Jim Miller Calls The Senate

Jim Miller from National Review, who’s a very sharp guy, is calling some Senate races differently than I am. Here’s his analysis…

ALASKA: The polls here have consistently shown a tight race — and the most recent ones have consistently shown Democrat Tony Knowles slightly ahead of Republican senator Lisa Murkowski. This is a GOP state that Bush will carry by about 25 points — but Alaskans seem comfortable with Knowles, their former governor, and he has done an effective job of presenting himself as a true moderate willing to break with his party on issues such as Arctic drilling. Meanwhile, Murkowski hasn’t been able to shake the suspicion that she got her current job because her daddy appointed her to it. KNOWLES WINS — DEMOCRATIC TAKEOVER (My Call: Toss-Up)

COLORADO: When Republicans were desperately searching for a candidate to run for this open seat in the spring, many of them — including Gov. Bill Owens — believed that Pete Coors was their salvation. It turns out that he hasn’t been a spectacular candidate: A likeable guy and a better pol than he was a few months ago, but no shoe-in. Democrat Ken Salazar, the state attorney general, is formidable but not unbeatable. Yet he has already won two statewide elections and appears to be doing well in rural areas. Recent polls have shown him pulling away from Coors. Republicans insist that these opinion surveys undercount GOP voters, as they did two years ago in Sen. Wayne Allard’s reelection. COORS WINS — REPUBLICAN RETENTION (My Call: Edge to Salazar)

FLORIDA: The Sunshine State has trended Republican in recent years, and this will benefit GOP nominee Mel Martinez. Democrat Betty Castor may run ahead of Kerry, but Florida looks ready to vote for Bush and Martinez together. Martinez probably can’t win if Bush loses and Kerry probably can’t win if Castor loses. Heavy Cuban-American turnout — likely, though not guaranteed — would seal the deal for both GOP candidates. MARTINEZ WINS — REPUBLICAN TAKEOVER (My Call: Toss Up)

LOUISIANA: This state is holding one of its weird open primaries, which means that if no candidate wins a majority today, the top two finishers will keep on campaigning until a runoff on December 4. There is only one candidate who has even an outside chance of winning the election today: Republican congressman David Vitter. He probably won’t get the majority he needs to avoid a runoff, though he may come close. His Democratic opponent will be either congressman Chris John or state treasurer John Kennedy. If there’s a runoff, it will be a close one — and the result will hinge in part on how the presidential race goes as well as who controls the Senate. NO WINNER TODAY — GOES TO RUNOFF (My Call: Vitter Has 75% chance of getting to 50%)

SOUTH DAKOTA: Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle is the GOP’s biggest target this year. With the exception of John Kerry, this is the Democrat that Republicans would most like to defeat. Their candidate, former congressman John Thune, has enjoyed a good October. A victory for him looks more plausible than it did a month ago. But he’ll still have to overcome the fact that many South Dakotans think they benefit from Daschle’s seniority. If Bush’s reelection were a foregone conclusion, Daschle would be in deeper trouble. Thune has a shot here, but it isn’t as good as the one he had two years ago against Tim Johnson. DASCHLE WINS — DEMOCRATIC RETENTION (My Call: Edge to Thune)

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