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
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A new poll from the Pew Research Center indicates a significant increase in public opinion that President Barack Obama is a Muslim (he is a Christian) — from 11 percent in March 2009 to 18 percent today. There has been an even more massive drop in the belief that Obama is Christian — from 48 to 34 percent.
The poll (read the complete report here [PDF]) was conducted from July 21 through August 5 — meaning it doesn’t even take into account Obama’s recent discussion of the controversial Park51 project in New York.
The shift was greatest among Republicans (up 14 percent) and especially conservative Republicans (up 16 percent). However, the belief that Obama is a Muslim increased at least slightly in every category, including Democrats (3 percent) and liberal Democrats (1 percent).
- White House “faith adviser Joshua DuBois blamed “misinformation campaigns” by the president’s opponents.”
- George Mason University history professor Rick Shenkman “was not surprised by the recently reported rise in people who were not sure of Obama’s religion, since ‘people follow the news so loosely that they are susceptible to any wild idea’ and ‘myths are part of a larger narrative that people construct in their heads to make sense out of seismic events and upheavals.’”
- [T]he shifting attitudes about the president’s religious beliefs could also be the result of a public growing less enamored of him and increasingly attracted to labels they perceive as negative. In the Pew poll, 41 percent disapprove of Obama’s job performance, compared with 26 percent disapproval in its March 2009 poll. [From The Washington Post]
- “Dr. Clyde Wilcox, professor of government at Georgetown University, says what is driving the president’s sinking approval ratings is the economy. ‘If the economy were resurrected from the dead like Lazarus, then you would see less of this,’ he said. [From Fox News]
- A Washington Times editorial blames Obama’s words and actions: “[I]n a February 2008 interview with the New York Times, Mr. Obama said the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, is ‘one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.’ He then recited it, ‘with a first-class [Arabic] accent.’ The opening of the Adhan contains the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith, proclaiming, ‘There is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God.’ Stating this before two Muslims is the traditional requirement for joining the Islamic faith. Adding fuel to the fire is Mr. Obama’s family heritage: born of a Muslim father and raised by a Muslim stepfather. Under Shariah law, having a Muslim father makes one a Muslim, though this custom has no legal standing in the United States.”
There is one possible explanation no one seems to have brought up. Could it also be a tinge of the Bradley effect, which has to do with discrepancies between polls and votes cast in elections between a white and a non-white candidate? Several articles examined the possible Bradley effect in the 2008 presidential election. It’s not too difficult to imagine people already convinced Obama is a Muslim saying otherwise during the height of his election-era popularity, but almost two years later are more willing to openly state their opinion as the belief Obama is a Muslim grows.
Obviously, no one can say for sure what the cause behind this massive shift is. Experience and common sense, however, mean it is likely to be a little bit of all the explanations.
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