Who Takes The Senate Tomorrow?

US SenateNo American with a TV or an internet connection has been able to ignore the race for president this year (or last year, for that matter). But depending on where you live, the race for your state’s Senate seat may be equally heated.

More than twice as many currently Republican seats are up for election this year as Democratic seats, which gives the Democrats a chance to rebuild a majority. In theory, at least. If Hillary Clinton wins the White House, the Democrats will need to net four additional seats to do so (since the vice president breaks Senate ties); if Donald Trump wins, they’ll need five.

Can they do it? Maybe.

My current best guess lets the Republicans hold on to their majority, but only just. And many of these races are close – potentially even closer than polls are indicating. For instance, as I write this post, FiveThirtyEight gives Wisconsin’s Republican incumbent, Ron Johnson, almost no chance of carrying the state. But anyone who remembers how Gov. Scott Walker fared there in the face of determined efforts to unseat him has reason to be less sure. In fact, Walker has stepped up his support for Johnson in recent weeks, calling his race the most important in the state overall. Wisconsin may largely come down to the Democratic turnout on Election Day.

There are some races that are relatively easy to call, of course. Republican Marco Rubio will keep his Florida seat, as will John McCain in Arizona. Ohio incumbent Rob Portman also seems likely to keep his seat in Republican hands. On the other hand, Republican Mark Kirk seems almost sure to lose Illinois based on current projections; his penchant for verbal gaffes has hurt his campaign, including recent remarks about his opponent’s Thai heritage (for which he subsequently apologized).

Evan Bayh, the former Indiana senator and governor, unexpectedly chose not to seek re-election to his Senate seat in 2010 and was well-liked at the time he stepped down. This year, however, he has faced resistance when he stepped in to fill the gap left by Democrat Baron Hill. Bayh’s faltering lead has dwindled to effectively nothing, leaving him and his Republican opponent Todd Young neck-and-neck. My presidential scenario from Friday gave Trump Indiana, so I’ll venture to say the Democrats will not succeed in picking up a seat here.

Missouri and North Carolina are both toss-ups. In general, in close races you will be wise to bet on the incumbent. That would keep both these states in Republican hands – and Republicans really do need to keep both of these states as an insurance policy, in case they lose seats elsewhere. For instance, it seems that Democratic challenger Katie McGinty could unseat Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, especially given her support from high-level members of her party on the campaign trail.

All of this means that Senate control could come down to the results in two states: New Hampshire and Nevada. Current Sen. Harry Reid is retiring, leaving his Nevada seat vulnerable to a Republican challenge. The symbolic victory of picking up the outgoing minority leader’s seat has made Nevada an especially important Republican goal this fall. If Trump wins Nevada, as I speculated he might on Friday (though it is no sure thing), it is hard to imagine Republican Joe Heck losing. When we picture Republicans splitting their vote, pretty much no one imagines someone voting for Trump for president and turning around to support a Democrat for senator. Republicans would really love to take Nevada for additional reason; it would solidify their grip on the majority, especially in combination with wins in Missouri and North Carolina.

What about New Hampshire? Polls recently favored favor Democrat Maggie Hassan over the Republican incumbent, Kelly Ayotte. But Hassan’s projected margin of victory is narrow, suggesting voter turnout could prove a major deciding factor in this race. I’ve given it to the Democrats in my projection, but it is hardly a sure thing, even this close to Election Day.

My projections for tomorrow land us with 49 seats in Democratic hands and 51 seats remaining with the Republicans. But the Democrats could manage to squeeze out a majority despite my expectations. They will need to hold Nevada, avoid blowing an election in either Wisconsin or New Hampshire, take Illinois and Pennsylvania as expected, and – if Trump wins – pick up one more seat. Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina are all possible, and FiveThirtyEight’s models have shown all these races as neck-and-neck throughout October save Indiana, which only tightened recently. Given how close many of these races are, tomorrow’s results are still anybody’s game.

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About Larry M. Elkin 564 Articles

Affiliation: Palisades Hudson Financial Group

Larry M. Elkin, CPA, CFP®, has provided personal financial and tax counseling to a sophisticated client base since 1986. After six years with Arthur Andersen, where he was a senior manager for personal financial planning and family wealth planning, he founded his own firm in Hastings on Hudson, New York in 1992. That firm grew steadily and became the Palisades Hudson organization, which moved to Scarsdale, New York in 2002. The firm expanded to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2005, and to Atlanta, Georgia, in 2008.

Larry received his B.A. in journalism from the University of Montana in 1978, and his M.B.A. in accounting from New York University in 1986. Larry was a reporter and editor for The Associated Press from 1978 to 1986. He covered government, business and legal affairs for the wire service, with assignments in Helena, Montana; Albany, New York; Washington, D.C.; and New York City’s federal courts in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Larry established the organization’s investment advisory business, which now manages more than $800 million, in 1997. As president of Palisades Hudson, Larry maintains individual professional relationships with many of the firm’s clients, who reside in more than 25 states from Maine to California as well as in several foreign countries. He is the author of Financial Self-Defense for Unmarried Couples (Currency Doubleday, 1995), which was the first comprehensive financial planning guide for unmarried couples. He also is the editor and publisher of Sentinel, a quarterly newsletter on personal financial planning.

Larry has written many Sentinel articles, including several that anticipated future events. In “The Economic Case Against Tobacco Stocks” (February 1995), he forecast that litigation losses would eventually undermine cigarette manufacturers’ financial position. He concluded in “Is This the Beginning Of The End?” (May 1998) that there was a better-than-even chance that estate taxes would be repealed by 2010, three years before Congress enacted legislation to repeal the tax in 2010. In “IRS Takes A Shot At Split-Dollar Life” (June 1996), Larry predicted that the IRS would be able to treat split dollar arrangements as below-market loans, which came to pass with new rules issued by the Service in 2001 and 2002.

More recently, Larry has addressed the causes and consequences of the “Panic of 2008″ in his Sentinel articles. In “Have We Learned Our Lending Lesson At Last” (October 2007) and “Mortgage Lending Lessons Remain Unlearned” (October 2008), Larry questioned whether or not America has learned any lessons from the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. In addition, he offered some practical changes that should have been made to amend the situation. In “Take Advantage Of The Panic Of 2008” (January 2009), Larry offered ways to capitalize on the wealth of opportunity that the panic presented.

Larry served as president of the Estate Planning Council of New York City, Inc., in 2005-2006. In 2009 the Council presented Larry with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award, citing his service to the organization and “his tireless efforts in promoting our industry by word and by personal example as a consummate estate planning professional.” He is regularly interviewed by national and regional publications, and has made nearly 100 radio and television appearances.

Visit: Palisades Hudson

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