5 Things We DO Know About Tuesday's Midterms

So what will happen on Tuesday?

Will Republicans sail across America on a wave of Tea Party passion and Obama fatigue?

Or will Democrats mount a final weekend counteroffensive, reminding voters that economic frustration is no reason to revive failed policies of the past?

The truth is, nobody knows. Not yet. Not until the polls close Tuesday night and the final results trickle in Wednesday morning.

And even then, the upshot of the 2010 midterms may still be up for grabs. In a nation as polarized as this one, more and more close elections are being settled in the courts.

Bush v. Gore wasn’t the end of sudden-death election overtime – only the beginning.

But some things we know already. Here are five of them:

1. Democrats will suffer losses. In midterm elections, the party in power almost always does. And this time the math is especially tough for Democrats. With lopsided majorities in the House and the Senate, and so many 2008 Obama-wave incumbents running again, they’re the party with the most to lose.

2. Democratic losses won’t be as severe as most pundits believe. Political analysts – both the broadcast and the print kind -- like a nice clear story line. The story line this year is the crumbling of the Obama coalition and how big a change it will bring. There is some truth to that. In tough times especially, the poetry of politics gives way to the prose of government. But the size of the coming tidal wave is almost certainly being exaggerated for the sake of clarity and drama. Political life as we know it will not end on Tuesday night.

3. Our politics will keep getting uglier. Negative ads are on television because negative ads work. Both sides have lots of money for hit-job commercials and opposition research. Expecting political consultants to play nicely is like asking John Boehner to wear sunscreen, like asking Nancy Pelosi to leave the house without makeup.

4. Whatever the spread on Tuesday, gridlock will win this year. Power will be divided more evenly in Washington, which sounds good but probably isn’t. Things get done when SOMEBODY’s in charge. If the House goes Republican and Senate stays Democratic – the most likely 2010 scenario – the only thing we know for certain is that no one will agree on anything. If you like the gridlock in Albany, New York, you’ll love Washington.

5. America isn’t New York. However strong this Republican wave may be, we’ll barely get our feet wet in the state where I reside. Republicans may pick up a couple of Congressional seats in the suburbs and upstate. But their New York political party is so weak – and Carl Paladino is just such a wacky candidate for governor – the national rules simply don’t apply here.

See you in two years.

Ellis Henican is a columnist for amNewYork and Newsday. He is a Fox News contributor.