November Senate Forecast
by Chris Bowers, Tue Nov 01, 2005 at 07:04:00 AM EST
If the already competitive tier features a roughly equal amount of Democratic and Republican challenges, then there will not be a significant shift in Senate seats. If one party holds and advantage of three or more challenges in the top tier (as Republicans did in 2004 and Democrats did in 2000), then there probably will be a big shift. The formula for a Democratic landslide and control of the Senate is as follows
- At least six very strong Democratic challenges to Republican held seats.
- A numeric Democratic advantage of at least three when it comes to very strong challenges to Senate seats held by the other party.
Already competitive (Incumbent party under 50%) Democratic targets Republican Targets Pennsylvania Minneosta Ohio Michigan Missouri Maryland Rhode Island WashingtonDemocrats hold three big advantages here. First, none of these states are red. They are all either purple (Michigan, Minnesota, Misouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania) or blue (Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington). Second, Pennsylvania is pretty much in the bag, and Ohio is very close to being in the bag. You can't say that about any of the Republican challenges.
Third, Missouri and Rhode Island look solid to stay in the already competitive category (incumbents well under 50, both facing experienced, well financed, high name ID challengers), while only Minnesota looks certain to stay in this category for Republicans (Stabenow and Cantwell are at 48-49%, just under the tipping point, and Cardin is pulling away in Maryland). The only Republican advantage is that they are challenging for two open seats, and Democrats none.
Potentially competitive (Leader is at 50-55%) Democratic Targets Republican Targets Montana Nebraska Arizona Florida TennesseeDemocrats hold a clear advantage in these second tier races, and it is from here that our best chance to make big gains arise. Montana and Arizona are the two campaigns most likely to make the leap into "already competitive." Kyl and Burns are just barely above the 50% tipping point (50-51%), with strong, well-financed Democratic challengers ready to step in. By contrast, right now it is very difficult to see a way for Republicans to bring down either Nelson. Nebraska Nelson has loads of money and a consistently fantastic, 60%+ approval rating. Florida Nelson is facing that pathetic Harris, who has almost no chance of wining the race, and who will almost certainly be the Republican nominee. Tennessee might actually have a better hope of a top tier race than Florida or Nebraska.
Wait and see (races that don't exist yet)
- New Jersey: We need candidates before we see what the situation is here
- Wisconsin: Safe for Kohl (high 50's in the polls) unless Thompson enters the race, who would be competitive.
- Vermont: As long as there is no Democrat in the race, Sanders will win huge (he is at around 60% in the polls). Just waiting to make certain that is the case.
- Nevada: A recent poll had Carter down huge to Esign. Carter still has not declared.
- Virginia: Without Warner, Dems still have no candidate or polls. However, James Webb could make this race competitive
- Mississippi. Lott has very little money in Q3, feels betrayed and had his home destroyed. Not sure if Dems could challenge for this seat, but if Lott retires, there might be a chance.
If the elections were held next week, instead of in fifty-three weeks, right now I would not forecast any significant change. However, if five races shift just five points in our favor (Arizona, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, and Washington), then we are talking about an enormous Democratic gain of four to six seats. In other words, while the situation is in equilibrium right now, the situation favors Democratic improvement more than it favors Republican improvement. Republicans are holding onto equilibrium by the skin of their teeth. While there are other paths to victory, rounding up 51 no votes on Alito would the surest way to guarantee large Democratic gains in 2006.