Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Senate Update - 15 October

The race for Senate control seems to be slowly slipping away from Democrats.  In the past week, there has been at least one poll released from each of the major "swing states", save for Arkansas. And in general, while the GOP is not drastically gaining ground, they are also not losing any.  As the graph below shows, the Republicans have been gradually increasing their odds of winning the Senate.

This is bad news for the Democrats, because, as I noted yesterday, there is very little time left on the clock to "catch up".  The GOP's chances are now at 58%, their best showing since October 2nd.  A few new polls today explain why.

Iowa and Colorado are two swing states Democrats need to win.  Sure, they could lose one or both and pick up other, more unexpected states, but the clearest path to a Democratic controlled Senate runs through those two states.  

On that front, Democrats didn't get great news today.  Two separate polls showed Iowa State Senator Joni Ernst up by two and four points against Bill Braley.  True, both of these polls were within the margin of error, but there have been relatively few polls showing Braley with a lead.  The only silver lining for Braley is that he has cut into Ernst's six point lead in the same Quinnipiac poll a month ago.

A similar movie is playing in Colorado, where Cory Gardner finds himself up by four points against Democratic incumbent Mark Udall.  This is in line with other surveys over the past two weeks putting Gardner up by two to six points against Udall.  Especially in Colorado, Democrats can see the race slowly slipping away.  Udall now only has a 40% chance of victory.  

Democrats, however, got good news in Georgia today, where a Survey USA poll found Michelle Nunn leading David Perdue by three points.  Not only was this a four point swing from the last Survey USA poll, but it was also the latest confirmation that Perdue's small lead has all but evaporated.  Perdue's chances today rose from 33% to 38%.

Let's be clear. There is a path to 50 seats for the Democrats in November without Iowa and Colorado.  But it is a much narrower path.  It would involve winning Georgia and Kansas, or it would mean Democrats would have to pull of a major upset in a likely Republican pickup such as Alaska, South Dakota, Arkansas, or Louisiana.  None of those scenarios is all that likely at this point.

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