2010 Elections, 10/20 edition – House/Senate/Governors polls

2010 Election Predictions – How we rank individual races

In 44 states, absentee voting is underway, while in person voting is underway in 28 states, including Louisiana. In other words, any campaign that isn’t in “Election Day mode” isn’t an effective campaign. As we mentioned last week, we are now making calls on races based on a composite of polls conducted over the last 7 days. 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 Senate/gubernatorial race in 2010 for this state (black)

2010 Election Predictions – Senate Races  


Senate Projections

October 20 projection:   55/45 Democratic , +4 Republican
October 14 projection:   53/47 Democratic, +6 Republican
October 7 projection:    50/50 Democratic, +9 Republican

Are the Democrats coming back, thus saving the Senate for them ? That is certainly a valid question and perhaps a valid conclusion from the data above. The details, however, are (like last week) showing that there is movement towards “too close to call”, as opposed to a Democratic surge. Pennsylvania and Colorado have moved into “Tossup” status after being “leans Republican” for several weeks. In Washington, a “tossup” race is now “leans Democratic.” On the other side, California has moved back into “tossup” after being in “leans Democratic.” And the New Hampshire race has reverted to “safe Republican.” That’s the “top line” data. However, the detailed data is revealing. While the data shows a Republican gain of +4, all 6 “tossup” seats are held by Democrats. And in 5 of those 6 seats, Republicans have small poll leads. In California (the 6th seat), 18 year incumbent Barbara Boxer only has a 46-45% lead in the polls. And in Washington (a “leans Democratic” seat), 18 year incumbent Patty Murray only leads 49-46%. If this were a Democratic year, it would not be reasonable to assume that Republicans could sweep those 7 seats (and control of the Senate). This year, that is a distinct possibility.
All in all, we see that 45 seats are pretty much assured for the Republicans. 7-9 additional Democratic seats could flip – Republicans only need to win 6 of these to have numerical control the Senate.

2010 Election Predictions – Governor’s Races    

Governor Projections

October 21 projection:   31/19 Republican, +7 Republican
October 14 projection:   33/17 Republican, +9 Republican
October 7 projection:    33/17 Republican, +9 Republican

In the aggregate, the overall picture in governor’s races is similar to the Senate races – apparent Democratic gains are due to movement towards the middle. In Minnesota and Rhode Island, what were “Tossup” races are now “leans Democratic”, although it’s worth knowing that there are strong third party candidacies in these states. And in Pennsylvania and Georgia, “solid Republican” seats are now “leans Republican.” However, Maine moved back from “tossup” to “leans Republican.”

It’s also worth noticing, however, that four seats where Democrats lead are due to third party candidacies. Typically, these candidacies tend to fade in the end. This means in Rhode Island (the Democrat would trail 37-55% in a two man race), Minnesota (the Democrat similarly trails 46-49%), Massachusetts (Democrat trails 46-49%), and Colorado (the Democrat trails 44-50%), this deflation could make the Republican candidacies viable on election day. It all comes down to the strength of the Republican wave. 

2010 Election Predictions – Generic Congressional Vote 

October 20 projection:   50.5-41.0% Republican, +9.5% Republican
October 14 projection:   48.8-41.2% Republican, +7.6% Republican
October 7 projection:    48.4-41.7% Republican, +6.7% Republican

While some would conclude from the data above that there is a Democratic “comeback” (or depending on your point of view, a dissipation of the Republican wave) in Senate and Governor’s races, the Generic Congressional vote yet again flatly contradicts those conclusions. This past week, the gap between those desiring a Republican candidate and those wanting a Democratic candidate widened again, to the point that Republicans now nearly have a 10 point lead. And for the third week in a row, Gallup released additional polling showing astonishing double digit leads for generic Republican candidates when looking at more motivated voters. 

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 54.7% Republican vote, which equates to a 238 seat Republican majority – a net gain of 59 Republicans, or 20 more than needed to regain control of the House. We also believe at this time that the 238 seat figure is a conservative estimate, since it doesn’t consider voter intensity, which has consistently favored the Republicans this election cycle. This belief has recently been amplified by Washington pundits like those at POLITICO.com, who are seeing 99 Democratic held seats in play.

2010 Election Predictions – Individual House Races 

October 20 projection: 251/184 Republican, +72 Republican (32/2 Democratic “watch list”)
October 14 projection: 251/184 Republican, +72 Republican (32/3 Democratic “watch list”)
October 7 projection: 251/184 Republican, +72 Republican (32/3 Democratic “watch list”)

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.

In a previous paragraph, we had noted that the Republican edge in the “generic ballot” question grew yet again to a 51-41% GOP preference. This decided Republican preference was confirmed and even amplified in last week’s polling of 40 House districts which, on the surface, showed little overall change in our projections. This is certainly not good news for the Democrats, because for some time, polling data has shown 70-100 Democratic held seats to be in play – and Election Day is now less than two weeks away. Time is running out for House Democrats.

This predicted electoral tsunami has now rattled the Democrats in two more ways this past week: (1) more Democrats are now refusing to commit on whether they would again support Nancy Pelosi as their leader after the elections, and (2) one embattled Democratic incumbent was actually bold or foolish (depending on your point of view) enough to repeat a rumor he had heard that Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t run again.

With regards to the size of the Republican wave in the House, we are currently predicting that 72-104 House seats are in play. However, there are 56 additional Democratic House seats have not had publicly released polls (down from 65 last week). And we believe 41 of these 56 Democratic seats are “safe.” For there to be no polling data in that many seats this close to the election suggests that there are more exploitable vulnerabilities in those 41 seats. Which would then mean that up to 145 Democratic held House seats are in play less than two weeks from the election.