Skip to comments.Political Scientists Say Democratic Control [of House] a "Near Certainty"
Posted on 10/25/2006 11:59:44 AM PDT by Torie
In a new research paper, three political scientists attempt to use the results of generic congressional polls to predict the outcome of the midterm elections.
"Via computer simulation based on statistical analysis of historical data, we show how generic vote polls can be used to forecast the election outcome. We convert the results of generic vote polls into a projection of the actual national vote for Congress and ultimately into the partisan division of seats in the House of Representatives. Our model allows both a point forecast-our expectation of the seat division between Republicans and Democrats-and an estimate of the probability of partisan control. Based on current generic ballot polls, we forecast an expected Democratic gain of 32 seats with Democratic control (a gain of 18 seats or more) a near certainty."
A glimpse into the mind of a liberal.
I don't have a clue either as to what that means. Just another average voter I guess. In any event, is it not possible that even if it occurs, it could still be illegal to bring John Walsh redux to full term? Of course, federal law bans human cloning in any event does it not, and would preempt? Just asking.
If you have a link to the text, I will read the language I admit I don't understand, just because. :)
Gee, why bother voting, then? /sarc
Political Science isn't one.
Hi there! I finally opined on it all, as to to the merits, about a 100 posts later. I printed out the study, and read it at lunch, between chews on some rather good BBQ, at the Memphis Cafe.
It's too late for me to engage in any serious reading. The graphic I posted to you is more of a placemark for tomorrow. Mere mention of BBQ has made me hungry. :)
First, I want to comment with regard to the raging debate about whether or not an election wave is imminent. As even the dimmest political junkie must realize, opinions range from Bob Novak, who not only rejects the notion for 2006 but even insists that "the famous Gingrich election of 1994 was not a wave," to Stuart Rothenberg, who holds that "Republicans probably are at risk to lose as few as 45 seats and as many as 60 seats" (though his official prediction is nowhere near that extreme, yet). Whatever the right or wrong of that debate, this question of waves has created a real dilemma for me, which is only magnified by the fact that I not only rate the House seats but rank them as well. In my view, the relative susceptibility of given districts to a 'normal' localized election differs from the relative susceptibility to a nationalized 'wave' election.
To cut the long story short, I've decided to resolve this dilemma but making dual predictions. On my latest list I have inserted arrows at two levels: The first, as before, is my prediction based on a race-by-race 'normal' election analysis. The second is my prediction with a 'wave factor' included, based on the scale of wave that I think most plausible. As for ratings, a wave simply jacks up each category, so that the Toss Ups become Lean Dem and the Lean GOPs become Toss Up, etc. So, with no further ado, here goes!
01 (TX-22) DeLay*
02 (AZ-08) Kolbe*
03 (PA-10) Sherwood
04 (IN-08) Hostettler
05 (NY-24) Boehlert*
06 (CO-07) Beauprez*
07 (PA-07) Weldon
08 (OH-15) Pryce
09 (IA-01) Nussle*
10 (PA-06) Gerlach
11 (IN-02) Chocola
12 (FL-16) Foley*
13 (NM-01) Wilson
14 (NC-11) Taylor
15 (OH-18) Ney*
16 (CT-04) Shays
17 (IN-09) Sodrel
18 (WI-08) Green*
19 (CT-02) Simmons
20 (IL-06) Hyde* <<
21 (NY-26) Reynolds
22 (OH-01) Chabot
23 (MN-06) Kennedy*
24 (VA-02) Drake
25 (WA-08) Reichert
26 (NY-29) Kuhl
27 (PA-08) Fitzpatrick
28 (FL-13) Harris*
29 (KY-04) Davis
30 (NY-20) Sweeney
31 (CT-05) Johnson
32 (FL-22) Shaw
33 (AZ-05) Hayworth
34 (NY-25) Walsh
35 (KY-03) Northup
36 (MN-01) Gutknecht
37 (ID-01) Otter*
38 (NV-03) Porter
39 (AZ-01) Renzi
40 (NH-02) Bass
41 (NV-02) Gibbons*
42 (WY-AL) Cubin <<
43 (OH-12) Tiberi
44 (PA-04) Hart
45 (NY-19) Kelly
46 (CA-11) Pombo
47 (CO-04) Musgrave
48 (OH-02) Schmidt
49 (IA-02) Leach
50 (NY-03) King
51 (VA-10) Wolf
52 (NC-08) Hayes
53 (CO-05) Hefley*
54 (NJ-07) Ferguson
55 (IL-10) Kirk
56 (TX-23) Bonilla
57 (NE-01) Fortenberry
58 (IN-03) Souder
59 (CA-04) Doolittle
60 (FL-08) Keller
61 (CA-50) Bilbray
62 (NE-03) Osborne*
63 (KY-02) Lewis
64 (WA-05) McMorris
65 (KS-02) Ryun
66 (MN-02) Kline
67 (MI-08) Rogers
68 (OH-14) LaTourette
69 (IL-11) Weller
70 (FL-09) Bilirakis*
I'll save my latest ratings for Dem-held seats for a subsequent post. It's worth noting, BTW, that my personal confidence level has gone up sharply since my last House revision. That doesn't mean I'm any more right, of course, it just means that I'm more sure that I'm on the right track than I thought I was before.. And, yes, I realize that my ratings aren't exactly cause for celebration, but c'est la vie!
PS. Note that the TX-23 contest is now predicted to be decided in a runoff between Henry Bonilla (R) and Lukin Gilliland (D).
01 (GA-08) Marshall
02 (IL-08) Bean
03 (WV-01) Mollohan
04 (VT-AL) Sanders(I)*
05 (GA-12) Barrow
06 (IA-03) Boswell
07 (LA-03) Melancon
08 (OR-05) Hooley
09 (IL-17) Evans*
10 (IN-07) Carson
11 (CO-03) Salazar
12 (SC-05) Spratt
13 (TX-17) Edwards
14 (NC-13) Miller
15 (LA-02) Jefferson
16 (KS-02) Moore
If anyone really wants me to I could also post my 14 seat Watch List of GOP-held seats. They are all 'officially' rated Safe and I'm disinclined to post them together with the seats I'm rating as competitive. (I also have a 4 seat Watch List of Dem-held districts, fwiw).
Thanks for the ping to your House race predictions. We need a great GOTV effort to maintain control of the House. There are just too many "bad" contests where there are odd-ball circumstances, and none of them are in Dem seats.
I think we will win GA-08, and GA-12 is a tossup in my analysis. Those two seats would help, and we need Ohio seats to be less of a disaster than they are currently appearing to be.
And I just don't see how the Delay seat could be number 1 most vulnerable, I see how it is in play but #1? Here is a seat where I think we have a chance to win because the problems are not of a political nature, but because of the write-in mechanics.
Thanks for all the work that goes into your predictions.
Do you think there is a majority of voters in TX-22 that know that the Republican candidate is Sekula-Gibbs and have decided to support her and write in her name?
I don't know how many people are going to vote, and her name is found on the ballot in a special election. I am NOT saying that she will win, I am questioning how she could be #1 most likely to lose.
This is the same district that elected Delay, and I would expect many of them do not want to be represented by a Democrat.
What caused you to put NY-24 so high?
I moved TX-22 back into first place because I think the write-in procedures are too burdensome. The eSlate write-in method is quite clumsy and then there's the problem of straight party voting - a straight GOP vote will not register anything for TX-22. The voter will have to separately write in Sekula-Gibbs. Finally, I think that the appearance of Sekula-Gibbs in the special election (which will precede the general election) will cause some number to be misled, thinking that if they voted for her there they need not write it in too.
Moreover, as of October 18 Lampson had $1,113,813 cash on hand while Sekula-Gibbs had $163,253 cash on hand, and the RNCC has not been making up the difference. There is also a second active GOP campaign (by Don Richardson) that is also being played up in DCCC ads and there's the Libertarian on the ballot who's polling around 10%.
First of all NY-24 is an open seat and it's not nearly as GOP as many seem to represent it: GWB got 52.6% of the vote in 2004 and 48.2% of the vote in 2000. Second, the only independent poll has Arcuri (D) leading Meier (R) by 52% to 43%. Third, I think the GOP vote will be depressed in NY due to the top-ballot collapse; there is no doubt Spitzer and Clinton will heavily carry NY-24. Fourth, Arcuri has more cash on hand than Meier ($313,233 v $248,162) has spent more in October ($548,864 v $333,896) and has spent more in total ($1,323,710 v $1,025,987). Fifth, Meier has been hit hard for voting to raise taxes in Albany, never good for a Republican, and the silly porn-line ad from the NRCC seems to have backfired bigtime. Last but not least, I've watched all the campaign ads from both campaigns and my gut feeling is that Arcuri will win easily.
PS. And it's worth noting that I rate all the NY districts higher than they are generally rated by others, and that I have done so all cycle long, and that it's the rest of the political junkie sphere that's been playing catch up to me. :)
I think that Ohio District 13 (Senate nominee Sherrod Brown) is still in play. Dem nominee Betty Sutton feels the need to run negative ads against her opponent, which ought to tell you something. And the Republicans have a great candidate, although even he has a tough time in this solidly Democratic district.
Make that NRCC. I hardly ever seem to get that acronym right!
Marking for the eventual gloat.
Did they say anything about tomorrow's weather?
OH good. This must mean that Republicans will win!
Did you look at the ads on the respective campaign sites? I would like to see them.
I don't think that there is any chance that OH-13 (or OH-06) will vote GOP when the Republican candidates for governor and senator are headed for a double-digit defeat statewide. More significantly perhaps, the NRCC is making no effort in OH-13 and Sutton has outspent Foltin by better than 2 to 1. The only independent poll I know of back in mid July had Sutton leading Foltin by 48% to 30% and there's little reason to think the gap has narrowed, especially when the Ohio GOP seems to be in worse shape now than it seemed then.
Yep, that's correct. I recently watched all the ads I could find for all the New York seats as I've been trying to get a better handle on where those contests stand. Here are the Arcuri ads and here are the Meier ads.
This will be fun to watch the surprise on their childish faces
Thanks for the explanation.
I'll ask a few questions on a few of the races, out of curiosity. Once again, it's really an excellent job.
I do think that, out of all the states w/competitive races, NY is the one that raises the most questions in my mind, because of the up-ballot GOP massacre. Yet, at the same time, the polling is just so questionable. It's kind of obvious that C-D's NY-19 and NY-20 polls were dead wrong (based on later internals and Indy polls), which leaves me unsure of the rest of their polls in the state. Yet, I really don't know what to make of NY-26 either and SUSA's polls of the race.
Anyway, enough of my own commentary. Now for the questions:
10. PA-06: What do you make of the fact that Murphy's own internal only puts her 3 in front of Gerlach? Personally, I have the race in toss-up towards the top end.
18. WI-08: This is a race I don't get, though it's obviously close. What's your thinking here?
23. MN-06: How do you think the SUSA poll of a few days ago (showing Bachmann up 6) fits in with the overall contest? I've moved the race down a bit on my own list.
27. PA-08: The NRCC doesn't seem to have this on their list for spending and yet we have a Keystone Poll out today showing Fitz up 9. Your thoughts?
28. FL-13: I'm guessing this one's in toss-up because of the money Buchanan's spending. I personally think he's behind, outside of MOE, and place this one much higher on my list. Your thoughts?
On 38 and 41, I'm curious which one you think is more competitive? I know that Novak has placed NV-03 above NV-02 and yet I'm only seen the national campaigns spending money on NV-02.
40: NH-02: Opinions vary widely on this one, including my own, especially after the questionable uni poll showed Bass down 8. What's your thought?
56: TX-23: The race I always ask about. I've noted that Gilliland got Bolanos endorsement and is basically the only candidate running advertising that I've heard about. Are there any polls on the race (I haven't seen any), or are you just assuming that the multitude of candidates plus one actually advertising and the anti-straight party vote structure, along with the lean of the CD is going to push this one into a runoff?
Both guys' ads seem pretty good, although I have not reviewed them all.
Here is the quote: "Nevada-3: Rep. Jon Porter (R) is now under water in his suburban Las Vegas district, caught in a tough race against Sen. Harry Reid's (D) press secretary Tessa Hafen (D). There is much fear that Mormon Republicans will pull the lever for Hafen, their co-religionist."
It's those darn Mormans again. :)
OK, here goes!
PA-06: The highest that Gerlach has polled all cycle long was 47% and that was in his own internal POS poll. In indy polls Gerlach has polled at 46%, 41%, 44%, and 45%; Murphy has polled at 52%, 43%, 41%, and 50%. We all know that Gerlach barely eked out wins in both 2002 and 2004, and we all know that Murphy got 49% in 2004. It is implausible to me that Murphy will do worse in 2006 than in 2004, and one thought that I've had lately is that everyone seems to be ignoring the incumbent-under-50% rule. To top it off, as of Oct 18 Murphy had $729,717 CoH versus $555,960 CoH for Gerlach, and Murphy has outspent Gerlach by $2,827,042 versus $2,684,384.
WI-08: This one is fairly difficult for me to grasp neatly as well, but Kagen has outspent Gard by $2,140,887 to $2,028,258 and more importantly is a self-funder. Since the 10/18 reports Kagen has given his campaign a further $770,000. That's what tips the scale to Kagen in my ratings. My sense is that the race is essentially tied (Kagen actually has a slight lead within the MoE in the few polls) and so the money advantage combined with a floundering GOP campaign for governor and the national mood tips it to the Dems.
MN-06: The October polling average is 45.4% Bachmann to 45.6% Wetterling. I am rating the seat accordingly with a tip to Bachmann due to the partisan lean of the district. Wetterling continues to have a cash advantage ($783,552 v $563,653 as of 10/18) so that's what also keeps things close and in Toss Up in my estimation. I did however seriously consider rating MN-06 below the quartet of freshmen below it and do not object to the idea myself. I also think the race may be firming toward Bachmann, so if there's more evidence of that I'm quite open to moving it so far down as slight Lean GOP (around current FL-22 range).
PA-08: I posted my ratings before I saw the latest Keystone Poll released late last night. I would likely have notched PA-08 down just a bit if I'd seen that first. However, I would note that the Keystone Poll tends to favor the GOP and that Fitzpatrick polls below 50% at 48%. The two are about even on CoH ($490,090 Fitzpatrick; $448,884 Murphy) and the district leans Dem. That latter is a big part of why I've moved Fitzpatrick up to Toss Up from Lean GOP: The Rendell machine should be in full force in the Philly suburbs and Santorum certainly isn't going to be much help either. The NRCC has not written out PA-08. These are their PA expenditures in the past week: PA-04, $140,607; PA-06, $703,893; PA-07, $840,112; PA-08, $782,450; PA-10, $177,331. If anyone's been written off it's Sherwood; and Fitzpatrick is clearly still thought to be in need of help.
I really have to run now! I won't be able to post on the remaining questions until sometime this evening, but I'll definitely get to them.
I'll explain my reaction further tonight, but I gotta go or I'll be late for a lecture!
I see nothing to really disagree with on your points.
I would remark that the reasons why I think the incumbent under 50% rule has been ignored more of late is because of the great amount of data that's come in over the past few years that shown that since the early 1990s, the trend has been towards undecideds breaking close to even between incumbent and challenger, as opposed to years prior to that period.
Oh, and about the Keystone Poll, it appears to be your standard uni poll. Strangely enough, its results have favored the Republican in comparison to other polls this year, but in 2004, its results skewed Democratic compared to other polls and the final result. The final result was Kerry +5. Just some food for thought. I just usually consider this to be your "crappy uni poll" bias.
Oh, among the news items, I thought you might like to know for your list that in FL-16, the Republicans will be allowed to put signs up at polling places saying "a vote for Negron means Foley". Only the Secretary of State is not allowed to. Apparently, Democrats are not appealing the decision either.
From there, I applied your ratings, overriding others where it occured (see Notable Differences below).
For reference, here's my scale. I'm using a progressive scale (from the Republican perspective) where each category is twice better than the prior, where "better" is defined as distance from Toss Up. The scale is as follows:
Toss Up = 50%
Tilt = 6.25% better than Toss Up
Lean = 12.5% better than Toss Up
Strong/Likely = 25% better than Toss Up
Safe = 50% better than Toss Up
The scale ranges from 0% (Safe Democrat) -> 50% (Toss Up) -> 100% (Safe Republican). I've been running 100,000 simulated elections.
Notable Differences (FWIW)
OH-15 -- You have it as Lean Democrat, Barone has it as Lean Republican.
PA-06 -- You have it as Lean Democrat, Barone has it as Lean Republican.
NC-11 -- You have it as Toss Up, Barone has it as Sure Democrat.
OH-18 -- You have it as Toss Up, Barone has it as Sure Democrat.
CT-02 -- You have it as Toss up, Barone has it as Sure Republican.
VA-10 -- Who's afraid of Virginia Wolf? sorry, I couldn't resist.
KS-2 -- BUG - you have it as both Likely Republican (Ryun) and Likely Democrat (Moore). Moore is KS-3.
Running 100,000 simulated elections with your predictions and my scale, the expected value of Republican seats is 208.5, a net loss of 23.5 seats. The probability of attaining 218 seats (majority) is 1.6%.
There are 12 Republican seats with less than 50% probability of retaining, plus another 14 seats that are Toss Up. No Democrat seats are Toss Up or leaning Republican. Does this make sense to you?
If you have other numbers that you want me to factor in, let me know.
That's very cool. Thanks for posting! Your QC figure of 187 safe D and 162 safe R seats is correct.
Dems take the House.
I dread the next two years.
The percentages below toss up appear too low to me, particularly past lean.
Can you elaborate? I'm not sure I follow what you mean.
It's a bit fuzzy, to be sure. Pundits are using words like Tilt, Lean, Likely/Strong, Safe, but what does that really mean?
I decided against a linear scale, such as 50-60-70-80-90-100 because I didn't want to get into "lean and a half" type distinctions. I wanted something that clearly differentiated the categories. That's why I came up with the doubling scale, where each category is twice better than the prior.
I also played with a scale along the same lines, but had Tilt at 5% (giving a 5-10-20-40 range), which left nothing truly safe -- that is Safe Democrat was 10% and Safe Republican was 90%. This implied that one in every 10 elections could result in a loss (last-minute gaffe)?
Do you have some ideas on how to quantify the verbal scale that people are using?
I don't really, have good definitions for the terms, but to me safe means a seat isn't in play, and absent a huge wave, the challenger has less than a 5% chance to win. Likely is like an 85% chance. In other words, the formula is more exponential than yours seems to be.
Safe Democrat = 0% (50% from Toss Up)
Strong Democrat = 25% (25% from Toss Up)
Lean Democrat = 37.5% (12.5% from Toss Up)
Tilt Democrat = 43.75% (6.25% from Toss Up)
Toss Up = 50%
Tilt Republican = 56.25 (6.25% from Toss Up)
Lean Republican = 62.5% (12.5% from Toss Up)
Strong Republican = 75% (25% from Toss Up)
Safe Republican = 100% (50% from Toss Up)
How does this look?
Better. I should have divined it without your help, but I have my senior moments, and I hate when that happens (the wraith of the conservator becomes ever nearer at hand). I would put strong at 85%, but other than that, I agree that your percentages resonant in my pea brain. Great job on your part. Kudos, for what it is worth from this end!
FL-13: This one's a bit of a dilemma for me. It's one of my lower confidence ratings (OH-02 also pops to mind in that regard). The buzz has definitely grown on this one but I'm somewhat perplexed as to why. The only independent poll that I'm aware of was the Constituent Dynamics that put Jennings at a slight 47% to 44% lead. But quite significantly, the C-D poll was conducted Oct 8-10, at the peak of the Foley clamor in the neighboring FL-16 district. Otherwise, there are a trio of polls showing a daunting lead by Jennings, but they are all internal polls and I must all but disregard them.
Then, not only was this a 55.8% GWB district in '04, but there's the major financial advantage for the self-funding Buchanan, as you noted. That's hardly chump change: Buchanan gave his campaign $975,000 today 10/27 on top of $800,000 on 10/20; he'd already spent a somewhat astounding $5,926,098 as of 10/18. Meanwhile, Jennings had just $176,901 CoH as of 10/18, so she'll be outspent on the order of about 7 to 1 in the closing two weeks.
In short, it's unclear to me why you'd think Buchanan is behind and probably outside the MoE. Is there something important I've missed? It does happen! :)
NV-03 & NV-02: The DCCC isn't playing in NV-03 but the NRCC has spent $395,575 there in the past week. The NRCC spent $245,553 in NV-02 in the same timeframe (10/20-10/27). BTW, I'll follow up with a post linking to where you can quickly look up such figures. Anyhow, there's also the obvious difference in partisan lean: NV-02 was 57.2% Bush in '04 while NV-03 was 49.9% Bush in '04. Another big factor in my ratings was that Hafen led Porter in the 9/30 CoH figure which I used for that round of ratings. As of 10/18 Porter led $225,171 versus $181,573 for Hafen, but it's noteworthy that between 9/30 and 10/18 Hafen nonetheless outspent Porter by $407,339 to $60,958, so the $44,000 10/18 CoH differential will hardly make up the difference. Porter has also been hit by allegations of ethical lapses (Google him) and by ads claiming that he voted to cut military/veterans benefits.
Meanwhile, Heller leads Derby by $251,991 CoH versus $123,192 CoH as of 10/18 reports. In October Heller outspent Derby by $255,058 versus $219,391 and has outspent her in total by $1,237,515 versus $1,123,631. A late September Mason-Dixon poll had Heller leading 45%-42% while Research 2000 had Heller leading 45%-37%. Getting outspent in a district where she's at a 10% partisan disadvantage is not the way for Derby to overcome Heller's polling lead, even if that lead was weak. In a political environment where Dem crossover voting seems to have all but dissipated, I think the district partisanship outweighs the advantage of incumbency so that NV-02 is a bit firmer than NV-03. That being said, I am still rating both with a decisive GOP lean.
NH-02: I can't think of any good reason why Bass would've suffered such a spectacular collapse unless there were a tsunami sweeping across the GOP nationwide and if that were the case we'd be seeing it in polling from all over, and we're not. So, my assumption is that the Becker Institute poll is whacked. To begin with, I would note that I've largely broken free from the polls in this revision to a more 'holistic' analysis of the various districts. Regardless of that, my assessment is that Bass probably had the hefty 20% or so lead that was registering as of late summer, with his support around 50% and Hodes about 30%, and the undecideds generally inclined to vote Dem. Since then, I think UNH probably revealed an genuine autumn tightening to a 10% margin, with Bass at 46% and Hodes at 36% in late Sept. Now I'd say it's probably inside of that but nowhere near the Becker figure. In short, I think Bass likely still has a firm edge and that it's somewhere around 5%-8%. So, I'm basically rejecting the Becker poll, rightly or wrongly.
TX-23: I am effectively assuming that a 51.5% or so GOP district is very unlikely to give Bonilla an outright majority in a 'jungle primary' this year, and that the $700,000 that Gilliland has spent on his campaign should easily get him into second place (and the presumptive runoff). As for polls, the only one I know of is the Aug 25 Dem poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner that had the combined Dem total at 47% and Bonilla at 44%. Gilliland was not included in that poll, and the mildly ridiculous Ciro Rodriguez led the Dem pack at 24%.
OK, I think I've covered everything you asked about. Sorry it took longer than I thought to get back to this!
With regard to the Keystone Poll, when I noticed that it clearly favored the GOP this year by comparison to other polls I went back to look at 2004 and also noticed that in that cycle it slightly favored Dems. I don't really know what to make of that, except to speculate that perhaps they overcompensated somehow in their methodology. Who knows? In general, I've not much worried about it and simply averaged in the Keystone Poll with all the rest when assessing the various contests, but with a relative dearth of polling in PA-08, and with the Keystone Poll at some variance to the latest CW on that one, I have to make an executive decision to minimize its influence on my rating. :)
With regard to FL-16 I've already been rating that one below 'consensus' and with the presumption that most voters who want to vote for Negron will know that a vote for Foley is a vote for Negron. The problem, as I've stated previously, is that I think FL-16 would be a Toss Up even if it were just a 'normal' open seat contest. Another way to look at it is that FL-16 was 1.8% less GOP than FL-13 in 2004, and 1.4% less GOP in 2000. If the open Harris seat can be a Toss Up then certainly an open Foley seat could've been so. But again, I have not leaped to the conclusion that FL-16 is a sure loss which is why I have it rated last in the Lean Dem seats.
With regard to the 50% rule, that's a controversy I'd just as soon avoid! I'll simply add that if there's any election where it should be applicable it is this year's prospective 'wave' election, so if there's any merit to it I think we'll get a clear sense of that once the election results are analyzed. That takes us back to the $1,000,000 question of whether this year is a 'normal' election or a 'wave' election. We'll certainly find out soon enough!
The problem with the Meier ads is that they revolve around what is 'wrong' and what needs to be 'fixed' so to speak. In short, if voters think that the country is on the wrong track, and Meier's ads appear to implicitly concede as much, then it's difficult to see why they'd vote for a Republican over a Democrat (if they're a 'swing' voter) or why they'd be inspired to turn out (if they're a 'weak' GOP voter). I also think the donut ad is silly. When candidates have to resort to sneaking donuts from the wife or to how their opponent would kick their dog if they had one (Harold Ford Jr) you generally know they have serious problems (and are trying to avoid directly addressing the issues at hand).
But, to be sure, my reaction to the ads is ultimately subjective. The idea though is to get a sense of the 'issue terrain' where the campaign is being fought and whether that inherently favors one candidate over the other, regardless of the quality of the ads. Since both Arcuri and Meier are focusing on 'change' - with the added undercurrent of countering negative ads on the part of Meier (i.e., "bad habits") - I think that favors Arcuri since he's more the 'agent of change' so far as that district, if for no other reason than that he's challenging the incumbent party.
I think you may have overanalyzed the ads. I don't see them as changing many votes myself. Sure a marginal seat in NY that is open = Dem victory this year, but one has to know more about the pull and reputation of the candidates on the ground, how they interact with votes, and what the local rags are saying, and whom they endorse, and whether they are Dem or GOP rags in general in the past. Absent that, we go with the polls, the partisan history, the wave, and the money tree. That is usually enough, except when it isn't.
Those links will give you the itemized expenditures listed by state/district from October 1 to October 27. Also included with each district is a sub-total of all spending by the committee for that time frame.
If you look at each link, you will see a string as follows:
the underlined part is the date range. So, if you want the last week instead of the full month of October you would simply change 1001 to 1020 and that will make your start date October 20th instead of October 1st, with the same end date of October 27th.
Hopefully I've explained that well enough! There's probably an easier way to get the data, but that's how I've been doing it.