Appearing jointly at the National Press Club today, the Democratic and Republican parties' two Senate campaign chiefs, Texas Sen. John Cornyn of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, faced a final question from the moderator before their time on stage was done: predict one election surprise for November 2.
It's already been a year full of election surprises, what with Tea Party candidates taking down established Republicans in primaries across the country. But what do the men in charge of Senate campaigns think will shock us in November?
Cornyn said: "I think John Raese's gonna be the next United States senator from West Virginia."
Raese, the CEO of a limestone and coal company who ran for Senate against Democrat Jay Rockefeller in 1984, is running against Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin to replace the late, legendary Sen. Robert Byrd (D), who died in June at the age of 92, in the midst of his 10th term in the Senate. Manchin had been considered a strong favorite to succeed Byrd, but two polls in September, one by Rasmussen and another by Public Policy Polling, have showed Raese leading by two and three percentage points, respectively.
Following Cornyn's prediction, Menendez stepped to the podium. "I simply think that Democrats are gonna have a lot more votes in the Senate than people think," Menendez said.
Democrats presently control 59 votes in the Senate. The Cook Political Report projects between seven and nine gains for Republicans, giving Democrats an advantage of up to three Senate seats. Under that prediction, the Senate could split 50/50. If independent Charlie Crist wins in Florida, his decision to caucus with Republicans or Democrats could, conceivably, make the difference.
Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.