Friday, October 03, 2014

Election 2014 Handicapping: Final Senate Predictions

Post-Election Update: I'm leaving the original text of this post intact -- not deleting or altering any existing text. What I am going to do is ADD text to illuminate where I was right or wrong. Where I was wrong, I will add the note "WRONG! BOOM!" -- the "boom" being an homage to Eric Dondero of "Libertarian" Republican. Where I was right, I'll just add the note "RIGHT." And of course, I'll add a large admission of error to the top here, like this:


Original post with the additions noted above, below the dashed line:


The 2014 US congressional elections are now one month  and a day away (the map says 30, but I decided to get this thing written and posted a day early).

Why am I making my final predictions on the coming US Senate races so far in advance? Simple: It doesn't take much analytical skill to look at the polls the weekend before the election and "predict" that the races will turn out the way the polls say they will. So I'm doing it 31 days out and then standing by my predictions. If I'm right I'm right, if I'm wrong I'm wrong. The latter does happen now and again and the convention wisdom says that it will happen this time, because:


  • Red state Senate seats up for election are currently held by the Republican Party.
  • Blue state Senate seats up for election are currently held by the Democratic Party.
  • "H" in a state is a prediction that the party currently holding the seat will keep it.
  • A blue state with a red splotch marked "RP" is a prediction that a currently Democratic seat will go Republican.
  • A red state with a blue splotch marked "DP" is a prediction that a currently Republican seat will go Democratic.
The current composition of the US Senate is 53 Democrats, two "independents" (Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont) who caucus with the Democrats and 45 Republicans.

In order to seize a Senate majority, the Republicans need a net pickup of six seats.

I predict that the Republicans will achieve a net pickup of two seats. WRONG! BOOM!

Republican candidates will almost certainly win previously Democratic seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia (that's not a controversial prediction). RIGHT

In Arkansas, Republican challenger Tom Cotton will probably unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor. This is the Republican pickup prediction that I'm least confident in, but it's not especially controversial either. RIGHT

That's four pickups.

But in Georgia, Democrat Michelle Nunn will beat Republican David Perdue for that state's open, previously Republican, seat. That's a mildly controversial (as compared to the conventional wisdom) prediction. The election will almost certainly require a run-off when neither "major party" candidate breaks 50%. WRONG! BOOM!

And in Kansas "independent" Greg Orman will unseat Republican incumbent Pat Roberts. Orman says  he will caucus with the majority party, which in my prediction set will be the Democrats, making this an effective Democratic pickup. This is the Democratic pickup prediction I'm least confident in because independent candidates do have a tendency to crash and burn even when they look good early. WRONG! BOOM!

So only two net pickups for the Republicans. That's four short of what they need. WRONG! BOOM!

Other competitive races in which I don't expect seats to change parties:

  • Alaska: Incumbent Democrat Mark Begich shuts down Republican challenger Dan Sullivan. WRONG! BOOM!
  • Colorado: Incumbent Democrat Mark Udall defeats Republican challenger Cory Gardner. WRONG! BOOM!
  • Iowa: Democrat Bruce Braley defeats Republican Joni Ernst for retiring Democrat Tom Harkin's open seat. This is the Democratic hold prediction I'm least confident in. WRONG! BOOM!
  • Louisiana: Incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu tops the state's "jungle primary" without reaching 50% and faces likely 2nd-place finisher Republican Bill Cassidy in a runoff, which she wins.  RIGHT (SO FAR)
  • New Hampshire: Incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen defeats Republican challenger Scott Brown. RIGHT
  • North Carolina: Incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan defeats Republican challenger Thom Tillis. WRONG! BOOM!
Of course if I'm wrong about any four of the Democrat holds or pickups I predict, the Republicans get their majority. They could even do it with any two if they can get Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia to switch parties and "independent" Angus King of Maine to switch caucuses. So I wouldn't completely discount the possibility of a Republican majority Senate next term.

So anyway, the above is my story and I'm sticking to it until November 5th proves it right or wrong.

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