Midterm Updates: Another Democrat Bites the Dust?

    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As gridlock continues to wear away at the patience of a nation, Congressional midterms wage on — and Democrats are looking at what could be a very rough fallout in the Senate. Just how rough depends on who you ask, but even the more moderate estimates of disaster think it likely that Republicans have the edge.

FiveThirtyEight made its own forecast for the Senate fallout, mixing together a combination of poll averages, bias considerations, past state partisanship trends, and candidate qualifications. In general, projections from the data group are very close to what an average of polls would show, with the exception of Kentucky, Georgia, and Arkansas, which they tilt toward the GOP far more than the polls, believing that polling for the Democratic candidates in said states has been inflated by outside factors that are likely to change on election day.

Even remaining in keeping with average poll findings, Democrats are looking at a four seat loss, in Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, and West Virginia, with the likely loss of South Dakota, and the probably gain of Georgia. This equals out to a fifty-one to forty-nine split, and averaged probabilities end up with a fifty-seat tie, with Vice President Joe Biden as tie breaker. Taking into account FiveThirtyEight’s less hopeful view of Kentucky, Georgia, and Arkansas, and the majority may well be lost, especially given that nine races considered toss-ups gave Democrats very tight odds — between 42 and 62 percent — of winning. Comparatively, The Washington Post tends to be a little less optimistic, while The New York Times has a more positive outlook for Democrats.

The Washington Post’s Election Lab gives Republicans an 86 percent probability of taking a majority in the Senate. The model is based off of a historic look at elections between 1980 and 2012 and uses the “key factors … related to outcomes” to help predict future outcomes. Key factors include items such as the national landscape, state/district partisanship, and candidate experience and incumbency. In combination with the unsurprisingly heavily GOP favored outcome in the House of Representatives, The WP’s model maps a grim future for Democrats, as is clear in its map — shown below.

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Washington Post

The overall favorable chances it gives to the GOP is explained by an examination of the nine balance breaking states which it labels as competitive: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana. Five must be taken to take the Senate, and according to the Data Lab, five will indeed be taken. Like FiveThirtyEight, The Washington Post predicts the GOP will easily take Alaska and Louisiana, and throws Kentucky, Arkansas, and Georgia in there as likely wins as well, admitting that its prediction is a bit more favorable to the Right than some, saying polls “do not give us enough reason to question” the clear findings in their model. 

The New York Times argues that a reversal of fiscal power is coming up and it could tilt things the other way. Initially the GOP had outside funding giving candidates a financial edge in the campaign, but recently the Democratic party has seen enough fundraising to turn the tables in the coming months. This is especially true given the federal laws on how much super PACs can be charged for their ads.

“The Democratic cash advantage will start to matter more and more as the balance of spending in midterms moves away from the outside groups toward the candidates and party committee. That’s not to say there won’t be outside spending — it just won’t be the only spending in the races anymore,” said Justin Barasky, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, to The New York TimesThe NYT suggests that Republicans need to gain six seats — as opposed to other analyses which demand five — and that in Kentucky, North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, and Louisiana the Democratic candidate has a fundraising advantage, as of Tuesday.

Still, while related, spending isn’t synonymous with success. There remain a number of other factors that deserve to be taken into account with equal emphasis, and no amount of money can change the fact that Georgia hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate in fourteen years or that Obama’s opinion polls are in the low to mid range. So will The New York Times adds an additional consideration for how polls and chances could be affected in the coming months, it’s hardly the deciding factor. Perhaps equally important to take into account are present legislative efforts — or lack thereof — in the Senate and Congress overall. This includes the Women’s Health Protection Act, the recently lost Pipeline XL bill, and even House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit.

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Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS