Eight weeks to go until Election Day, eight unanswered questions.
1. Will Todd Akin stay in the Missouri U.S. Senate race?
Some Republicans insist the congressman could still end his campaign by Sept. 25. Akin says he isn’t going anywhere, and he’s making appearances and airing commercials.
Each day he stays in the race makes it less likely he’ll leave it. And each day it gets tougher for any potential replacement, so the betting here is he’s still in two weeks from now.
2. Will national Republican fundraisers stay out of the race?
The big GOP third-party commercial buyers, led by kingmaker Karl Rove, have so far kept their promise to stay clear of Akin. If they sense the race is tightening, will they hold firm? Democrats’ biggest fear: A multimillion dollar, last-minute ad purchase by an anonymous third-party “social welfare” group.
3. Will GOP pressure backfire? Rove suggested “murder” for Akin — too clever by half? Some think all the top-down Republican heat actually helps
Akin, and that Rove knew exactly what he was doing when he let the comment slip.
4. What about Vicky Hartzler vs. Theresa Hensley in Missouri’s 4th Congressional District?
Hensley, the Democratic Cass County prosecutor, is trying to upset first-term Republican Hartzler in the new 4th district, a race reminiscent of Dennis Moore’s challenge to freshman Vince Snowbarger in the Kansas 3rd district in 1998.
In that race, however, Moore — also a Democrat in a GOP district — seemed much more aggressive on television, eight weeks out, than Hensley does.
5. Can Kansas Democrats make any headway in state legislative races? Democrats talked a good game in Charlotte, promoting moderate candidates they think can challenge for state legislative seats. Republicans scoffed: There’s a chance, they said privately, that they’ll hold every
Kansas Senate seat, except for one, next January.
In fact, some Democrats and Republicans said huge turnover in the state House — there could be 50 new members — could make that body more moderate than the Senate.
6. Any presidential surprises left?
A foreign policy slip, a debate mistake, an economic collapse — or rebound — could move presidential voters enough in swing states to make a difference.
7. Who wins the turnout battle?
Democrats are flooding swing states with lawyers ready to battle tough voter ID laws; the GOP is pushing back. Early voting also will be important. In a grind-it-out election, even the weather can make a difference.
8. What’s next?
Neither party is talking about what happens Nov. 7, after the voting ends. The fiscal cliff, a huge deficit, defense cuts, higher payroll taxes — and the losing party will be bitterly disappointed.
The winner may eventually envy the loser.