Editor's note: CNN's "Election Night in America" coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET tonight. Ed Rollins, a senior political contributor for CNN, was White House political director for President Ronald Reagan and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Ed Rollins.
CNN Senior Political Contributor
Even though the American elections won't be decided until the polls close tonight, the Irish bookies late last week started paying off bettors who predicted Republicans would win a majority in the House of Representatives. And they stopped making new bets. That's a pretty definite statement!
Although I am very confident my party (Republican) will win the House, I usually like to wait until the voters have voted before taking any victory laps. Many of my pundit friends have had a field day attempting to analyze, over the last several weeks, the early voting patterns of those of you who have cast ballots already and argue what it all means. I have always been more concerned with the late counting of votes rather than the early voting.
And because so many races are so close, this is one election in which every vote can matter.
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There is an old saying in the business: "We only hold elections to see if the pollsters are right!" And if the pollsters are right, it will be a big night for Republicans and a lot of second-guessing at the White House.
Certainly viewers will know some trends and results shortly after the polls close. But in other cases, it will be late Tuesday and maybe even sometime Wednesday before we know the final results - particularly in the Senate, where key Western races may alter the final outcome.
Here is what's at stake: There are 37 Senate races being contested (19 Democratic and 18 Republican). Fourteen of those seats are open, meaning either the incumbent is not running for re-election or has been defeated in a primary.
Program Note: The midterm battle comes to the forefront tonight. It's Election Day in America, and you won't miss a result by following Anderson Cooper and the Best Political Team on television tonight on CNN, starting at 7 PM ET.
Against the backdrop of a bitterly divided Congress and an angry and frustrated electorate, the most expensive midterm election in history finally comes to a climax Tuesday as America votes on 37 Senate seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives.
Here are five things to watch as the day plays out:
218 is the number: Republicans need a net gain of 39 seats to reach the 218-seat majority needed to control the House. While most experts believe they'll win control of the chamber, it remains to be seen how big a margin they might have when the new Congress is sworn in next year.
What happens if GOP wins control of the House?
Republicans are also expected to make gains in the Senate but come up short of the 10 seats they need to win control there.
What's at stake in the Senate
If Republicans gain control of the House, look for them to take steps to try to roll back portions of health care reform; extend the Bush-era tax cuts, if the current Congress doesn't when it returns after the election; write legislation for targeted tax credits for small businesses, which they believe will spur job growth; and trim the federal budget by as much as $150 billion.
CNN pundits predict the 2010 vote
Turning out the vote: Polls show Republicans more energized than Democrats, which suggests a higher turnout of GOP voters. While Americans aren't happy with either party, they tend to vote against the one in power.
Obama has drawn large crowds lately in a series of rallies at college campuses to try to energize young voters, a key segment that helped elect him two years ago. The question is whether they'll come out to vote on Tuesday.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama and other Democrats have spent the past week scrambling all to avert a Republican landslide in today’s midterm election. Of course, one person’s landslide is another’s slow erosion…
Dear Mr. President,
First thing this morning, just as you were waking up, did you think “Well, election day is finally here,” or was it more like, “Hey, it’s Tuesday and I’m the President of the United States!” I’m pretty sure if I were you I’d start every day with that second thought. I’d make the kids hum Hail to the Chief when I came down for waffles, and no matter what the next vote brought for my party, I’d still be thinking, “Tonight, I’ll be sleeping in the White House!”
I suppose that’s just another reason why I’d make a lousy president.
Anyway, Election Day is at hand and I’m thinking about a line from that old Rudyard Kipling poem, “If.” “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.”
I remind myself of that thought whenever I am in a position of meeting with triumph or disaster; for example, when I get a haircut, eat Malaysian food, or visit the Department of Motor Vehicles. As a younger man I really didn’t understand what it meant. (Like “Dune.”) I thought it was suggesting that neither success nor failure was worth contemplating. I’ve come to believe, however, that it means “Don’t see your achievements as a measure of your greatness, nor your shortcomings as a measure of your weakness. Both must always be weighed against each other and the totality of your life.”
Applying that to the events of today, I think it means that winning a high political office in this land is so fraught with potential missteps, unpredictable landmines, and sheer luck, that only a fool would say he or she truly earned it. For every person who becomes a member of Congress, a Senator, or President, there are undeniably dozens…perhaps hundreds or thousands…who could have served as well or better. And the flip-side is true too: Losing on the political stage involves so many factors, it is not right to call the loss a complete measure of a leader or a party either.
So I think the best thing you and your political pals can do on a day like this is hope for the best, and remember come what may, that this one vote on this one day is just that…a measure of your success and failure, but only one. And there are many more measures to be taken of “triumph and disaster” as the days of your presidency trundle on.
Btw, I had to get up at 4 o’clock this morning to cover all these hijinks and will probably have to be up even earlier tomorrow. And you think you’re having a hard time!
Call if you get a moment, and don’t tell me you are too busy. Heck the campaigning is over. It’s just voting time now.
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.
Find more of the Foreman Letters here.
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