TN Political Predictions 2010

Back when John Jay Hooker was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee against incumbent Republican Gov. Don Sundquist, yours truly stated in a pre-election prediction that Hooker would set a new bottom-line for his party’s vote in a statewide election: 30 percent.
Shortly thereafter, an agitated Hooker confronted yours truly and proclaimed, after preliminaries including discourse on Tennessee election dynamics and the foolishness of “lazy lout” reporters:
“If I don’t get at least 40 percent of the vote, I’ll kiss your posterior on the steps of the state Capitol and give you 30 minutes to draw a crowd.”

As it turned out, my prediction was about right a decade ago – a somewhat unusual occurrence. And a few days after the election, Hooker came back by and, after another round of discourse, said, “I’m a man of my word. When do you want me to be on the Capitol steps?”
I declined the offer.
The lesson, perhaps, is that even when one is correct in political prognostication, there may not much to be gained. And when wrong, there is the possibility of humiliation and embarrassment.
But, what the heck, for political junkie conversational purposes, with absolutely no guarantee of accuracy, here are some predictions for Tuesday.
In the governor’s race, it’s not a question of who wins. On election day, Republican Bill Haslam will have outspent Democrat Mike McWherter by $13 million or so in a year when the electorate is tilted hugely toward Republicans.
Both candidates are nice guys and could competently serve as governor. The real differences between them are, for the most part, a matter of nuance. In this environment, Haslam would probably have won spending the same as McWherter.
Thirty percent still stands, one suspects, as about the bottom line for a Democrat in a statewide election. McWherter is no John Jay Hooker.
Prediction: Haslam 57 percent, McWherter 41 percent.
The state’s congressional delegation is now 5-4 Democratic. In the election, it’s not a question of whether it’s going to shift to a Republican majority; it’s a question of how big a Republican majority.
The 6th District is a goner for Democrats with party incumbent Rep. Bart Gordon retiring. Diane Black is now congressman instead of state Senate Republican Caucus chairman.
All current Republican seats are safe and Democrats are assured of retaining their 9th (Memphis) and 5th (Nashville) enclaves. The results are foregone conclusions under current district lines.
In the 8th District, where incumbent Democrat John Tanner retired, the deck is stacked for Republican Stephen Fincher – primarily because of outside groups spending millions to trash Democrat Roy Herron, who would have otherwise would have been the favorite, even in a hugely Republican environment because of Fincher liabilities and his own generally favorable name recognition. But Washington Republicans (with Tommy Hopper & friends) win this one.
That leaves the 4th District, where outside groups are spending lavishly – mostly those dedicated to bashing incumbent Democrat Lincoln Davis, who has responded with the most aggressive personal attack of the year on Republican Scott DesJarlais. Fincher wins. In this nasty-versus-nasty slugfest, the suspicion is Davis retains enough good will in the sprawling 23-county district to squeak out a win.
The state’s congressional districts, therefore, will be 6-3 Republican.
The state legislative race get awfully complicated, actually focused on people rather than party sometimes – despite party efforts to muddle such matters. In that, Republicans enjoy the advantage overall, having more money.
In the state Senate, Republicans have a 19-14 majority now and will certainly retain control. Only three seats are in play, as a practical matter, and two are now Republican seats. Prediction: Democrats, thanks to personalities and local issues, actually gain one seat.
Prediction: The new state Senate will have an 18-15 Republican majority.
In the state House, the present alignment is 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one independent (House Speaker Kent Williams). In House races, voters often actually know the individuals on the ballot and are not acquainted only with the ad message received.
In the overview, Democrats probably have generically better candidates in challenger situations, though there’s an exception or two. Maybe three.
But Republicans have the money and the electorate mood, leading some GOP gloaters to predict the party will have 60 House seats when the 107th General Assembly convenes in January.
Don’t think so. Prediction: The post-election lineup in the House will be 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and one independent.
All guesses are made in collaboration with Dr. Polly Sigh, professor of political seance at the University of Maynardville, and others. They otherwise have no basis in fact or reality. Margin of error is plus or minus 50 percent.

One thought on “TN Political Predictions 2010

  1. Terry

    Predictions are tough to make in the election business, but I think the elections are so strongly nationalized right now because of the speed and force of “change” by President Obama and company that the winds are blowing a bit harder than we’d otherwise think.
    I think Lincoln Davis is going to be beat in the upset of the state. He’s been a survivor, but I think the wave is too strong. Voters are in the mindset of throwing up sandbags to the flood of legislation and in my humble opinion, the attacks and the personal smears and charges can’t distract from that sandbag mission. I just don’t think it’s the year for the kind of tactics to work where they typically might.
    It’s kind of like ’06 for the Repubs; there was no stopping the Dems from coming. Now there’s no stopping the pendulum from swinging back.

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