Election 2010: McGann’s fearless predictions

Democrats: break out those hankies, it’s going to be a long night

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
At first, I thought it would be a bad idea to write this column. Journalist that I am, I was honestly worried about, somehow, impacting the vote Tuesday. Then I thought about for a while and realized I was writing for Unionville, where the vast majority of people will know exactly who they’re voting for and anything I have to say won’t budge it one way or the other.

Having both written about campaigns and run races as a candidate and a campaign manager, it seemed like I might be able to offer something like expert insight to the races and the candidates — almost all of whom I know personally.

Now, keep in mind, these picks aren’t endorsements or suggestions of who I think should win — or how I’d vote in a given race, but just what I think will be the final result, with a little commentary about how each race has been run, a little of the inside baseball you might only see from inside campaigns. And of course, the proper betting line. And yes, there are people who bet on this.

Top of the ticket:

PA. Governor: Tom Corbett vs. Dan Onorato

I don’t know either of these guys, but like you, have watched them run through the primary and general election. To be honest, neither has really covered themselves in glory — and I’m not sure that the loser on Tuesday might not emerge as the winner over the long haul, as the state is headed into a giant economic mess.

That having been said, and that neither campaign has been particularly good, I’d give the nod to Corbett by about seven points. Onorato is carrying the burden of it being a lousy year for Democrats, Ed Rendell’s searing unpopularity, and typical poor Democratic GOTV efforts, particularly in the Philadelphia suburbs.

My advice: take Corbett and give the points.

U.S. Senate: Joe Sestak vs. Pat Toomey

Sestak’s run a better, smarter race than Onorato. and Toomey’s been worse than Corbett. which is saying something. You’d think tens of millions of dollars would buy some smart campaign strategy and message communication, but I guess not.

Still, the wave is crashing against Sestak and that makes him a tough pick. This is a two or three point race, but I don’t think the fighting admiral can close the rest of the gap. I know Joe and he’s run a fairly solid campaign, control freak issues aside, but this was the wrong time and the wrong year. If it is any consolation, Toomey would likely have crushed Arlen Specter, so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

Toomey got little or no help by having the National Right to Life PAC robocall into Chester County for he and various congressional candidates — a county that is more than 60 percent pro-choice.

My advice: take Sestak if you can get three points or more.

US House races

Manan Trivedi vs. Jim Gerlach

Trivedi is a good candidate, a smart guy and gifted campaigner. And he’ll lose by about 9 points on election day. The truth of the matter is that Gerlach is going to benefit from a lot of straight Republican votes. He’s pretty popular on his home turf and fairly moderate as GOP candidates go.

My advice: bet the house on Gerlach.

Lois Herr vs. Joe Pitts
By all rights, this race ought to be a joke. That Herr is within 10 points of Pitts right now has to make a lot of people stop and scratch their heads. The truth of the matter is this: Pitts is a bit too conservative for the district and hasn’t really accomplished much since heading to D.C. in 1997. His seemingly bizarre fight to amend the health care law and then his voting against his own amendment confused some and seemed like outright obstructionism to all but the minority of true believers. When the Lancaster daily newspapers endorse your opponent in race like this, it’s clear the GOP needs to start looking around for Pitts’ replacement and ease him into retirement.

My advice: Pitts gets to keep his seat for a 2011-12 farewell tour, so eight points is a safe bet. But if party leaders don’t push him aside for a better option (assuming the 16th stays roughly the same after redistricting), this could be a ripe seat for the Democrats to pick up in 2012.

Bryan Lentz vs. Pat Meehan
Lentz should have won this one in a tough, but close race, in a district that is trending more and more Democratic. But his admission of helping to get a third party candidate on the ballot has hurt him more than would be expected. That and the prevailing wind in his face mean that Meehan — who has been little short of awful on the stump might just squeak this one out.

My advice: my brain says Lentz by 2, but my gut says Meehan in a razor thin win.

State house

Chris Ross vs. Susan Rzucidlo

Rzucidlo has run an energetic race — and if this were 2008, she might have had a shot. But with a likely large GOP turnout advantage in the 158th (the turnout versus registered differential between parties looks to be scary), she has little hope of unseating Ross. Worse from her perspective, Ross can count on a solid number of Democratic votes, as much as 15 percent and likely more than half of the independent vote.

Rzucidlo is smart and hardworking and certainly someone worth keeping and eye on — did someone say Commissioner race, 2011? — but this won’t be a happy November for her or Democrats in the 158th.

My advice: Take Ross and give 16 points.

Steve Barrar vs. Dave Cleary and Nick DiGregory

Although slightly less Republican than it used to be, the 160th is a tough nut for any non-GOP candidate to crack. Add to that the fact that Barrar has been a highly visible state rep generally well known for his constituent services. Cleary has run an aggressive race and if he were a major party candidate, he might have a chance to give Barrar his closest reelection race since winning the seat in 1996. DiGregory, who seems to have run a lackluster campaign, had few public appearances and made the rookie mistake of sending out robocalls after 6 p.m. on Halloween. From here, it seems like he’ll have trouble breaking 20 percent of the vote.

So here’s how I see it:

Barrar 58%
Cleary 23%
DiGregory 19%

Overall, the GOP takes the statehouse (picking up one seat in Chester County), holds the senate and wins the governor’s mansion. The GOP wins the US House, but fails to win the US Senate.

Thoughts? Comments? Let me know what you think about this.

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