Friday, October 31, 2014

Gubernatorial Update - Halloween Edition

It has been a few days since we last updated the Gubernatorial forecast here at Battleground270.  Overall, not much has changed as far as how many seats each party is expected to have after November 4th.  

Republicans still have a slightly better chance of only losing one seat as opposed to multiple or keeping or gaining on their majority.  There is about a 21% chance Democrats will pick up one seat, while there is an almost even chance, at 20%, that Democrats will pick up two seats.

So which seats are ripe for picking off?  Well, it seems as though Democrats will pick up seats in multiple states, but that will be offset by some gains by Republicans in currently Democratic-held states.

Democratic Pickups

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is pretty much dead in the water, and that seat is the only sure pickup Democrats have at this point. 

Beyond Pennsylvania, Democrats certainly have pickup opportunities, but they are less likely.  Kansas' Republican Governor is currently trailing in the polls, but because of the conservative tilt of the state, Governor Brownback still has a 43% chance of holding on.  

In Florida, we see a similar situation playing out.  The Democratic candidate, former Governor Charlie Crist, is leading Governor Scott in the polls.  This time, though, because Florida doesn't have a Democratic or Republican tilt in our model, Crist has a 62% chance of taking back the Governor's mansion.

Maine is another state that Democrats believe they will pick off on Tuesday.  The Governor there is deeply unpopular with a majority of the electorate, but he could still survive if the Independent candidate draws enough of the anti-LePage vote.  To perhaps combat that scenario, the Independent candidate said Wednesday that people should essentially vote for someone else (wink wink) if they don't believe he can win (which he can't).  It will be interesting to see the final numbers in this race Tuesday night.

Finally, Democrats are underdogs but still have decent chances against sitting Republican Governors in Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  Wisconsin is seen as the likeliest of these races going to the Democrats, but a poll out Wednesday showed Governor Scott Walker with a seven point lead.  While this poll is almost assuredly an outlier, it should be noted that there haven't been 'outliers' in Mary Burke's favor.  Still, before that poll, Walker's chances were only 51%.  They are now 64%.

Georgia and Michigan represent tougher opportunities for Democrats.  Of the two, Republicans have a better chance of holding onto Michigan, despite its Democratic tilt, because polls currently show Rick Snyder with a small but consistent lead.  In Georgia, however, if Governor Nathan Deal cannot secure 50% of the vote on Tuesday, the race will go into a runoff, where the Democrat will have another shot at taking him down.

Republican Pickups

Despite all these possible gains for Democrats, Republicans look like they will have some pickups as well.  Arkansas is the only state in which it looks like a sure thing for the GOP to win the seat.  A string of polls has shown the Democrat, Mike Ross, trailing by a large amount.  He now has only a 3% chance of winning.

Massachusetts is the next best pickup opportunity for the GOP.  The Democrat, Martha Coakley, was at one time the heavy favorite.  But her in a combination of her running a not so great campaign and the Republican running a near flawless campaign, the seat will now more than likely turn red.

In both Colorado and Connecticut, Republicans have recruited strong candidates to run against the incumbent Governors.  Colorado seems to be a dead tie at this point, with both candidates showing leads in recent polls.  In Connecticut, the Republican candidate has a slight lead in the most recent polls.  However, like with some other states, Connecticut has a deep blue tilt and that brings his chances of victory down to only 51%.

Finally, Republicans still have a slight chance to win in deep blue Illinois.  The Republican, Bruce Rauner, was leading in some polls earlier this month, but the most recent ones show Governor Quinn with a slight lead.  His chances are now 62% that he'll keep the seat.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Senate Update - Arkansas is Off the Map

Thursday brought a lot of unexpected (and contradictory) polling.  For starters, Elon University found North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan ahead by four points while Rasmussen showed her ahead by one.  Either way, Kagan's lead has probably stabilized to around one to two points.  She now has a 62% chance of winning.

A similar story played out in New Hampshire, where an ARG poll put the race at a tie, while UNH showed Senator Jeanne Shaheen leading by eight points.  Again, her lead is likely not that large, but the race is also probably not a tie at this point.  Brown has yet to lead in any poll by more than one point.  Brown's chances of victory have now dropped to 24%.

In Colorado, polls are continuing showing Cory Gardner with a lead, but they vary by how much.  Quinnipiac now has the Republican ahead by seven, while SurveyUSA has him ahead by only two, well within the margin of error.  SurveyUSA's result was unchanged from their previous survey, indicating the race likely hasn't moved in the past couple weeks to one candidate or another.  As I've noted before, especially in this race, it will be all about turnout.

Mitch McConnell is also resting easier tonight, with a new poll showing him ahead by five points over Grimes.  The SurveyUSA poll had previously had McConnell leading by only one point, so it seems the race has indeed shifted in the Republican's favor.  McConnell's chances of winning next Tuesday are now 86%.

Finally, we come to Arkansas.  We haven't had a whole lot of polling from the state, which has left the model somewhat uncertain.  However, in the past two weeks, we've gotten five
polls, each showing the Republican, Tom Cotton, ahead.  But what really hurts Democrats are the two polls out today showing Cotton with a seven and thirteen point lead.  While it's probably Cotton doesn't actually lead by thirteen, it would be highly unusual for a poll to be thirteen points off, meaning Pryor only has a 5% chance of still winning this race, down from 18% before those polls.

Mostly on the basis of the Arkansas numbers, Republican's chances overall rose from 65.7 to 69.8%.  That result now accounts for the highest chance the GOP has had since we launched this forecast in mid-September.  With only four more days until the election, Democrats are going to need all of them to be pretty good polling days in order to feel more comfortable going into Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Senate Update - 29 October

On the whole, Democrats didn't get great news out of today's polls.  We saw two new polls out of Georgia, as well as a poll in Iowa and one in Kansas.  Republicans saw their chances of taking the majority increase to 65.7%, up from 64.4% yesterday.  

Let's begin with the good news for "Democrats".  That is, the poll from Kansas showed the Independent leading Senator Pat Roberts by two points.  Orman's average lead now is about one point, which would translate to about a 58% chance of victory on election day. However, that doesn't include state fundamentals, which bring his chances down to 52%. Still, that is higher than his chances yesterday, which were at 49%.  

Iowa, in contrast, gave Joni Ernst a slight advantage.  A new Quinnipiac poll put her up by four points over her challenger, Bruce Braley.  Still, because we have so many polls from this race, her average lead didn't change much.  She now has about a 61% chance of winning next week, up from 59% yesterday.

Finally, the two polls in Georgia showed a statistically tied race, which is probably best described as bad news for the Democrat, Michelle Nunn.  Her lead had been growing until a couple days ago, and it seems the race has reverted back to a tie.  The first poll, from SurveyUSA, had Perdue leading by three points.  The second poll, conducted by Rasmussen, showed a tie.  

Either way, this race looks headed for a runoff, as either of the candidates would need to win by about three or four points in order to get 50% of the vote.  And that is why it is probably bad news for Democrats.  The conventional wisdom is that in a runoff election, turnout will likely be lower, which usually helps the Republican.  Still, there is a week left, and it could be that the pollsters are missing something on either side.  But more likely, we won't know the fate of the Georgia race until January.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gubernatorial Update - Still Many Tossups

Yesterday, YouGov blessed us with polling from all of the major gubernatorial races.  While some polls helped add some confidence to our model about certain races (such as Rhode Island, Arkansas, and Hawaii), others just added to the confusion.

There are still seven states which could be described as 'tossups' and many more which are on the edge.  The tossup states are Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, and Wisconsin.  Of those, the model is most sure about Colorado and Illinois, giving the Democratic incumbents a 58% and 57% chance of victory.  The others are all between five percent of one another.  

Democrats are now about equally likely to win 22 and 23 seats, with the latter being slightly more likely.  Still, their chances of getting to at least 25 seats are only about 10.7%, about the same chance Democrats have to come away with exactly 51 seats in the Senate.

Senate Update - What's Going on in Alaska?

Regular readers will know that there is always a lot of uncertainty in the polls in Alaska, which is why the model typically is less sure of the outcome.  Today, that is especially true.

This is because a new survey was released today showing Democratic Senator Mark Begich with a six point lead.  Another survey last week had shown him with a whopping 10 point lead.  Meanwhile, a CBS/NYT/YouGov poll over the weekend put Sullivan ahead by four points.  

Alaska has always been a very difficult state to poll, and that is certainly reflected in these wildly different results.  For much of the summer and fall, Sullivan has had leads of between two and six points.  But these new polls tell a wildly different story. 

Much hay has been made about Begich's incredible ground game, and as Harry Enten noted, a turnout of only a few thousand extra voters could swing the race by about 3%. Before today's poll, Begich's chance at winning were only 30%.  However, afterwards they stand at 45%.  This brings the GOP's overall chances at winning the majority in the Senate to 64.4%, down from 67.7% yesterday.  That amounts to the largest change in our forecast since two weeks ago, when Republicans on the whole had a really great day of polling.

Most of the other polls released had a minimal effect on the model.  Iowa's Bruce Braley's prospects increased to 41% from 37%, but Senator Mary Landrieu's fell from 14% to 11%. Meanwhile, both of the Republicans in Colorado and North Carolina increased their chances of victory to 72% and 41%, respectively.  

Overall, this means that the fate of the Senate is even more up-in-the-air than we previously thought.  Meanwhile, due to probable runoffs in both the Louisiana and Georgia races, there is now about a 70% chance we won't know the who hold the majority until much after November 4th.  That's enjoyable for political junkies like myself, but probably not so good for the candidates in those races.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Does Harry Reid Care More About Power or the Majority?

The race for the Senate is close.  Like, really close.  But there is an additional wild card that no one is talking about.  

That wild card is Greg Orman.  Orman hasn't decided yet who he will caucus with.  He has said he won't decide until he gets to Congress and will caucus with the majority party.  But it is very likely his vote will be the determining factor.  But wether it is the Democrats or Republicans, the Independent has also said he will not vote for either Majority Leader Harry Reid or Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  

For Mitch McConnell, this scenario doesn't really matter.  If Democrats win 49 seats (not including Orman), and Republicans hold 50, Orman's vote would have to be for the Democrats for it to be a tie (which would be broken by Vice President Biden).  If Orman did not vote for Reid, however, McConnell would win with 50 votes to Reid's 49.  

So, this scenario would require Reid to willingly decide to give up his power as Majority Leader and allow another Democrat to step in.  

At first blush, it seems like the Majority Leader would not be willing to make this move, even if it means having a majority.  There would likely be a hard push from from Democrats to appease Orman in order to keep the majority, but the man in question would likely not relent.  

Also, who would be the next choice for Democrats?  Senator Chuck Schumer has been Reid's right hand man for some time now and would be an obvious replacement.  He is from a safely Democratic state, one which is the fundraising capital of the politicians he would be leading.  

More likely though, Harry Reid will play roulette and hope the Independent will eventually cave. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Senate Update - 26 October

This year's midterms are shaping up to be among the most unpredictable and suspenseful in recent history.  This is due to the large number of races that neither party has been able to put away.  For the Democrats, those races include North Carolina and New Hampshire. For the GOP, the list includes Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Colorado, and Iowa.  

As we discussed Friday, many of those races are likely to go to the GOP, not because there is a wave election, but because it is a year in which Democratic Senators must defend their seats when it isn't a wave year for their party, as it was in 2008.  

And despite a spate of new polling out today, we're still no closer to knowing who will likely control the Senate majority in January.  I won't go through every poll and race, but I will mention the races that moved to a larger degree and those that are still pretty much the same.

Senator Mark Udall got a slight bump today from two new polls showing the race a statistical tie (one showed him up by 1, the other down by 1).  This helps improve his odds of winning to 33%.

Both of those polls also showed David Perdue leading Michelle Nunn by a small margin. Still, Nunn has led in most of the recent polling, and the state is now only leaning towards Perdue, 51% to 49%. Chances rose today that the race will go to a runoff in January as neither candidate seems to be pulling ahead.

Senator Pat Robert's chances increased slightly today to 51% as one of the new polls showed his lead to be four points.  The other showed him trailing by one point.  Still, the race is as close as any, and it's very likely we'll be up late next Tuesday before we know who won the state.

Jeanne Shaheen's chances also rose today, on the heels of the CBS/NYT/YouGov poll that put her ahead of former Senator Scott Brown by five points.  This is her largest lead in the past couple weeks and is outside the margin of error.  With only one week left for Brown to hope for a game changer, Shaheen's chances are now 67%.

Finally, we at long last got another poll from South Dakota, and it appears the Republican, Mike Rounds, is in little danger of losing the race.  The poll showed him handily defeating both the Democrat and the Independent.  His win probability increased from 92% to 96%, as the three-way race can still make for a bit of unpredictability.

And despite all the new polls, each party's chances remained relatively the same. Republicans now have a 67.7% chance of winning control of the Senate, down about half a point from Friday.  Each party now has only nine more days to lock down the races they need, but realistically, Tuesday Nov. 4th's forecast is probably going to look very similar to tonight's.

Gubernatorial Update - 26 October

We haven't updated our gubernatorial forecast in a few days, but in reality, not much has changed.  There have been many polls out of Georgia, Colorado, Kansas, and Illinois, but most of them haven't moved the needles for their prospective candidates much.  Despite getting some good polling news on Friday, Georgia's Jason Carter received some more polls showing he was still trailing incumbent Governor Nathan Deal.  The race has tightened slightly, but Deal still has a 62% chance of winning.

In Colorado, it appears as if Governor John Hickenlooper is doing better than his Democratic counterpart, Mark Udall.  He consistently polls about three to four points better against his opponent than does Udall, and that will likely make the difference in the race for Governor.  Hickenlooper's chances have increased to 55% from 50%.

In Kansas, the race is still close, but two new polls from Rasmussen Reports and NBC/Marist show the Democrat, Paul Davis, with a seven and one point lead, respectively. The race appears to be leaning in Davis' direction, but Kansas is still a very red state, and that means Davis' probability of a win is still only 49%.

Finally, two fresh polls from Illinois show the Republican challenger, Bruce Rauner, leading Governor Pat Quinn by one and two points.  In a way, Illinois is the exact opposite as Kansas.  Pat Quinn is a Democratic Governor who is deeply unpopular in his state.  The challenger is leading slightly in the polls, but the outcome will be uncertain because of the deep tint of the state.  Still Quinn has a 47% chance of victory.  He faced longer odds in 2010 and still came out on top.  We'll see where the final week of the campaign takes this race.

Overall, the Democrats are still expected to have the best chance of gaining one seat from their current 21 seats.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Senate Update - Georgia Georgia Georgia

Yesterday, we received a total of three new polls out of Georgia.  While they all showed that the race is still a close one in the state, they each differed on who had the lead.  The first, from CNN, showed the Democrat, Michelle Nunn, with a three point advantage.  Then, the Atlanta Journal Constitution's poll of the state was released and found David Perdue leading Nunn by two points.  The final poll, released last night, showed the race as a tie.  

The model takes the three polls into account equally, but it has become clear the past couple days that Michelle Nunn is ahead, if only by a small margin.  Her bigger problem is that she is not clearing 50%, which she needs in order to avoid a runoff.  Still her chance of leading on election day is now 53%, up slightly from yesterday at 52%.

Another Democrat received good news yesterday with a new poll showing Senator Jeanne Shaheen leading by three points.  Though her lead has been small, it has been remarkably consistent.  That affects the model in that it is more confident that she is actually ahead. Therefore, her chances rose from 62% to 64%.  

Finally, a new poll from Colorado showed Mark Udall trailing Republican Cory Gardner by five points.  However, this is slightly less than six point deficit Udall saw in the prior poll. Additionally, some of the older polls have become less relevant, and Udall's chances have risen to 30% from 25%.

Overall, the GOP's chances of winning a majority are still moderately strong, at 68.3%, but that is down from 69.4% yesterday.  This marks the first time in the last ten days that the party's chances have decreased rather than increased (or stayed the same).  Stay tuned to see if this is just a fluke or if it is more of a trend.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Senate Update - Good (and Bad) News for Democrats

Today brought some new polls from some places we haven't heard from in awhile.  The most consequential of which was a poll from Rasmussen Reports showing Greg Orman leading Kansas Senator Pat Roberts by five points.  This is the first poll to show Orman leading by that large of a margin since the beginning of the month.  Still, Kansas is a very red state, and Orman's chances are only 51%.  

Other polls out today essentially confirmed the status quo.  Iowa's Joni Ernst leads Bruce Braley by two points and Cory Gardner leads Colorado Senator Mark Udall by the same margin.  Their chances are now 64% and 75%, respectively.  

There were also two new polls out of New Hampshire today.  One showed Jeanne Shaheen ahead by two points and the other had her leading by one point against Scott Brown.  The race has no doubt tightened in recent weeks, but Shaheen is holding on to a small but stubborn lead.  Her chances of re-election now stand at 62%, down from 68% yesterday.

Finally, InsiderAdvantage polled Georgia and found what we have been seeing for the past week: Michelle Nunn is ahead, if only by the smallest of margins.  Her chances of winning have increased to 52%, the first time she has been favored to win.  Still, Nunn needs to clear 50% of the vote on November 4th.  Otherwise, she and Perdue will go into a runoff in early January.  

Currently, the Libertarian candidate in Georgia is pulling an average of about 5% of the vote, which means that in order to top 50%, Nunn would need to beat Perdue by that same amount.  At this point, her lead is only about a point or two.  We expect the Libertarian Candidate to only receive about 3 or 4% of the vote on election day (third party candidates typically poll better than they perform), so that lowers the bar a bit for Nunn.  If she continues widening the gap between herself and Perdue, we might not have to wait until January to find out who controls the Senate.

As it stands, Republicans incrementally increased (again) their chances of winning the majority. They now have a 69.4% chance, up from 68.2% yesterday.  You may wonder why the party's fortunes are rising even when Democrats get (mostly) good news.  It is because polls taken more than two weeks ago are given less weight than previously.  As you know, a two weeks ago, Republicans only had a 55% chance of winning (because of some good polling at the time for Democratic candidates.  Still, if new polls come in giving good results for Democrats, the same will happen for Republican-favored polls.  

2014 Doesn't Look Like a Wave

Midterm elections are often 'wave' elections - an election in which one party sweeps nearly all of the competitive races and makes large gains in both houses of Congress.  However, 2014 doesn't look like it will be one of those wave elections, despite what the media is saying.

For this year to be a wave for the GOP, both parts of that definition must hold true.  First, the GOP would need to win most or all of the 'purple' state races and even pick off some of the more traditionally 'safe' Democratic seats.  Further, they would need to do this without taking losses in traditionally 'red' states.

2010 was no doubt a wave election for the GOP (as was 2006 for Democrats).  In that year, Republicans won in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Florida, and even picked up a seat in deep blue Illinois.  Further, they would have also won in Nevada, Colorado, and Delaware had the party not nominated more extreme candidates who couldn't appeal to the independents.   Additionally, Republicans didn't lose a single seat held by an incumbent of their party.

That year, the GOP picked up seven Senate seats and a whopping 63 House seats (we'll talk more about that later).  This year, the party may pick up an additional seven seats, but this time, it's different.  

In 2010, the Senators up for re-election had won their last election in 2004, a moderately good year for Republicans.  Therefore, the party didn't have many incumbents to defend in the more Democratic states.  However, this year, Democrats are defending seats they won in 2008, a banner year for the party.  Now, Democrats have incumbents running for re-election in deep red states such as Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia.  It shouldn't be any surprise that even in a neutral year, Democrats would lose most, if not all of those states, and by fairly large margins.

But here's the rub: most of those states (not including Montana and West Virginia) are still highly competitive this year.  Sure, the GOP may take all of those states, but it won't be by blowout margins.

Additionally, to qualify as a 'wave', Republicans would need to pick off Democratic-held seats in most, if not all of the 'purple' states, and possibly pick up a more traditionally Democratic seat, such as Minnesota , Michigan, or Oregon.  So far, of the purple states, Republicans are ahead in Colorado and Iowa, but behind (slightly) in North Carolina and New Hampshire, and they are being blown out in Virginia.  

Michigan was once thought to be a competitive swing state, but the Democrat, Gary Peters, is now way ahead of his Republican rival.  Minnesota and Oregon are also not even close.  

To further drive the point, Republicans would need to easily hold on to their seats in red states.  But that isn't happening either.  The Independent candidate (who will probably caucus with Democrats, if he wins) Greg Orman is neck and neck with Pat Roberts in Kentucky; Democrat Michelle Nunn is leading her Georgian rival, and Kentucky's Alison Lundergan Grimes is only a couple points behind Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. These red state races will be close, indicating there's not going to be even a small wave for Republicans this year.  

Finally, with respect to the House of Representatives, the GOP is expected to pick up between 5-10 seats, but that isn't especially surprising given that most of those seats are in districts that have been gerrymandered by Republican state legislatures in order to help the GOP candidates.  

Could a small wave still form?  Yes.  It would require Democrats losing in (at least) Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, and New Hampshire, as well as Republicans winning by larger than expected margins in Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, and the remainder of the red states.  Further, the party would need to pick up close to twenty seats in the House.  

Until evidence of that begins to appear, however, let's stop calling this a wave election.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Senate Update - The Georgia Firewall

Not too long ago, it was once thought that if Democrats were to have any electoral success in 2014 in Georgia, it would be because President Jimmy Carter's grandson, Jason Carter, was able to defeat the Republican incumbent.  However, it now seems Michelle Nunn may be the candidate to ignite the hopes of Democrats for turning Georgia blue (or at least purple-ish).

Nunn has now led in every poll over the past two weeks.  While her lead is within the margin of error, it's perhaps a bigger deal because Perdue's lead before the 'outsourcing' scandal was between three and four points.  That represents a 5-7 point swing in just a couple weeks.  

With this new lead, Georgia is making up what Democrats hope will be a 'firewall' to save
their Senate majority.  Here's how it works.  The GOP need to pick up a net six seats in order to have the majority.  If they get MT, SD, WV, AR, AK, and LA, they are already there (all of those states are either safe or likely GOP pickups now).  Plus, Republicans are strongly favored in Colorado.  That would mean the GOP would have seven seats, one more than needed.  

Democrats, however, see Georgia and Kansas as their two possible pickup opportunities.  If Dems can hold on to Iowa (which is currently a near-tie), North Carolina (leaning towards Hagan), and New Hampshire, along with pickup up Georgia and Kansas from the GOP (Orman would have to caucus with the Democrats), the party will keep the majority.  

That's a lot of 'ifs', certainly more than the GOP needs to pull off at this point.  The electoral calculus is always changing, but it seems this is the most likely scenario to a Democratic-controlled Senate in 2015.  As it stands, Republicans now have a 68.2% chance of making that not happen.

Gubernatorial Update - Incumbents Watch Out

Sometimes, it's difficult to make sense of what the polls are really telling us.  There were many new polls, and most of them showed that the 'tossup' races are moving away from the incumbents (or incumbent party, as is the case in Massachusetts).  

Let's begin there.  Though the Democrat, Martha Coakley, is not the incumbent, her party is. Today, a WBUR poll found the Republican leading by a point.  What is more significant is that the same polling agency had found Coakley leading by three points just two weeks ago. While Massachusetts is a very liberal state, Baker now has the advantage, with a 52% chance of victory.

There were actually two new polls out from Colorado today; one showing the Republican with a two point advantage and the other showing the incumbent Governor with a whopping seven point lead.  This is one case in which the incumbent now has slightly improved odds of winning.  Hickenlooper's chances are now also at 52%.

On to Florida, where we have yet another 'tie' result between Governor Rick Scott and former Governor Charlie Crist.  Despite Scott not leading in any polls, the model actually shifted towards him by 1% (now at 46% chance of re-election) due to some prior polls having less weight.  The state is certainly earning its swing state status this year and promises to come down to the wire.

The final two polls of note were in Georgia and Wisconsin.  In Georgia, Governor Nathan Deal is fighting for his political life against Jason Carter, who is only two points behind in the latest SurveyUSA poll.  The firm's previous poll had the race tied, but again, due to older polls dropping out, Deal's lead has actually decreased.  He now only has a 60% chance of winning, down from 63% yesterday.

And in Wisconsin, Rasmussen Reports has found Mary Burke to be leading Governor Scott Walker by one point.  While the poll is obviously within the margin of error, it represents a three point shift in Burke's direction since last month.  Burke now has a 54% chance of beating the incumbent Governor, up from 49% yesterday.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gubernatorial Update - Movement Towards the GOP

Like in the Senate, we finally got some new polling for Gubernatorial races today.  We'll start with the two from Michigan.

Governor Snyder is in a better position today than when this forecast launched last week. He now has a 71% chance of winning, up from 66% before the two new polls came out. Those polls showed him with a two and eight point lead.  It's likely his actual lead is somewhere in between, but either way, Schauer's path to victory is getting much narrower.  

As in the Senate, PPP also released a poll showing Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper tied with Bob Beauprez, his Republican opponent.  This race is still very much a tossup, but our model now has Beauprez leading, if only slightly.  The Republican's chances now stand at 52%.

Finally, we have a new poll in Arizona, which has been sparsely polled, probably due to its lack of Senate race this year.  The Republican, Doug Ducey, has a five point lead in PPP's poll.  The most recent poll before this one was a month ago, and it showed Ducey with an eleven point lead, so most of the weight was put on this most recent one.  Ducey now has a 95% chance of winning.  

Overall, Democrats are still favored to pick up at least one seat, and possibly two.  There are still too many tossup races to narrow down where things will fall.

Senate Update - 21 October

For the most part, Republicans continue to get good news when it comes to the fate of their Senate candidates.  Today (finally) brought multiple polls from swing states such as Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Colorado, North Carolina, and Louisiana.

Most of the polls were favorable to Republicans.  In Arkansas, the survey found Tom Cotton with a whopping 8 point lead.  While this is a larger lead than we've seen and is likely an outlier, it certainly points to evidence that Cotton's lead is certainly outside the margin of error.  Pryor's chances of re-election are now only 14%.  

Monmouth University released two polls today of Colorado and Kansas.  The Kansas poll found Independent candidate Greg Orman tied with Republican Senator Pat Roberts.  They also found Colorado's Cory Gardner leading Mark Udall by one point.  

PPP also surveyed the Colorado race and found Senator Udall down by three points.  Udall hasn't led in a poll since late September, but it seems that he has cut into a bit of Gardner's former lead.  Still his chances of winning are only 33%.

The glimmer of good news for Democrats today came from a SurveyUSA poll which found North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan leading Republican Thom Tillis by three points.  This is the same margin SurveyUSA found last week, which would indicate that the race is at least holding steady.  Hagan's chances remain at 60%.

Overall, the GOP is continuing its march to winning a majority in the Senate.  Their chances are now at 67.6%, up 1.3% over yesterday.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Senate Update - 20 October

As you can see in the graph below, the GOP's chances have now risen essentially every day for the past week (save for a small drop of 1% on one day).  With a 66.2% chance of the GOP winning, the race for the majority in the Senate can no longer be considered a tossup.  Sure, a couple races are still tossups, which is why there is still a fair amount of uncertainty in the forecast.  But at this point, Democrats need for things to begin breaking their way.

This is not all to say that Republicans will for sure win the Senate.  In fact, I wrote earlier today about how that storyline is premature and currently false.  But the GOP will be odds-on favorites to win on election night if the rate of their increase in probability remains steady. Assuming that were the case, Republicans would have a 91% chance of winning on election night.  

So what happened today that drove the nearly 3% increase in the party's fortunes?  Two polls each told the same story in New Hampshire, where Senator Jeanne Shaheen is now running in a closer-than-expected re-election battle.  The polls each had Shaheen beating Scott Brown by three points.  That's about in-line with the average now of the polls, giving the Senator a 68% chance of winning in two weeks.

There was also a PPP poll of North Carolina, showing the Democrat, Kay Hagan, up by three points. Tillis has still yet to lead in a single polls since the summer (he has tied in one), and Hagan's fortunes remained about the same with the inclusion of this new poll.

Finally, SurveyUSA polled Kentucky voters and found Alison Lundergan Grimes to be slipping relative to their last poll two weeks ago.  The prior poll had Grimes up by two, and the newest one has her trailing by one.  Each of these is within the margin of error, but when combined with other polls of the state, Grimes is the clear underdog.  She now has only a 20% chance of winning, down from 25% just yesterday.