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Four Days to Go: How Big Will the GOP Wave Be?

Carly Fiorina
California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina is behind in the polls right now but could pull off a victory if the GOP has a strong showing on Election Day. AP

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

Democrats have one weekend left to mitigate their losses on Election Day, but with just four days left to campaign, Washington's political prognosticators are calling the House for the GOP but predicting Republicans will fall short of winning the Senate -- though there may be a few surprises there.

Nate Silver of the New York Times predicts Republicans will net 53 seats on Nov. 2 -- well above the 39 needed to win control. Similarly, the Cook Political Report predicts Democrats will suffer a net loss of between 48 and 60 seats. "The midterm maelstrom pulling House Democrats under shows no signs of abating, if anything it has intensified," the report says.

In the Senate, Cook expects to see seven to nine seats go to Republicans -- just short of the 10 needed for a takeover. The Rothenberg Political Report is predicting GOP gains of 55 to 65 in the House.

CBS News' analysis, meanwhile, shows Republicans netting 33 seats, with 25 more toss-up races in Democratic seats still up for grabs. If Republicans win in six of the 25 toss-ups, and they also net the 33 where we see them favored today, that would give the GOP the House.

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who publishes the UVA Center for Politics' "Crystal Ball" each election cycle, is predicting Republicans will net 55 seats in the House and eight seats in the Senate.

Sabato says the GOP should be able to hold all of its open Senate seats -- in Floriday, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio -- while picking up several more. The races in Colorado, Illinois, Nevada and Pennsylvania "are so tight that a strong breeze could change the result," he wrote.

The latest polls out of Nevada do not look good for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A new Mason-Dixon poll shows conservative Republican Sharron Angle beating Reid by four points, 49 percent to 45 percent. Other recent polls also gave Angle a four-point lead.

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The Tea Party-backed candidate will get a boost this weekend from an appearance by Sen. John McCain this weekened. The Nevada Democratic Party is taking Angle to task for associating with the Arizona Republican, who they say does not have Nevada's interests in mind. "McCain supports shipping dangerous nuclear waste to a dump in Nevada - but not through his home state of Arizona!" the party said in a statement. "He opposes UFC mixed martial arts, a popular sport that draws tourists from around the world to Nevada and provides substantial economic benefits."

In Pennsylvania, polls also consistently show the Democratic candidate just a few points behind. A Rasmussen poll from today puts Republican Pat Toomey ahead of Democratic candidate Joe Sestak, 50 percent to 46 percent.

Early voting in the state does not bode well for Democrats, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Pennsylvania secretary of state's office reports that Republicans have turned in 53,226 absentee ballots so far, while Democrats have only turned in 37,631.

President Obama is slated to appear in Philadelphia tomorrow to mobilize Democrats, and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend a rally on Monday night in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, the Senate race in Wisconsin looks increasingly secure for Republicans. Embattled Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold trails his Republican challenger Ron Johnson by nine points in a new Public Policy Polling survey. Other recent polls also put Johnson ahead.

The incumbent is making a new appeal to voters with an ad that takes a positive, relaxed tone. In a plaid shirt, Feingold says, "I work for you, so I've been an independent voice for Wisconsin and the No. 1 enemy of the Washington lobbyists."

While prospects look bleak for Democrats in Wisconsin, the party is taking a fresh look at Alaska. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is investing in Democratic Senate candidate Scott McAdams' campaign, now that some polls show him competitive. The DSCC clearly sees its opposition as Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is running as a write-in after being ousted in the Republican primary.

"Lisa Murkowski votes for bailouts and big deficits in Washington, D.C. so she can win favor with big wig Republican leaders in the Congress. She even voted to risk Social Security in the stock market and cut Medicare," DSCC spokesperson Eric Schultz said in a statement. "It's all about her, not Alaska."

Murkowski actually seems poised to win, even though running a successful write-in campaign is a rarity. "Joe Miller's constant gaffes and controversies have actually put Murkowski in a position to win," Sabato said.

If Republicans are having an especially good night, they may win California, where Republican Carly Fiorina has been running a competitive race against Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer.

The Democrat, however, has widened her lead, according to a new Field Poll that puts Boxer ahead, 49 percent to 41 percent.

The stakes in the race are evident by the large sums groups are spending. Groups with undisclosed donors have spent $5.61 million in the Senate race, according to the watchdog group the Sunlight Foundation, with $4.6 million coming from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in support of Fiorina.

The Republican candidate is back on the campaign trail after spending a night in the hospital to fight an infection related to surgery she underwent after suffering from breast cancer. On ABC's "Good Morning America" today, Fiorina decried Boxer's record as a "career politician," criticizing the Democrat for, among other things, voting against military appropriations at times.

Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.
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