It’s July, and that means we get to start shrinking the boundaries of tossups. Two states changed this time, only one because of the changed boundaries.
Here is the current map:
Now for the details.
As always, “Continuing” refers to the seats in Senate Classes 2 and 3, which are not up for election this cycle.
Here the highlights of the past two weeks, walking from the Pacific to the Atlantic:
- Arizona: We’re missing one key data point in this race: who will be the Republican nominee? This matters tremendously, because Rasmussen found that real estate executive Wil Cardon polls much worse against former United States Surgeon General Richard Carmona than does Representative Jeff Flake (R-Mesa). The Republican primary, to be held on August 28, has been polled very lightly, and only by Public Policy Polling. All three matchups (Cardon/Flake, Cardon/Carmona, and Flake/Carmona) have been polled too lightly to have much confidence in any of this. Arizona is a pretty reliable Republican state in most respects, though, so I still believe Real Clear Politics has this one right as a “Leans Republican” state. I look forward to more data to narrow it down.
- Michigan: I said last time that a lack of movement here would change me from calling Michigan a “Leans Democrat” state to a “Likely to stay Democrat” state. We now have an additional poll, from NBC News/Marist, showing incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow with an unadjusted dozen-point lead over the presumptive Republican nominee, former Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-Zeeland). This is an adjusted nine-point lead, which, when coupled with the existing data does confirm the move. Michigan is now “Likely to stay Democrat”.
- Ohio: The latest polls from Quinnipiac and Public Policy Polling provide a mixed message. Quinnipiac gives incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown an unadjusted 16 point-lead (which, because the Registered Voter bias and house bias cancel each other out, translates to an adjusted 16-point lead as well), over state Treasurer Josh Mandel. PPP, on the other hand, shows an unadjusted seven-point lead (corresponding to an adjusted two-point lead). Averaging the two’s adjusted margins puts them roughly in line with Rasmussen’s adjusted score from May of six points for the incumbent. No matter how you look at this, it’s a noisy data set. Ohio is probably a “Leans Democrat” state, but it’s not a sure thing.
- Virginia: Everything had been pointing in the direction of former Governor Tim Kaine having a couple-point lead over former Governor George Allen…until WeAskAmerica dropped this poll into our laps. A swing of 11 points in a month, entirely due to a decrease on Kaine’s side, sounds suspiciously like an outlier. I’m not moving Virginia to a different column without a corroborating poll.
- Florida: Polls have been fluctuating a wildly in Florida as they have in Ohio. Quinnipiac published yet another poll, this time showing the incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson with a mere one-point edge over his almost certain opponent, Representative Connie Mack, IV (R-Fort Meyers). With so much noise, I’m decreasingly confident in my assessment that Florida is a leaner. For this reason, I’m moving it into the “Tossup” column until we get closer to November or show a trend outside of a mere point or two.
- Massachusetts: One new poll from Public Policy Polling has an unadjusted tie, which corresponds to a five-point lead for the Republican incumbent Senator, Scott Brown, over his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren. It appears to be a slight outlier, absent confirmation of a shift to the right from the previous trend. That previous trend has Massachusetts looking like a mirror image of Florida, just barely to the right of a pure tossup.
Our “Tossup” and “Leans” zones have narrowed starting this month. Thus far, the narrower zones have impacted only Michigan, though as the month progresses and we get another round of poll results we can expect to see more movement.
The majority of the 113th Senate continues to hang in the balance. There are five tossups: Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana, and Virginia; plus a sixth that probably belongs there: North Dakota. It seems credible for Republicans to win at least three of those six, since they have structural advantages in all of them. This is probably why Intrade is giving Republicans about a 53 percent chance of taking the Senate, down four points from two weeks ago, with a 33 percent chance of Democrats holding at least 51 seats (up a point from last time), and 21 percent chance of exactly 50 seats (up four points). Note that the three add up to 107 percent, which I believe reflects more about how lightly traded these markets are than anything else.
How credible do you think those market numbers are? Do you agree or disagree with my state analyses above?
- Senate Watch: June 23 (logarchism.com)
- GOP could blow Arizona (salon.com)
- Late Returns: Kentucky Primary Features A ‘Proxy Showdown’ Between Kentucky Senators (huffingtonpost.com)