Pollsters and pundits have been hedging their bets somewhat in the last couple of weeks - understandable given the volatility of this year's electorate (as well as the hazards of predicting an outright landslide). But Five Thirty Eight's Nate Silver now lays out a devastating (and in my view quite realistic) scenario for Democrats tomorrow night. Jerry Brown does win and the Boxer race is too close to call, but most everything else goes into the red column.
Not only did Republicans take over the House, but they also did so going away -- winning a net of 78 seats from Democrats. Seven seats in New York State changed hands; so did six in Pennsylvania, five in Ohio and four in North Carolina. Party luminaries like Jim Oberstar and Raul Grijalva were defeated. Barney Frank and Dennis Kucinich survived, but they did so by just 2 points apiece, and their elections weren't called until 1 a.m. Democrats picked up just one Republican-held seat -- the open seat in Delaware -- but Joseph Cao somehow survived in his very Democratic-leaning district in New Orleans. Virtually every race deemed to be a tossup broke to the Republican.
The news isn't much better in the Senate. The Democratic candidates in North Dakota, Arkansas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Illinois all lost, flipping those seats to red from blue. So did Harry Reid in Nevada and Joe Manchin in West Virginia; both of them lost by 7 points, in fact. Washington State isn't finished counting its ballots, but Dino Rossi has about a 30,000-vote lead over Patty Murray, and looks likely to prevail. California isn't done counting either, and the race between Barbara Boxer and Carly Firoina remains too close to call. It might not matter anyway: Joseph I. Lieberman has scheduled a press conference for later that afternoon, and is expected to announce that -- after seeing the strength of the mandate the voters have given the G.O.P. -- he'll begin conferencing with Republicans when Congress reconvenes in January.
Silver isn't quite saying this is going to happen - and after all he's only one forecaster. But in recent days much of the smart money has been moving away from the "closer than expected" narrative and more towards the "blowout of epic proportions" angle. Also come Wednesday morning, you can be sure there will be more chatter about Obama being a one-term president, a professed goal of the Republican leadership. In other words, if you're a Democrat it might be wise to steer clear of a TV or Internet connection - it's going to be ugly for you.