Monday, November 02, 2020

Insiders Panel: bullish on Bice and Trump's odds, don't expect a Trump 77-county sweep


With the general election tomorrow, here's one last edition of the MuskogeePolitico.com Insiders Panel.

Members of our Insiders Panel cover the spectrum on the Republican side of the aisle, and members are from the private, public, and political sectors from all across the state. Each congressional district is represented by an Insider, and there is a wide demographic variety. The anonymity of the panel is designed to allow them to more freely express their thoughts, giving an inside look at some behind the scenes moves and trends across the state. You can read the past Insiders Panel discussions at this link.

These are the questions panel members were asked to respond to:
  1. Will Stephanie Bice (R) take out Congresswoman Kendra Horn (D) in the 5th Congressional District?
  2. Not considering the 5th District race, what will be the biggest surprise in the Oklahoma results?
  3. Will President Donald Trump once again carry all 77 counties?
  4. Who do you think wins the Presidency, and what is your guess at the electoral college vote?
  5. Will the GOP hold onto the U.S. Senate?
Let's start with the first question: Will Stephanie Bice (R) take out Congresswoman Kendra Horn (D) in the 5th Congressional District?

Most of the Panel believes that Republican challenger Stephanie Bice will defeat incumbent freshman Democrat Kendra Horn. One campaign insider said "Numbers seem to be turning in Bice’s favor.  Even though the district is turning purple, Bice should benefit by the Trump turnout." Another 5th District activist said that Bice will win by virtue of her in-person and in-person absentee voting strength, with Horn losing despite her lead in the mail-in absentee vote. One insider took a contrary view, believing that Horn will squeak out a victory.

All of the members believe that it will be a close race. 

Next: Not considering the 5th District race, what will be the biggest surprise in the Oklahoma results?

I got a wide range of responses to this question. One insider from the northeastern part of the state said "Despite being outspent almost 10 to 1, SQ 805 fails." Another activist said that U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe's reelection margin will defy expectations.

Several others focused in on the state legislature. One believes that the GOP will lose seats in the State House, while another said that Democrats will win back seats in eastern Oklahoma.

A few brought up specific legislative seats to watch. One Oklahoma City insider points to the House District 93 race, saying that former Republican State Rep. Mike Christian will defeat incumbent Democratic State Rep. Mickey Dollens. 

Another political insider thinks that Republicans will flip the HD34 seat in Stillwater, as well as the HD4 seat in Tahlequah. They also look to SD5, SD7 and SD9 in southeastern Oklahoma as seats that the GOP could lose due to voter fatigue.

Additionally: "Tulsa Senate races will be very important to watch this Cycle. Sen. Dave Rader (SD39) and Sen. Gary Stanislawski's replacement Cheryl Baber (SD35) are in tight races in virtual purple districts. How these races trend will set the tone for how Tulsa County could or could not be trending in the coming years due to urbanization."

Next: Will President Donald Trump once again carry all 77 counties?

A handful of insiders believe that Trump will carry all 77 counties, with closer margins in the metros than in 2016 (although one said with larger margins), but most thought that he will lose as many as three counties. Oklahoma and Cleveland are the top suggestions, with some mentioning the possibility of Biden winning Cherokee, Comanche, or Payne counties.

Next: Who do you think wins the Presidency, and what is your guess at the electoral college vote?

Almost all of the Insiders see a narrow Trump victory, with between 280 and 300 electoral college votes. Pennsylvania is seen as being key to victory, potentially resulting in a 2000-esque Supreme Court showdown. 

One individual stated that Trump has the momentum right now, but that Biden was "on fire in September", and half the country has already voted. They still see a narrow win for Trump, though.

One party activist pointed out that with as tight an election this is setting up to be, lawsuits and slow counting will likely result in the outcome being uncertain for days, or even longer.

Out of the entire panel, only one felt strongly that Biden would defeat Trump.

And last question: Will the GOP hold onto the U.S. Senate?

The panel was surprisingly optimistic about the GOP's shot at holding the U.S. Senate. About half of the panel believes that the GOP will maintain a 51 to 52 seat majority, which will result in giving the moderate wing of the GOP caucus (i.e. Romney, Murkowski) more policy power.

A couple see the GOP losing three seats, putting the chamber in a dead tie (with the Vice President as tie-breaker, adding drama to the presidential race). One insider believed that the Democrats will win enough seats to take the Senate, but with the Republicans gaining seats in the House at the same time.

Another activist points to election day turnout as the key for the GOP. If they can have yuuuge turnout, then the Senate majority may can be salvaged by sweeping the toss-up races. They voiced concern about both seats in Georgia, where a January runoff will be triggered if no candidate achieves 50%+1.

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