Friday, October 24, 2014

Can the Democrats Keep the Senate? (Summary, Tuesday Morning, Election Day, November 4)

It's still possible for the Democrats to hang on to the Senate.. by the skin of their teeth.  There are several races that are too close to call, just one or two points STILL separating the candidates.  

The paths for the Democrats to maintain control of the Senate do seem to be getting tougher as the election looms closer and closer.  Follow this column; as I check in with all of the major poll aggregators every day and aggregate their aggregations so you don't have to!
(Note:  I will update this article one more time, tomorrow morning, Election Day, November 4th, with any last minute polls or changes.  Latest information and changes will be marked in red with the word "UPDATE.")
*UPDATE Tuesday morning* This will be my last update of this article.  I'm not going to get into the exit polls or any last minute polls that may be released today (not sure if there will be.)  I will, however, mention the last aggregator projections.  Nate Silver's Blog 538 gives the Republicans a 76.2% chance of taking the Senate.  Sam Wang's Princeton Election Consortium believes the Dems will wind up with a caucus of 48 while the Repubs wind up with a caucus of 52.  Huffpost Pollster believes there is a 79% chance for the Republicans to take the Senate.  The New York Times gives the Republicans a 70% chance to win.  

Remember, however, that 5 races are crucial.  The Democrats lead in two of them, and the other three are in reach.  If you live in or have friends or family in North Carolina, New Hampshire, Alaska, Colorado, or Iowa, your vote is absolutely crucial!

Good luck, everybody.. and good luck to the United States of America!    

*UPDATE Monday afternoon*  
Yes, hope does remain for the Democrats, and, because of runoff provisions in two states, we may not know who controls the Senate for weeks.  However, the poll aggregators believe that the Republicans have a 70% to 73% chance of taking the Senate. That means that the Democrats' chances of keeping the Senate are 30% or less.  But that doesn't mean that the Democrats have NO chance of keeping the Senate.

SIX states are polling within the 3 points generally considered as the margin of error:   Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina.   Only two of those tossup states are leaning towards the Democrats now, that is, New Hampshire and North Carolina. Two states, Georgia and Louisiana, are probably headed for a runoff as nobody will get 50%. 

The Democrats need five of those six states to keep the Senate.  OR they need four of those six states AND the Independent in Kansas to win and caucus with the Democrats (not sure how likely that is.)

The BEST ROUTE for the Democrats to keep the Senate
is to win in New Hampshire and North Carolina, the two states in which they are ahead, and to pull out wins in Alaska, Colorado, and Iowa.  That avoids the problems of the runoff states and it does not depend on the outcome of the race in Kansas between the Independent and a Republican (see below).   

There were a few more polls this weekend in crucial states, both good and bad.  Alaska's
latest polls seem to push the Democratic incumbent farther back, but there is some hope in Iowa and Colorado.   New Hampshire and North Carolina are holding for the Democrats.  Kansas is holding for the Independent; however, he said that he is going to caucus with the majority, so a win for the Independent may be meaningless unless the Democrats can manage to hold on to 4 to 5 toss up races.  It's unclear who he will caucus with if he is the Senator who decides the majority.  He's from Kansas; not good for the Democrats.

(The Republican candidates in Iowa and North Carolina are considered extreme by the Right Wing Watch HERE.)

Colorado is showing a bit of strength, but Kentucky seems fairly far behind.  Some aggregators and news sources have moved Kentucky and Arkansas out of the "Toss-up" list and onto the "Lean Republican" list.

Kentucky is important, however, because it is SO symbolic.  But Grimes is 5-10 points behind McConnell, and that gap is simply not closing.  Not one poll in the past two weeks has shown Grimes winning, and all polls show her falling farther behind McConnell.  That's really a shame.       

Right now the aggregators are STILL projecting 51 or 52 Republicans in the Senate and 48 or 49 Democrats or Independents.  This hasn't changed in a week.

Sunday, Nov 2:  From Nate Silver's 538 Blog HERE The chance of Republicans vs. Democrats to control the Senate.  The chance of the Republicans retaining the Senate has increased the past few days.  There is less time left before the election with no real change in any of the polls to show increased support for the Democrats who are in toss-up races.

For comparison:  This is the way the above chart looked on Friday, Oct 24.  Compare this with current projections above.

First a word about polls:

Any one poll can be off.. It makes no sense to pay any attention to polls unless they are 1) recent 2) weighted, as some polls are more reliable and neutral than others. The poll aggregators, Sam Wang, Nate Silver, Real Clear Politics, and Huff Pollster, all try to do this.  I'm merely summarizing the aggregators for those who don't want to plow through the poll numbers on four different sites every morning and evening.  I'm going to be updating this column every day or two between now and the election, every time there are new polls or new news.  So.. my interpretation of the latest polls and poll aggregations is below Sam Wang's graph.

Sam Wang and Princeton:

Sam Wang is an important and well-known aggregator, working out of Princeton.  As he doesn't look at specific Senate seats, I haven't mentioned his predictions, though I've been checking them everyday.  I've decided to include his latest Senate graph starting today.  He showed the Democrats as EXTREMELY close to the Republicans just a few days ago, but notice how closely the black line on his graph has trailed off the past week:

Sam Wang's Senate graph as of November 1, 2014.  Found HERE 

Fascinating article about Latino voters and their possible effect both on these elections and on polls in general.  From the article at Huffington Post:

Including Colorado, there are six states in which the Latino share of the eligible electorate is larger than the current polling margin between the two candidates: Colorado, Kansas, Alaska, Georgia, North Carolina and Iowa.

Hmmmm.... notice any similarity between this list and the list of Democratic target races? 

As of mid-October there were 12 CLOSE races.

The Democrats have two ways to keep the Senate: 1) To WIN SIX (6) of these close races, 2) Or to WIN FIVE (5) of these close races and have the INDEPENDENT in Kansas who is running against the Republican candidate WIN and CAUCUS with the Democrats.  ALL of these closely contested races (except the New Hampshire race) are in RED or PURPLE states.  The Republicans must win SEVEN (7) of these close races.

Now, one of these races is a fairly confident Democratic victory; that is, Gary Peters in MICHIGAN.  Peters is pulling away from his Republican opponent in recent polls and that race is not even in the "toss up" column any more.  He was up only about 5% two weeks ago; now he is up around 10%.  One of these races is a fairly confident Republican victory; that is, the three way race in SOUTH DAKOTA.  However, the scandal that erupted in South Dakota a week ago does not seem to have impacted this Senate race at all, which is disturbing. 

So... can the Democrats win five of these other ten races? About 7 of these races are STILL within 3-4 points of each other with only 5 days left until the election.

Here's the blow-by-blow of the ten races that were close as of mid-October:

 *UPDATE Monday afternoon* The Republican challenger, Dan Sullivan, seems to be back in front.  Last weekend, polls seemed to indicate that the Democratic incumbent, Mark Begich, was making inroads with polls showing him up by 6-10 points.  But two of the last three polls show Sullivan again ahead by 2-4 points.  BUT..  one of these polls-- Moore-- is a poll commissioned by Republicans, and the other is Rasmussen, which always leans right in its polling.  The third recent poll, PPP, a Democratic poll, shows Begich up by 1 point.

The aggregators have Sullivan with a 66% to 72% chance of winning that Senate seat, with 2 to 4% more votes than Begich.  But this race is still anybody's race, considering the closeness of the polls and the sources of some of them.    

More about Alaska:  As was mentioned last week, there was a scandal that recently came to light about the Republican challenger Dan Sullivan.  You can read about it 
here at the Daily Kos.  Not sure how it will play with the people in Alaska or if any of the switch in these recent polls have anything to do with this scandal.  And here's an interesting article about the election in Alaska, published back at the beginning of October, that highlights the "on the ground" efforts, particularly in the Native American and remote villages. 

*UPDATE Monday* The Republican Tom Cotton is leading incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor by several points.  Most of the polls released in the last two weeks show Cotton leading Pryor with his lead increasing. The aggregators now have Pryor losing by 5-13 points, with a 69 to 91% chance of this seat going to the Republican.  Several pollsters have re-classified Arkansas from "Toss up" to "Leaning Republican".  However, one new poll was released Sunday (yesterday) which shows Pryor actually ahead of Cotton by 1 point.  As this poll was commissioned by Democrats and differs so from the other polls, it may be an outlier without any real significance.  I'm not counting on Arkansas in the Democrat's efforts to hang on to the Senate. 

*UPDATE Monday afternoon* Seven polls have been released in the past week.  One of those polls is a tie between the Democratic incumbent Tom Udall; in the other six, the Republican Cory Gardner was ahead by 1 to 7 points.  Most of the polls showed Gardner ahead by 2 or 3 points.  That would indicate that this state is still a tossup, though the advantage is clearly held by the Republican.

Even though the aggregators are calling this race for Gardner by about 2 points and they are giving Gardner a 66% to 81% chance of winning, this is still a toss up.  
Don't count Udall out!   

The Democratic candidate, Michelle Nunn, was leading by a hair last week, but now it appears that her Republican opponent, David Perdue, is leading by a couple of hairs.

Ten polls have been released within the last week.  Seven of those polls show Perdue up by 2 to 8 points, three have them tied.  All aggregators now have the Republican
David Perdue ahead by 1 to 3.2 points, within the range of error.  Still anybody's race.  The aggregators also say that Perdue has a 63 to 74% of beating Nunn and about a 70% of ultimately winning that Senate seat after the runoff.

Another complicating factor is Georgia's runoff system:  Unless a candidate gets 50%, there will be a runoff.  There is a very good chance that there will be a runoff with a libertarian candidate Amanda Swafford polling 3-4%.  If those 3-4% break for Perdue in the runoff, that could be a big problem for the Democrats. 

 *UPDATE Monday*  This race continues to be extremely close, but the Republican Joni Ernst has the momentum. The most recent poll, from the DesMoines Register, shows the Republican Ernst up by 7 points, but it may be somewhat of an outlier, as all the other 9 recent polls in Iowa show a very, very close race with either a tie or a 1-2 point difference between the Republican Ernst and the Democrat Bruce Braley.  The Democrat Bruce Braley could certainly win this one with a good Democratic turnout, but the momentum is with the Republican right now.  

Now Ernst is considered an extremist, not a "regular" Republican (if there are any of them left); it would be great if more than a few Iowans started to realize that.  Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch names Ernst as one of two potential Senators among the "Five Extreme GOP Candidates Who could be heading to Congress".

The aggregators have Ernst ahead by 1 to 2%, and they are giving her a 57 to 69% chance of winning, but this race is still a tossup. 

*UPDATE Monday* This is the race in which the Democratic candidate pulled out in favor of the Independent Greg Orman. I don't know much about the Independent, but if this man could beat the Republican Pat Roberts AND caucus with the Democrats, this would be very good for the Dems in the Senate indeed. Of course, what kind of concessions might this Independent want to support Democratic legislation?  This race continues to be a dead heat.  There seemed to be a swing to the Independent Orman over the past week, but recent polls are split between Orman and Roberts in the lead.  The most recent polls gives the edge to the Republican Roberts.  

The aggregators are split on this one; one has this race in the Independent column, three feel the race is dead even.

*UPDATE Sunday 11/2*
 We all desperately want Alison Lundergan Grimes to beat turtle man Mitch McConnell, but she continues to be behind. The latest poll shows her 6-8 points behind.

I am hoping and praying that this race will be closer than it looks... 11 polls, going back to the first week of October, all of which show Grimes trailing by 1 to 9 points.  Even the Democratic-leaning PPP poll has her down by 8 points. 

Kentucky is a red state, only a touch of Blue..   This is one thing that the Republican sympathizers are forgetting... Most of these tight, heavy-duty Senate battles are in red or red-purple states; it's not surprising that the Democrats are struggling.  But if Grimes comes within 2-3 points of McConnell, the Republicans should start to worry.. It means that the Democrats ARE making headway in red/red-purple Kentucky.  

It would be great if Grimes could pull out a win.  That would really be an upset!  But she and the Democrats definitely have an uphill climb here.  I'm not counting this race as crucial for control of the Senate.  No momentum for Grimes.

The aggregators have Grimes
down by 5-8% and they give McConnell an 82 to a 97% chance of keeping his seat. 

  *UPDATE Sunday 10/26* The Republican Bill Cassidy seems to be pulling away from long-time Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu. The latest poll confirms previous polls in October, with the Republican up by about 4 points.  The recent polls do show the gap getting larger over the past month.

Can the Dems really close this gap?  Seems like a long shot.  Louisiana is another state which will hold a runoff if nobody gets more than 50% of the vote, but this shouldn't be as crucial to the Democrats maintaining control of the Senate as it will be in Georgia.  
*UPDATE Monday afternoon*  There is no change in this race that would indicate any momentum on the part of Mary Landrieu.  All recent polls still show the Republican Bill Cassidy ahead by about 1-8 points.  However, Louisiana is a runoff state.  If no candidate gets 50% of the vote (which is highly unlikely), the two top candidates will runoff in December.  That means that Landrieu will likely meet Cassidy in the runoff, but when she is polled against only Cassidy, she loses by about 4%. 

 *UPDATE Monday afternoon*  Incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen seems to be hanging on to a slim 1-3 point lead over carpetbagger Scott Brown. Not a big lead, but a solid lead, and she is ahead in 3 out of 6 new polls this week.  Those three polls show Shaheen ahead by 2 to 7 points.  In the other polls, she is tied in one, behind by 1 point in one poll, and behind by 4 points in a Republican poll, which actually weights to a +1 for Shaheen by Nate Silver's blog.  Why in the world New Hampshire would show so much support for Brown, who was the Senator from Massachusetts a few years back, is anyone's guess.

The aggregators continue to give Shaheen a 62 to 82% chance of beating Brown, but this is still a very tight race.   

 *UPDATE Monday afternoon*  The Democrat Kay Hagan had a fairly strong advantage in this race, but the recent polls show her just slightly ahead of challenger Thom Tillis or tied.  Hagan's lead was as much as 5-10 points back in September.

But there have been 9 polls in the past week, and all of them except the two polls commissioned by Republicans show Hagan ahead, but by only 1-3 points.  The "aggregators" all have Hagan up by .7 to 2 points, with a 56 to 74% chance of holding on to her Senate seat for the Democrats.  This is a must win seat for the Democrats.  Let's just hope that holds.  Tillis is another potential Senator highlighted as one of the extreme GOP candidates by Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch HERE.

To Summarize:

The best chance for the Democrats is to win NEW HAMPSHIRE and NORTH CAROLINA and IOWA, COLORADO,  and ALASKA.  Remember that I said the BEST path, not the only path.  

Even though the Ebola fear seems to have abated somewhat due to prompt treatment and prompt protocols by the CDC, all of the Democrats are continuing to struggle.  Somehow the brainwashed public blames the President and the Democrats for anything that happens that is fearful.

I just came across THIS article written a couple of days ago by Steve Lesser.. He also talks about the way that the Democrats may keep the Senate.. and he gets into races for the governors as well.  Well worth a trip over to Steve's blog as he interprets and integrates some info that I don't get into.

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