Meet Me in St. Louis?

In 2004, a number of reporters called me to ask me where they should go to watch an election meltdown, should one occur. I suggested Ohio or Pennsylvania. Ohio turned out to be the place to be, but with the presidential election turning out beyond the margin of litigation, the many problems there did not lead to election meltdown.
Of course, 2006 is not a presidential election year, so it is hard to see an election meltdown in any particular race having national repercussions…..unless the balance of the House or Senate depends upon the outcome of a single race or handful of races.
If the House hangs in the balance, then the scene for a potential meltdown could be anywhere polling now shows a close House race. Indeed, with 435 races, there could be more than one race that goes to a recount and/or litigation, including races involving write-in candidates or possible voter confusion, such as the TX-22 (Tom DeLay’s old seat) or FL-16 (Mark Foley’s old seat). Indeed, thanks to the Supreme Court’s opinion in LULAC, three congressional races in Texas are actually part one of a two-stage general election. If, for example, Henry Bonilla gets less than 50% of the vote in the TX-23 primary (something Democrats are hoping for), control of the House might not be determined until December. Think of the resources that would be poured into that race.
But current polling makes it difficult to believe the partisan balance in the House will be so close. Much more likely is a that the balance of power in the Senate hangs in the balance. The current polling for the Senate shows a very close partisan makeup, with the Senate balance most likely determined by the outcome of elections in Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri. The first two of these races have shown a lot of volatility in polling in recent weeks, thanks to various controversies. I think these are not likely to be close enough on election day to go into extra innings. But Missouri is another story. Look at how close the Missouri polls have been for some time.
Add to that the volatile mix of the state voter i.d. law now being thrown out, and controversies over St. Louis voter registration efforts by ACORN and election officials’ response to them. There is also a long history of Republicans accusing Democrats of vote fraud in St. Louis. So it would not at all be surprising, if the balance of the Senate rides on what happens in Missouri, to hear Republicans complain about vote fraud again in St. Louis and Democrats complaining of voter suppression.
It will be very important for neutral observers to be on the ground in Missouri in election day. If I were a journalist interested in the potential election meltdown of 2006, I’d head to St. Louis.

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