The last few days before an election, an eerie sort of calm falls over a newsroom.
Plans are laid, the final lists of the most vulnerable House members and senators are published, every ad that could possibly run has already been shipped off to the television station, and we’re done with race profiles.
Nothing to do but wait.
This is when I let my mind wander. What if something truly awesome happens?
I have no partisan stake in Tuesday’s results. But turnovers are fun to cover. Power shifts are one of the most interesting things to happen in Washington.
As a congressional reporter, I had the opportunity to cover both Democratic and Republican majorities. The 2006 midterms and subsequent Democratic takeover in January 2007 yielded a flood of stories about the profound and fundamental questions each party faced forging ahead toward the next election and as a nation demanded change. It was a blast.
I felt the same way when we tracked every twist and turn of the Republican wave four years ago. (That’s one reason I started Roll Call’s Majority Makers project to profile the class of 2010′s most interesting freshmen.)
This is why we do what we do.
While votes are cast and counted Tuesday, here are six awesome scenarios to ponder that would make our jobs even more interesting than they already are.
C’mon — you know that more of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Capitol Hill will spice things up. There have only been a handful of times Biden has made the trip down Pennsylvania Avenue in case his vote would be necessary, and it’s pretty obvious he’s itching to get to work.
In fact, Biden has never actually been a tie-breaker. (Vice President Dick Cheney was the last No. 2 to have that honor, and broke ties eight times from 2001 through March 2008, according to Senate statistics.)
It’s not so far-fetched that after all the votes and runoffs are calculated, the Senate could be split 50-50. I actually came out with Republicans and Democrats tied in my own personal entry in Roll Call’s Election Contest. (Don’t worry, I’m not eligible to win.)
Epic 2016 Races
There will be plenty of stories about how the 2016 Senate landscape is much more favorable for Democrats, giving them a chance to win back control if they lose it Tuesday. Consider the Republican-held seats up in two years: Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Richard M. Burr in North Carolina and Lisa Murkowski in Alaska.
Those states probably sound familiar. What if Democrats Jeanne Shaheen, Kay Hagan or Mark Begich are defeated Tuesday only to declare 2016 candidacies against these possibly vulnerable Republicans in a presidential year? That would be fun.
An even more outlandish scenario: Mary L. Landrieu loses in Louisiana Tuesday, and David Vitter loses the gubernatorial contest in their state in 2015. What if he chose to try and win re-election to the Senate and she ran against him in a comeback bid? E-P-I-C.
New Year’s in Atlanta
Could it really all come down to a Georgia runoff on Jan. 6?
If so, put some parliamentary experts on speed dial. (Or read everything Niels Lesniewski writes.)
An uncertain majority in the Senate would be a logistical nightmare as the chamber attempts to organize for the 114th Congress. And the entire political world will be traversing Highway 85, not to mention purchasing every last bit of air time on college bowl airwaves. It will be a high-stakes campaign cacophony. The food’s great, and it’s not a bad place to spend time in the winter.
For purely selfish reasons, I’m hoping it’s all resolved. I’ll be getting married in Australia over New Year’s, and I’m going to feel really guilty leaving the Roll Call staff in the middle of such a winner-take-all storyline.
Remember how much Joe Lieberman liked being the center of attention — and speculation — when he won as an independent after losing in the Democratic primary?
Let’s just say independent candidate Greg Orman is able to defeat Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas Tuesday. Democrats have said both publicly and privately they are confident he’s with them. But if control hangs in the balance and the GOP is able to offer Orman a really sweet deal, perhaps he’ll be persuadable.
There’s no question independent Sen. Bernard Sanders will stick with the Democrats, but what about Angus King of Maine? I’ve heard from reputable sources King has given Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid his word there’s nothing to worry about, despite endorsing at least two Republicans this fall.
That leaves some wild cards, and party-switching will suddenly become a guest-star in the 24/7 media cycle. We’re looking at you, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.
Boehner Goes Big
The question I’m most frequently asked when I travel is if a comprehensive immigration measure will ever get a vote on the House floor. It’s usually a pretty easy answer: No. And I’ve been saying that for two years. There just isn’t a political advantage for House Republicans, no matter how many reports or polls suggest the party is losing ground nationally because of demographic change and the growth of Hispanics.
At the same time, it’s not a secret in Washington that if the Senate-passed bill did make it to the House floor, it has enough votes to clear the chamber.
It would be a spectacular story if Speaker John A. Boehner bucked the agitators in his party and just put the bill up for a vote during the lame-duck session.
The Thing No One Saw Coming
I hate being wrong, but I love surprises.
That’s sort of how I felt the night Eric Cantor lost his seat. We were putting the newspaper to bed, and Shira T. Center flagged something was happening in Virginia’s 7th District. The Old Dominion was my first beat when I moved to Washington 11 years ago, so I consider myself a bit of an expert and a whole lot of a nerd when it comes to Virginia.
I didn’t believe it, and then I looked at Henrico County returns. Something unfathomable was about to happen.
That’s sort of how I feel about this list. And the great thing about it is that at least one of these implausible, unexpected things could actually come to pass.
And that’s why I love politics.
Join us Tuesday at RollCall.com for an all-night live stream with analysis, results, photos and videos from the campaign trail and more. Shira and I will kick off Roll Call Presents: Election Night at 6 p.m.