Senate Forecast Update, May 19: Rays of hope for Democrats

by: Chris Bowers

Wed May 19, 2010 at 12:56

Senate Forecast update
  • May 19 update: Democratic loss of 6.93 seats
  • Change from April 14: Democrats up 0.29 seats
  • Projected 2010 Senate: Democrats 52-48 (assuming no caucus switches)

The wave of May primaries has improved the Senate picture for Democrats.  In the case of all six major primary campaigns this month, Democrats either secured, or were not eliminated from securing, their most favorable general election matchup.  In most cases, that also resulted in the more progressive--or at least less establishment--candidate winning the Democratic nomination.

Overall, Democrats are still stuck at 52 seats in the forecast.  Still, they have improved by nearly half a seat over the past two months, and have greatly increased the number of campaigns where they are within striking distance.  Democrats can realistically win all 12 of the first 20 campaigns, from Nevada on up, in full Senate chart I provide in the extended entry.  Additionally, last night's results suggest that John McCain is in real trouble in Arizona, making for a 13th winnable, competitive Senate seat.  If Democrats were to somehow sweep all 13, then they would actually gain a seat in the Senate, recapturing their 60-vote supermajority.

Still,  a 60-seat supermajority is not realistic.  What is realistic is winning 54-56 seats, and then enacting filibuster and other procedural reform on the first day the Senate is in session for 2011.  That would possibly make it easier to pass progressive legislation through the Senate than it has been in 2009-2010.

With a (slowly) improving economic and electoral climate, and with Democratic Senators are holding more hearings on how to enact filibuster reform today, this is an achievable goal.  Not only Democrats are either leading, or within 2.5%, of enough campaigns right now to win 55 Senate seats, but even Robert Byrd is now coming out in favor of filibuster reform:

There are rays of hope for both Democrats and progressives right now.

Senate forecast overview
Dems* GOP
Not up for election 41 23
Incumbent party safe 6 10
Sub-total 47 33
Current polling 5.07 14.93
Projected total 52 48
* = Because they caucus with Senate Democrats, Independents Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman are considered Democrats

In the extended entry, check out the full chart of the 20 Senate seats that might switch partisan control.

Chris Bowers :: Senate Forecast Update, May 19: Rays of hope for Democrats
The 20 Senate seats that might switch partisan control
The chart below looks only at a broadly defined definition of "competitive" campaigns.  Campaigns where incumbent party currently leads by 18.5% or more are considered "safe" and not listed.
State Democrat Republican Margin Current Dem Win %
Washington Murray Benton* D 12.7 100%
Wisconsin Feingold Wall* D 11.5 100%
Connecticut Blumenthal McMahon D 8.0 100%
CT Blumenthal Simmons D 17.0 100%
CT R Primary McMahon Even
California Boxer Campbell D 1.5 72%
CA Boxer Fiorina D 5.5 94%
CA R Primary Campbell +5.3
Ohio Fisher Portman R 0.3 45%
Colorado Bennet Norton R 2.0 23%
CO Romanoff Norton R 2.5 20%
CO Bennet Buck R 0.5 30%
CO Romanoff Buck R 1.0 33%
CO D Primary Bennet +10.5
CO R Primary Norton +11.0
Kentucky Conway Paul R 2.0 23%
Pennnsylvania Sestak Toomey R 2.5 19%
Illinois Giannoulis Kirk R 4.0 11%
North Carolina Marshall Burr R 4.5 9%
NC Cunningham Burr R 9.0 1%
NC D Primary Marshall +2.5
Missouri Carnahan Blunt R 7.0 3%
Nevada Reid Lowden R 8.5 2%
NV Reid Tarkanian R 6.0 4%
NV Reid Angle R 5.5 6%
NV R Primary Lowden +12.5
Iowa Conlin** Grassley R 11.0 0%
New Hampshire Hodes** Ayotte** R 12.3 0%
Indiana Ellsworth Coats R 15.5 0%
Florida M 19.0 R 31.5 C 34.3 0%
Arkansas Lincoln Boozman R 17.3 0%
AR Halter Boozeman R 15.8 0%
AR D Primary Lincoln +2.0
Arizona Glassman McCain R 17.5 0%
AZ Glassman Hayworth R 1.7 26%
AZ R Primary McCain +15.3
Delaware Coons Castle** R 20.5 0%
North Dakota Potter Hoeven R 45.0 0%
* = Faces primary challenge, but no polling exists for other challengers
** = Faces primary challenge, but heavy favorite

Please let me know how you think the forecast could be improved.  It remains a work in progress.  The methodology can be found here.

Tags: , , , , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

a BIG thank you (4.00 / 3)
First off, I thank you for accepting and allowing comments that disagree with your own thoughts.  I've had enought of so-called "Lefty" blogs that restrict my thoughts - because I criticize them on topics where I'm well left of the blogster.  I've been restricted from several blogs because I criticize BHO for being too far to the "right" on most issues.  So a BIG THANK YOU is in order.

Regarding the Senate makeup....  Having the majority is a MAJOR plus.  If the Dems ran the Senate like the Reps, we'd have MAJOR accomplishments.  Although I admire kindness, NICE GUYS ALWAYS FINISH LAST.  I believe that "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander" and we need to ask our Dems to step-up to the plate and perform.  

If we don't push the Sen, House and Executive to the LEFT, then they will continue to dance to the right.  We must push.  I encourage you and your readers to honor those on the extreme left (and stop asking us to remain silent).  Without a push from the LEFT, the status quo moves to appease the RIGHT.  Criticize from the left - even if it is extreme - merely to keep BHO from dancing right.

Why?  He might open up Off-shore Drilling.  He might oppose Mirand rights.  He could oppose Single-payer health care.  He might extend wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.  He might start using assisination predator drones to kill innocent civilans.  He might continue to assign "Moderates" to the Supreme court - giving conservatives the upper hand.  he might increase the military budget.  He might use the Justice Dept to support Religious Bigotry against GLBT Americans.  He might hire additonal wall-street insiders to further distort our economy.  


Nice (0.00 / 0)
And I wouldn't be surprised to see NH, AR, AZ, or IA get closer as we head closer to November. And Crist may caucus with the Dems, too.

Is FL really 0%? (0.00 / 0)
Given that Crist may very well caucus with the Democrats, putting FL at 0% is a bit misleading. Assume a 50% chance of caucusing with the Democrats, and, solely looking at the polling, say a 75% chance of winning, gives the Democrats a 25% chance of picking up the seat. Maybe it's 10%, maybe it's 50%, but it's not 0%.


I agree with you (0.00 / 0)
Definitely not 0 percent chance in Florida.

I think we have a lot more than an 11 percent chance of holding Illinois too.

I think our chances in PA are better than they appear as well, and the trendlines are very encouraging in Ohio.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
What evidence do we have that Crist may caucus with the Democrats? (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
"What is realistic is winning 54-56 seats, and then enacting filibuster" (0.00 / 0)
Right, Chris, totally agree! Anbd the Dems should start building the base for this, by exposing how the rethugs sabotage Wall Street reform and other popular bills. And then they should use the first day in session to push the new rules thorugh, while presenting their case that the tremendous partisan obstruction of the GOP in 2010 isn't tolerable anymore, with all the urgent problems waiting for a solution. With the fresh mandate of the election behind them, the Dems should be able to make this happen.

Blumenthal (0.00 / 0)
I don't think Blumenthal's win chance is 100% anymore.

If he were to drop out, is there another strong candidate that the Dems could recruit to run in his stead?

Give it a few days. (0.00 / 0)
It's becoming clearer with every hour that the NYT article was a hit piece.

[ Parent ]
I still think we'll do a lot better in the end than polls indicate today. (4.00 / 3)
Obviously, things could change, disaster/terrorism/economic collapse could intervene, etc.  But, based on the world we live in today, I think the polls in late October will be a hell of a lot more favorable than the polls are now.

The Specter-Sestak trendlines show us that there is a real difference between a race that has not been engaged yet by both parties, and a race that has been.  Despite the "Dems will sell health care after they pass it" prediction, which I and many others expected, Dems decided to just pass more legislation now, and sell it all later.  ("Pivot to jobs and finreg")  That actually was a better decision.  Assuming they pass a strong finreg, and maybe even an energy bill, they are going to have a really strong set of arguments to offer in August-September, when they do settle into campaign mode.  Right now the polls reflect a reality in which Republicans have been campaigning exclusively and non-stop since the stimulus, and Democrats have been mostly passing legislation and not really making the public case necessary to increase their favorables as a party.  When they begin to make that case, I think at least some of the electorate will find it persuasive, and the yawning gap between, say, Hodes and Ayotte will start to close.

Anyway, my real point is that races that have been fully engaged by both parties are different than races that haven't been -- Sestak-Specter being the example par excellence.  If you accepted that argument, Chris, and wanted to try to incorporate it into your forecast, you would need to take note of factors such as whether full-scale TV advertising has yet been initiated by either or both sides.  You could also consider integrating the favorable-unfavorable spreads on candidates: Specter and Lincoln both suffered from favorable spreads that were in the low-single-digits or underwater, while Halter and Sestak had very low unfavorable ratings, and thus "more upside", more room to make a positive case to an undecided electorate.  Castle has very high favorables, helping to explain why it will be hard for any Democrat to run a hard issue-based campaign on him; Snowe and Collins the same.  Reid has very low favorables, while his opponents are largely unknown, which shows not only why that race will be very difficult, but also why Reid thinks he can pull out a win (a candidate at 30/10 is easier to beat than one at 60/40).  Blumenthal had very high favorables until yesterday; now that they're probably underwater, he will have not only hurt his current poll numbers, but also opened up a wide range of political attacks on him that wouldn't have been effective previously.  Finding some way to factor favorable spreads into your ratings could make your ratings stronger, by adding the predictive value of favorable spreads to the current-standings indicator of recent polling.

The other thing that might be worth adding is whether either candidate has more than 175% of the financial contributions that the other candidate has.  Campaign wisdom is that 1.5:1 is an acceptable financial disparity, but 2:1 becomes seriously difficult.  I'm sure you could develop a rule on your own with a simple spreadsheet of recent Senate campaigns.  If we accept their number of 2:1 for a moment, then you could award bonus points of some sort to any campaign that was approaching that 2:1 ratio at the end of Q1.  Bennet, for instance, is in the process of doubling up on Norton in Colorado.  That's not going to win him the campaign, but it's going to help him some, in a way that's not refected in current polling.  So factoring in that numerical, objective, publicly available data into your race rating will make your race rating more predictive of the future than one based only on current polling could be.

This wasn't the comment I intended to write, which is why it is so disorganized.  I'm sorry about that.  But in summary, I think you could add a couple of numeric, publicly available factors to your existing ratings.  For instance, you could:

-- add points to the polling average for any campaign that has doubled up on its opponent financially, up until the point when both campaigns have started actually advertising, because that advantage would then be expected to start actually translating into poll numbers instead of remaining on paper
-- add points to the polling average of any campaign that has a strong favorable spread, and even more points to any campaign that has a strong favorable spread and is widely known (30/10 vs 60/40), and maybe subtract points from any candidate that has a negative spread.  Again, you could remove those bonus points once advertising by both sides has begun and the real campaign, which will itself reflect those limitations and advantages that the favorable spreads help predict, is engaged.

The rationale for tinkering with the numbers this way is that there are certain measurable factors that nonetheless don't begin to show up in poll numbers until real advertising campaigns have been fully engaged.  You can add those factors to a poll-based rating artificially, by using these other sets of numbers as modifiers, up until the point when the campaign has begun and they convert from anticipated influences on a future campaign into real influences that appear in present polling.

great points n/t (0.00 / 0)

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]

Open Left Campaigns



Advanced Search

Powered by: SoapBlox