2010 Elections, 9/30 edition – House/Senate/Governors polls

2010 Election Predictions – How we rank individual races

With the exception of a Republican Congressional runoff (and other statewide and local races as well) this Saturday in Louisiana, we are now in the thick of election season.  In fact, early voting has already commenced in seven states, and more states will be joining in throughout October.  Accordingly, the amount of polling released has accelerated. While presently we are basing our analyses on a composite of polls conducted over the last 14 days, subsequent analyses performed between now and Election Day will be with a 7 day lookback period. 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 the Hawaii Senate race, polling data has not been publicly released, so we have nothing to analyze there.

(5) No Senate/gubernatorial race in 2010 for this state (black)

2010 Election Predictions – Senate Races 

Senate Projections

(9/30 projection: 53 Democrats/47 Republicans, or Republican gain of +6)

 (9/24 projection: 52 Democrats/48 Republicans, or Republican gain of +7)

(9/15 projections: 54 Democrats/46 Republicans, or Republican gain of +5)

While the big picture on Senate races has improved a little bit for the Democrats, detailed poll data paints a different picture. While the Illinois Senate race moved into “tossup” status this week (last week, it was “leans Republican”), the Republican still has very slight leads in most polls taken (this is Barack Obama’s old Senate seat).  Meanwhile, the Democratic numbers continue to erode in three states. New Hampshire becomes the latest open Republican seat to move to “Safe Republican”, while nearby in Connecticut, what once was a 27 point lead for the Democratic nominee in July has eroded down to a 49-46% lead; accordingly, for the first time, we’re moving this race from “Safe Democrat” to “leans Democrat.” Meanwhile, in Washington, the thought last week was that the race was moving away from the Republicans; this week, polling shows the Democrat only leading 49-47%, and we have moved this race from “Safe Democrat” to “Tossup.”

It’s worth keeping in mind that while we believe the Republicans will currently get 47 seats based on recent polling, there are seven Democratic held seats where the Democrat is not securely above 50% in the polls. If the Republicans capture four of those seven seats, they regain control of the Senate. This is an entirely possible scenario, because in five of those seven seats (Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, Washington, and West Virginia), the race is within the margin of error – a margin that can easily be overcome by stronger GOP enthusiasm.

2010 Election Predictions – Governor’s Races  

Governor Projections

 (9/30 projection: 32 Republicans, 18 Democrats, or Republican gain of +8) 

 (9/15 and 9/24 projection: 34 Republicans, 16 Democrats, or Republican gain of +10) 

In the Governor’s races, the Democrats saw some improvement in their numbers this past week, as five states saw weakening GOP preferences. Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania saw their races move from “solid Republican” to “leans Republican.” Minnesota moved from “Tossup” to “Leans Democratic.” Maryland moved from “Tossup” to “Solid Democratic.”

The most important thing worth noting about this map is that in four states, Democratic leads in the polls are due to third party candidacies. In Colorado, the Republican and Constitution Party candidates are getting a combined 50% (as opposed to the Democrat ‘s 46%), and the Constitution Party candidate has apparently crossed the tipping point of credibility, as the Republican candidate’s support is now in the teens. In Massachusetts, the embattled Democratic incumbent leads in the polls with an anemic 41%, while the Republican + Independent total is 47%. In Rhode Island, the Democrat “leads”  with 33%, while the Independent (a former Republican) and the Republican candidate have a combined vote of 47%. Finally, the Democrat in Minnesota “leads” with 39%, while the Republican + Independent numbers are 51%.

2010 Election Predictions – Generic Congressional Vote

(9/30 poll composite: 47.1% Republican, 42.1% Democrat, or +5.0% Republican) 

(9/24 poll composite: 47% Republican, 41.7% Democrat, or +5.3% Republican) 

(9/15 poll composite: 47.3% Republican, 40.5% Democrat, or +6.8% Republican)

Though the poll numbers seem to show a weakening Republican preference, three polls (Reuters, POLITICO, and Gallup) taken recently show a tie race or, bizarrely, a Democratic lead in the generic vote. If we removed those outliers, we would actually have a 47.8-41.2% GOP preference for Congress. 

One thing we believe will reflect badly on Congress, even if the poll numbers aren’t yet reflecting it, is that the House narrowly voted to adjourn without taking action on extending the Bush era tax cuts; the current thought is that the legislation will be brought up in a lame duck session after the elections.

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 52.5% Republican vote (we’re including the outlier polls in this analysis), which equates to a 228 seat Republican majority – a net gain of 49 Republicans, or 10 more than needed to regain control of the House. We also believe at this time that the 228 seat figure is a conservative estimate, since it doesn’t consider voter intensity, which has consistently favored the Republicans.

2010 Election Predictions – Individual House Races

(9/30: 244 Republicans/191 Democrats (+ 65 Republican, “Watch list” of 36 Democrats/3 Republicans)

(9/24: 244 Republicans/191 Democrats (+ 65 Republican, “Watch list” of 37 Democrats/2 Republicans)

(9/15: 243 Republicans/192 Democrats (+ 64 Republican, “Watch list” of 36 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, polls have been released for 22 House races, with little movement between categories, although it’s worth noting that 14 year Congressional incumbent Mike McIntyre of North Carolina is trailing in a recent poll.

Several things are worth noting about polling in the House races: (1) we have not yet seen polling data for 69 Democratic held seats (including 49 we currently have classified as “safe”) – for there to be no information on this many races is bizarre; (2) for an additional 29 Democratic held House seats, we have not seen polling since August – again, the lack of new polling speaks volumes.