2010 Elections, 10/28 version – House/Senate/Governors polls

2010 Election Predictions – How we rank individual races

This is the last weekly pre-election analysis we are doing. Election Day edges ever closer, and the 5PM (Central time) Tuesday night poll closings in Indiana and Kentucky will provide early hints as to how the night will proceed. Our calls on Senate/Governor’s races are based on a composite of polls conducted over the last 7 days and 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 28 projection:   52/48 Democratic , +7 Republican
October 20 projection:   55/45 Democratic , +4 Republican
October 14 projection:   53/47 Democratic, +6 Republican

The battle for the Senate swing back towards the Republicans this week, as Republicans began to build consistent leads in the following three states classified as “tossup” last week: Illinois (Mark Kirk leads by an average of 44-41%), Nevada (Sharron Angle leads 49-45%), and Pennsylvania (Pat Toomey leads 46-42%). Kentucky has also swung decisively towards the Republicans in the last few days, as an overtly negative ad regarding Rand Paul’s religious practices in college backfired, and Paul now leads 51-42%.

The path to control of the Senate, however, is through Republican victories in three of the following four states: (1) Colorado: Republican Ken Buck leads by an average of 47-46%, (2) Washington: Republican Dino Rossi leads by an average of 48-47% – it’s worth noting that in the August nonpartisan primary, 50% chose a Republican candidate, and 46% voted for the Democratic incumbent Patty Murray, (3) West Virginia: this “see saw” Senate race is currently leaning Democratic by a 48-46% margin, (4) California: recent polling has been more friendly to Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer, although her average lead of 49-44% can theoretically be overcome with a strong Republican early vote (Californians have been early voting for several weeks). The outcome of these races ultimately comes down to voter intensity on either side.

Beyond those races, the only other Senate seat where the Republicans have any chance of victory is in Connecticut, although Republican Linda McMahon trails by an average of 43-54%.

All in all, this is a battle that may not be settled until late Tuesday night, or even several weeks later, as California and Washington state take several weeks to count the ballots.

2010 Election Predictions – Governor’s Races    

Governor Projections

October 28 projection:   32/18 Republican, +8 Republican
October 20 projection:   31/19 Republican, +7 Republican
October 14 projection:   33/17 Republican, +9 Republican

The overall picture in governor’s races is not as clear cut as the Senate and House races. Republicans can gain satisfaction from the fact that they are steadily closing the gap in Colorado and Connecticut, while Democrats are solidifying their leads in Maryland and Hawaii. And while Republicans are poised to make big gains in the governor’s chairs, Democrats have a decent shot of capturing the California governorship, and the race in Florida remains too close to call.

Complicating the picture is that third party candidacies in Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island will affect the outcome (in fact, in all four states, the Republican + Independent total exceeds the Democratic total) – the big question is whether voters will stick with the third parties on Election Day, or whether they will return to one of the two major parties.

2010 Election Predictions – Generic Congressional Vote 

October 28 projection:   49.2-42.7% Republican, +6.5% Republican
October 20 projection:   50.5-41.0% Republican, +9.5% Republican
October 14 projection:   48.8-41.2% Republican, +7.6% Republican

While some would conclude from the data above that there is a late blooming Democratic “comeback” (or depending on your point of view, a dissipation of the Republican wave) in House races, this is due to more Democratic leaning results from Newsweek and Bloomberg. Remove those outliers from the average, and we have a 50-42% Republican preference. This number is reasonable when you consider that (1) by a 51-42% margin, voters want Republicans to control both houses of Congress, and (2) a Gallup profile of likely voters showing a 55-40% Republican lead – a lead that is three times that of the “likely voter” sample for the 1994 GOP landslide.

Which brings us to the next question:  what does the party vote represent in terms of GOP House gains? 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 conservatively split the undecideds equally between both parties, you would have a 236 seat Republican majority, or a net gain of 57 Republicans.  But will undecideds break 50/50 in the end ? If we optimistically believe that the undecided vote will move uniformly towards the Republicans (which is what the Gallup profile suggests), Republicans would have a 252 seat majority, or a net gain of 73 Republicans.

2010 Election Predictions – Individual House Races 

October 28 projection: 255/180 Republican, +76 Republican (30/2 Democratic “watch list”)
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”)

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 the Senate races, there is a slight but decided drift towards the Republicans. With the governor’s races, there has been no consistent movement either way towards either party. In the House, however, a dismal landscape for the Democrats continues to worsen, with 77 Democratic and 1 Republican seat likely to switch, based on publicly released polling. Can this number go higher ? If we look at the 30 Democrats on the “watch list”, we see that (1) 7 Democrats are polling at 45% or less  – with those poll numbers this late in the game, those candidates are goners; (2) 14 “watch list” Democrats are polling in the 46-49% range – with any kind of “wave election”, those poll numbers aren’t high enough to guarantee re-election; (3) we’ve not seen recent polling on 9 House Democrats on the “watch list” and 41 supposedly “safe Democrats.” If you pull these numbers together, you realize that GOP House gains could range from 76 to 147. Time is fast running out for House Democrats, and it’s telling that you now have incumbents like Gene Taylor of Mississippi (who is on our “watch list”) telling voters that he voted for McCain in 2008

In closing, what has been interesting about this election is that in the wake of Scott Brown’s historic upset in the Massachusetts Senate race in January, we used theoretical criteria months ago that calculated a GOP House gain of 73 seats . Despite all the ups and downs of this election season, as of this article, we are projecting a GOP gain of 76 seats based on publicly available polling – a projection quite similar to what we believed in February.