Conventional wisdom says Senator Arlen Specter needs relatively high turnout today to prevail against his Democratic challenger Joe Sestak, who has gained a lot of support in the last month and has a narrow lead in the polling average. It's been rainy today in the Philadelphia area, which isn't good for turnout, but many people may vote after work if it clears up a little. I learned from Michael McAuliff that there's a large ethnic Slovak population in the Pittsburgh area, which could give an edge to Sestak if turnout is high. I hope Sestak will win, but I don't feel confident about that at all.
Swing State Project previews the other Pennsylvania races here. The special election to fill Jack Murtha's seat in PA-12 will attract the most attention. it's the only House district in the country that voted for John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. Jeffmd posted pretty district maps and analysis here.
In Kentucky's Senate race, it looks like the Republican primary will end with a humiliating defeat for the establishment candidate, Trey Grayson. Rand Paul is the very likely winner there. In the Democratic primary, the more progressive and probably more electable Jack Conway has been gaining on Dan Mongiardo in the polls, but it looks too close to call.
In Arkansas, Senator Blanche Lincoln had to fill out a provisional ballot at her polling station, because she had requested an absentee ballot and not returned it. Oops! Unfortunately, she seems to have a comfortable lead over Bill Halter. The main question today is whether she will be kept under 50 percent of the vote, forcing a runoff election. Also unfortunately, Congressman John Boozman, the strongest potential Republican candidate, looks set to win the GOP primary easily.
The special election in Hawaii's first district is just a disaster. Ed Case should not have jumped into this race when most of the locals had already backed Colleen Hannabusa. As a result, those two are going to split the Democratic vote, and Republican Charles Djou will win a plurality. DavidNYC is also right; Neil Abercrombie should not have resigned from this seat, which forced the special election. He should have either held the seat while running for governor or declined to seek re-election in 2008. Let's hope we can win this seat back in November with the Democratic vote united behind one candidate.
Post any comments, predictions or tips on election results sites in this thread.
CORRECTION: Ballots for the Hawaii special election will count if they arrive in the mail by Saturday, May 22.
UPDATE: Conway leads in Kentucky with more than two-thirds of the precincts in, but his strongest areas appear to have reported already. The number crunchers at Swing State Project predict he will win narrowly, but it's too early to know.
UPDATE: Politico is continually updating results here. Conway leads by about 20,000 votes (46 percent to 41 percent) with nearly 80 percent of precincts reporting. Rand Paul easily won the Republican primary with nearly 60 percent of the votes that have been counted.
UPDATE: The Kentucky Democratic primary has been called for Jack Conway, who leads by about 5,500 votes. It's been a while since Democrats won a U.S. Senate election in Kentucky, but the Conway/Paul matchup is the most favorable one we could have hoped for.
The Pennsylvania Democratic primary has been called for Joe Sestak, who leads 53 percent to 47 percent (about 44,000 votes) with 74 percent of precincts reporting. Specker didn't get the turnout he needed in Philadelphia.
With about 21 percent of precincts reporting in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter 45 percent to 41 percent. If those numbers hold, the race is headed to a runoff. I have no idea what part of the state has already reported.
UPDATE: Conservative Democrat Mark Critz has beaten Tim Burns in the special election to serve out the remainder of Murtha's term in PA-12. The same two candidates won their parties' respective primaries, so will face off in November. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be very pleased to have won this one, especially given the likely outcome in HI-01.
MORNING UPDATE: With almost all the votes counted in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter by 44.5 percent to 42.5 percent, with D.C. Morrison taking in 13 percent. (Boozman avoided a runoff on the Republican side.) The next three weeks will be tricky for Lincoln to navigate. I also have to wonder whether the president will cut more ads for her or make a campaign visit. Toward the end of the Pennsylvania race Obama didn't do much for Arlen Specter despite earlier promises from the White House.
Critz's margin over Burns was 53 percent to 45 percent in an R+1 district where Obama's approval is only around 33 percent. I have to agree with Matt Lewis, who said last night, "Republicans should be very concerned about the margin of defeat in PA-12. NRCC has major questions to confront." I also think we'll see President Bill Clinton campaigning for Democratic candidates in a lot of rural and/or working-class districts this fall. Stumping for Critz on Sunday, Clinton told the crowd, "Maybe [Burns] should move to California, if he wants to run against Nancy Pelosi."