Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What is There to be Thankful for?

Every year in late November, we are all asked to think of reasons we should be thankful.  However, what is there to be thankful for?

Let’s recap all that has happened this year.
·         Large chunks of Obamacare went into effect, of which the American people overwhelming disapprove of the legislation.
·         The United States has continually been tortured by the polar vortex. 
·         Flight 370 is still to be found. 
·         Stabbings and shootings have plagued American schools throughout the year. 
·         Vladimir Putin invades Crimea, a valuable port area of the Ukraine, as world leaders fear another Cold War. 
·         The VA Scandal happened. 
·         A psychotic misogynist from an affluent family goes on a shooting rampage in Isla Vista, California, before killing himself.  
·         The Obama administration trades five high-ranking terrorist for a deserter, only for the terrorists to return to the front lines of battle. 
·         The world watches in horror as ISIS rises to dominance in parts of the Middle East. 
·         Malaysia Airlines has another accident as one of their flights is shot down over Ukrainian airspace. 
·         The outbreak of Ebola in Africa grows. 
·         The United States watches as Ferguson, Missouri, burns like a documentary on the 1960s after many believe Officer Darren Wilson had racially charged motives when defending himself against Michael Brown. 
·         Two of America’s beloved comedians, Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, die within a month of each other. 
·         Americans find out the cloud is not as secure as they thought it was when celebrity nudes hit the web. 
·         Citizens do not feel a recovery.  They feel their government is dysfunctional and uncooperative, and they fear for America’s state in international politics.
·         Most importantly, however, Americans are tired of Frozen.  The fans need to just let it go.

With all that has happened, what is there to be thankful for?

Well, the news is fantastic at hyping everything wrong with the world.  However, let’s look at just some of positive headlines that you may have missed this past year.

That is just a very small sample of the newsworthy positive stories from this year.  Now, imagine your own life.  You have a roof over your head, family, friends, etc.  There is so much good in this world.  There is so much to be thankful for this year.  Just because the news does not portray it that way does not mean life is as depressing as the eight o'clock news hour makes it sound.

You do not have to look too far to see that there is really so much to be thankful for.  I'm thankful I was able to get home for Thanksgiving to be with my family, that I am able to receive a great education, that I live in the greatest country on earth, in which I have so much freedom, and so much more.

Just because there are things wrong with the world does not mean that the world is wrong.  It is all how you perceive it, and I see it that there is so much good that outweighs the bad.  There is so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

It reminds me of the opening scene from Love Actually.  (Don't get technical and tell me it's a Christmas movie.  The message still applies.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Black Mob Hysteria.

Yesterday night, the Grand Jury released their decision as to whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson.  To protesters’ dismay, the Grand Jury decided not to indict the officer over the death of 18 year-old Michael Brown.

I have written twice on the case in Ferguson here and here.  My main theme with this case has been not jumping to conclusions.  However, this was clearly disregarded by America, and that is the subject I wish to target with this.

We, as the general public, still do not have all or even most of the information involved in this case, and especially back in August, we certainly did not have enough information to make an informed decision on this case.  However, this did not stop America from choosing sides days into the incident.

First, it was the black community.  I honestly do not understand how a group can so adamantly stand behind someone so guilty just because he shares the same skin color – see O. J. Simpson.  It is almost cult-like.  Just because some someone shares the same skin color as you does not mean you need to defend them – see Jeffrey Dahmer and Casey Anthony.  Even if you want to make a cultural argument – see Jimmy Hoffa.

Then, the black community would be joined by liberals the same time many conservatives would jump on the side of Officer Darren Wilson.  Remember, there is almost no evidence out at this time.
Looting, protests, and violent encounters occurred on the streets of Ferguson as the world watched the pot boil over in the town.  Yet, it seemed as if it was somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy  due to the media.  When you concentrate so much attention and cameras on one town in a country expecting something to happen, something is sure to happen.

Needless to say, the incident was not aided when race hustlers like Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson fired Ferguson up even more.  Then, Eric Holder sent 50 FBI agents to help investigate the incident, an unprecedented number.  Not even one investigator was sent to look into the VA Scandal.  Remember that?

Fast forward now to November 24th.  America had been told all day long that this decision by the Grand Jury would be released at 9 P.M. EST.  Therefore, the protesters were out in great numbers waiting for the decision.  However, it was not the decision they were wanting.  Now, riots have ensued in the streets with reports of shots being fired.

More important was the statement delivered by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch.  He set many of the facts straight and told us how the Grand Jury came to their decision.  We found out that Officer Wilson did know about the strong-armed robbery Michael Brown had just committed.  We found out that Michael Brown was at least partially inside the officer’s car, and we finally discovered from three separate autopsy reports that Michael Brown was not shot in the back by Officer Darren Wilson, but as he was charging at the officer.

From the footage of seeing how large this 18 year-old is, 6’4” and 300 pounds, as well as what he was capable from that video of the strong-armed robbery.  It is completely possible to see how Officer Wilson would have been acting in self-defense, even if this teenager were unarmed.  It is a tragedy, but the Grand Jury had all this information and more, which led them to their decision not to indict Officer Wilson.

In days coming up, we will learn more on this case as more information rolls out.  However, for people on both sides of the issue, the information will not matter.  They are so emphatic, on both sides, that they know the true story that they will not even wait for the information surrounding the case to roll in.  It just so happens that those who choose Officer Wilson’s side chose correctly out of the 50-50 odds.

The protests will ensue.  The demonstrations will continue.  The unrest will not cease, and no matter how many facts you can provide from professionals who investigated this case, the radicals will be led by passion and emotion rather than logic and reason.

I am honestly frightened to go back to campus for these last few weeks of the semester because I have seen the irrational protesters on campus.  I have never been afraid to speak my mind on any issue.  I am afraid to speak up on this one because of the videos I have seen from this group and how mob-like the mentality is. 

Groups that act in such a mob-like fashion should be ashamed of themselves.  It just shocks me how on one of the highest-ranked universities there can be so many individuals who will not respond to rational, fact-based arguments, but rather sob story, fear-mongering rhetoric.   These would be the same people who would say I am irrational when I would debate over controversial topics such as “climate change.”  Yet, if anyone tried to hold a rational discussion on this topic, I can guarantee it would turn into a situation where one side shouts accusations such as “white supremacy,” “racist,” and “#BlackLivesMatter.”  This would only turn it into a rally-like protest.

My only prayers would be for the family who lost their son and that America quit jumping to conclusion on matters in which there is no evidence.  We need to be a nation of critical thinkers, not choosing sides based on skin color.

The media should be ashamed for fueling this fire.  The only reason they did this was that it was a white police officer and a black teen, whom we have now discovered was not the gentle giant he was made out to be.   Reporting on a story of supposed racism can almost immediately increased ratings.  Congratulations new across America.  You officially have put Ferguson residents in more danger than they would have possibly been exposed to because you wanted to increase your ratings.

Finally, I cannot take this one incident as a national issue.  There are not blacks being shot down by white cops the way the news would have you believe.  In fact, 93% of people murdered are murdered by someone who shares the same race.  Do not believe the radical hysterics.  This is a case all on its own and does not resemble the nation as a whole.

Yes, black lives matter.  I would challenge you to find someone in America who does not agree with that statement.  In fact, the leading cause of death in the African American Community since 1973 has been abortion.  How about not only black lives mattering but also all lives mattering?  Even the unborn.

As for Michael Brown, I do feel sympathy for his family, but only so much.  Obviously, if your son is committing a strong-armed robbery at the age of 18, you have failed at your job as parents.  Maybe if his family had taught Michael Brown how to behave as a responsible member of society, not committing strong-armed robbery and then walking down the middle of the street only to get into a physical fight with a person of authority, this incident would have never happened.

Friday, November 21, 2014

My Grown Up Christmas (Songs) List: Part III.

We've reached my top 40 favorite Christmas songs, which are basically means if you change the station when one of these comes on, I may mumble under my breath or roll my eyes.  (Unless, of course, we've just recently heard the song.)

40)  "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" - Brenda Lee

Any time there's a saxophone solo like this in a song, you know it must be a Christmas hit.  It's definitely one of the most popular Christmas songs, but I think all the radio airplay it gets has made the song overbearing during the holidays at times.

39) "The Christmas Song" - Nat King Cole

This song was made to the fire at Christmas.  I mean the first line basically sums up the entire song.

38)  "Do You Hear What I Hear?" - Whitney Houston

These ten songs can certainly be classified in one way: big powerhouse vocals.  This is the first of these.  It's an age old classic, and with one of the best singers ever lending her voice, the song is made that much better.

37) "O Tannenbaum" - Vince Guaraldi Trio

How could you not possibly love another Charlie Brown classic?

Flashback:  I cannot hear this song anymore without hearing my dad's changed lyrics, "Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree/  I feel on you at ten to three," which immediately reminds me of the last year my family got a real Christmas tree.  The year the tree fell over onto my siblings, and they emerged from under the tree with pine needles everywhere.  Therefore, I cannot hear this song without laughing.

36) "Ave Maria" - Celine Dion

Remember when I said powerhouse vocals?  This is one of the most beautiful Catholic hymns.  Unfortunately, it's usually ruined at mass.  However, this version by Celine Dion reminds you how truly great the hymn is.

35) "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" - Mariah Carey

It's uptempo; it's fun; it's not a downer despite the theme of the song.  Mariah Carey is able to deliver a powerhouse vocal on this track unable to be matched by almost anyone.  My favorite part of the song is at the end when she's doing the runs and switches from from her upper octave immediately into the lower one.

34) "Every Christmas" - Kelly Clarkson

It's bluesy and soulful.  Interesting fact about this song: the choir sound of the backing vocal was created by Clarkson harmonizing with herself in different tones of voices until they developed the sound of the choir.

33) "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - Gene Autry

It's quite the classic, especially when it's been around for so long elementary school children have added their own lyrics in between the original song.  Another song I feel is slightly overplayed through.

32) "Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo" - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Rock meets orchestra meets Christmas.  This song is one of those songs where I don't think you can find a person who doesn't like it.  (It's import to establish here that I distinguish this song as an original and not either "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" or "Carol of the Bells.")

31) "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

There are way too many excellent versions of this song to pick just one, so I'll give you some options.

              Frank Sinatra
             Kelly Clarkson

              Rod Stewart

              Christina Aguilera

No matter who delivers this classic, the message comes across loud and clear.  It's about enjoying your holiday with family.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Grown Up Christmas (Songs) List: Part II.

It's Friday again, meaning it's time to count down another ten songs in my top 60 favorite Christmas songs countdown.  This time, we're going 50 through 41.

50) "Dominick the Donkey" - Lou Monte

If you're Italian, you know what song I'm talking about.  If you're not, you're probably asking yourself what in the world is Dominick the donkey?  Well, since the reindeer cannot climb the hills of Italy, Santa needs the help of Dominick to deliver presents to the children of Italy.  The song is sure to get stuck in your head.  Whether that is a good or bad thing probably depends on whether you have Italian heritage or not.

49) "Traditions of Christmas" - Mannheim Steamroller

I'm a sucker for these kinds of songs.  It's the type of song that so stereotypically reminds me of Christmas - wrapping up in a blanket, next to a fire, snow falling gently outside, and looking at the tree.

48)  "Christmas Time is Here" - Vince Guaraldi Trio

How can you not like this song?  It's another sucker song about snow falling, and it kicks off one of best Christmas classics of all time.

47) "Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming" - Mannheim Steamroller

When done properly, this can be one of the most beautiful Christmas songs.  When done improperly, this can turn into an utter disaster.

Flashback:  It's Eighth grade all-star band and we were given this song to play - only it was in a key way too high for any normal Eighth grade trumpet player to reach.  When it came time for the performance, which was recorded, we absolutely murdered this song (and not in a good way).  The saddest part is that I still have a recording of it somewhere in my house.

46) "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day" - Celine Dion

I love the meaning behind this song.  Christmas should not be limited to a day.  Christmas should not be limited to a season.  The themes of Christmas, such as family, should be cherished throughout the entire year.  Plus, the song is also sung by Celine Dion.  Love the raspy run in the last chorus.

45)  "All I Want for Christmas is You" - Vince Vance & The Valiants

Don't worry, we haven't reached the Mariah Carey classic, yet.  The problem that potentially held this song back as years went by was sharing the name.  It's almost impossible to find on YouTube without knowing the artist.  However, the the raspiness of her voice, mixed with the country guitars make for a great Christmas ballad.

44) "Wrapped in Red" - Kelly Clarkson

Say hello to Kelly Clarkson.  You'll be seeing her (as well as Josh Groban and Mannheim Steamroller) a lot because I love her Christmas album.  The title track for her album was penned about her now husband, and the song will be release this Christmas season as well as receiving a music video.  Keep an eye out for that.

43) "Wizards in Winter" - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Rock and orchestra together.  You've gotta love the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  With all the light shows that go with this song, it's become a staple holiday classic.

42) "Thankful" - Josh Groban

Another very lyric heavy song, we need to see that during this season there is so much to be thankful for.  Maybe this should be considered the one and only Thanksgiving song.

41) "Snow in California" - Ariana Grande

I can honestly say I don't know the struggle of wanting snow in California.  Mine is more like... oh please God, don't let Rochester get pounded by a snowstorm and get 10 feet of snow and I can't get home for Christmas.  Tell you want, Ariana.  If you really don't want him to leave, buy a winter house in Rochester, NY.  He won't be going anywhere for Christmas.  You can ask the California students about their travel experiences home for Christmas last year.

The problem with people from California, and just people in the South in general, when it comes to snow is that they think snow is the fluffy white stuff that falls ever so perfectly like all the movies.  They look at it as if we're in a gently shaken snow globe all the time.  The reality of the matter is: instead of Rochester being in a gently shaken snow globe, we decided to give our snow globe to Darla from Finding Nemo.

Friday, November 7, 2014

My Grown Up Christmas (Songs) List: Part I.

Christmas is just around the corner, and it's time to get into the spirit of Christmas.  I'll be counting down my 60 favorite Christmas songs.  It will end two weeks Fridays before Christmas and the week before finals (how convenient).  Without further ado, this is part one, counting down songs 60-51.

60) "The Christmas Waltz" - Frank Sinatra

You can't go a Christmas without this classic.  It perfectly describes everything of the Christmas season.

59) "Please Come Home for Christmas" - The Eagles

It makes the list because it's such a classic and iconic Christmas song, but as you'll see, I don't tend to look too favorably on sad Christmas songs.

58) "We Need a Little Christmas" - Percy Faith

Christmas Flashback:  I can still remember a few Christmas Eve's ago when my aunts broke out into this song while cooking dinner singing "do-do-do-do-do-do...".

57) "Sleigh Ride" - The Ronettes

I think playing this song for four years straight in high school band ruined this song completely for me.

56) "The Chipmunk Song" - Alvin & the Chipmunks

This is one of those songs that is fun the first time around, and then by the second time, you want to kill the man who ever thought this song was a good idea for humanity.

55) "Blue Christmas" - Elvis Presley

Once again, I just can't get into the depressing Christmas songs, but it is a great classic.

54) "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" - Johnny Mathis

It's a very soothing song for the Christmas time.  Just what we need after a long, stressful year.

53) "The First Noel" - Josh Groban ft. Faith Hill

One of the many religious songs on this countdown.  Another soothing tune.

52) "White Christmas" - Bing Crosby

Look.  I'm in Rochester, NY.  The last thing on my mind is whether their is going to be snow on the ground at Christmas or not.  There will be.  I'm more concerned about whether a storm is about to dump a few feet of snow during finals week.

51) "Jingle Bell Rock" - Bobby Helms

It's just never been one of my favorite Christmas songs.  It's good, but no where near my favorites.

This concludes part one of the countdown.  Stay tuned for part II next Friday where you're sure to hear some of your favorite Christmas classics.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Election Reflection.

Oh, it's a good day to be a Republican in the United States of America.  The Democrats took a beating - and by that, I mean a shellacking compared to the polls, which we now see had an average of a +4.0 skew in the Democrats direction.  This is one of the largest skews since the 1990s when pollsters started to really analyze these numbers.

I hate to say I told you so, too, but I told you so.  Let's roll through my Senate predictions.

Montana, West Virginia, and South Dakota were all considered Republican on arrival by all except some dreamers over at MSNBC.

 Louisiana is going to a run off like I said it most likely would and leans very heavily in Republican's favor.

Arkansas went red.  It wasn't much of a surprise.  Tom Cotton was a great candidate for the state.

Colorado went red.  Now we're getting into the more uncertain race.  Of course, Cory Gardner defeated Udall.

Iowa went red.  Joni Ernst became the 6th net gain for the Republicans to push us into the majority last night.  It was only fitting considering how much she has not only fired up conservatives in her state but across the country as the clear face of the Republican wave this election and rising star.  She was able to turn a state Republicans were not even supposed to win into an eight point lead at the polls.  Now there's a candidate and an almost perfect campaign.

Alaska still hasn't officially been called, but Dan Sullivan has a decent lead with almost all the ballots in.  Once it's called for the Republican, I will be correct and the Republican Senate majority will rise to 53.

New Hampshire went blue.  For New Hampshire, I said whoever won the next respectable poll would be the next senator.  Well, two respectable ones came in - one had Scott up by one and the other had Shaheen up by one.  I never came to a conclusion in this race, so if you want to count this one against me, we're up to one.

North Carolina went red.  I had said the same for North Carolina that I did for New Hampshire.  You wouldn't believe the amount of polling that came in on this race, all basically ties.  I did come to the conclusion that Thom Tillis would pull out a win in this case because North Carolina (1) breaks late in the election cycle and was breaking in Tillis's favor as he caught up to Hagan and (2) the fact that North Carolina typically experiences a liberal bias in their polls as opposed to their voting, all of which I have discussed before.

Georgia went red.  I got this one correct.  What I didn't expect was that neither this election or the governor's went to a run off.  I honestly did think this race was closer than what came in on election night.

Kansas went red.  I was one of the only people among people on  television or people I just talk to who thought Pat Roberts was going to win.  The numbers just didn't fit Kansas on a national level where partisan politics come into play.  It's not even like the election was close either.  Roberts beat Orman by a margin just shy of 11%.  Whoever was polling in Kansas needs to be fired immediately because something was systematically wrong with all the polls being conducted in Kansas.

Now that I've got my little bit of gloating out of the way.  What was up with Virginia?!  For a candidate who was down 20 points with just 10 days to go in an election and who had received virtually no money from the national party, where did Ed Gillespie come from?  The only person besides Ed himself calling this race a dead heat was Dana Perino, a personal friend.  This race wasn't even on my map - until about 7 o'clock last night.

What he did that worked so successfully for him was that he ran a positive campaign and took an ad out the weekend before the election during the Redskin's game.  He was well liked by the people is what showed in exit polls, and even though it's looking like he is not going to be Virginia's senator, I've heard many a pundit already saying he will be Virginia's next governor.  He's not going anywhere with that kind of popularity among the people of a state that is a light-blue right now.

I'd just like to point out something very quickly on this race right here.  Because the race was so close, those votes that went to the Libertarian candidate would have easily put Gillespie over the top.  We could have come out of this election with 55 seats if libertarians would actually use their votes to elect a real candidate instead of trying to prove a point with their wasted vote.  This is the importance of voting for a viable candidate, but no, for some reason people on the right have to run against those over minute differences that end up costing our party the race.  Great job.  Seems like the appropriate phrase here would be "misery loves company."  Can't we make the other half of the country miserable for once libertarians?

Some nice stats for Republicans to know.

Republicans now control more legislative chambers at the state level and have more Republican-controlled seats across the nation at the state level than ever before. 

Mia Love became the first black female Republican elected to Congress.

Tim Scott, a Republican, became the first black senator elected in the South since Reconstruction.

Joni Ernst became the first female Senator elected in Iowa and the first female veteran elected to the Senate.

Elise Stefanik, a Republican from NY-21 (not too far from Rochester, so I've been hearing a lot about this race), became the youngest female elected to Congress at 30.

Sadly, the Democrats took one consolation prize from me last night.  They took the governorship from the honorable Governor Corbett.  Luckily, I still have the privilege of one more month under his leadership during Thanksgiving and Christmas break.  If it's any consolation prize to me, the Republicans came away with gains in both houses of the Pennsylvania State Assembly, so Wolf is going to have a very hard time implementing his liberal agenda in PA.

One comment though, if I have to listen to one person who voted for Wolf complain about higher taxes, I may lose it.  When someone runs on a platform of not telling you his or her policy specifics, it means one of two things.  (1)  He or she has no policy idea.  (2)  You're not going to like his or her policy ideas.  When a man can be asked in almost every single debate and interview if he will raise taxes and he flutters around the question every time, he wants to raise taxes but doesn't want to tell you until he gets into office.

Personally, I don't trust his character either.  Although, anybody who would so blatantly lie to his constituents doesn't have good character.   Even more though, I remember the first ad of his I saw online.  I came away not knowing where he stood on any issues, didn't even know his party, and it felt like someone running a campaign in which he wouldn't even tell me where he stood on issues was trying to pull something over on me.  The more I read after he won the primary, the less I liked.  I trust this man about as far as I can throw him.

Hopefully, the Pennsylvania State Assembly will be on my side and will pass conservative bills or make Wolf a lame duck for the entirety of his governorship because the last thing Pennsylvanians need is another tax increase.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What to Expect This Election Day.

This Tuesday, millions of Americans will go to the polls in order to determine the fate of the US Senate for the next two years and their governors for the next four years.  It is a critical election, and one that I have been watching for over two months now.  I thought it would be best to compile all the information I have picked up reading many articles and watching the polls and compile that into one easy to understand prediction.  Most people don't like polls.  (I'm the rare exception).  Most people want to know who is going to win.

Key: Red  = state flips red      Blue  = state flips blue    Purple = tossup

If a state is not mentioned, it is not a highly contested or interesting race because the party in power is remaining in power.


Pennsylvania goes blue.  I must very sadly state that my home state will change party leadership at the governor position.  Just remember, I voted for Corbett, and if you voted for Wolf, don't you dare open your mouth to complain about a tax increase.  You voted it into office when you elected Wolf.

Arkansas goes red.  Asa Hutchinson has a 6.2% lead over Mike Ross in the final week of the election.  Arkansas is safely going to shift red.

Massachusetts goes red.  I'm not entirely positive on this one, but it's a pretty educated guess.  The Republican has been consistently polling head of his Democratic opponent towards the end of October, and he has a 3% lead.  MA may have just found itself another Mitt Romney, a rare feat for a state so deeply blue.

Races to watch: Alaska, Florida, Kansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, and Wisconsin

Alaska is a very hard state for pollsters to poll.  The Independent and Republican are about a percentage point off according to the polls, but Alaska is usually off, so it could swing either way.

Florida is an extremely close race.  Less than half a percentage point separates the two candidates heading into the final week of the election.  Expect this one to be close.  We may not even have the results Tuesday into Wednesday.  Florida just loves to do that.

Kansas is very strange this year.  They have an extremely overwhelming Republican population, but the Democrat is polling ahead on average.  With that being said, in both the governor and senate race, there is no consistency from poll to poll.  I don't know whether Kansas is another hard state to poll, whether the people of Kansas really cannot make up their minds, or if pollsters are really messing this one up.  Kansas will potentially be the most interesting state come Tuesday.

Connecticut is like Florida, another extremely close race.  This time, the two candidates are polling .2% apart.  Don't expect an answer anytime soon on Tuesday for Connecticut.

Colorado is another very close race, less than a 1% difference.  Each candidate has been on top of his opponent in a poll recently, so expect this one to be down to the wire as well.

Illinois is an extremely close election for governor.  Would you believe that?  Incumbent Quinn (D) is very unpopular in his own state, so he is only up on his Republican challenger by .3%.  However, he hasn't managed to break 45%.  When you're an incumbent, it's worrisome if you cannot break 50% because those who are undecided will usually vote for the challenger.  This could possibly be another deeply blue state turn red this election cycle.

Maine is a little different from what we've seen.  Maine has both a Republican and Democrat candidate as well as an Independent polling around 14%.  I don't know Maine's gubernatorial election rules off the top of my head, so I do not know if they would go to a run off if no candidate reaches 50% or if the person with the most votes wins even if he does not have a majority.  The Republican and Democrat are practically neck and neck.

Wisconsin is neck and neck with Scott Walker just slightly ahead by .2%.  This election could clearly go either way.  (My gut tells me Walker pulls it out, but that just might be my partisanship speaking.)

Now, onto the races people actually care about...


Montana, West Virginia, and South Dakota all go red.  These are really not surprises; they're basically guarantees.  The significance is that they switch parties, and the GOP needs a net gain of 6 seats to take control of the Senate.

Louisiana goes red.  Whether it is on Tuesday or more likely in the runoff to follow, Mary Landrieu will lose, and the GOP will pick up another state.

Arkansas goes red.  There's just no way for Mark Pryor to win here.  He's been consistently loosing in the polls for months.  Tom Cotton will pick up another seat for the GOP.

Colorado goes red.  Cory Gardner has consistently been leading in the polls.  Mark Udall looks like he's just given up on this race.  The nail in the coffin to his campaign was when he did that awful television interview in which he couldn't even name a book he's read.

Iowa will go red.  I know I'm making a pretty bold prediction here, but before you cast it aside as partisan politics, hear the facts of the race out.  The race in which I have been following the closest.  Joni Ernst has been leading in the polls for a while now, with Braley (or as Michelle Obama likes to call him "Bailey") having one or two polls where he was up by one every once in a while.  Early voting in Iowa shows that Republican ballots are matching that of Democrats.  (Usually in Iowa,  the Republicans get off to a rough start and catch up on Election Day.)  Obama's approval rating has dropped to 38% in Iowa.  Most importantly however, Iowa's Republican governor is very popular with the people in his state.  He's polling roughly 18% above his Democratic challenger.  That's going to pull a lot of Republicans to the poll to vote for him and Ernst at the same time.  Don't expect this one to break early, but Ernst should pull off the win either late into the night or early Wednesday.

(I have to include this as a side note.  Even though I do not think Kentucky will change parties, it is important to note that the race is fairly close.  However, Mitch McConnell should pull out the win on Tuesday night.  He's been consistently ahead for a while now.)

States to watch: Alaska, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Georgia, Kansas

Alaska faces the same problem we see in the governor's race.  It's very hard to poll Alaska.  Right now, Nate Silver predicts the Republican has a 65% chance of winning.  However, polls in Alaska have been dead wrong before.  We won't know until results start to roll in, but I would assume there won't be a problem with the race being too close to count.  It's just that it's very hard to get an accurate representation of how Alaska will vote come Election Day.

North Carolina is one of the most interesting states to watch, if not the most.  The race has been narrowing these past few weeks to the point where they still have incumbent Kay Hagan (D) about a percentage point ahead of her Republican opponent Thom Tillis.  However, she only has 43.6% of support, so she is nowhere near that 50% mark.  Additionally, the two most recent and respectable polls have Hagan and Tillis tied in a dead heat.  However, there is another wrench thrown into the mix with a Libertarian candidate thrown into the pot.  Therefore, Hagan doesn't need to be at that 50% mark, but probably higher than where she is.  Now, add in one final piece of information that North Carolina has a history of breaking late, and you've possibly got the most interesting Senate race on your hands right here.  It may all come down to this final week of campaigning.  I would expect this race to be extremely close.

New Hampshire has certainly been an uphill battle for Scott Brown these past few months.  Since about October 11th, Brown has been able to crack through that ceiling quite significantly and close the gap within the time of just two weeks.  This may be due to Jeanne Shaheen's poor debate skills.  Although New Hampshire seems to still be leaning slightly to the left with a week to go, Scott Brown might be able to close the gap enough to pull out the dark horse in this election cycle.

Georgia certainly threw conservatives like me into a frenzy this weekend when polling showed Nunn up on Purdue.  However, those polls may have been outliers considering more respectable polls coming out since then with Purdue on top, but not by much.  How this race will most likely turn out is that neither candidate will achieve 50% of the vote, needed to win in Georgia, because of the Libertarian candidate.  This will force the two into a runoff, which favors Purdue, so we will probably not know the fate of Georgia Tuesday night.

Kansas has been the closest race this election cycle.  It pits Republican Pat Roberts against Democrat-in-Independent's-clothing Greg Orman.  I don't know what's up with Kansas polling, as I've said earlier.  There has just been no consistency in Kansas.  This is one of those races that's going to go late into the night for certain.  The average between all the polls puts this race is a dead heat.

I will make predictions on the close Senate races thought! 

I believe Alaska will go red.  Alaska is a fairly conservative state.  The Republican is up in the polls.  All signs seem to point towards his win, but as I've said, polling should be taken with an even larger grain of salt in Alaska.

I believe the candidate who wins New Hampshire will be the candidate who wins the next respectable poll in New Hampshire.  Sorry, it's not a straight answer, but it is an answer.  Scott Brown actually did win the last respectable poll taken of New Hampshire, which was the New England College survey on October 24th.  It looks like SurveyUSA hasn't conducted a poll on New Hampshire since the beginning of October.  Whoever comes out ahead in that poll, I believe will win the election.

The same thing goes for North Carolina.  The next candidate to win a respectable poll will take North Carolina.  SurveyUSA just did a poll where it was a tie 44-44, so I believe this race is a dead heat considering the state has a history of breaking late.  I'll keep my eyes on the polls, and whoever wins the next respectable one will win the state.

I believe Georgia will go red.  Whether it is Tuesday or the run off, I do believe the Republicans will pull out a victory in Georgia.  Some of the polling there just might have been outliers.  The race seems to be highly stacked in the Republican's favor.  Therefore, Georgia goes red.

I believe Kansas will go red.  The polling out of Kansas has just been all over the place, so I'm not really basing my assumptions upon the data.  What I think will happen, because neither candidate is polling over 45%, is that people will get to the polls and their partisanship will emerge.  Kansas is an extremely red state.  I'm thinking if people haven't made up their minds, they will get to the polls and pull the lever for their party, therefore helping Roberts take the victory.

You can find all the data I have been watching on the Senate over here at Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Senate Forecast.

You can find all the data I have been watching on the Governorship races over here at RealClearPolitics.com.

One final note of polling that I must inform you on: the one thing that makes political polling so hard is that you do not know which way the polling is going to skew.  By that I mean, you do not know whether the people you poll are actually going to get out to vote.  Therefore, you do not know that these people represent the population that you are polling for, the voters this upcoming Tuesday.  Therefore, there will be a skew.  Unfortunately, pollsters won't know until the results come in whether the skew was in the Republicans' or Democrats' favor.

Therefore, the polls will be off.  The real question is whether the polls will be off enough to be wrong at predicting the winner of the election.

Here are some dark horses you should look for in case polling is off:

Alaska's gubernatorial race
Illinois's gubernatorial race
Massachusetts's gubernatorial race
Wisconsin's gubernatorial race
Colorado's senate race
Iowa's senate race
North Carolina's senate race
New Hampshire's senate race
North Carolina's senate race
Georgia's senate race
Kansas's senate race

These races have the potential for a candidate unlikely to win to win or a likely to win candidate to win by a significant margin.