1. Which presidential candidate will win Erie County?
The state’s biggest upstate county has not voted Republican in a presidential election since siding with Richard Nixon in 1972, but much of Erie County’s political establishment acknowledges that Donald Trump poses a real threat of prevailing in this heavily Democratic area.
2. Will Chuck Schumer become majority leader of the U.S. Senate?
The current lineup in the U.S. Senate is 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. Many observers see the possibility that Democrats could regain control of the upper house with a net gain of four seats if Hillary Clinton wins (the vice president would break ties) and five seats if Republican Donald Trump is elected president. If the Democrats take over and if Schumer wins his re-election, the New Yorker is set to succeed Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as majority leader of the Senate.
3. Who will control the New York State Senate?
There are at least three possible answers: Republicans, Democrats, or some combination. Republicans currently control Albany’s upper house in conjunction with a rogue group of five Democrats called the Independent Democratic Caucus, led by Sen. Jeff Klein of the Bronx. Post-election scenarios include: The caucus helps the Republicans maintain Senate control, even if the GOP emerges without a numerical majority; Klein reunites with the Democrats to force an all-Democratic Legislature; Klein and Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins becoming co-leaders of the Senate; Klein might want the top Senate job for himself.
4. Who will win the 60th Senate District seat?
The contest between Democrat Amber A. Small and Republican Christopher L. Jacobs not only ranks as the area’s hottest local legislative contest, it could also prove crucial in determining the next majority in the Senate. Jacobs has won two countywide elections for clerk in overwhelmingly Democratic Erie County.
But Small has the voter registration advantage of 35,000 more Democrats than Republicans.
Most observers view Jacobs as the favorite, but nobody is counting on anything in this strangest of political years.
5. Who will be the next Erie County district attorney?
Democrats emerged from a bitter primary with John J. Flynn Jr., the Tonawanda town attorney and former Tonawanda town justice, as their candidate. Republicans, meanwhile, settled on registered Conservative Joseph V. Treanor III.
Both have had long careers as military lawyers; Treanor in the Air Force and Flynn in the Navy. Republicans feel they harbor a rare shot at the office, despite Erie County’s overwhelming Democratic enrollment advantage, because Trump is also thought to be doing well in Erie County, and the GOP is hoping that Democrats and unaffiliated who vote for Trump will stay on the line for Treanor.
6. Will Tom Reed keep his seat in Congress?
Tom Reed, the Corning Republican, has faced another stiff challenge this year, this time from John Plumb, a former Navy officer and Randolph native, for the 23rd District, which sprawls from Chautauqua to Chemung counties and extends north through the Finger Lakes and into Rochester’s suburbs.
But while lots of money and effort have been spent, the experts continue to predict that Reed – the former mayor of Corning – will return to Washington for a fourth term.
7. How many voters in Erie County will choose to go with third party?
Will a record percentage of Erie County voters cast their ballot for a third party candidate?
The polls and history say Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein on the Green line will come nowhere near the more competitive efforts of the past.