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March 16, 2014 09:49 AM UTC

How the Colorado Senate Race fits in the National Picture- March 2014

  • by: Andrew Carnegie

The Dems currently hold the majority in the US Senate with an effective 55 (2 are actually independents who caucus with the Dems) – 45 voting majority.  Because the Dems hold the Presidency, the Republicans need to pick up 6 seats in order to depose Harry Reid.  Do the Republicans need to win the Udall-Gardner contest in order to flip the Senate?  The answer is probably not.

There are basically 12 Dem seats at various stages of realistic risk and two Republican seats that can be currently identified as being realistically at risk.  Here is how I see them.

The Race is already over and the Republican has won:

1.       South Dakota.  Open seat.  Republican is up by 20 points in most recent polling.

2.       West Virginia.  Open seat.  Republican is up by 14 points in most recent polling.

Writing is on the wall that the Republican will win:

3.       Arkansas.  Mark Pryor, Incumbent.  Republican Tom Cotton up by 3 points in RCP average polling.

Races where the control of the Senate will be determined (Republicans win 3 of these races, they have control).

4.       Montana. John Walsh, Dem, appointed in Feb 2014.  Congressman Steve Daines, the Republican likely candidate, was leading Walsh in polling before Walsh was appointed.  No polling since the appointment.

5.       Alaska.  Mark Begich, Incumbent.  Begich is polling in the low 40’s and appears to be even with several Republican candidates with very little polling.  The only 2014 by a Republican polling house has the Republicans up by 6 points.  The Dem polling house has Begich up by 4 or 6 points.  Begich has a -1 approval rating and Obama’s approval ratings are very bad in Alaska.,_2014#Polling_2

6.       North Carolina.  Kay Hagan, Incumbent.  Hagan is getting hit with significant Ad buys and her approval rating has been steadily declining.  It is now in the 30’s.  Many of the Republican potential candidates poll ahead of Hagan but with 8 candidates it will take some time for a front runner to emerge.

7.       Louisiana.  Mary Landrieu, Incumbent.  Republican Cassidy is up by 4 points in most recent polling:

8.       Michigan.  Open seat.  Republican Terri Land is up by 3.7 points in RCP average polling.

9.       New Hampshire.  Jeanne Shaheen, Incumbent. Scott Brown, former Massachusetts Senator, appears to be getting into the race which will make it competitive.  Currently Shaheen holds a 7 point edge, but that will change.  Brown would not be jumping in unless he saw a wave coming.

10.    Colorado.  Mark Udall, Incumbent.  Congressman Corey Gardner trails Udall by 1 point in most recent polling. Next week Udall gets hit with a wave of anti-Udall PAC advertising.   Count on that 1 point lead evaporating.

11.   Iowa.  Open Seat.  The Dems have settled on a candidate, Congressman Bruce Braley.  The Republicans have not.  Braley seems to enjoy a 5-10% lead against the field, but it will take a while for the republicans to come up with a candidate and for the numbers to be real.

12.   Minnesota.  Al Franken, Incumbent.  The Republicans are still figuring out who their candidate will be and Franken is ahead of the field by 5-10 points.  This is the least likely of the 12 to flip.  What keeps it on the radar is he only has a 39% approval rating.


Possible Dem Pickups

1.       Georgia.  Open seat.  Michelle Nunn seems to have the Dem nomination and she is tied in the polls with the leading Republican nominees.  Changing demographics and a quality name candidate make this seat a real race.,_2014

2.       Kentucky.  Mitch McConnell, Incumbent.  The incumbent faces a real primary and the Dems have anointed a challenger.  While the numbers look close at this time, at the end of the day it is Kentucky.  I do not see this being very close in November.  Grimes is up by one point in the 2014 polling averages.


What it all means.

Perhaps the most reliable factor in determining the total number of seats that will flip in a mid-term election is the Presidential approval rating.  Currently the RCP average has that number at 42.8%.  The most recent Gallup poll has it at 39%.  Here is a chart from Real Clear Politics that shows how that translates:

95% confidence based on job approval number that Dem losses will be between  ___ and ___.

Job Approval     Low     High

50                    5          9

49                    6          10

48                    6          10

47                    7          11

46                    8          12

45                    8          12

44                    9          13

43                    10         13

42                    10         13

41                    11         14

40                    12         14

There is a reason Scott Brown and Corey Gardner just got in the race.  They see not just a 6 seat flip, but a 12 seat wave.  Whether Udall or Gardner wins will not likely affect control of the Senate.




10 thoughts on “How the Colorado Senate Race fits in the National Picture- March 2014

  1. There are serious problems with your data, which is not really a surprise since it's all from RCP. 

    I don't have the time to go through every single race and point out the flaws, so I will touch on just a few, starting with your first example, South Dakota. 

    In South Dakota, both the R's and the D's have active primaries here. RCP has only reported the poll show the two candidates with the widest spread between them. The polling between other candidates shows the Dem ahead by 1-5 points. RCP is reporting the best case scenario. And as we have seen lately, that's not always the way the GOP primaries end up. 

    In New Hampshire, you are declaring the race "already over and the Republican has won" even though the republican in question hasn't even entered the race, yet… and is carbetbagging. And it's New Hamshire. There is no way Scott Brown wins this election. With even RCP reporting this race as a Dem winning, I don't see how you can justify declaring it over and done with. Polling by the way, has been showing the dem candidate increasing their lead over Brown, not the other way around. 

    In Iowa, you are admitting that the Dem is polling ahead against all possible GOP challengers and yet you are still calling this one for the GOP. 

    Basically, your entire list is another 'Romney Landslide" wishful thinking excercise, just like your assesment of the Udall situation. 

    Diversify your reading material and get out of the echo chamber. You might learn something about how the world actually works. 


    1. I did not state, and do not believe, that the race is over in New Hampshire.  I left that conclusion for South Dakota, and West Virginia.  New Hampshire will be a tough slog with an uncertain result.

      1. If that was not your intention, than you need to reformat, because the way it looks is:

        The Race is already over and the Republican has won:
        Entries #1-12

        Possible Dem Pickups:
        Entries #1-2

        1. I see now that between entries #3 and 4, you had another subheading, but it blends into the other text, since there was not a large space above it like you did with the Dem pickups and you didn't restart the numbering either. 

          You might also consider using bold text for your headings to make them stand out. 

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