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Why control of the Senate might not be decided on Election Night

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Louisiana plus Kansas plus Georgia plus Alaska could equal Election Night chaos
  • Louisiana’s probably headed to a runoff
  • The independent’s ahead in upset bid of Kansas Republican
  • What if Georgia goes to a runoff too, with an election held after the new Congress is sworn in?

Louisiana and Kansas … : We’ve written previously about the “Louisiana Limbo,” the scenario in which Republicans net five seats on Election Night, and no one gets 50 percent that day in the Louisiana Senate race, forcing a Dec. 6 runoff (and lots of reporters to jubilantly book hotels in New Orleans.) No one on either side expects either Democrat Mary Landrieu or Republican Bill Cassidy to reach 50 percent, because it’s functionally a primary. There are several candidates, and Sarah Palin-backed conservative Republican Rob Maness is getting a significant enough percentage to pull from Cassidy. Democrats think it’s POSSIBLE Landrieu gets to 50 on Election Day, but it’s not likely. We’ve also written about the possibility that Independent Greg Orman upsets longtime Republican Pat Roberts in Kansas, something that’s looking increasingly likely with a recent NBC/Marist poll showing Roberts down 10.

…Plus, the Georgia Wildcard: Consider THIS other possibility – that Georgia isn’t decided on Election Night, either. Georgia, like Louisiana, has a 50 percent threshold on Election Night. If no one gets 50 percent, the election would be decided Jan. 6, which is three days after the new Congress is scheduled to be sworn in. Imagine that. And, as Nate Silver wrote recently, this scenario is actually becoming more and more plausible. The race between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn is tight enough that a third-party candidate could upset the balance and pull the biggest vote-getter under 50. And currently Libertarian candidate Amanda Swafford has been averaging 5 percent in the polls. “It’s impossible for Perdue to beat Nunn by 3 percentage points in November and get over 50 percent if Swafford earns 4 percent of the vote,” Silver writes. “In other words, if Nunn and Perdue are close, and Swafford does decently, Georgia is headed for a runoff.” All that is on top of another contest we won’t have a result for until AT LEAST the day after Election Day — Alaska, with its 1 am ET poll-closing time.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1869, President Franklin Pierce died. What war did Pierce fight in before becoming president? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to EmGusk (@EmGusk) for guessing Tuesday’s trivia: What was the military intervention in Somalia in response to? The answer was: The Battle of Mogadishu (also known as Black Hawk Down).

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