Since everyone else in the punditary universe is rehashing last night's presidential debate, we're going to do something more frivolous and fun today. We're going to run a "predict the election" contest for everyone to step into the pundits' shoes themselves. Consider yourself a wonk? Think you know better than the polls? Ready to publicly state what your predictions are? Well, then, get ready to play!
The rules are simple. There are three contests: one for House, one for Senate and one for president. In each contest, you'll be asked to make your own predictions of how things are going to shake out on election night. Then there are a few tiebreaker questions to answer, to avoid having to award multiple prizes. These "prizes" are nothing more than bragging rights, as we do not have corporate sponsorship for such contests and are too cheap to put up our own money. Ahem.
Ready? Here we go. Example entries are given for each category, so just follow the examples when making your own predictions in the comments.
House of Representatives
The current makeup of the House is 190 Democrats to 240 Republicans, with five vacancies (at least according to Wikipedia). RealClearPolitics, as of this writing, predicts 165 comfortable Democratic seats, 18 leaning Democratic, 216 comfortable Republican seats, 15 leaning Republican, and 26 tossup races.
Pick the party makeup of the incoming House. Make sure your numbers add up to 435! [Example: "199 Democrats -- 236 Republicans"]
Tiebreaker Question 1 -- If the GOP regains control of the House, will John Boehner face a Republican challenger for the Speaker of the House, or will he be unopposed from within his own caucus?
Tiebreaker Question 2 -- What date will we know the final House result? Election Day is 11/6/12. Keep in mind, Louisiana has a "runoff" system if no candidate wins an outright majority of the vote, and the runoff election can be a month later. Also, don't forget recounts -- with 435 races, at least one or two will probably go through a recount process, meaning until it is done we won't know the final House result.
[Example of a complete House contest entry:]
"HOUSE -- 199 D / 236 R. Boehner will be challenged for Speaker. House results final 12/14/12."
Current makeup of the Senate is 53 Democrats to 47 Republicans. Two of the Democrats are technically Independents (Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders). Both Independent seats are up for election, Sanders is running but Lieberman is stepping down. Counting the Independents as Democrats, the total up for election: 23 Democrats and 10 Republicans.
Safe seats up for election (by our estimate) for Democrats: California, Delaware, Florida, Hawai'i, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. Maine is a special case, because an Independent is expected to win, but he will in all likelihood caucus with Democrats when it comes time to elect a Majority Leader. Bernie Sanders is considered safe, so we will likely end up with two Independents caucusing with Democrats in the incoming Senate.
Safe seats for Republicans (in our estimate, again): Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Added together, this means 45 safe Democratic seats, and 43 safe Republican seats.
Your job is to call all of the other races. Here's a list, with their current polling percent averages from RealClearPolitics (who notes that Indiana and North Dakota's data are weak, and the numbers may not be as good for these two states):
47.0% -- D -- Bob Casey (incumbent)
41.7% -- R -- Tom Smith
47.2 -- D -- Sherrod Brown (incumbent)
42.2 -- R -- Josh Mandel
48.5 -- D -- Elizabeth Warren
46.0 -- R -- Scott Brown (incumbent)
45.8 -- D -- Claire McCaskill (incumbent)
43.5 -- R -- Todd Akin
Virginia (open race)
47.6 -- D -- Tom Kaine
45.4 -- R -- George Allen
Wisconsin (open race)
48.3 -- D -- Tammy Baldwin
46.3 -- R -- Tommy Thompson
Connecticut (open race)
48.0 -- D -- Chris Murphy
46.0 -- R -- Linda McMahon
46.0 -- D -- Jon Tester (incumbent)
46.3 -- R -- Denny Rehberg
Arizona (open race)
42.5 -- D -- Richard Carmona
43.3 -- R -- Jeff Flake
Indiana (open race)
39.2 -- D -- Joe Donnelly
40.5 -- R -- Richard Mourdock
42.0 -- D -- Shelley Berkley
45.0 -- R -- Dean Heller (incumbent)
North Dakota (open race)
44.5 -- D -- Heidi Heitkamp
48.2 -- R -- Rick Berg
Tiebreaker Question 1 -- Which Senate race will be closest?
Tiebreaker Question 2 -- How many votes will decide the closest race?
Tiebreaker Question 3 -- Win or lose, what will be the percent spread in Massachusetts?
[Sample entry for Senate (don't forget to list all 12 races):]
"SENATE -- Democrats win: PA, OH, MA, MO, VA, WI, CT.
Republicans win: MT, AZ, IN, NV, ND.
Closest race will be CT, won by 35,000 votes. Warren will win MA, by 5.2%"
This one's somewhat easier than the Senate. Currently, Barack Obama has 16 safe states with 194 Electoral Votes ("EV"), while Mitt Romney has 21 safe states with 170 EV. Here's our list of safe states as of now:
Obama -- CA, DE, HI, IL, ME, MD, MA, MN, NJ, NM, NY, OR, RI, VT, WA, DC.
Romney -- AL, AK, AR, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MS, MT, NE, ND, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY.
Your job is to call the other 14 states. Here is a list of all the battleground states to call:
Put all fourteen into one candidate's column or the other.
Tiebreaker Question 1 -- What will the popular vote percentage be nationwide (in tenths of a percent) for both candidates?
Tiebreaker Question 2 -- What time (WITH time zone) on election night will CNN officially announce the national winner?
Tiebreaker Question 3 -- There are three state initiatives on the ballot which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana, in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state. Which of them, if any, will pass?
[Sample entry for President:]
"PRESIDENT -- Obama wins CT, PA, MI, WI, OH, NV, IA, VA, and CO.
Romney wins NH, NC, FL, MO, AZ.
Popular vote will be Obama 51.2% to Romney 47.9%. CNN announces winner one minute after midnight, Eastern Time. Marijuana gets legalized in CO and WA."
So, are you ready to call the 2012 election? Tired of everyone else getting it wrong? Here's your chance to prove you've got the inside story on the upcoming election -- post your contest entries in the comments, and after the election dust settles, we'll announce who got closest in each category!
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