Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Senate Update - October 24, 2012

With the Mourdock kerfuffle last night, I figured I would update my Senate odds.  I'm going to call this the anti-Silver prediction, since I'm going to make some optimistic assumptions and discount a few polls in the process.  Hell, if he can do it and land a gig and the NYT, why can't I?

Here is my opinion on all 16 of the current Senate races I am following.
  • Nebraska 100% -  This is Ben Nelson's seat, and Deb Fisher locked it up ages ago.
  • Indiana 100% - Mourdock is up by 5 in this race, with 2 weeks to go and Romney leading by 15 in the state.  He will win this, no matter how much the media tries to twist the rape comment.
  • Nevada 100% - Heller is up 7 and over the 50% mark.  This race is over.
  • Wisconsin 75% - Rasmussen is showing Thompson with a 2 point lead, and is polling better than Romney.  As Romney's lead grows, so will Thompson's.
  • Montana 60% - The polling didn't change, but my opinion did.  Tester is an incumbent and stuck at 48%.  Undecideds will break toward Berg, and Romney will have coattails.
  • Massachusetts 40% - Warren is holding her lead, but I distrust some of this fly-by-night polling.  I think she really leads by 2 in this race.  Brown will need to win the turnout battle.
  • Virginia 60% - Kaine is ahead 49-48 in Rasmussen.  I think Obama's Navy gaffe is going to sink his chances, and Allen will pick up the 2 points he needs.
  • Florida 40% - Mack continues to trail, but Nelson seems to have a ceiling of 47%.  If Mack was closer, I would increase my confidence in this race.
  • Ohio 75% - Mandell is catching up to Brown in all the "official" polls.  However, they are all the same ones that are over sampling Democrats from D+6 to D+11 (7 polls like this now in the RCP average).  I don't trust these polls.  If you look inside them and adjust to a normal Ohio turnout, Mandell leads.  Besides, even in the skewed versions of the polls, Brown can't get to 50%.
  • New Mexico 10% - I don't think anyone is bother to even poll here any longer.  Pretty sure the Dems will win this race.
  • Missouri 35% - No new polling here.  It is a weird race, but I like Akin's chances with Romney leading in the state by 12.
  • Michigan 10% -  No one is even polling this race.
  • Pennsylvania 40% - Casey's top line number is stuck in the mid 40s, just like OH, MT, and FL.  Some polls are showing Smith getting very close.  This would be my upset special.
  • Connecticut 40% - McMahon is getting close again, and Murphy still can't break 50%.  One recent poll puts her within 1.
Odds of at least a tie in Senate = 95.8%
Odds of winning the Senate = 89.1%

Update:  Fortunately, Optimizer is checking my math.  I left two races off the list:

  • North Dakota 100% - Berg is now up 5 points in the race, almost to 50%, and Romney will win by double digits.
  • Maine 10% - The Independent will win this race.  He could decide to caucus with the GOP, especially if it means being in the majority.


  1. Not optimistic about Allen in VA. We tend to swallow whole any claim by a Democrat to be a non-partisan, reach-across-the-aisle, downright conservative kind of guy. We have two Democrats in the Senate right now on account of that tendency. I won't believe this one until I see it.

  2. From your keyboard to God's ear (screen? :-)), Dave. I think Romney will have coat tails, too, but I'm not sure they will be quite as long as you think they will be.

    re: Virginia...I'm not a big fan of Allen from long before I moved to the state, but I have a hard time seeing Kaine win if, as it looks like now (knock on wood), Romney carries the state. I think a lot of depressed Dems who don't bother showing up for Obama won't be there to vote for Kaine either. Just a hunch, but I think Allen will take it.

    1. This is my feeling. If Kaine was up 5 and at 49% I would be more cautious. But I think Allen is really ahead. The polling in VA is still leaning too far toward the Dems for the turnout that will actually occur.

      I also think that Obama's Navy comments in the debate are going to end up hurting Kaine.

  3. Hey Dave:

    What are the odds that Kristen Gillibrand will lose in New York? Sheesh, I don't even remember the challenger's name, and I live here!

    Thanks for the great work.

    "J.J. Sefton"

    1. Kristen could parade naked through NYC holding the severed head of a goat, and still win that race.

      I really think that New York is permanently screwed by having more than two parties there.

  4. I'm less optimistic about our Senate chances, but I still believe will get to 50 plus Paul Ryan as the tie breaker.

    I'm pessimistic about Allen and Mandel, but I hope I'm wrong. Allen should have retired and is a bit out of step with the "new" Virginia and Mandel is too young and looks it. Still, if the GOP can garner a huge turnout, it might be enough to muscle them through. Obama has clearly conceded Virginia. I actually think Scott Brown will win narrowly, I just don't see Fauxcahontas as a Senator, and Romney at the top of the ticket helps Brown.

    I tell you what, I wouldn't be a bit surprised though if we came up short in the Senate because of stupid comments about rape and abortion. I can't believe how dumb that wing of the Party can be sometimes. I certainly know any Republican that doesn't have a rape exception for abortion will not get my vote in the primary from now on.

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  5. Fair warning - I will not allow my blog to turn into a "rape comment" discussion. Anyone who feels like waxing eloquent about Mourdock's statement, there is a nice 600+ comment thread over at Ace where you can vent.

    1. No worries...I'm over here to avoid that. :-)

    2. I was ok with your first comment, but I didn't want things to get out of hand. :)

    3. Well, I went ahead and zapped it anyway...I don't want to attract that rolling furball by accident.

  6. I too am somewhat hopeful regarding results in PA. (R)s picked up 5 house seats a governor and a senator in 2010. Depending on t/o (as always) that suggests a comfortable majority based on total house representation.


  7. there any place to look for polling in individual House races? I'm curious as to how Mia Love is doing in Utah.

    1. I just looked at RCP. Nothing new there since 9/26 when Mia was showing a 6 point lead.

    2. Okay, thanks. She's one that I'm really rooting for hard (and have donated to a couple of times). She's caught almost as much crap from the Dems as West in Florida has, for the obvious reasons.

  8. Great stuff. It doesn't seem very likely to a lot of people, and you can debate the odds on individual races, but when you add it all up, it seems pretty likely that the Senate will be Republican after this election.

    That being said, I wish I could get to the bottom of how my math does not match up with yours. Using your old numbers for ME (10%) and ND (70%), plus these new ones, I get a 76.6% chance of 51+, and 91.5% chance of 51+. Here's the "meaty" part of the distribution:

    49: 6.4%
    50: 14.9%
    51: 23.0%
    52: 24.2%
    53: 17.4%
    54: 8.6%
    55: 2.8%

    Expected value is 51.65.


    1. Oh, crap, I see what happened. I left a race off that list. I'm holding a 10% chance that the ME Ind winner caucuses with the GOP.

      I'll double check a bit later that I have my full list posted. Something else missing too, since I only have 14 listed up there.

      Brain fart.

    2. Oh for F's sake. I left North Dakota and Maine off the list. ND is over, Berg is up by 5, so calling it 100%. As I said, I'm holding 10% for the guy in Maine to decide to caucus with the GOP.

    3. you also make lists and then lose the lists? That's my specialty.

      re:'s a shame the GOP couldn't scare up a decent candidate there...I see a link on Drudge now for a new poll out there with Romney/Obama at 47-47.

    4. OK, putting ND = 100% into my Excel spreadsheet, now I get:

      48: 0.8%
      49: 4.1%
      50: 12.0%
      51: 21.8%
      52: 25.8%
      53: 20.3%
      54: 10.7%
      55: 3.7%
      56: 0.8%

      Expected Value: 51.95

      50+: 95.1%
      51+: 83.1%

      I guess the 50+ number is pretty close, at least.

      Basically, you've got wins in IN, ND, NE, and NV, which gets you to 47. Then you've got odds of about 3/4 for 4 of them (MT, OH, VA, WI), so you figure to pick up about three there, getting you to 50. Plus, you have 5 where the odds are about 2/5 (CT, FL, MA, MO, and PA), so you figure you'll get about 2 of them, which gets you to 52.

      Even if your individual odds are somewhat high, it still looks like a Republican Senate is on the way. I thought I had heard that it would be the NEW Senate that votes for VP in the case of an electoral tie, so maybe I'll check on that...


    5. Not sure how you are doing it, but we are coming up close. I'm using the binomial equation to calculate the odds of winning N races out of 16, then adding up all results above the the thresholds of 6 (for 50/50) and 7 (for 51).

      Prob N = (16!/(N!*(16-N)!))) * (average prob)^N * ((1-avg prob)^(16-N))