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News from the Votemaster Goes Live Today

Now that all the candidates in the Senate races expected to be close are known, we can begin daily tracking of all the Senate races to see which party is predicted to have control after the midterm elections. For new readers, the map is interactive: placing the mouse cursor on a state gives a pop-up box with the current status of the race. The algorithm used is described here. Also of note is that because the software can handle only one Senate election per state, we are not tracking the special elections in Oklahoma and South Carolina, just the regular ones. We assume the Republicans will win both special elections easily. Clicking on a state brings up the history of polling for that state.

The goal is to have one posting per day, by 8 A.M. Eastern Time if possible, but no promises. If you have friends who are interested in politics, you might want to send them a link to this site.

The Key Races for 2014

The map for the Class II senators (i.e., the senators up for reelection this year), by accident happens to have a large number of rural Southern and Midwestern states that are deep red. Consequently, the Republicans are strongly favored to pick up seats. They will almost certainly pick up Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia due to the retirements of long-established Democrats there. Assuming they hold all their own states, this brings them to 48 seats in the new Senate. The real battles will be fought in the states shown below. The Democrats have a small chance to pick off two Republican seats, in Kentucky and in Georgia, but these will be uphill climbs.

The site contains a great deal of information other than the main page. The menu to the left of the map leads to other pages full of tables and graphs and other political information. The tipping-point state is a particularly valuable table since read from the top down it shows how deep into red territory the Democrats have to go to hold the Senate and read from the bottom up it shows how deep into blue territory the Republicans have to go to capture the Senate. "Redness" and "blueness" are defined by the current polling data, so this table changes daily as new polls are published. Today's pages are still a bit preliminary. New features may be added or updated over time.

One feature carried over from last time is a map that excludes polls by Rasmussen (see menu to right of map). The founder of the company, Scott Rasmussen, is an ardent Republican and his final polls before elections have been shown to be consistently biased by several points in favor of the Republicans. In addition the company's methodology has been frequently criticized, such as polling only one night, accepting whoever answers the phone (including a 12-year-old) as the respondent, etc. For this reason, an additional map is provided that excludes Rasmussen's polls. Rasmussen has since left the company, but doubts remain. By chance, it turns out today the Democrats actually do better when including Rasmussen polls because the most recent poll of Iowa is from Rasmussen and shows it to be a tie. Removing this poll drops us back to earlier polls in which Joni Ernst (R) was ahead of Bruce Braley (D). Also of note, while PPP often works for groups aligned with the Democrats, its track record is one of the best in the business so it is always included.

Since we believe in being as transparent as possible, all the data used is available for downloading in various formats by clicking on the Data link in the blue bar above the map. Please note that when you click on a link to a page on this site, it just goes there but when you leave the site, the page is opened in a new tab.

Below is an excerpt from the Senate Candidates page, also available on the blue bar above the menu. These are the key races to watch for the moment. This page will be changed as events unfold.


Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mark Begich

Dan Sullivan

In 2008, Mark Begich, then mayor of Anchorage, was personally recruited by then-DSCC chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), even though he had to face then-Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest sitting Republican in Senate history. Stevens was convicted of several felony violations a week before the election, but lost by fewer than 4000 votes. Stevens' convictions were later thrown out by Attorney General Eric Holder, but by then it was too late. Two establishment Republicans, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R-AK) and former attorney general and commissioner of natural Resources Dan Sullivan, ran in the primary. So did Joe Miller, a firebrand who won the 2012 Republican primary. Miller got Sarah Palin's vote but most of the other voters preferred former attorney general Dan Sullivan. It will be a tough and bitterly fought general election campaign. The amount of heat generated by this campaign, which could well determine control of the Senate, could melt the glaciers and contribute substantially to global warming.


Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mark Pryor

Tom Cotton

This seat is something of a family tradition. For 18 years it was occupied by Mark Pryor's father, David Pryor, who retired in 1996. In 2002, David Pryor's son, Mark Pryor, ran for it and defeated incumbent senator Tim Hutchinson by 7 points and became so popular the Republicans didn't bother to field a candidate against him in 2008. He is not so lucky this time. His opponent will probably be Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a young very conservative candidate with two degrees from Harvard but nevertheless tea party backing. It is probably a tossup at this point. Unlike many red-state Democrats who are running away from the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), Pryor is running TV ads attacking the insurance industry for dumping sick people and saying that the ACA allows sick people to get medical care. If he wins, this will be a case study for years to come.


Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mark Udall

Cory Gardner

Democrat Mark Udall is up for reelection for the first time in this swing state. At first it looked like he might face Ken Buck, who was the losing candidate in the 2010 Colorado Senate race, but then Buck dropped out to run for the House and Rep. Cory Gardner jumped in. Despite the fact that Colorado is becoming a bluish state in presidential elections, Udall is in the fight of his life here against Gardner. Incumbents always have an advantage, but it appears to be close. Udall's first cousin, Tom Udall, is the senior senator from New Mexico. Unlike Mark, Tom is waltzing to a landslide victory in New Mexico, in part because 47% (yes, that number again) of the New Mexico population is Latino and Latinos strongly favor the Democrats.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
Bruce Braley

Joni Ernst

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) will be 75 years old 2 weeks after the 2014 election. He decided that he's been around long enough and will not run for reelection. Iowa is a swing state, and Harkin's departure set off a chain reaction in both parties as they started dealing with it. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) is the Democratic nominee and probably the strongest one the Democrats have. After a five-way primary, the Republicans nominated Joni Ernst, who is a woman, but running a testosterone-heavy campaign, among other things, bragging how good she is at castrating hogs. She supports a "fetal personhood" amendment to the Iowa constitution and says she would have voted against the recent farm bill, something not likely to please Iowa farmers. Braley is going to depict her as far too right-wing for purple Iowa. Polls show him with a small lead initially.


Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mary Landrieu

Bill Cassidy

Many black Democrats left Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and never returned. Nevertheless, Landrieu managed to win in 2008 and has fought hard for the state. Working in her favor is that the Landrieu name is well known in Louisiana. Her father, Moon Landrieu, was mayor of New Orleans, a post now occupied by her brother Mitch Landrieu. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) might have been a formidable opponent, but decided to keep his powder dry until 2016 when he might run for President. Louisiana is a state to watch up to election day and probably beyond it due to the state's peculiar jungle primary system recently adopted by California as well (and Louisiana is rarely a trend setter with California playing catchup). On Nov. 4 there will be a multiway primary open to all voters. If nobody gets 50% (likely), then there will be a runoff between the top two on Dec. 6, which might determine control of the Senate. Three Republicans are running against Landrieu in the primary. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is the establishment favorite and most likely to make the runoff. However, Air Force colonel Rob Maness is a tea party candidate in the race as well as a virtual unknown, state representative Paul Hollis. It will be a bloody campaign.

North Carolina   

Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Kay Hagan

Thom Tillis

Kay Hagan beat then senator Elizabeth Dole in the Democratic wave year of 2008 by 8 points, but she was helped a lot by a disastrous ad run by Dole accusing Hagan of taking money from the Godless Americans PAC. The ad was so over the top, that it became a major campaign issue. She won't be so lucky this time, but of course she is now an incumbent in this swing state. There was a nasty Republican primary won by the establishment candidate, state house speaker Thom Tillis. The general election will be very hard fought, with outside groups pouring money into the state. The Republicans will try to tie Hagan to the unpopular Obama but the Democrats will counter by tying Tillis to the unpopular state house of representatives, of which he was speaker. With both major party candidates so unpopular, Libertarian Party candidate Sean Haugh might be a factor in the race, probably hurting Tillis more than Hagan.


Challenger Challenger Notes           Polls
David Perdue

Michelle Nunn

Although Saxby Chambliss is a conservative Republican, he is at least willing to talk to the Democrats from time to time. However, that is enough of a sin to make it all but certain he would have faced a primary in 2014--and lost. Rather than go down to a tea party challenge, he announced that he will not run for reelection. Reps Paul Broun (R-GA), Phil Gingrey (R-GA), and Jack Kingston (R-GA), quickly signed up to run in the Republican primary. Then former George Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) also joined the fray. Handel was the executive at the Susan G. Komen Foundation who caused an uproar when she withdrew funding from Planned Parenthood because some of their clinics provide abortions. It was a bitter primary and runoff, eventually won by David Perdue, a rich businessman and cousin of a former Georgia governor. The Democrats settled early on Michelle Nunn, the daughter of legendary former senator Sam Nunn. Georgia is a fairly red state but Romney got only 53% of the vote in 2012, so if the Democrats can depict Perdue as a mini-Romney, it could be a close race.


Incumbent Challenger Notes           Polls
Mitch McConnell

Alison Lundergan-Grimes

As minority leader, in principle Mitch McConnell ought to have no trouble getting reelected. Even though he compromises very little with the Democrats, tea partiers consider that far too much so they supported businessman Matt Bevin against him in the Republican primary. Bevin lost and now McConnell faces Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of state, in the general election. While Kentucky generally casts its electoral votes for the Republican candidate, six of the seven statewide elected officers are Democrats, so Kentuckians do vote for Democrats. The campaign is attracting a huge amount of outside money as New York and California liberals would love nothing more than to defeat McConnell. The campaign will be as black as coal. In fact, coal will be a major issue, with Grimes breaking from Obama (and the New York and California liberals paying for her campaign) by saying that coal is the greatest fuel since some caveman thought of setting a dead tree on fire. Grimes may or may not actually believe that, but the the coal mining industry is a major employer in Kentucky so Grimes has gone on TV next to a coal miner, attacking McConnell from the right, basically accusing him of being pro-environment and anticoal.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Montana Amanda Curtis 35% Steve Daines 55%     Aug 18 Aug 19 Rasmussen
North Carolina Kay Hagan* 42% Thom Tillis 38% Sean Haugh (L) 08% Aug 14 Aug 17 PPP
North Carolina Kay Hagan* 45% Thom Tillis 43% Sean Haugh (L) 06% Aug 16 Aug 19 Suffolk U.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster
Aug20 Daily Tracking to Start this Week
Aug20 Special Elections in Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Hawaii This Year
Aug20 Third-Party Candidates a Factor in Some States
Aug20 Sullivan Wins Alaska Republican Senate Primary
Aug20 Hanabusa Concedes in Hawaii Senate Primary
Aug20 DSCC Outraises NRSC in July
Aug16 Schatz Defeats Hanabusa for Democratic Senate Nomination in Hawaii
Aug16 Gov. Rick Perry Indicted for Abusing His Office
Aug16 2016 Presidential Race Already in Full Swing Under the Radar
Aug10 Schatz Holds Small Lead over Hanabusa in Hawaii Democratic Primary
Aug10 Abercrombie Defeated in Gubernatorial Primary in Hawaii
Aug10 Federal Judge Upholds North Carolina Law Restricting Voting
Aug08 Alexander Easily Defeats Tea Party Challenger in Tennessee Republican Senate Primary
Aug08 Walsh Drops out of Montana Senate Race
Aug06 Roberts Beats Tea Party Challenger in Kansas Senate Primary
Aug06 Peters and Land to Face Each Other in November in Michigan
Aug06 Rand Paul is Already Campaigning in Iowa against Hillary Clinton
Jul23 Perdue Wins Georgia Republican Senatorial Primary
Jul23 Supreme Court Will Probably Get to Rule on the ACA (Again)
Jul23 Fiery Pastor Jody Hice Wins Runoff for Broun's Seat
Jul09 2016 Republican National Convention Will Be in Cleveland
Jun25 Cochran Beats McDaniel in Mississippi
Jun25 Establishment Candidate Beauprez Wins Colorado Gubernatorial Nomination
Jun11 House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Defeated in Primary
Jun04 Independent Gums Up the Works in Mississippi
Jun04 Joni Ernst to Face Bruce Braley in Iowa
Jun04 Independent Gums Up the Works in Mississippi
May28 Democrats Escape Disaster in Texas
May28 Republicans Court Disaster in Texas
May21 Perdue and Kingston Advance to Runoff in Georgia Senate Race
May21 McConnell Whips Bevin in Kentucky
May21 Wehby Beats Conger in Oregon
May21 Chelsea Clinton's Mother-in-law Loses in Pennsylvania
May18 How Republican is the South?
May07 Tillis Wins North Carolina Primary
May07 Boehner Renominated Easily
May07 Long View of the Senate
May07 Future Voters May Use iPads
Apr23 Summary of the Prognosticators on the 2014 Senate Races
Apr23 North Carolina Primary is Next
Apr23 Other Southern Races Tight
Apr07 Scott Brown Makes Freudian Slip
Apr07 Republican Poll Shows Landrieu Ahead in Louisiana
Mar24 Methodology Matters
Mar24 Rand Paul May Have to Make a Choice in 2016
Mar11 Version 1.0 of the 2016 Republican Presidential Primaries
Mar11 Tier 1 Candidates
Mar11 Tier 2 Candidates
Mar11 Tier 3 Candidates
Mar11 Hotly Contested Special Election in Florida Today to Fill GOP House Seat