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Election Day November 2009: five things to watch

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In the midterm elections a year from now, the “inclination is to get a little distance from the president, a little insurance, to move against the grain,” Mr. Ornstein says. “That gets amplified if you have a mid-midterm that looks bad. It will not be as big a problem if there’s a split.”

3. The margin in California’s 10th congressional district

Everyone’s watching New York’s 23rd District, where the Republican was essentially run out of the race for not being conservative enough. Meanwhile, California-10, another open seat being filled in a special election Tuesday, has proceeded under the radar, as the Democrat was expected to win handily. But there are now signs that Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D) may win by only a few percentage points.

If that happens, watch the national GOP kick itself for not putting more money into that race – and the Democrats worry that apparently safe seats in 2010 aren’t so safe.

4. How independent candidate Chris Daggett fares in New Jersey

Much has been made of the third-party candidate – Conservative Doug Hoffman – in NY-23. He's now effectively the Republican in the race, after the actual Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, dropped out this past Saturday. But the New Jersey race also features an independent candidate, onetime moderate Republican Daggett, who could well swing the outcome of the race – probably toward Governor Corzine.

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