Political Animal


September 18, 2012 5:30 PM Senate Tilting Blue

By Ed Kilgore

At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver has published his first official Senate forecast of the year, and it gives Democrats some good news:

[T]he odds of a favorable overall outcome for Democrats have increased in recent weeks. The forecast model now gives them a 70 percent chance of controlling the chamber, either by having at least 50 seats and the presidency, or 51 without it.
Although this represents the first official FiveThirtyEight forecast for the Senate this year, I ran backdated forecasts to July 1 based on the polls that were available at that time. Two weeks ago, for example, the model would have given Democrats a 52 percent chance of retaining Senate control — and four weeks ago, it would have given them a 39 percent chance.
The trend toward Democrats is a relatively recent one. Part of the shift may reflect the bounce President Obama received from the Democratic convention. If so, it could recede, especially if Mr. Obama’s poll numbers do so, too.
But our analysis also suggests that the Democratic advantage has probably been building over the past few weeks, and may not have any one root cause. Instead, Republicans risk death by a thousand cuts, with a gradual deterioration in their standing in several important races, and their inability to field optimal candidates in others.

As Nate’s last graph indicates, it’s a complicated landscape, so you should read the whole thing. But factors boosting Democratic prospects include the Missouri fiasco, strong recent poll showings by Sherrod Brown, Bill Nelson and Elizabeth Warren, and the strong winds behind the candidacies of Martin Heinrich in NM and Mazie Hirono in HI.

Democrats still have reason to worry about the last-minute deployment of 501(c)(4) and Super-PAC funds in selected races. But the situation for them looks a lot better than it did at this point last year, when they were looking down the barrel of big disadvantage in vulnerable seats.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on September 18, 2012 6:18 PM:

    I'll be interested to see what the actual results will be after Election Day.

    I think the Republican War on Women may cost them more than they think - in the Senate AND the House.

  • Cybrguy on September 18, 2012 6:31 PM:

    From your mouth to the ear of the guiding force.

    Personally I am hoping against all hope that Romney's bad behavior so insults republican women and the male rank and file that they stay home, allowing the house to return to the party that cares about everyone.

    Is that too much to ask for?

  • bdop4 on September 18, 2012 6:51 PM:

    Time for the full court press from Dems. GOP candidates must be made to disavow both Romney (a la the boca video) and the GOP platform. Any waffling means they are on board.

    We got all kinds of ammunition. It's time to start using it.

  • Mimikatz on September 18, 2012 7:01 PM:

    SuperPAC money can't compensate for the despair many GOPers feel as they contemplate the fiasco that is Mitt and his campaign. Many more will stay home than we had previously thought. Negative ads may work in some House races, but most Dems will have the money to fight back enough to get on Obama's coattails.

    I'd guess in the Senate ME and NE are a wash, the GOP loses at least one or even two of IN, MA and NV, and the Dems lose at most one of MO, MT,ND, and WI. And FL, HI, NM and VA look pretty good now. So that is maybe one seat net either way.

    The House is more complex. The Dems could win 25 seats but lose 5-10. The margin either way is probably not going to be more than 5 seats, unless there is a total GOP collapse.

  • bleh on September 18, 2012 8:31 PM:

    Huh. Who'd'a thunk that a loud-and-proud strategy of BLARGH HATE BLACK PEOPLE HATE IMMIGRANTS HATE POOR MOOCHERS HATE WOMEN HATE UNIONS HATE GAYS ALSO BLACK PEOPLE ESPECIALLY BLAK PRESIDENT BLACK could ever have caused their poll standings to fall. After all, both sides do it, right?

  • T2 on September 19, 2012 9:13 AM:

    given that a majority of Americans still blame Bush for the economic mess (correctly), and are finally understanding the benefits of Obamacare, the fact that a terribly failed candidate such as Romney is still a point of so out of being even is depressing. And of course, a depressed America is what Romney is counting on to win.

  • JohnofMass on September 19, 2012 12:45 PM:

    A Massachusetts update on what is going on in the Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren Senate race. Things are looking much better for Elizabeth Warren this week, as there are now 4 local polls showing her ahead of Scott Brown between 1 and 7 points. It looks like she got a bounce from her appearance at the Democratic Convention. Just last week, local Democratic officials were fretting that she was running a lethargic campaign and running mundane and forgettable ads. Many local pundits said it was beginning to look like the election was going to be a repeat of the Martha Coakley loss a couple of years back. These were my thoughts as well. Last week the local polls showed the race to be deadlocked or with Brown ahead by 4 or 5 points. The first of four scheduled debates is tomorrow night. It appears that Democratic support for Warren has significantly strenghthened since last May. Brown still leads among Independents by a large margin, but his support has with them has slightly softened. In May Brown was garnering around 60% of Massachusetts Independents and now he garnering 55%. If the turnout is heavy in November for Obama, this bodes well for Warren. What's in Brown's favor is that there is a history of women of both parties not winning the major statewide races. But, the election is still a long way off and there are gobs of money out there. Time will tell.