Thursday, August 14, 2014

Odds And Ends

The upcoming election is all about the Senate.  The House isn't going to change hands in any case, but the GOP has a real chance of taking back the World's Greatest Deliberative Body. (If the parties had their pick of one, they'd probably take the Senate, if for no other reason than it has a say in Supreme Court picks.)

In fact, the latest polls indicate Republicans are likely to have a majority when the dust settles.  Here's why I'm still predicting they won't--or at least, that the odds are against that result.

First, it's still too early to read much into the polls. Sure, the elections are less than 100 days away, but it's summer vacation.  It's not till after Labor Day that millions start paying any sort of attention.

Second, while polls shows unhappiness with the President, and the party with the leader in the White House is usually blamed for the nation's problem, they also show Republicans are highly unpopular.

Third, a lot has to go right for the GOP to win.  They need a minimum net gain of 6 seats.  Don't underestimate the power of the incumbency. Yes, I know, in "wave" elections people are swept out, but the GOP still has to unseat--in addition to winning three empty spots previously held by Dems--at least three Senators who will give it everything they've got.  And let's not forget in two states, Kentucky and Georgia, the Dems have a decent shot at a pickup.

Finally, the GOP has been underperforming, if that's what you want to call it, lately. Yes, sometimes they've picked awful candidates, but it's not just that.  In 2012, it looked like that had two or three easy pickups in the Senate, and instead they lost two seats.  Even in 2010, another wave election, they had a decent shot at a net gain of 8 but only took 6.

And note 2012 is our most recent data point.  The question is was that different because it was a Presidential election, or was it a case of the Obama team doing a great job getting out the vote (in a country with a growing percentage of Dems), presaging a new era where the Dems, if anything, outperform the polls?  Don't forget that most of the races where the GOP hopes to beat an incumbent are so close right now that if the polls are even slightly overstating support for the Republican they'll probably lose.

Don't get me wrong---things are looking up for the GOP.  A few months ago I thought they had about a ten to fifteen percent chance of taking back the Senate.  Right now I'd put it at about one in three.  But the people who are acting like it's a lot more likely than not are jumping the gun.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will be determined on which particular individuals stay stupid things in October. Since the candidates for that are limitless, I'd say its a toss-up

4:06 AM, August 14, 2014  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I'm cautiously optimistic that the Republicans will control the Senate after this election. There are three virtual slam dunks (MT,SD and WV) where the Republican is leading by or near double digits). The Republicans then only need to win 3 of 6 or 7 toss up states, while not losing GA or KY which are pretty red states.

So the toss up states are Alaska, Ark, Colo, LA, NC,and Iowa. (Pajama Guy might comment on whether Michigan is a toss-up as well.) Even underperforming, the Republicans are bound to get at least 3 of these toss-ups. And I wonder whether, faced with a Rep. majority in the Senate, Joe Manchin of WV might not switch parties a year in.

It is true Republicans rate very unpopular right now, but that is in part because there are a lot of frustrated Republicans who say they dislike their own party, but will "come home" when they have to vote. This explains some of Obama's unpoularity as well, especially as he begins to use force in the Middle East.

9:15 AM, August 14, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The number of people who ideologically identify with Reps or Dems or even as Reps or Dems is much smaller than the generally engaged bloggerati suppose. The mass hysteria of the moment will decide this election. Somebody's gonna keep fckin that chicken (thank you NY News) and that will mean everything

1:03 PM, August 14, 2014  

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