Right now, 39 states have decided their party’s nominees for federal and statewide offices (Oklahoma’s runoff is on August 26, and there are three more primary dates before the November elections). Given that many of these November races are already underway, this is a good time to bring back the scorecard as a way of objectively assessing the 2014 midterm elections.
Given that the scorecard is something we do every election cycle, we would like to reiterate how we call individual races:
Given the massive volume of polling data, plus the fact that pollsters have varying levels of accuracy, we gather data on federal, statewide, and (sometimes) Congressional races and take the average of those polls for the last two weeks (this “look back” will eventually become a week when we get close to Election Day). Once we get the averages, this is how we rate each race:
(1) Safe Democratic or safe Republican (dark blue/red) – A candidate either has a polling average of at least 50% and/or a 10 point lead in the polls;
(2) Lean Democratic or lean Republican (light blue/red) – A candidate has a 3-9 point lead in the polls;
(3) Tossup (yellow) – A candidate’s lead is less than 3 points in the polls;
(4) No Data (gray) – Either (1) The party’s nominee has not yet been determined, or (2) No publicly released polling data is available yet;
(5) No race in 2014 (black) – For those states not holding gubernatorial or Senate race this year;
Dashboard statistics (last 14 days)
Obama job approval: 53-42% Disapprove
Congressional job approval: 79-16% Disapprove
Generic congressional vote: 41-40% Democratic
Direction of country: 66-27% wrong direction
Obamacare approval: 53-43% Disapprove
Commentary: Currently, the atmospherics are favorable to Republicans for several reasons: (1) The 6th year of a President’s tenure tends to produce big losses for his party in midterm elections, (2) With various problems President Obama has had, his job performance has suffered, and more than 50% of poll respondents disapprove of his job performance, (3) Because of his unpopularity, Obama can offer limited (if any) assistance to Democratic candidates, (4) Many Senate races this year are being conducted on Republican friendly turf, and (5) voters are very pessimistic about the country’s direction and have not warmed up to Obamacare.
Current: 55 Democrats, 45 Republicans
Polling average: 53 Democrats, 46 Republicans, 1 Tossup
Commentary: The 2008 Democratic landslide, combined with President Obama’s unpopularity in several states holding Senate contests, has set the stage for a possible GOP Senate takeover. There are five open Democratic seats where the GOP has a shot: Iowa, Michigan, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Furthermore, five Democratic incumbents (Begich in Alaska, Pryor in Arkansas, Mark Udall in Colorado, Landrieu in Louisiana, and Hagan in North Carolina) have competitive races. And since there are only two GOP held seats (an open seat in Georgia and Mitch McConnell’s seat in Kentucky) in any danger, the terrain is favorable for the Republicans. The polling average only shows a 1-2 seat Democratic loss, because of limited polling data: as more polling data becomes available, we will adjust our polling averages accordingly.
Current: 30 Republicans. 20 Democrats
Polling average: 28 Republicans, 19 Democrats, 3 Tossups
Commentary: While from a Congressional perspective, 2014 will be a good Republican year, the GOP has many challenging statehouse races, for two reasons: (1) Their 2010 landslide also means they have more governorships to defend – several governorships are in “blue” states, and (2) several GOP incumbents have been controversial in office, making them more unnecessarily vulnerable.
Alaska and Wyoming hold their primaries on August 19. The Alaska Senate primary is the last of the “Establishment vs TEA Party” fights that have factored into the chances the Republicans have to retake the Senate.
On August 26, Arizona, Florida, and Vermont are holding their primaries, while September 9 sees primaries in Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Louisiana’s primary will be held on November 4 (the same day that the other 49 states are holding elections).