2010 Elections, 9/9 edition – House/Senate/Governors polls

2010 Election Predictions – How we rank individual races

Now that Labor Day has passed, primary season is in the “home stretch”– the eight remaining Congressional primaries will conclude by September 18 (Louisiana’s “everything else” primary will be on Saturday, October 2). We are now basing our analyses on a composite of polls conducted over the last 14 days. Next month, we will compress this “look back period” to 7 days, since the tempo of campaigning will pick up even more in the last few weeks. Our rankings are based on the following criteria:

(1) Safe Democratic (dark blue on the map)/Safe Republican (dark red on the map) – either a candidate leads by 10 or more points, or a candidate has over 50% in polls;

(2) Lean Democratic (light blue on the map)/Lean Republican (light red on the map) – a candidate leads by 3-9 points;

(3) Tossup (yellow) – a candidate leads by less than 3 points;

(4) No data available/primary has not been held (gray) – In general, we don’t analyze statewide polls until its primary has been conducted. However, since pollsters have been releasing multiple polls with different Democratic vs Republican matchups for states that have not held their primaries, we will modify this rule as follows: if at least one of the major parties has a clear front runner in a contested primary, we will use the various poll matchups to get a sense of how a Senate/Governor race is leaning and, based on that composite of polls in the last 14 days, will assess which party is ahead.
(5) No Senate/gubernatorial race in 2010 for this state (black);

2010 Election Predictions – Senate Races 

Senate Projections

(9/1 and 9/9 projections: 54 Democrats, 46 Republicans, or Republican gain of +5)
(8/26 projection: 55 Democrats, 45 Republicans, or Republican gain of +4)

Since our last analysis, we have moved the West Virginia Senate race from “Solid Democratic” to “leans Democratic”, and Florida is now “leans Republican” (it had been a tossup for several months). Six things on the map are worth noting: (1) We do not yet have poll data for the Hawaii and Vermont Senate races. Vermont recently conducted its primary, while Hawaii will not have its primary until September 18; (2) In Alaska, all the absentees have been counted, and attorney Joe Miller has formally taken down incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski, so we will soon start to see numbers in that race; (3) We believe that in Florida, Independent (and former Republican) Charlie Crist’s numbers will continue to fall, because the Democratic nominee is beginning to consolidate Democratic support at the expense of Crist’s standing in the polls; (4) Once Wisconsin and Delaware hold their primaries next week, a clearer picture of those races will emerge, depending on which Republican is selected; (5) Though the projections have barely budged, there are six Democratic held seats that are in the “Tossup” category – if a Republican wave materializes, we believe those seats would fall into the Republican column, thus giving Republicans control of the Senate; (6) There are also two Democratic held seats (in Connecticut and West Virginia) that have the potential to move in the Republicans’ direction, but we have no polling to confirm this hypothesis yet.

2010 Election Predictions – Governor’s Races  

Governor Projections

(9/1 and 9/9 projection: 35 Republicans, 15 Democrats, or Republican gain of +11)
(8/26 projection: 31 Republicans, 19 Democrats, or Republican gain of +7)

Since our last analysis, there have been three changes. The Republican in Maine has taken a double digit lead in the polls, so we are moving from “leans Republican” to “solid Republican.” Texas is being changed from “solid Republican” to “leans Republican” based on recent polling there. We are also moving Maryland from “tossup” to “leans Democratic.”, although if you only looked at “likely voters” (as opposed to a more Democratic inclined sample of “registered voters”), the race is still a tossup.

Several things on the map are also worth noting: (1) while we have no poll data for Vermont, they just held their primary, so we expect to see poll data very soon; (2) In two states, Democratic leads in the polls are due to third party candidacies. In Colorado, the Republican and Constitution Party candidates are getting a combined 43% (as opposed to the Democrat ‘s 41%). In Massachusetts, the embattled Democratic incumbent leads in the polls with an anemic 42%, while the Republican + Independent total is 38%.; (3) Curiously, in Colorado, Haley Barbour has essentially written off the Republicans’ chances of capturing the governorship, due to the split Republican vote.

2010 Election Predictions – Generic Congressional Vote

(9/8 poll composite: 48.4% Republican, 41.4% Democrat, or +7.0% Republican)
(9/1 poll composite: 46.6% Republican, 41.8% Democrat, or +4.9% Republican)
(8/26 poll composite: 46.7% Republican, 41.0% Democrat, or +5.7% Republican)

Last week’s uptick in the unemployment rate to 9.6% has done little to stop the movement of voters towards Republicans in the generic Congressional ballot. This despite the fact that two polls from Gallup and Newsweek showed an equal Democratic/Republican preference. Gallup’s poll numbers are especially curious (and contradictory), because a week ago, Gallup released numbers showing Republicans with a 51-41% lead.

In the wake of increasing evidence of a GOP tidal wave, we we noted last week that the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign committee threatened a financial “death penalty” for underperforming Democrats. Now, the talk has shifted towards that of formation of a political “triage” to concentrate resources on just enough seats to enable Democrats to maintain their majority, which means that they could conceivably cut loose 38 Democratic held seats ()

To put the “Generic Congressional Vote” question in perspective, when Republicans retook the House (and Senate) in 1994, the popular vote in the 435 House districts was 52-45% Republican. If we were to split the undecideds equally between both parties, you would have a 53.5% Republican vote (we’re including the Newsweek and Gallup numbers in this analysis), which equates to a 233 seat Republican majority – a net gain of 54 Republicans, or 15 more than needed to regain control of the House. We also believe at this time that the 233 seat figure is a conservative estimate, since it doesn’t consider voter intensity, which clearly favors the Republicans right now.

2010 Election Predictions – Individual House Races

(9/9: 247 Republicans/188 Democrats (+ 68 Republican, “Watch list” of 29 Democrats/2 Republicans)

(9/1: 250 Republicans/185 Democrats (+ 71 Republican, “Watch list” of 28 Democrats/2 Republicans)

(8/26: 253 Republicans/182 Democrats (+ 74 Republican, “Watch list” of 25 Democrats/2 Republicans)

One of the things we have repeatedly noted in our discussions of the “Obama plunge” and its effect on the fall elections is that actual poll results (and in the case of Washington state, “open primary” election results) take precedence over the theoretical criteria used to determine whether a seat is vulnerable.  This past week, we have seen polls released for 24 House races. Though the numbers above would seem to signify a continued Democratic renaissance, the truth is actually the opposite.  In fact, we believe it’s important to issue a caveat: this past week, Democrats have been more aggressive about releasing their own internal House polls – one Democratic affiliated poster (Anzalone) alone released poll results in four House races all showing the Democrat with a strong lead. In the absence of additional polling, we will use their numbers.

What we saw was the following:

 (1) Four Democrats were rated as “safe” who were once on the watch list or were vulnerable: Bobby Bright of Alabama, Michael Arcuri of New York, Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania, and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota;

(2) Four vulnerable or safe Democrats are now on the “watch list”: Loretta Sanchez of California, John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Travis Childers of Mississippi, and Larry Kissell of North Carolina;

(3) Two Democrats (Dina Titus of Nevada and Rick Larsen of Washington) trail their opponents in recent polling and are this “vulnerable.” Rep. Larsen, in fact, trailed his opponent in Washington’s open primary with only 42% of the vote;

(4) We have an addition to the list of “Congressmen behaving badly”– 28 year Democratic incumbent John Spratt of South Carolina will not permit any “audio or video recording” of a debate  against his Republican opponent.

A final note on the polls so far: we have cumulatively seen polls done on 38 Democratic held seats where the Democrat is behind in the polls. On average, these districts voted 51% for Obama, which means that these seats are “Ground Zero” for the “Obama plunge.” Similarly, we have seen poll results for an additional 25 Democratic held seats where Democrats lead but with less than 50% – Obama on average got 52% in these districts, and these seats are similarly vulnerable against the “Obama plunge.” These 63 (last week, it was 57) House seats alone can flip the House to Republican control. Additionally, there are 34 more vulnerable/”watch list” Democratic held seats where no polling has been done. Finally, of those seats we have called “safe” for now, seven Democrats are at 50-52% in the polls. Intense GOP voting could easily flip these seats to the GOP. In other words, you could conceivably have 104 Democratic held House seats in play.