and since many Americans aren’t crazy about either major party, the idea of letting them fight it out between the branches, or between the houses of a bicameral Congress, appeals to millions of citizens.

    And fight they will. A short and maybe nonexistent period of “bipartisan working together,” which may be measured in hours or minutes, will be followed by a two-year campaign to break the deadlock one way or another in the elections of ’08. And your Crystal Ball will be with you all the way to catalogue the fun. Happy election, everyone!

    NOTE: We’ll be back in your in-box very early on Monday morning with any last-minute alterations to the predictions list. Late bombshells, scandals, and other developments can always alter the picture. We’ve cautioned a thousand times in every medium: “Don’t pull down the curtain on an election until election day!” We really do believe that.