The media narrative has long been triumphal for GOP prospects, especially in the Senate, and Republicans are already gloating. But even if the Republicans do indeed eventually capture the Senate, it seems quite likely that they will not have that result tonight, and I expect this will be a perplexing experience for them.
It is as likely as not that Georgia and Louisiana will have run-offs, I expect Alaska to still be counting votes when the sun rises tomorrow, and it is highly unlikely that Independent Greg Orman will have indicated with which party he means to caucus. Setting aside the recount and lawsuit scrum likely to follow in who knows how many other races, I suspect that Republicans expecting an electric charge of vindication will instead be rather disappointed.
This is especially likely if Governor's races give Democrats the good night and solid results I expect them to do. A Senate still up in the air and the capture by Democrats of Governor's mansions is not what the GOP is expecting to hear for their big day. If the narrative becomes one of State-level backlash against Republican overreach (in Florida, Maine, Michigan, Kansas, Pennsylvania, I am hoping Alaska, I am ferociously hoping Wisconsin) a lot of people who went to bed with ending Obamacare sugarplums dancing in their heads will wake up instead to prognostications over which long-stubborn states will be taking the ACA Medicaid expansion first.
Stories of raising the minimum wage across the country and pot legalization with more to come soon are also likely to be in the air and I am hoping forced-pregnancy zealots will lose their bogus "personhood" fight again. If so, it is hard to imagine there will be much comfort for the white-racist anti-science greed-head authoritarians of "Real Murca."
Although the conventional wisdom insists that Nunn and Landrieu would lose run-offs, a lot can happen between now and then, in an election with high stakes on which the whole nation is focused. A couple of things very likely to happen before those runoff elections, by the way, would be the long-deferred executive action on immigration, and another would be a controversial decision in Ferguson, yielding inevitable racist ugliness for the holidays, with what mobilizing force for voters of color indispensable to Democratic GOTV we simply cannot know in advance.
While it is true that the Republicans might indeed eventually still take the Senate -- and I strongly disagree with those who declare this is a result that will not matter -- I still anticipate a squeaker with a Biden tie-breaker keeping control for the Democrats, with a high-profile Orman announcement in the new year that he will vote with the Democrats after the offer of some sweetheart deal. Of course, the loss of any one of a handful of razor-thin margin races could nudge the GOP's way, changing Orman's calculus, and giving the GOP a nice perch from which to allow Ted Cruz to try to shut down the government, impeach the President, tear healthcare benefits from Americans one vetoed provision at a time, and who knows what other catastrophic consequences to the prospects of the GOP as a viable party in 2016 and beyond.
The good news about a 50-50 split now, beyond the obvious, is that it would put a 60 seat Democratic supermajority comfortably in prospect for the much better electoral landscape and much better electorate of a Presidential year that will likely put another Clinton in the White House.