Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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.

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