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Tuesday's Biggest Upset: You Pick 'Em

Even in this humdinger of a political year, the pathetic truth about our damaged democracy is that most voters will step into the booth on Tuesday only to find that many, if not most, of the races on the ballot are already decided.

Many elections, especially at the local level, are uncontested. And even at the congressional level, while there is at least token opposition in all of our local House races, the sad fact is that only the contest in Maryland's 1st District (Eastern Shore and parts of Anne Arundel County) comes close to being a tossup. Virginia Democrats crow about the fact that they have someone running in each of the commonwealth's congressional districts, but in all likelihood, there won't be a single photo finish among Virginia's House contests.

Around the country, there's been at least some progress toward more vibrant democracy since 1998, when I reported from Florida on the fact that 18 of that state's 23 House members faced no major party opponent. Fourteen of the incumbents didn't even appear on the ballot that year because they'd been declared winners when no one -- not even minor party challengers -- bothered to run against them.

Nationwide this year, there are, depending on which ranking you like, somewhere between 20 and 25 House seats for which there is no clear favorite. Another 40-45 seats are close enough that they are only considered to be leaning toward one candidate or the other. The Frank Kratovil-Andy Harris race in Maryland's 1st fits into that category, as do Virginia's 11th (Republican Keith Fimian against Democrat Gerry Connolly) and 2nd (Democrat Glenn Nye against Rep. Thelma Drake). If you want to be (probably overly) generous, you could add Virginia's 10th (Democrat Judy Feder against Rep. Frank Wolf).

Ok, so it's contest time. Vote for the race you think is most likely to end in an upset, then, in the comments section below, please come ahead with your more detailed prediction--name your upset, then give the percentage breakdown of the vote. I'll pick a winner late next week and ask the winner to get in touch so I can send along a prize from the Vast Vat of Values. And if you're so inclined, please add a tiebreaker to your comment by answering this question: Who will win the presidential race in Virginia and by what margin (expressed in percentage points)? Good luck, all.

By Marc Fisher |  October 29, 2008; 8:11 AM ET
Previous: D.C. Council: Plenty Of Heat, Not Much Light | Next: Searching For The Border With Real Virginia


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Judy Feder will upset Frank wolf- it will be close and come down to a samll number of votes. VA will go blue 52% Obama and 48% McCain.

Posted by: JCequality | October 29, 2008 9:22 AM

I don't think any of those upsets will happen. But, I got play to win, so I'm going to go with slots being the upset with a 51%-49% vote.

Tiebreaker: Obama 53%

Posted by: BigBubba1 | October 29, 2008 12:00 PM

I believe that Judy Feder will squeak out a win, within the recount territory and not ultimately decided until after a recount. Obama will bring moderates and swing voters to the polls in Loudoun, and Mark Warner's coattails will also have an effect. If Obama's GOTV and poll coverage is as good as his pre-election ground game, the more casual presidential voters who have not followed the congressional race will be encouraged at the polls to vote a straight D ticket for "change." Frank Wolff is a good man running in a bad year to have an (R)next to his name.

Posted by: rlritter | October 29, 2008 12:04 PM

As usual Mark Fisher even manages to put his biases into a little private poll.

If DC is lucky Patrick Mara will beat both Brown and Schwartz but Fisher doesn't even like to recognize that Mara is running.

Lucky for the people of DC the Washington Post does and endorsed him as the best candidate, so did the Examiner and Harry Jaffe today in his column suggested that Mayor Fenty will vote for Mara as well.

Whether Mara wins is dependent on how many people can get to know him. When you meet him or hear about his poitions you realize how good he is.

But Fisher is determined to try to minimize how many people get to know Mara. Good thing Mara is going door to door, will begin some robo calls and willl have mail reach the voters homes this week.

Like alot of other issues it is good we don't have to count on guys like Fisher for our information or we would be in a sad state.

Posted by: peterdc | October 29, 2008 12:15 PM

Enjoyed the blog, but wonder why you haven't chimed in on the issue of bag searches by Metro. I have seen a dirth of reporting on the subject. The transcript yesterday was a joke. Once again the WP seems to be taking a follow the leader tone on security issues.

Posted by: crete | October 29, 2008 12:16 PM

Seriously Marc, is it some kind of massive failing that a politician with bipartisan appeal leads in a district? I was a liberal who voted for Connie Morella during most of the Reagan years until she stopped working and coasted. I admit that we want to see strong candidates run in all races, but let me put it this way...

In 1998 several people involved in politics wanted me to run for a minor neighborhood position in DC. I sat through a few meetings and realized that the job required about 12 hours of work every week for no pay and many complaints. So, given that there was an incumbent who was at least semi-popular, what is the reason that I should spend $500 of my own money on campaign supplies for what was generally thought to be a losing battle? I think that's what you need to ask yourself, in a congressional race with a happy incumbent, why should anyone spend $40k of their own personal finances to tilt at a windmill?

Posted by: bbcrock | October 29, 2008 2:07 PM

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