With the midterm elections now about 3 and a half months away, the Upshot's Nate Cohn writes that a broad-based Republican wave does not seem to be materializing. But, as Cohn points out, the GOP doesn't necessarily need a wave to take the Senate. It just needs to pick off a few key races in a few key states, many of which are quite conservative. Yet there's some disagreement among the leading modelers about how good the GOP's chances are — and some important states have been very poorly polled. Here's the latest news and analysis about the battle for the Senate.
How likely is the GOP to take the Senate?
Most election analysts now give Republicans a slight edge. Since late May, the forecasts from the New York Times' The Upshot and the Washington Post's Election Lab have both moved a small bit in the GOP's favor. The Upshot's model then gave the Democrats slightly better odds of holding the chamber — but now gives Republicans a 56 percent advantage. Meanwhile, the Washington Post's model now gives the GOP a much better 86 percent chance of a takeover:
As in May, much of this discrepancy is because the Upshot's model is based mostly on polls, while the Post incorporates both polls and a broader set of national, state, and candidate-level "fundamental" factors into its model. Those factors — including Obama's weak approval, strong GOP fundraising, and the recent electoral history of the states with competitive races — look bad for Democrats overall. John Sides, one of the creators of the Post's model, argues here that some of these fundamentals might not yet be "fully baked" into polls of individual contests. (The Upshot uses its own set of fundamental factors as a component of its forecast, but weights them less heavily than the Post does.)
What are the key races?
Right now, there are 9 races that look competitive. The GOP needs to win 5 of them to take the Senate. We can think of these seats in two groups.
- First, there are 5 seats in deep red states. Of those, Kentucky and Georgia are currently held by Republicans. In Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alaska, Democratic incumbents are fighting to hold on.
- Second, there are 4 Democrat-held seats in swing states — incumbents in North Carolina and Colorado, and open seats in Iowa and Michigan.