Democrats In Position To Take Senate

Montana, Missouri, and Virginia are all close. This is just like pre-eelction polling. However, we are pulling away in Missouri, and we are ahead in Virginia where the remaining votes are in Dem areas. Further, Tester has a 9,000 vote lead in Montana with a whole lot counted.

I can smell it now. The Senate is clearly moving towards us. We will take both. No one will steal it from us this time.
Update: McCaskill wins!!!! One down, two to go. And we are leading in both of those two.

New Senate Calls

NBC News is calling the following Democratic victories: Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota, Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, Hillary Rodham Clinton in New York, Herb Kohl in Wisconsin, Kent Conrad in North Dakota, and Jeff Bingaman in New Mexico. NBC is also calling Texas for Kay Bailey Hutchison and Craig Thomas in Wyoming.

Minnesota, in particular, stands out, because it was supposed to be such a strong pick-up opportunity for the GOP. Apparently not.

Update [2006-11-7 21:11:15 by Jonathan Singer]: NBC is also calling CT-Sen for Joe Lieberman. However, it should be noted that just 2 percent of ballots are in...

Update [2006-11-7 21:19:31 by Jonathan Singer]: NBC calling Maryland Senate for Democrat Ben Cardin. That leaves -- oh wait, that leaves nothing left in the Senate for the Republicans to pick up.

Update (Chris): CNN calls Rhode Isalnd for Whitehouse. Virginia grows all the more important.

Update [2006-11-7 21:32:12 by Jonathan Singer]: NBC calls Maryland Senate for Martin O'Malley. That race really seemed to be tightening towards the end, but it now appears to be yet another Governor pick-up for the Democrats.

There's more...

Final House And Senate Forecasts



At long last, after more than a year of digging through numbers, I have arrived at my final House and Senate forecasts. While it is possible that there will still be some polls released between now and tomorrow morning, I doubt that many will be released, or that they will change this forecast at all. At the very least, I do not intend to make anymore posts on the House and Senate forecasts before the elections actually take place. This is the one for posterity.

House
My final House forecast shows a Democratic pickup of 23-29 seats, for a majority of 226-232. If you have to push to for a single number, I'll go with 26, and a majority of 229. The only chance I made form yesterday was to move NY-25 from "toss-up" to "lean Democratic." I have to say that one makes me very, very happy.

Note that I do not predict the outcome of individual races. Rather, I have placed seats into probability tiers, and estimated the number of seats Democrats will win within each tier. If I were to pick individual races, I would probably come up with a much higher Democratic gain. This is both because Democrats are leading according to polls in more than 26 Republican-held seats, and because I just don't have the heart to pick individual Democrats to lose. Thus, this system of forecasting saves me from engaging in a sort of wishful thinking bias.

Senate
My final house forecast shows a Democratic pickup of five seats. While I do grant either four seats or six seats as quite possible, I just think a five-seat pickup is the most likely outcome. This would lead to a 50-48-2 Senate, where Dick Cheney would cast the tie-breaking vote (provided that Lieberman caucuses with Democrats).

Looking that the five close races we have to win in order to take control, Rhode Island, Maryland, Montana, Missouri and Virginia, things look good for us in all five cases. However, I just have to think that there is going to be that one blemish, the one close race that gets away. I don't know which one it will be, but I feel a lot better about forecasting a five-seat gain where one of our small leads can disappear rather than projecting we take control by sweeping all five. I certainly hope I end up being wrong, and democrats take control.

*****

Well, that's it for me when it comes to election forecasts this year. I am going to make some phone calls to family and friends, get ready for tomorrow, and go to bed early. I will be working my precinct from 7 a.m. until the early afternoon, but I will be back and ready to blog a couple hours before the polls start closing. I am actually kind of glad that it is about to finally reach some sort of resolution. Let's make this happen.

Nearly Final Senate Polling Averages

Adding in the new Gallup Senate polls, which should nearly round out all of the Senate polling for this cycle, here are the latest, and nearly final, Senate polling averages for all of the races I have followed this cycle. Big assist, as always, to Pollster.com:
  • Vermont: Sanders (D / I) 60.0%--33.6% Tarrent (R). Sanders won the Democratic nomination here, but turned it down. But he will caucus with Democrats anyway. In both of those aspects, he is more of a Democrat than Lieberman.
  • Florida: Neslon (D) 58.4%--34.4% Harris (R). At least one high profile member of the evil empire is destined to go down in flames this year.
  • Nebraska: Nelson (D) 55.0%--32.8% Ricketts (R). Note: This just never really turned into, well, anything except a blowout. Dems can win in Nebraska. I hope Nelson isn't the only one who does so in 2006.
  • Minnesota: Klobuchar (DFL) 53.8%--36.8% Kennedy (R). Hahahahahahahahahaha. Mark Kennedy: Greatest. Candidate. Ever.
  • Michigan: Stabenow (D) 51.4%--39.4% Bouchard (R). Could Stabenow become a Michigan fixture, ala Levin? Sure looks like she is here to stay.
  • Ohio: Brown (D) 53.2%--42.2% DeWine (R). Everyone knows that Brown will win here, including Republicans. Whatever people thought about his torture vote, Sherrod Brown will now join his Progressive Caucus colleague, Bernie Sanders, in the Senate. It is nice to see a first immediately coupled with a second. A big, big gain.
  • Pennsylvania: Casey (D) 50.8%--40.2% Santorum (R). I fully expect Alex to pay me the $20 we bet on the 6-point Casey over under. Although that does feel wrong, since Alex has probably done more to beat Santorum than I have.
  • Washington: Cantwell (D) 52.6%--43.2% McGavick (R). Will Washington Republicans still be around to pose a serious challenge to Cantwell in 2012? Debetable.
  • New Jersey: Menendez (D) 48.2%--41.6% Kean (R). Menendez clearly has the edge here, and there just isn't much to worry about in this state anymore. In case anyone was counting, there have now been twenty-one polls, including internal Republican polls, released to the public since Kean last led here. Disaster averted. Well done, Scott Shields, well done indeed. New Jersey really owes MyDD.
  • Rhode Island: Whitehouse (D) 47.3%--41.3% Chafee (R). I have only included the last four polls here, leaving out the 10/20 Mason-Dixon because the poll is both old and repetitious. For reasons that generally escaped me, this campaign quickly turned into a Whitehouse rout after being close seemingly forever. Now, once again, it shows a closer campaign. But Whitehouse still clearly has the edge--just look at the polling average.
  • Maryland: Cardin (D) 48.4%--44.6% Steele (R). No poll has ever shown Steele ahead in this campaign, ever, at least against Cardin. It is way, way closer than it should have been, and Democrats need to do a much better job supporting African-Americans than they have done while in the opposition. But still, even thought the trend is not favorable, Cardin maintains the edge here. And where will the 7% of undecideds break in a state like Maryland? I have to favor Cardin. Otherwise, I would be betting against the odds.
  • Montana: Tester (D) 48.8%--45.6% Burns (R). No poll has shown Burns ahead in this race, ever, at least since it has been a race. The latest Gallup shows Tester more or less cruising. I favor Tester, without any reservations. The trendline is now either static or pro-Tester, not pro Burns. And remember--Tester won his primary by 30% when the polls showed it tied going in.
  • Missouri: McCaskill: (D) 48.2%--46.2% Talent (R). I really like McCaskill's chances here now. That's seven polls in a row that do not show Talent in front. If McCaskill wins, I'll spend a week in Missouri as gratitude. I'm not kidding. But she really should have it now.
  • Virginia: Webb (D) 47.0%--45.8% Allen (R). This is an eight-poll average that includes all four polls that were completed on October 29th. This should be good enough for Webb to win. It is basically what Kaine led by last year heading into the election.
  • Tennessee: Corker (R) 48.6%--45.0% Ford (D). I used the most recent polls from the last five polling firms for this one, because Rasmussen has been polling this one like crazy. It sure doesn't look good for Ford, although it doesn't look as bad as some have made it out to be. I don't think he will get blown out anymore, but racism was the key here. I don't care how many Tennessee residents think the racist ads were offensive. They ended up falling for it. If Republicans keep the Senate, they will have done so on pretty much straight-up racism.
  • Arizona: Kyl (R) 49.4%--41.4% Pederson (D). I still don't think e wasted our money here. I like the idea of pushing the field right at the end, even if it doesn't result in a win. But I now think I was wrong to move this race ahead of Tennessee. Pederson probably should have done better than this.
  • Connecticut: Lieberman (CfL) 49.2%--38.2% Lamont (D). It will be a lot closer than this. And Lieberman's corruption troubles are not over when the election is.
  • Nevada: Ensign (R) 54.2%--39.4% Carter (D). This is a four poll average, not five. Sadly, it just never came together here. There were indications that it could, but for one reason or another, it didn't. I'm not really sure why.
And so, fifteen months after my first Senate outlook (parts one and two), that is your nearly final Senate polling picture (there are no polls out of North Dakota, but that doesn't matter). If everything goes according to the polls, and if Lieberman really does caucus with Democrats, then Democrats will win the Senate 51-49 (or 49-49-2, however you want to call it). I just think that we will lose more than one of the really close races in Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri, Montana and Maryland. We need four out of five of those to win, as long as Rhode Island or New Jersey doesn't turn into a real problem, or Arizona doesn't turn into a very nice surprise. I know that some people buy into the blowing breeze theory, but I don't. I think it is a convenient explanation for lucky elections, rather than an actual force of politics. And even if I did, I'm not sure if it is blowing for us right now anyway. With numbers like these, my final prediction will probably be a four or five seat Democratic gain--I haven't decided yet. Just don't force me to pick which of the toss-up seats we actually lose, because I am unable to do that. I'll have a final Senate Forecast up at some point later on Monday to codify all of this for posterity.

Some Perspective On The Senate

On November 8th, 2006, from what I can tell, in all likelihood Republicans will continue to control the Senate. No doubt, the Republican Noise Machine will use this to try and mute the size of the Democratic victory in the elections. However, while we are nowhere near as likely to take control of the Senate as we are of the House, it is actually a very simple case to make that we are doing better in the Senate elections than we are in House elections. The basic problem is that the Senate only elects one-third of its members every tow years, and we were in just too big a hole in the Senate entering the 2006 elections to have a reasonable chance for control.

Here is the perspective I would urge: look at the performance of Democrats and Republicans in all thirty three Senate elections this year. We are absolutely kicking their ass. Here is the nationwide picture across all thirty-three campaigns, based on Pollster.com's five poll averages:
  • Strong Democratic: 18
  • Lean Democratic: 2
  • Toss-up: 4
  • Lean Republican: 2
  • Strong Republican: 7
Now that is an absolute butt-whooping that we won't see replicated in the House. We already have more than half of the thirty-three races, 18, in the "strong Democratic" column. By contrast, Republicans have less than one-quarter of the races, 7, in the "strong Republican" category. A quick glimpse at the state of the thirty-three elections is that the absolute best-case scenario for Republicans is to lose the Senate races 20-13. The absolutely best case for Democrats would appear to be to win the Senate races 24-9. That is a real throttling, a true thrashing, no matter what way you look at it.

My final senate forecast will probably project Democrats picking up four seats, which will mean a victory of 22-11 across the thirty-three campaigns. That will actually be one better than Republicans managed in 1994, when they won the same thirty-three campaigns 21-12. What this means is that Republicans should thanks their lucky stars that all 100 Senate seats were not up for re-election this year, ala all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. If they were, Democrats would not be talking about an outside chance at a majority, but whether or not we would win 60 seats. We opened up a pretty big can of whoop-ass on Republicans in the Senate this year, it just would have taken an all-timer, galactic landslide for Democrats to retake control in 2006.

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