A few weeks back I talked about the Dem’s chances for capturing the house, that seems mostly certain now with the chance of a Democratic majority at about 80%. The Senate however, its much closer and much harder to predict. A generic ballot gives the Dem’s an edge of about 9%, with the margin of error it could be as low as 4–5% so things are close, but just how is it looking and what races should we focusing one.
The State Of Play
There are 33 seats up this election cycle, of those we can assume 4 seats are very safe for the Republicans (Mississippi, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming) I’m going to throw the special election in Mississippi in here too giving us 5 safe Republican seats. Added to their 42 seats not up for re-election we get to 47 seats for the Republicans almost out the gate.
For the 28 remaining races, we can assign 15 safe seats to the Democrats (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington) I’m also going to throw in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio and the Special Election in Minnesota to give them Democrats 20 safe seats. Added to their 23 not up for re-election to give us 43 seats for the Democrats. Which gives us 10 seats to play for.
Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
The Knife Edge
Of these 10 races, the polls suggest 2 are leaning towards the Democrats (West Virginia and Montana) they suggest 2 are leaning towards the Republicans (Tennessee, Texas) meaning the Republicans would need just 2 of the remaining 6 races for a majority, while the Democrats would need 4, however the GOP candidates seem to have a money problem and incumbent Democrats could be hard to beat, lets breakdown these 10 races and how the polls look.
Arizona, McSally (R) vs Sinema (D) are neck and neck, momentum is with the Democrats so they’ll be hoping for some distance in the polls over the next few weeks. It really is anyones game here though. Too close to call.
Florida, Nelson (D) vs Scott (R) Scott is a well liked Governor but in a state thats skews a little purple and an incumbent who’s equally liked it’s close but seems likely Nelson might pip it. The incoming natural disaster for Florida might allow Scott a bit of a platform for action which could worry Nelson’s team. Likely D (Dems 44)
Indiana, Donnelly (D) vs Braun (R) the polls have this as a toss-up most likely because Braun beat two congressmen to win the primary, as we know with Trump media coverage goes along way and he’s getting a fair bit in Indiana as well as a Mike Pence boost, however his campaign seems to be having trouble raising money (A trend it seems), with Donnelly the incumbent and Trump being a fundraising gold mind for the Dems, it seems more likely Donnelly holds here. Likely D (Dems 45)
Missouri, McCaskill (D) vs Hawley (R) again the polls are neck and neck, perhaps a slight edge for the challenger here Hawley who’s the current AG of the state however it really speaks to the GOP’s money problem that a young conservative with strong law and order credentials is being out raised by 4:1 add that McCaskill has defeated two Republicans already and again I think the money in the final week of the campaign will be the winner here. Likely Dem (Dems 46)
Montana, Tester (D) vs Rosendale (R) some polls have this close but Tester has $10m more in his bank account than Rosendale and he is as many as 5 points behind. It’s close but I don’t expect an upset here. Likely Dems (Dems 47)
Nevada, Heller (R) vs Rosen (D) Fox News, one of the more conservative polls has Rosen defeating the incumbent Republican, which should be a worry for Heller as it may indicated the land has shifted a little for him, more recent, less conservative polls have this race a lot closer with a *tiny* edge for Rosen, it’s also a race with only 2% undecided, I can see a Rosen upset here but for now, Too close to call.
North Dakota, Hetikamp (D) vs Cramer(R) not a lot to know here the polls are very split, but it seems Cramer has the edge, however, yet again Hetikamp has all the money with 3x more cash in the bank and with 17% undecideds mean that could be money well spent in the closing stages of October. Too close to call.
Tennessee, Blackburn (R) vs Bredesen (D) it’s a tight race but in 4 of the last 5 polls Bredesen had the lead, as the Presidents approval rating continues to sink, and the generic ballot continues to favour the Dems and the money problem the RNCC has added to 10% undecided and I’d say its looking like Bob Corker’s now vacant seat will go to the Democrats. Possibly D (Dems 48).
Texas, Cruz (R) vs O’Rourke (D) the most talked about races in the Senate season so far. Raising money hasn’t been a problem Cruz, I mean it’s Texas so the surprise here is actually that O’Rourke has matched him and is spending far less cash. The O’Rourke campaign has about twice as much cash on hand as Cruz does and O’Rourke is getting TONS of free media give how close the race is and his fiery speeches. The last 5 polls out of Texas have seen a decline in Cruz’s advantage and with around 10% of people undecided and a higher portion breaking for O’Rourke, Its very early, but it feels like Beto O’Rourke will become the first Texan Senator in 25 years. Possibly D (Dems 49)
West Virginia, Manchin (D) vs Morrisey (R) a lot of people have this race as a toss-up, personally I would have included it in the Democrats safe seats but as the polling is a little iffy and the undecideds are a little high I’m pointing it out as a watch seat. That said in some polls Manchin is as much as 10 points clear. Very Likely D (Dems 50)
As you can see from above, the Democrats have the most paths to 51 seats with 50 seeming likely and just one of the current 3 too close to call races breaking in their favour, there is along way to go and there are a lot of undecideds left in this race and the democrats have A LOT of money to spend. We should start to get a clearer lay of the land towards the end of this month and into the start of October. Given the variables it hard to odds this however, a simple sample model suggests,
- Democrats have a 2/3 chance of gaining 51 seats in the Senate and a 5/6 chance of gaining 52 seats.
- They are 1.2 times more likely to gain a majority than the Republicans are to hold theirs.
- There is a 6/4 chance of a tie, meaning the Republicans have a Majority (with pence)
As with all polls and analysis, there is lots of room for error and there is a long way to go. I’ll continue to revise my model and this analysis as move closer to polling day.