Will Republicans Take Control?

Election results in our region could play a big role

The Delaware Valley has become ground zero in the 2010 mid-term elections. With East Coast polls closing first, expect politicos to be watching the results in the Philadelphia area very carefully to get an early signal of what the rest of the night might hold.

You know the numbers by now: The Republicans need 10 seats to take control of the Senate, and 39 seats to take control of the House.

Delaware Senate: At this point it looks likely that the House will switch hands and the Senate will probably not. The Tea Party made the job near impossible for the GOP when it carried Christine O’Donnell to victory over Mike Castle in the Delaware Republican Primary. Polls show Castle was almost certain to defeat Democrat Chris Coons. O’Donnell is trailing Coons by double digits in every major poll. However, O’Donnell has a lot of Tea Party-inspired money to spend and the polls are tightening a little. If somehow the woman now famous for saying “I am not a witch” can pull off an upset, then the Senate will probably go to the Republicans.[SIGNUP]

Pennsylvania Senate: On the other hand, the Pennsylvania Senate race has gone from leaning Republican to a toss-up on most lists. Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak has pulled close to former Congressman Pat Toomey in the race to replace Arlen Specter. If the Democrats can keep the Pennsylvania seat, they are all but assured to hold on to the Senate.

Delaware House: There are also several House races in the Philadelphia area that will give a clear indication of how the night might go. Delaware has one House seat, the one held by Mike Castle. This is one of the few Republican-held seats in the country that the party is expected to lose, which is why the Castle loss to O’Donnell is doubly upsetting for the GOP. Democrat John Carney not only has a double-digit lead in the polls over Republican Glen Urquhart, but also has double the campaign money. This seems like a sure thing for the Democrats, and for the first time since 1943 they will control both Senate seats, the governor’s office and the House seat in Delaware. If the national tide somehow sweeps Urquhart to victory, fears of a Republican wave turning into a tsunami will come true.

Philadelphia Suburbs: However, if the Democrats can hold on to two seats in the Philadelphia suburbs, they will help their chances immensely. Polls show the races in the 7th and 8th districts are toss-ups. The Democrats decided a while ago to make a stand in PA-8, which is Bucks County with a sliver of Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia. Patrick Murphy will get Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee money to combat a strong challenge from former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.

PA-7 is a bit of a surprise. The district is made up with most of Delaware County and a small section of Montgomery and Chester counties. It is the district formerly served by Democrat Joe Sestak, and the party saw little hope of keeping the seat. But former 82nd Airman and popular State Rep Bryan Lentz has proved to be a strong candidate and has pulled into a statistical tie with Republican and former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan. Pat Meehan is well funded. But now you can expect the DCCC to take renewed interest in the race.

If the Democrats can somehow keep both of these seats, which looks doubtful two weeks out, they may be able to keep the national losses to a minimum.

Unlike other eastern states, most of the New Jersey house seats are considered safe for both parties, with two South Jersey exceptions. And the Lehigh County is especially contentious this year. I will write about both on Thursday.

Just know that our area and your vote will be crucial in determining the direction this country takes for the next two years. Choose wisely.