OK. So the last run at predicting the outcome didn’t go so well, but I’m definitely older now and hopefully a little wiser. We’ll find out if that last part is true tomorrow, but I set a low bar for myself two years ago so I’m thinking I can’t do worse.
And with that out of the way, here are my final Senate predictions for the midterms:
Currently the Democrats hold 55 seats and the Republicans hold 45 seats, so Republicans need to pickup six seats to take the Senate. I’m going to put the Senate races in a fairly loose order of certain to the ones you could have a two year pick and probably end up with about the same success.
West Virginia: This one is going to be a Republican pickup, and no one even talks about it because it’s been long gone for Democrats.
Montana: This one was never going to be close, and once Curtis came in and upped the crazy it drifted away from anyone’s radar for good. Republican pickup.
South Dakota: This race got interesting for a few days when multiple polls showed the race falling into single digits, but Rounds quickly rebounded back to where it has been all year. Republican pickup.
Kentucky: While a few thought this would end up a colossal embarrassment for Republicans, it was unlikely that Grimes was ever going to knock off McConnell. Although Grimes was unwilling to announce who she voted for to be president, Kentucky voters will be loud in reelecting McConnell to the senate. Republican hold.
Arkansas: This race stayed surprisingly close through September, but Cotton finally began to put Pryor away in the last two weeks. Republican pickup.
Alaska: Alaska is notoriously difficult to poll, and as such is one that gives everyone pause because you just don’t know what to make of the poll numbers. Much has been made of Begich’s ground game, but Sullivan has led in 11 of the last 12 polls. If that’s not enough, Alaska polls tend to undershoot Republicans by an average of 7 points since 2000. Those two factors make it more likely than not that Sullivan will pull it out. Republican pickup.
Colorado: Gardner has run a great campaign. So great that Udall’s Press Secretary said “Gardner is quite possibly the best Senate candidate in the country.” Add to that the Republican strength in early voting and Gardner leading in 16 of the last 17 polls and it’s hard to imagine that Udall can pull off the miracle comeback. Republican pickup.
Louisiana: This race is tricky in that it is almost certainly going to a runoff. Cassidy and Maness are going to split the GOP vote enough that Cassidy will not be able to hit 50% tomorrow. Landrieu is polling around 40% and is not going to hit 50%, so the runoff is the most likely outcome tomorrow. From there Cassidy would be heavily favored as he led every poll since July, but his ultimate victory is unlikely to come tomorrow. It will be delayed, but Louisiana will end up a Republican pickup.
Georgia: Just like Louisiana, this race could very well be headed for a runoff election if neither candidate can hit 50%. Nunn surged into a brief lead in mid-October, but Perdue has reclaimed his lead and picked up about four net points in the past two weeks. While it’s far from assured he will get to 50% tomorrow, the odds are better than not he would win the runoff election if it came to it, and there is very little chance Nunn is going to be able to win outright tomorrow even with a 3rd party challenger. It might be delayed, but Georgia will end up a Republican hold.
Iowa: This has been one of the most interesting Senate races of the year. Joni Ernst was down by six points in March, and began pulling even with Braley around June. She didn’t get any real separation until October and still only leads by 1.8 on the RCP average. But the crown jewel of Iowa polling, the Selzer poll, has Ernst up by 7 which combined with early voting data that is not nearly as positive for Democrats as they would likely need makes Iowa a Republican pickup.
And here’s where you could pretty much flip a coin…
Kansas: You can call this is a fairly unprecedented situation, with Democrats bailing out of the race to make way for Greg Orman to run as an independent backed by Democrats. That makes it much more difficult to figure out what to make of the polls. Orman led by 8 points in mid-September but is now down to just a .8 point lead. The big question is whether or not Republicans will hold their nose and vote for Roberts, who needs about 80% of GOP votes to secure the win. Orman has lost about 90% of his lead in a deep red state, which makes me inclined to think Roberts is going to pull this off. Republican hold.
New Hampshire: Scott Brown has run about as good a campaign as you can when you’re switching states to run again for the Senate. Shaheen has led in 20 polls since September while Brown has led in just 6, but has seen her lead drop from 10 points in August to just .8 today. Just like Kansas, you could make an argument for both sides, but at the end of the day I’m leaning towards Shaheen. Brown could win this one, and if he does will be one of the prizes of a huge GOP night. Democrat hold.
North Carolina: The third and final seat in the trifecta of seats that could easily be pushed either way with turnout. In this race, Hagan has led Tillis since June, but has seen a 7 point lead in August fall to under a point today. Early voting numbers look good for Democrats compared to 2010, but Democrats lost that election by 12 points. Compared to 2012 they do not look nearly as good for Democrats, and Romney won that race albeit by a small margin. If I’m going on a limb between this and New Hampshire, I’d put my money on North Carolina for the biggest surprise of the night. Republican pickup.
That leads the GOP with a gain of 9 seats this midterms: WV, MT, SD, AR, AK, CO, LA, IA, NC. They will hold both KS and GA which are their two toughest holds this season. It will be delayed due to at least one runoff election, but the GOP very well might end up with 54 seats after tomorrow.
Final Result: GOP takes the Senate and wins nine seats, flipping the Senate to 54 GOP – 46 Dem/Independent.