September 18, 2018


Republicans Are Favorites In The Senate, But Democrats Have Two Paths To An Upset (Nate Silver, 9/18/18, 538)

Many of the individual race forecasts in the FiveThirtyEight Senate model, which launched on Wednesday, look pretty optimistic for Democrats. The model shows Sen. Joe Manchin in a strong position to retain his seat in West Virginia, for instance. It has Democrats as ever-so-slight favorites to win the GOP-held Senate seats in Nevada and Arizona. It thinks Democratic incumbents like Missouri's Claire McCaskill and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp could close well down the stretch. It even gives Democrat Beto O'Rourke a credible shot in Texas -- although it has Sen. Ted Cruz as the favorite in the race. [...]

Just how uphill a task is that for Democrats? We currently forecast Democrats to win the popular vote for the U.S. House by 8 to 9 percentage points (similar to their advantage on the generic congressional ballot) -- a margin that by almost any definition would qualify as a "wave election." As a point of comparison, Republicans won the House popular vote by 7 percentage points in 1994 and in 2010, and Democrats won it by 8 points in 2006, all of which are usually considered wave years. But our model thinks that even an 8- or 9-point advantage would probably not be enough for Democrats to win the Senate. Instead, they would need around an 11-point advantage in the House popular vote before becoming favorites to claim the Senate, our model estimates.

But just as Republicans are far from doomed in the House, they are far from safe in the Senate. Democrats need to gain only a net of two seats to take control of the Senate, and they have five plausible opportunities: Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas and (most debatably) the Mississippi special election, which involves a nonpartisan blanket primary on Nov. 6 with a potential runoff three weeks later. Meanwhile, Republicans have three very good opportunities to pick off Democratic incumbents -- those are McCaskill in Missouri, Heitkamp in North Dakota and (surprisingly) Bill Nelson in Florida -- and there are several other states where they're still in the running, such as Indiana. But no one of those races is a sure thing for Republicans. In fact, the Classic and Deluxe versions of our model have Republicans as slight underdogs in all of the Democratic-held seats, although the polling-driven Lite version of the forecast has them favored in North Dakota and Florida.

In essence, there are two ways by which Democrats might win the Senate: a macro path and a micro path.

An awful lot of Republicans sold their consciences to Donald in exchange for a Court seat or two.  What happens to turnout if this nomination heads South?

Posted by at September 18, 2018 8:21 AM