Imagine muddling through life without knowing any of the following people let alone putting them in the correct state or party. Here in alphabetical order are your Senate candidates in the eight toss up states that will determine which party gets to shout “Nyah, Nyah” at the other, while presiding over what was once known as the world’s greatest deliberative body, but has recently evolved into the world’s most prestigious political fund raising telemarketing firm: Mark Begich, Bruce Braley, Scott Brown, Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, Cory Gardner, Kay Hagan, Michelle Nunn, Greg Orman, David Perdue, Mark Pryor, Pat Roberts, Jeanne Shaheen, Dan Sullivan, Chad Taylor, Thom Tillis and Mark Udall.
Eight of the 17 will earn the right to pitch people by dialing for dollars to feed the maw known as the business of politics in Washington.
For the truly curious, the names and parties are included at the end of the story, but first a quiz: who is the most important and who is the least? Hint: both come from Kansas.
The least important is Chad Taylor (D) because he has dropped out of the race and the Supreme Court of Kansas has let him off the ballot. This made Republicans unhappy because they wisely predicted that some voters would be stupid enough to vote for someone who had dropped out thus diminishing the chances of the remaining adversary.
The most important is Greg Orman, an Independent who is running against Republican Pat Roberts. Orman’s importance results from the ability to auction himself off to the highest bidder thus tipping control of the Senate one way or the other. Senator Angus King of Maine is also an Independent but he caucuses with the Democrats and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is another Independent but he caucuses with Unicorns. “Caucusing with” sounds obscene and it is because the caucuser gets to trade control of the Senate and the resulting Nyah Nyah rights for whatever goodies he can negotiate for himself and his state. In that order.
The Senate currently consists of 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans. Two-thirds are not up for election and a bunch of other races are no-brainers (the odds of a Democrat winning Wyoming are rather small). At the starting gate, with just over six weeks to go until the election, the Republicans hold a 41-39 edge in the “no-brainer or not-up-for-election” category. Each party has four seats it will likely win and two more leaning its way. This gives a slight edge to the Republicans, who have 47 and need four, over the Democrats, who have 45 and need five. Remember Vice President Joe Biden breaks a 50/50 tie, so the Rs need to get to 51 total wins while the Ds need one less. Even Joe Biden is viewed as unlikely to make a gaffe and vote the wrong way.
That leaves the eight toss-ups: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire and North Carolina.
There is a significant industry trying to persuade you that the outcome is the most important thing that will ever happen to you. It’s not. If the Senate changes hands (think football teams going from offense to defense and vice versa), the single most important event will be the parade of staffers pushing shopping carts filled with “those guys are behaving badly” talking points across the aisle to be used by their adversaries. The shopping cart parade will not be televised.
If the outcome is not important after it happens, how can it be important before it happens? It can’t, but that does not mean there lacks an industry to tell you what might happen during the next Senate session. Besides, there are cocktail parties between now and then, when people who have nothing better to say will ask, “so, who’s gonna win?”
For this reason, six prognosticators, one renegade, one website and, of course, bookies are touting their skills at telling you what you don’t need to know now or ever.
The prognosticators are divided in two categories: traditional meaning they combine analysis of polls and reporting; and modeling meaning they assess probabilities aka crunch numbers. The renegade studies dog brains at Princeton but he has a good track record. The website seems to glob everything together into a consensus and the bookies ask who do you think will win rather than who do you want to win, which is definitely the smarter question especially when you have to back your choice with after tax dollars (or in most cases pounds sterling).
The LibertyPell Nyah Nyah Senate Majority Index (LPNNSMI) is exactly what you would expect from a person who got a D in Statistics 122 at Harvard back when there were Ds and there weren’t computers. The LPNNSMI formula is so secret that it is guarded day and night by Ronald “secret sauce” McDonald and an old style 6 ounce glass Coca Cola bottle.
On the other hand, the Nyah Nyah formula correctly predicted the outcome of the recent vote in Scotland as well as the reason.
Today and on each of the next six weekends before election day, the LibertyPell trumpeters will gather on the LibertyPell lawn for the much-anticipated announcement of the cocktail talking point for the coming week. For serious students of this silliness, the total Nyahs (Senate seats won) will also be reported.
Cue the trumpeters.
September 22 LPNNSMI Talking Point: Begin sucking up to Greg Orman because you might need him.
According to the LPNNSMI formula, the Ds begin with 45 and gain 5 “Nyahs” while the Rs begin with 47 and gain 2 Nyahs. Orman wins the Kansas Nyah. This would result in a 50/50 split depending on the outcome of the sucking up but it is offset by a huge difference in the betting odds favoring the Rs. Micro-edge to the Rs.
See you next week.
Now here are the names of the candidates, their parties and the states in which they are running or, in one case, not.
Mark Begich D Alaska
Bruce Braley D Iowa
Scott Brown R New Hampshire
Tom Cotton R Arkansas
Joni Ernst R Iowa
Cory Gardner R Colorado
Kay Hagan D North Carolina
Michelle Nunn D Georgia
Greg Orman I Kansas
David Perdue R Georgia
Mark Pryor D Arkansas
Pat Roberts R Kansas
Jeanne Shaheen D New Hampshire
Dan Sullivan R Alaska
Chad Taylor D Kansas
Thom Tillis R North Carolina
Mark Udall D Colorado