Skip to comments.Numbers Don't Lie: It's a Tough Year for Democrats
Posted on 03/25/2014 7:33:50 PM PDT by Din Maker
There has been a growing sense in recent weeks that the odds of Republicans picking up a Senate majority in November are not only growing, may well have tipped over to better than 50-50.
The numbers, geography, and timing for Senate Democrats have been challenging from the beginning of this election cycle. They have greater exposure, defending 21 seats compared with only 15 for the GOP. Even worse, the exposure comes in tough places for Democrats, who have four seats up in states that Mitt Romney carried by 15 percentage points or more, two in states that he won by 14 points, and another in a state Romney took by 2 points.
The timing is particularly bad in that the partys exposure comes during a midterm election, when the electorate is usually older, whiter, and more conservative than during presidential election years, when turnout is more diverse. Finally, the political environment for Democrats is bad; the party currently has a president with a national job-approval numbers averaging in the low forties, and considerably worse in at least half the Senate battleground states. Plus, the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislative accomplishment, is distinctly unpopular.
All in all, its not a good situation for Democrats.
Republicans have helped themselves with a strong recruiting year. The GOP expanded the playing field in recent weeks with former Sen. Scott Browns decision to challenge incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire. The party has also traded up candidates in Colorado, replacing problematic 2010 Senate nominee Ken Buck for Rep. Cory Gardner.
If you had to bet today on the outcome, the odds would strongly favor Republicans getting halfway to their goal of a net gain of six seats in Democratic open seats: GOP candidates are favorites in South Dakota, West Virginia, and, to a slightly lesser extent, Montana. Four Democratic incumbents are embroiled in very tough races: Mark Begich in Alaska, Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, and Kay Hagan in North Carolina. All are running roughly even, slightly ahead, or even behind their GOP rivals. The races, in our view, are absolutely in the Toss-Up column.
Conventional wisdom has labeled Pryor as the walking dead, even though multiple private Democratic polls (by different pollsters) have never showed him down as much as a single point. The one high-quality public poll where all the details are availableconducted by the Democratic polling firm of Hickman Analytics for an energy-industry grouphad Pryor ahead of Rep. Tom Cotton by 3 points among all likely voters, and 2 points behind among definite voters; both are margin-of-error variances. This is an example how the perception of a race often can be driven by sketchy polling.
After those four Democratic Senate incumbents (in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina), we still have an open seat in Michigan, where two little-known candidates are battling in a very close race. Yes, the Iowa open seat is worth watching, specifically because the odds of the convoluted GOP nominating process picking an exotic and potentially problematic candidate for the general election are good. Democrats dispute our Toss-Up designation of the race in Michigan, but current polling suggests that is indeed where things stand. In the two new races, Colorado and New Hampshire, one or both could end up in the Toss-Up category, though not enough numbers have been released to justify that in the former, and numbers in the latter currently show Shaheen with a lead well beyond the margin.
Then there is the matter of the two vulnerable GOP seats. The conventional wisdom in Kentucky continues to discount the magnitude of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnells peril. His poor favorability ratings in the state should disabuse anyone of that notion, but apparently they havent. The perception of his tenacity is given greater credence than that the data indicate.
My good friend and competitor Stu Rothenberg puts the broad range of potential outcomes at four to eight seats gained by the GOP, numbers that make sense to me. Narrowing it down a bit to a five-to-seven-seat gain, while riskier, is probably an equally logical conclusion. Nate Silvers terrific website FiveThirtyEight puts the broad range of GOP victory from plus one for Republicans to plus 11, with a net gain of six seats the most likely. While I can quibble with some of the odds that Nate puts on individual races, just as Stu and I disagree here and there, we are all in the same ballpark. The disagreements with FiveThirtyEight are in some cases the difference between looking at things purely quantitatively, as Nate does, or a bit more subjectively as Rothenberg and I do. Larry Sabatos Crystal Ball is a little less explicit in its weighting of qualitative versus quantitative analysis, but overall looks to be in about the same ballpark as well.
Some people ask if there is room for a Charlie, Stu, or Larry in a world with Nates quantitative approach. It is a legitimate question, and I confess to being a big fan of Silvers, even if we sometimes disagree on the details. But, as the terrific book and movie Moneyball suggests, while there is not a Major League Baseball team that does not employ statisticians using sabermetrics, neither is there one that has fired all of its scouts. Smart teams employ both.
hey, I hope so!!!
I don’t really care if the Repubs win the Senate. All I care about is that conservative win the Repubs!
I predict AR, WV, MT, NC and maybe AK flipping to the GOP. The Repubs will probably eke out a victory in GA to hold Chambliss’ seat, but McConnell’s seat is in deep trouble of going blue. When it all shakes out, the GOP probably will gain a net four seats.
At this point there is no distinction between Republican and Democrat except for how they brand (present) themselves on their promotional/campaign material.
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SD would be an easy pickup for the GOP, but the addition of former Sen. Larry Pressler as a (democrat-funded) indie who will peel off votes from the R, the dem will probably pull out the plurality.
There's a Guam joke in there somewhere.....
“There has been a growing sense in recent weeks that the odds of Republicans picking up a Senate majority in November are not only growing, may well have tipped over to better than 50-50.”
I’m not seeing a clear route to a 6-seat gain for the GOP.
Charlie is always cautious at this point in the election cycle. He is not inclined to jump on the conventional wisdom band wagon, especially at this point when he doesn’t have a good set of numbers. But, I can tell that he is sniffing a big GOP win and I expect that his predictions will become more and more slanted to the GOP as time goes on.
I just want 6-8 more Ted Cruz or Mike Lee’s.
We ALL thought Barak Obama COULDN’T POSSIBLY WIN in 2012!
Let’s not count our chickens, I for one believe our elections are a farce and
are repeatedly stolen from us!!!! However we will see!!!!
A ‘tough year” will be when many of them, both House and Senate rats, are charged with treason and sent to GITMO for the duration.
Just a quick reminder, however, that the GOP has never defeated more than two Senate incumbents in a single election cycle since 1980. Not even in 1994 or 2010.
look on the bright side.
there is only bad news ahead for Obamacare.
“GOP gaining [Democrat] votes is NOT intrinsically a good thing”??? You mean.... Reagan democrats were a bad thing?
Not to worry, the GOPe has seven months to screw this up and once again snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.
Take a look at Colorado Governor and Senate races. .
Governor; Tom Tancredo could probably send Hickenlooper back to the bar, but he is just too constitutional and really kinda icky so, they brought in Bob Beauprez. A good solid member of the GOPe.
Senate; Ken Buck was probably going to clean Udall's clock, but the powers that be decided Cory Gardner was more their kind of a guy. So............................
Now that they have pissed off most of the Independents and about half of the few Republicans left, I suspect,
Hickenlooper and Udall coast in again.
No; Reagan had something substantially different than the Democrats were offering; as it is, the Republicans are not: just look at all the opposition they aren't giving on (1) government corruption, including but not limited to (a) Fast and Furious [State Sponsored Terrorism; lit. Treason]; (b) Benghazi [criminal dereliction of duty]; (c) Domestic NSA espionage [violating the 4th, 6th, and possibly 5th Amendments]; (d) the IRS political targeting; (e) the Department of Justice's selective enforcement of laws, and encouraging other law enforcement agencies to do the same [sedition], (2) government spending, (3) government overreach, (4) repeal of bad law [e.g. The Affordable Care Act].
IOW, I'm concerned that the Republican party is mere talk and no action whatsoever. (This is supported by the fact that Ted Cruz is such an anomaly.)
I said this the last two times but this could be the year.
Pryor and Walsh are “the 2”.
We GOTTA get at LEAST one of those others, right?
>>It’s a Tough Year for Democrats<<
Perhaps it is, but I’m sure they will recover very soon.
Looking at what kind of voting public we have combined with the inherent timidity of the GOP and aggressiveness of the RATS I see no reason that they will not triumph in the end.
Besides, the MSM will make sure of that.