Primary season is coming to a close – 44 states have now decided their party’s nominees for federal and statewide offices. Since Labor Day traditionally is the time that voters begin to pay attention to political campaigns, this is a good time to revise the scorecard.
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: 52-43% Disapprove (was 53-42% Disapprove)
Congressional job approval: 73-9% Disapprove (was 79-16% Disapprove)
Generic congressional vote: 42-40% Democratic (was 41-40% Democratic)
Direction of country: 65-26% wrong direction (was 66-27% wrong direction)
Obamacare approval: 53-43% Disapprove (no change)
Commentary: Not much has changed since the last scorecard – the environment remains toxic for Democrats, although the big GOP gains in the last (2010) midterm election limit the additional gains they’ll be able to make this fall.
Current: 55 Democrats, 45 Republicans
Polling average: 48 Democrats, 47 Republicans, 5 Tossups (was 53 Democrats, 46 Republicans, 1 Tossup)
Commentary: The 2008 Democratic landslide, combined with President Obama’s unpopularity in quite a few states holding Senate contests, has set the stage for a possible GOP Senate takeover. From the Democrats’ perspective, there is the “double whammy” of more seats to protect, and quite a few of those seats are in areas where the President is unpopular. There are five open Democratic seats where the GOP has a shot: Iowa, Michigan, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Furthermore, six Democratic incumbents (Begich in Alaska, Pryor in Arkansas, Mark Udall in Colorado, Landrieu in Louisiana, Shaheen in New Hampshire, 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. While the polling averages show a definite two seat GOP gain and five Democratic held seats which are tossups, we also have no recent polling data for Colorado, Louisiana and South Dakota. The latter should be a “gimme” for the GOP, while the Louisiana seat will most likely be settled in the December runoff, and the Colorado seat is a true “tossup” and an indication that Democrats’ fortunes have sagged since 2012.
Current: 30 Republicans. 20 Democrats
Polling average: 29 Republicans, 16 Democrats, 5 Tossups (was 28 Republicans, 19 Democrats, 3 Tossups)
Commentary: No matter how Republican of a year 2014 is, the GOP’s best hope is to “break even” with the governor’s races. This is the case for two reasons: (1) Their 2010 landslide also means that Republicans 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.
Primary season is wrapping up: there are four primaries (Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island) on September 9. Louisiana’s primary will be held on November 4 (the same day that the other 49 states are holding elections).