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When It Comes to Politics, Charlie Cook Has the Prophecy Market Cornered

At this time of an election year, Charlie Cook, left, can bend the ear of politicos such as former House majority leader Dick Armey, right, and captains of industry  --  the auto industry, the beverage industry, the paper industry  --  all in one day.
At this time of an election year, Charlie Cook, left, can bend the ear of politicos such as former House majority leader Dick Armey, right, and captains of industry -- the auto industry, the beverage industry, the paper industry -- all in one day. (By James M. Thresher -- The Washington Post)

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By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The pharaoh had Joseph. The Greeks had the Oracle at Delphi. Washington has Charlie Cook.

Please tell us, Seer of Future Congresses, how many seats the Democrats will pick up in the House on Election Day.

"Twenty to 35," Cook answers.

And how about in the Senate, OProphet on the Potomac?

"At least four," the man with the crystal ball says. "Most likely five or six."

What fate does the seer see for Sen. George Allen (R-Va.)?

"He wins ugly, but he wins," Cook divines.

And, pray tell, how are the planets aligning for Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.)?

"Gone," he decrees.

The midterm elections are two weeks away, but the powerful cannot wait that long to learn of the outcome. And so they call in Cook, who, for a fee of $5,000 to $20,000, gives his audiences the (very) early returns.

Last week he spoke to pharmaceutical and insurance groups. On Monday, he flew to Las Vegas and back to talk to the American Beverage Association. Later this week it's American Express and a hedge fund in New York and the paper industry in Georgia. Yesterday found Cook at a breakfast with the DLA Piper law firm, lunch with automobile manufacturers and dinner in Boston with a corporate housing group.

All are looking for the same thing: next month's election returns. And Cook has them. "Senators Santorum in Pennsylvania and Mike DeWine in Ohio are pretty much done," he told the Piper audience at the Willard hotel. And the lifelines of Sens. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) aren't looking any longer. "I'd be surprised if any of those four can survive," Cook informed the crowd of lobbyists, diplomats and journalists.


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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