Senate Watch: October 15
Lately, we’ve been running our Senate Watch articles on Tuesdays. However, with tomorrow’s second Presidential debate, this week’s Senate Watch is running today instead. We’ve had some interesing movement over the past six days.
Here is the current map:
As always, “Continuing” refers to the seats in Senate Classes 2 and 3, which are not up for election this cycle. And, also as always, the details are below the fold.
Here the highlights of the past week, walking from the Pacific to the Atlantic:
- Nevada: Three new polls in the past week (plus an absurdity from Gravis Marketing). Suffolk/KSNV, Rasmussen, and Public Policy Polling all had Republican incumbent Senator Dean Heller leading Representative Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas) by three points. Nevada remains “Leans Republican” (but see below regarding Arizona). Intrade’s markets show Heller at 69 percent (up seven from last week), and Berkley at 30 percent (down eight).
- Arizona: I had an error in my calculations last week. Arizona should have moved from “Likely Republican” to “Leans Republican”. I planned to correct that in this week’s installment, even if there were no new polls. But there was a new automated poll, from Behavior Research Center, who has a long history of quality polling. They found Democrat Richard Carmona ahead of Representative Jeff Flake (D-Mesa) by four points. One of the reasons for their numbers being to the left of the general consensus appears to be that they are the only ones to conduct the poll in both English and Spanish. Are Hispanics who claim to be likely to vote actually registered? Certainly they could lie, and that would shade the results to the left of reality. On the other hand, an automated poll, which excludes households without landlines, tends to shade to the right. If we assume that BRC’s conclusions are accurate, this could account for the historical Nevada polls shading to the right of actual results, and could mean that Nevada is more of a “Tossup” than “Leans Republican”. In any case, this is enough that Arizona moves to “Tossup” from what should have been “Leans Republican” last week, but was listed as “Likely Republican”. The Intrade markets are still confident about Flake, though less so than last week; he’s at 60 percent (down eight from last week) to Carmona’s 43 (up 11).
- Montana: One new poll, from Public Policy Polling, has Democratic incumbent Senator Jon Tester ahead of at-large Representative Denny Rehberg by two points. This adjusts to a tie, keeping Montana in the middle of “Tossup” territory. Intraders are still inclined to believe Rehberg will win here, though not as much as last week; he is given a 65 percent likelihood (down four from last week), with Democratic incumbent Senator Jon Tester at 45 percent (up six). The latest poll doesn’t move Montana; it stays “Tossup”.
- North Dakota: No new polls, so North Dakota stays “Tossup”. The Intrade markets are too lightly traded to make sense. They have at-large Representative Rick Berg at 82 percent (up 19 from last week) to state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp’s 39 percent (up eight).
- Missouri: No new polls here, either. Incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is still expected to have the edge over Representative Todd Akin (R-Wildwood). Missouri stays “Leans Democrat”. Intraders agree, giving McCaskill a 67 percent chance (up five from last week) to Akin’s 37 percent (unchanged).
- Wisconsin: Two new polls this week, from CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac and Rasmussen, show Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) with leads of two and four points, respectively, over Republican former Governor Tommy Thompson. It keeps Wisconsin pretty deep in “Leans Democrat”, but not deep enough to push it into “Likely Democrat”. Intrade has Republican former Thompson at a 39 percent chance (up two from last week) to Baldwin’s 66 percent (up one).
- Indiana: No new polls, and the light polling and close results of them leave Indiana a “Tossup”. Intrade markets disagree, with Mourdock leading with a 66 percent chance (up 11 from last week) to 10 percent (down 25).
- Ohio: Four new polls were published in the past week. SurveyUSA, NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist, Rasmussen, and Public Policy Polling saw four, 11, one, and seven point leads for Democratic incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown over Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel. There’s evidence of tightening in the race, but it seems to have plateaued too far from the middle to chance columns; Ohio stays “Likely Democrat”. Intraders give him a 72 percent chance (unchanged from last week) to Mandel’s 28 percent (down one).
- Florida: Three new polls were published this week. NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist,Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Mason-Dixon, and Public Policy Polling have Democratic incumbent Senator Bill Nelson with a 13, five, and eight point lead, respectively, over Representative Connie Mack, IV (R-Fort Meyers). Florida remains “Likely Democrat”. Intraders agree, giving Nelson a 80 percent chance of winning (down ten from last week) to Mack’s 13 percent (down seven).
- Virginia: Three new polls were published over the past week. CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac and NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist found Democratic former Governor Tim Kaine leading Republican former Governor George Allen by seven and one point, respectively. WeAskAmerica, on the other hand, had Allen up by five. It seems, based on the dates of the three polls, that Allen jumped up after the Presidential debate. It’s time to move Virginia back to “Tossup”. Intraders are still confident in a Kaine victory, giving him a 73 percent chance of winning (down five from a week ago), to Allen’s 38 percent (unchanged).
- Pennsylvania: Four new polls this week. Siena, Susquehanna, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Rasmussen show Democratic incumbent Senator Bob Casey leading CEO Tom Smith by nine, two, ten, and four points, respectively. Given the mix, Pennsylvania remains “Likely Democrat”. Intraders still have high expectations of incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Casey, Jr., beating coal mine tycoon Tom Smith next month. They give Casey a 90 percent chance of winning (down four from last week), to Smith’s 9 percent (down 16).
- Connecticut: While last week looked like a tossup between Representative Chris Murphy (D-Cheshire) and Linda McMahon, this week makes last week’s Quinnipiac poll the outlier. Rasmussen has Murphy up by five. Connecticut moves back to “Leans Democrat”. Intraders agree, giving Murphy the edge with a 75 percent chance (up 15 from last week), to McMahon’s 45 percent (also up 15).
- Massachusetts: Three new polls, from WBUR/MassINC, Public Policy Polling, and Rasmussen. WBUR/MassINC has a three point lead for Republican incumbent Senator Scott Brown over Democrat Elizabeth Warren. But the more recent PPP and Rasmussen polls have Warren up by six and two points, respectively, which adjust to somewhere in the four to five point range. I’m inclined to put more credence in the more recent polls, in part because they agree with each other pretty closely. Massachusetts stays “Leans Democrat”. Intrade is less confident than last week; Warren is given a 69 percent chance (up two points in the past week) to Brown’s 35 (up one from a week ago).
- Maine: No new polls, but Intraders are still bullish on independent Angus King, who is expected to caucus with the Democrats should he win. They give King a 91 percent chance of winning (down one from last week), to six percent for Republican Charlie Summers (unchanged) and four percent for Democrat Cynthia Dill (unchanged). It’s still “Likely Independent”.
Three states moved columns this week. Arizona and Connecticut moved left one column (two for Arizona if you look at my error from last week), putting them in “Tossup” and “Leans Democrat”, respectively. Virginia moved one column to the right, back into “Tossup”. Our four tossups from last week now becomes a slightly different group of five: Arizona, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, and Virginia. Republicans’ best chance is probably Arizona, though they have a slight advantage in all but Virginia; Democrats’ best chance is Virginia. The Republicans’ likelihood of taking over the Senate fell a bit more in my model, but was essentially unchanged in markets this week; Intrade markets give Republicans about an 24 percent chance of holding at least 51 Senate seats (unchanged from last week), with a 63 percent chance of Democrats holding at least 50 seats (also unchanged), and now a 13 percent chance of either 48 or 49 seats (down one).
How credible do you think those market numbers are? Do you agree or disagree with my state analyses above?