House and Senate Forecast Updates



I have now made new updates to both the Senate Forecast and the House Forecast. I am making these updates today for multiple reasons. First, looking at the whole situation at once helps calm me down. Second, so much information is coming in, it is forcing me to update several races every day. Third, I have been concerned in a lack of consistency in my forecast method, and I wanted to make sure it was all ironed out. Fortunately, by now I think I have enough improvements to be able to leave the forecasts alone until Monday evening, when I intend to make my final forecasts.

In addition to the changes I announced last night, here are the new changes to the House forecast:
  • CT-05 upgraded from "toss-up" to "lean Democratic"
  • IN-09 upgraded from "toss-up" to "lean Democratic"
  • TX-22 downgraded from "lean Democratic" to "toss-up"
  • KS-02 upgraded from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican"
  • WY-AL upgraded from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican"
The House forecast now shows a Democratic gain of 23-29 seats, giving me a wider range on the exact 26-seat pickup I went with last night. If nothing else, at least right now I feel those rankings are consistent with each other. They may seem conservative, but they are my best guess.

Now, onto the changes in the Senate forecast:
  • Michigan downgraded from "non-competitive" to "likely Democratic"
  • Washington downgraded from "non-competitive" to "likely Democratic"
  • Montana downgraded from "lean Democratic" to "toss-up: projected Democratic"
  • Missouri upgraded from "toss-up: projected Republican" to "toss-up: projected Democratic"
  • Tennessee downgraded from "toss-up: projected Republican" to "lean Republican"
  • Arizona upgraded from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican."
  • Arizona moves ahead of Tennessee in the overall rankings to our seventh best target
  • New Jersey moves ahead of Maryland to become the second best Republican target.
Once again, I feel these rankings are now consistent with each other. The overall Senate projection, however, is notably inconsistent with the seat-by-seat projection. While I forecast Democratic pickups in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Rhode Island, and while I give Democrats the edge in Montana, Virginia and Missouri, I find the latter three races so close that I do not project we will win all of them. In other words, looking at each seat in a vacuum, I see six pickups for Democrats. However, looking from a wider lens, I see the Democratic edges in Montana, Virginia and Missouri all being so slight, that it seems more likely to me than not that we will lose one of those races. However, I just can't pick which of the three we will lose. This is why I see a five-seat gain for Democrats in the Senate, despite seeing Democrats with an edge in six pickup opportunities.

Is that a cop-out? Maybe. Am I too gutless to ever pick Democrats to win the Senate this cycle? Maybe. However, I would much rather be wrong and have Democrats take the Senate, than be wrong and have Republicans keep the Senate. The margin between Democrats taking the Senate and Republicans keeping the Senate seems so small right now, that even if I am wrong, I shouldn't be wrong by all that much. Right now, this si the best I can do when it comes to guessing. Now, it is time to spend the weekend getting active.

Update: So much information coming in at once. Look at the new Survey USA polls. I clearly jumped the gun on IN-09, but I was clearly right about CO-04. Hard to keep track of everything. OH--and the poll showing a 47-47 tie in Maryland? It has the green party canddiate getting 3%. Yeah, that will happen. Still, I also feel good about bumping that race ahead of New Jersey. Menedez will win. Cardin--I'm not so sure yet.

Independent Expenditure Totals For All Party Committees In 2006

Here is a treat for all you political junkies out there: the complete independent totals for 2006 in every congressional race, both House and Senate, for all party committees combined: DNC, RNC, NRCC, DCCC, DSCC and NRSC. Check it out:

Independent Expenditure Totals For All Party Committees In 2006

Kombiz sent this to me last night, and deserves a ton of credit for this. The bigger MyDD becomes, and the more projects we engage in, the more we continue to need help from members of the MyDD community. This blog is becoming more and more of a group effort all the time.

Here are some items of note from the totals:
  • In the House, about 93% of all money was spent on Republican held seats. In the Senate, about 83% of all money was spent on Republican held seats. These totals might only increase during the final weekend.
  • Republicans actually spent a slightly higher percentage of their funds on defense, 90.3%, than Democrats spent on the attack, 88.4%. This is because the DSCC spent nearly 20% of their funds on defense.
  • The Missouri Senate race has had the most independent expenditures in the entire nation, with $19.6M. The Ohio Senate race comes in second at $15.3M. Tennessee is a distant third at $10.5M. Missouri really is where the Senate will be decided. Also, while Republican committees really were running a firewall strategy in those three states, Democratic committees actually matched them dollar for dollar in those competitions.
  • The CA-50 is still the race with the most expenditures in the entire nation, at $7.1M. The top ten are PA-06 ($6.2M), NM-01 ($5.6M), PA-07 ($5.2M), FL-22 ($5.2M), OH-18 ($5.0M), PA-08 ($4.8M), CT-05 ($4.8M), IL-06 ($4.6M), and IN-09 ($4.5M). Those ten races actually account for around 37% of all spending on House races.
  • The House races where Republicans have most outspent Democrats are: CA-50 ($2.8M), IL-08 ($2.2M), FL-22 ($1.8M), TX-22 ($1.5M), CO-04 ($1.5M), OH-18 ($1.5M), FL-16 ($1.3M), CT-02 ($1.2M), IN-09 ($1.2M), PA-08 ($1.1M), KY-03 ($1.1M), NC-11 ($1.1M), and PA-07 ($1.0M)
  • The House races where Democrats have most outspent Republicans are: CO-07 ($987K), IN-02 ($842K), OH-15 ($697K), NV-03 ($593K), and GA-12 ($432K).
Fascinating stuff. I hope you enjoy it.

Entering Final Weekend, Democrats Move Close To Taking Senate

Two races, where Democrats have led all along, Montana and Maryland, are tightening. Two races that were close for a while, New Jersey and Rhode Island, are now moving out of Republican reach. Two races where Democrats have typically been slightly behind, Missouri and Virginia, are now showing Democratic leads. Entering the final weekend, here is the complete Senate polling picture, via Pollster.com's five-poll averages.

Looking good:
  • PA: Casey (D) 51.4%--40.2% Santorum (R)
  • OH: Brown (D) 52.6%--42.0% DeWine (R)
  • MI: Stabenow (D) 50.4%--40.2% Bouchard (R)
  • WA: Cantwell (D) 52.4%--42.6% McGavick (R)
  • RI: Whitehouse (D) 48.2%--40.2% Chafee (R)
  • MD: Cardin (D) 51.0%--43.8% Steele (R)
  • NJ: Menendez (D) 48.2%--42.2% Kean (R)
Looking close, but good:
  • MT: Tester (D) 48.2%--45.0% Burns (R)
  • VA: Webb (D) 47.0%--45.8% Allen (R)
  • MO: McCaskill (D) 47.8%--46.8% Talent (R)
Not looking good:
  • TN: Corker (R) 49.2%--46.0% Ford (D)
  • AZ: Kyl (R) 49.2%--41.0% Pederson (D)
  • CT: Lieberman (CfL) 48.4%--38.8% Lamont (D)
The first tier gives us a baseline of a three-seat pickup, all of which look pretty solid right now. The second group is where we can win the Senate, with both Virginia and Missouri trending our way, and every poll still showing Tester hanging on in Montana. I am expecting undecideds to break our way in most of those ten races.

It may be a surprise to some that I include Tennessee in the bottom three seats, but right now that campaign seems to be moving in the opposite direction of Connecticut and Arizona. I expect Connecticut and Arizona to both get noticeably closer, both because of polling trends and as Pederson and Lamont scoop up undecideds. Ford's campaign seems to be moving in the opposite direction, and I am expecting the undecideds in that race to break for Corker. I actually wouldn't be surprised if both Pederson and Lamont outperform Ford. Later today, as I begin rolling updates to the House and senate forecast, Montana will be downgraded to "toss-up," and Tennessee will be downgraded to "lean Republican." Arizona could very well be upgraded to "lean Republican," but I haven't quite decided yet. Washington and Michigan will be placed back on the board as "likely Democratic."

Overall, I still think a five-seat gain for Democrats is the best bet right now, and taking control of the chamber has clearly become a possibility. Right now, polling shows us ready to take "control" to the tune of 49-49-2, and our momentum is generally quite good. Further, both the Incumbent Rule and the "blowing breeze" theory suggest we have additional advantages on top of our small leads in Montana, Missouri and Virginia. I think this suggests Democrats have about a 35-40% chance of taking the chamber by one seat, pending Lieberman and any unforeseen surprises. For us to have gotten even that close in a year when we have both more open seats to defend, and more overall seats to defend, is mind-blowing. I am not writing that as a sort of pre-emptive moral victory line, but simply to remind everyone how difficult taking the Senate this year was always going to be. Democrats will probably win more total senate races, 22-23, than either party has won since 1980. Republicans could be kept to single digit Senate victories this year. That will be a remarkable achievement, even if we come up just short in the chamber overall.

The End Nearing, Chafee Embraces Ultra-Partisan Rhetoric

Lincoln Chafee has done a great job portraying himself both to the media and to voters as a consummate moderate, proudly announcing his vote for the 41st, rather than 43rd President during the 2004 election, voting against the nomination of Samuel Alito, opposing opening the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to drilling. Yet when push comes to shove and the conservative and highly-partisan Republican leadership needs him on their side, whether it is on the vote for Majority Leader or cloture on the Alito nomination, Chafee consistently puts party ahead of conviction. And when faced with prospect of very possible defeat, Chafee lets slip harsh partisan rhetoric even as he goes on the air proclaiming his independence from party. Elana Schor has the details for The Hill.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), whose collegial personality has bolstered his appeal in an otherwise blue state, took an indirect shot at Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) during a debate Monday night with his Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse.

When Whitehouse blasted Chafee for failing to push for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation in the wake of escalating chaos in Iraq, the incumbent -- trailing his foe by as many as eight points in recent polls -- asked Whitehouse why he has failed to question Reid's amended reports to the Senate ethics committee clarifying the details of a $1.1 million land deal.

"Whitehouse is talking about, `you should call for this, you should call for that,' and the senator is putting out that the current Democratic minority leader, Harry Reid, has got some ethics questions surrounding his conduct and Whitehouse has stayed silent," Chafee campaign manager Ian Lang said. "Does [he] believe that this disqualifies Reid as minority leader?"

Sen. Chafee, like just about everyone else inside the Beltway (or who follows what happens around Capitol Hill), knows that there is no "there" in the Harry Reid land deal story. While Reid was excessively sloppy in detailing his holdings, failing to report that he formed an LLC to better facilitate his properties, he did not, as many Republican members of Congress have (including Speaker Denny Hastert), use federal appropriations to enrich himself (by, for instance, allocating federal funds for a highway near his land holdings as did Hastert and others).

But that's largely beside the point. Trailing badly in the polls (pollster.com shows him down six points), Chafee is going to great lengths to publicly distance himself from the partisan excesses of his own Republican Party. Nonetheless, the fact remains that Lincoln Chafee is a Republican who votes the party line when ultimately necessary and supports an extreme GOP majority in the Senate. And no ad ought to blind Rhode Island voters -- particularly independents and loosely-affiliated Democrats -- to this fact.

There's more...

Senate Forecast Update



The latest Senate forecast is up. Unlike last week, there is nothing but good news for Democrats in this one. I have moved by seat projection from a Democratic gain of four seats to a gain of five seats. With McCaskill's gains in Missouri, I was extremely tempted to, for the first time ever, forecast a six seat pickup for Democrats. Here are the seat by seat changes:
  • Ohio moves from "Lean Democratic" to "Likely Democratic." Twenty-point leads and Republicans abandoning a former "firewall" state will cause that sort of thing to happen.
  • Virginia remains a toss-up, but now I project it for Democrats instead of Republicans. Webb is starting to look very good here.
  • Tennessee moves form "Lean Republican" to "Toss-up." Maybe I'm putting too much faith in Ford's internals, but we shall see.
  • New Jersey moves form "Toss-up" to "lean Democratic." Sorry Teagan.
Read the whole forecast here. Basically, Democrats are moving closer, into the lead, or further ahead everywhere. People often say that elections are decided in the last two weeks, and we certainly did well during the first five or six days of that stretch. That is a very good sign.

I plan on making two more Senate forecasts before the election, one on Saturday and one on Monday. I'll have a new House forecast up tomorrow.

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