Even though we are in the middle of election season, early voting has already begun in several states, and the GOP remains in decent shape with regards to the November 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 race in 2014 (black) – For those states not holding gubernatorial or Senate race this year;
Dashboard statistics (last 14 days)
Obama job approval: 53-43% Disapprove (was 54-42% Disapprove)
Congressional job approval: 67-20% Disapprove (was 74-17% Disapprove)
Generic congressional vote: 44-41% Republican (was 45-42% Republican)
Direction of country: 62-26% wrong direction (was 64-26% wrong direction)
Obamacare approval: 53-43% Disapprove (was 53-40% Disapprove)
Commentary: The environment remains toxic for Democrats in the midst of political season, and the GOP has maintained its lead in the generic Congressional vote. These factors will not be helpful for Democrats, particularly those running in less favorable areas in November.
Current: 55 Democrats, 45 Republicans
Polling average: 50 Republicans, 47 Democrats, 3 Tossups (was 50 Republicans, 47 Democrats, 3 Tossups)
Commentary: In the last analysis, we had noted that the GOP was in a good position with regards to recapturing the Senate for the first time since 2006. This was due to the following factors, which have not changed since last week: (1) three open Democratic seats in Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia are in the GOP corner by double digit margins, (2) Democratic incumbents in Alaska, Arkansas, and Louisiana are falling behind their GOP challengers, and (3) Republicans have thus far protected their vulnerable seats in Georgia and Kentucky, and the Kansas seat is the only “wild card” right now.
Put these factors together, and you’re looking at a 51 seat GOP majority. Given Kansas’ Republican lean, and the fact that the Republican incumbent is running against an Independent who has revealed little about his political leanings, we think this race will break for the GOP later in October.
There are still “seats on the table” for the GOP, even though these “extra” races have not moved much in the past week. You have two Democratic seats (in Iowa and Colorado) which are tossups, although there are isolated polls now in those states showing GOP leads – if we can get further confirmation that these leads are not outliers, we will update our ratings accordingly. There are also three Democratic seats (in Michigan, New Hampshire and North Carolina) where the average Democratic “lead” is in the 5-6% range – not yet beyond salvaging by the respective GOP campaigns in those states. Plus, if there is any kind of GOP wave (as is being hinted at by the generic Congressional ballot numbers), one or more of these seats could flip in November.
Taken together, we are looking at a 49-56 Republican Senate in January at this point in time.
Current: 30 Republicans. 20 Democrats
Polling average: 28 Republicans, 17 Democrats, 5 Tossups (was 28 Republicans, 17 Democrats, 5 Tossups)
Commentary: Governorships are one area where the GOP is not (nor should they be) anticipating any gains. There are several reasons for this: (1) their huge success in 2010 means those same governors’ chairs must be defended – and some of those chairs are in less favorable states, and (2) several GOP incumbents have been controversial in office. What helps the GOP, however, is that there are several Democratic governors who are term limited, and there are therefore some GOP pickup opportunities.
The GOP’s chances in the state houses has gradually improved, and there has been little movement last week, except that (1) in Wisconsin, Republican incumbent Scott Walker has begun to pull ahead, most likely to a plagiarism “scandal” his opponent has been ensnared in, and (2) in Alaska, the Republican incumbent has slipped behind his Independent opponent in the polls (the Democrat dropped out).
There has also been slight movement towards the Republicans in Colorado (Democratic controlled for 32 of the last 40 years) and Oregon (which last elected a Republican governor in 1982), and if this movement were to continue, we will adjust our ratings on those two races.
Even though we are in election season, early/absentee voting is actually underway in 11 states, with some of those states’ (Iowa, North Carolina, and South Dakota) having special importance because of the contested Senate races going on.