Hagan v. Tillis: The Anticlimax

The increasingly likely outcome: Hagan wins, Democrats lose

Good morning, happy Election Day, and ponder this distinct possibility: that Kay Hagan will win the North Carolina Senate race, and the Republicans will take control of the Senate anyway.

At this point, you could even call it a probability, even if there’s no clear winner by the time you go to bed. But the polls for the past month or so have been remarkably, and uncharacteristically, consistent: Hagan has a slight edge heading into Election Day.

That gap has closed somewhat, but Hagan has led from mid-June on in a race neither her nor Thom Tillis figured to run away with. As of yesterday evening, the master crunchers of numbers at FiveThirtyEight gave Hagan a 69 percent chance of victory.

Then again, the same folks gave the GOP a 75 percent chance of winning the six seats they need to regain the majority, and a better than one-in-five shot at winning eight seats. From the start, a handful of races were going to determine who controlled the Senate, including four where Democratic incumbents held office in traditionally Republican-dominated states: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

If the Nate Silver Bunch’s projections hold, and North Carolina goes to Hagan, it’ll be the exception, because nearly every other tight race is breaking red—not just Alaska, Arkansas, and Louisiana, but Colorado, Iowa, Georgia, and Kentucky.

And that would be a fine postscript to this entire nasty, messy Senate race, wouldn’t it? For all the tens of millions splattered all over the state, all the ads, all the accusations, cross-accusations, mansplainings and empty chairs, the Hagan-Tillis showdown would end up having not determined control of the Senate after all.

Although, regardless of the winner, there’s a larger lesson here. Take a good look at that money, who’s spending it, and for what purpose—both in direct contributions to the campaigns and in independent expenditures, the slightly less direct bribes that Citizens United enabled. That’s the world we’re living in, and the names of the groups that spent the money are the people who hold the real power.

I’ll be posting scenes from polling and other locations throughout the day. Watch this space.

Categories: Poking the Hornet’s Nest