FiveThirtyEight has changed its forecast for this fall’s Senate elections — the chance of a Republican takeover dropped from 26 to 15 percent, thanks to Christine O’Donnell’s primary win earlier this week.
Although Ms. O’Donnell and Mr. Coons remain relatively unknown to some Delaware voters, and a comeback by Ms. O’Donnell is not impossible, the forecasting model gives it only a 6 percent likelihood of happening — and has established Mr. Coons, therefore, as a 94 percent favorite. Had Republican voters selected Mr. Castle instead, the numbers would be exactly the opposite: Mr. Castle would be the 94 percent favorite to win the seat, leaving Mr. Coons with just a 6 percent chance of an upset.
How could the GOP obtain a majority? Either they have to win every Democratic seat in contention while holding all of their own, or put new states into play, Nate Silver wrote in his FiveThirtyEight analysis. His analysis, linked to above, is worth reading in its entirety, as he addresses races in states that Republicans would have to focus on in order to win.
Republicans’ hopes for a Senate takeover dimmed significantly after O’Donnell’s victory Tuesday; had Castle won, the seat almost certainly would have gone to him in November, but as Silver notes in his post O’Donnell’s outlook for winning in left-of-center Delaware is weak.
A poll released yesterday by Politico, however, shows that outcome not nearly so certain in the minds of America’s voters. It found that, regardless of who they planned to vote for, voters were most likely to predict Republican takeovers in the House (which is, analysts agree, likely) and the Senate. For the Senate, 46 percent predicted a GOP takeover and 37 percent a Democratic majority. 17 percent were uncertain.
Some other results from the poll:
- 63 percent believe the country is on the wrong track; 10 percent were unsure
- 43 percent said they would vote Republican were the election today; 43 percent said they would vote Democratic were the election today; 10 percent were undecided
- 46 percent specified the economy and jobs as Congress’s top priority; 13 percent said government spending; 8 percent said health care reform
- 57 percent disapprove of the job Democrats have done in Congress
- 59 percent disapprove of the job Republicans have done in Congress
- 80 percent get news about the election from cable news channels including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC; 76 percent from newspapers or newspaper websites; 52 percent from radio programming
Politico provides analysis from both sides of the aisle.
The Democrats, shockingly, say news of their demise is premature and they could continue to hold both houses in November.
In sum, the Democrats have real opportunities, and they have an opposition with serious liabilities of its own. This survey reveals the key fact that the Democrats are not facing the rejuvenated, freshly-branded, Contract-With-America era Republican Party of 1994; they are facing a Party still tarnished by the multiple—and recent—calamities of Bush economics, the war in Iraq, Sarah Palin, and an over-the-top and increasingly frightening Tea Party movement. The reality is that the election isn’t over by a long shot, and the Democrats still have ample opportunity to maintain their majority and keep the Republican victory laps to a minimum on November 2nd.
They are, however, cautious.
Democratic candidates should not waste one precious moment between now and the fall relishing the Republicans’ follies, however. Democrats must do a far better job of setting the narrative framework for voters who are discouraged and, more important, who have lost a solid understanding of how our country arrived at this moment of crisis and what’s at stake for the American people if the Party that created the crisis is allowed to take control again.
The Republican analysis, meanwhile, argues that the widely-recognized “enthusiasm gap” benefits the GOP at the polls.
While the impact of the “angry independents” have been a complicating factor in some Republican primaries, with those primaries being fairly close to an end, look for their focus to become even more focused on Washington and the Democrats in control of the White House Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. Yes, this political environment has been strongly anti-incumbent, but look for it to become much more anti-Washington and anti-Democratic over the next seven weeks.
They also discuss how Republicans could best utilize wins in November by framing the victory as one for the populace rather than the party.
The bottom line is that as this election cycle concludes and the next one begins, the playing field is clearly tilted towards the GOP for the first time in several election cycles. If, in fact, Republicans use this election to claim victory, this may be a short lived advantage. If, however, Republicans claim this election as a victory for the American people to begin turning the country around from the direction that President Obama and the Democrats have been taking the country for the last two years, then this may be the beginning of a very positive direction for the country and for Republicans.
Of course, if the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that the current political climate can shift course rapidly and without warning. A month ago Christine O’Donnell was of no particular national significance; today, most political analysts agree she could well cost Republicans control of the Senate in November. FiveThirtyEight’s 94-6 split could flip just like that.