• Strongly Dem (43)
  • Likely Dem (4)
  • Barely Dem (2)
  • Exactly tied (1)
  • Barely GOP (4)
  • Likely GOP (1)
  • Strongly GOP (45)
  • No Senate race
Map algorithm and special elections
An Orman (I) lead in Kansas is a "tie"
New polls: CO MI NC NH
Dem pickups : (None)
GOP pickups : AK AR LA MT SD WV

News from the Votemaster

Page with All Senate Races is Now Complete

Now that all the primaries have finally completed, the Senate candidates page is finally fully filled in. A link to it is on the blue bar above the map. It gives a quick summary of each of the 36 Senate races, along with photos of the candidates and links to their campaign, Wikipedia, and state party pages. Clicking on a candidate's photo takes you to the candidate's campaign page. Clicking on the candidate's name takes you to the candidate's Wikipedia page. Finally, clicking on the (D) or (R) takes you to the state party's home page.

Control of the Senate May Come Down to North Carolina

The Republicans need to win six Senate races to take over the Senate, assuming they don't lose any of their own seats. Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia are probably in the bag for them, so they need three more. The deep South states of Arkansas and Louisiana are looking better for the Republicans every day. Alaska is a red state but Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) has run a flawless campaign and is competing against Dan Sullivan (R), whose ties to the state are tenuous. But the biggest hurdle for the Republicans may be North Carolina, where Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is fighting for her life against North Carolina house speaker Thom Tillis (R). It has been close all year, but two new polls suggest that maybe, perhaps it is possible Hagan might have a small lead for the moment (can't be too careful here).

A Rasmussen poll has Hagan ahead 45% to 39%. Historically, Rasmussen has not been terribly accurate and has also shown a bias of several points in favor of Republicans so a Rasmussen poll showing the Democrat with a big lead is noteworthy. Also today there is a SurveyUSA poll showing Hagan up 46% to 43%. SurveyUSA has a better track record and is impartial. Together, these suggest Hagan may be slightly ahead.

The contest in North Carolina is exceedingly negative. Tillis is trying very hard to tie Hagan to President Obama, who is unpopular in the state. Hagan is pointing out that the large "cuts" to education in the state, which are extremely unpopular, were pushed through the Republican-controlled state legislature by Tillis. The situation around the education cuts is complicated because it depends on exactly what is counted as education (e.g., do community colleges count or only K-12?) and what is a cut (e.g., compared to last year or compared to the proposed budget?). All this negativity may lead some voters to dislike both candidates and look for an alternative. Unfortunately for Tillis, there is an alternative: Libertarian Party candidate Sean Haugh, who is likely to attract some Republicans who are unhappy with what Tillis did as speaker. Haugh is pulling in about 5-6% of the vote, which could be enough to allow Hagan to eke out a win in this increasingly purple state.

Please note that neither candidate is at 50%. Unlike some other Southern states, North Carolina does not have a runoff if the winner is below 50%.

If the Republicans win Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alaska but Hagan squeaks by in North Carolina, today's map might be the final one. In that case, independent Greg Orman in Kansas gets to determine who controls the Senate. If that happens, he might temporarily dethrone Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy as the most powerful person in the United States, and unlike Kennedy, Orman will have actually been elected. The tidal forces pulling on Orman could rip him apart though.

Note to arithmetic nerds: Today's polls in North Carolina give Hagan 6% and 3% leads, respectively. These average to 4.5%. Conventionally, when the first digit after the decimal point is 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4, the number is rounded down. When it is 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 it is rounded up. So we have rounded her lead to 5%. The map algorithm uses the rounded numbers, so North Carolina is currently filled in. This approach is consistent with the tradition in science and engineering not to present data as being more accurate than they are. You don't say something is 4.5 ± 4. In theory, the map could have used different shadings for numbers between 4.5 and 5.0 and for 9.5 and 10.0 but that would be suggesting the data are more accurate than they are.

Is Winning the Senate a Good Thing for Republicans?

All political pundits work with the unstated assumption that the Republicans want to capture the Senate and this would be a good thing for them. Maybe not. An interesting piece in the Christian Science Monitor questions this assumption. First, the Republicans might draw the wrong conclusion from a win. They might conclude that they are doing everything right and ignore the autopsy report RNC chairman Reince Priebus commissioned after the 2012 presidential loss. It said the party has to reach out to young people, minorities, and women. If the Republicans do well this year it will largely be due to three factors: (1) the map favors them, (2) many Democrats skip voting in the midterms, and (3) the President's party always takes a hit in the sixth year. None of these factors will be at play in 2016. But if conservatives in the party just ignore Priebus' report and say: "Look, we're doing great" they may be in for a surprise in 2016.

Second, in a secret audio tape leaked last month, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is potentially the new Senate majority leader, promised the Koch brothers even more gridlock in the next two years. He probably meant it. Come 2016, with the Republicans in control of Congress, it will be a lot harder to blame the Democrats for the gridlock. The Democrats will surely be pointing out the country's many problems and Congress' failure to even address them.

Third, complete control of Congress may hurt the Republicans in the presidential race in 2016 because the public will expect them to govern or at least pass bills. But the tension between the tea party and establishment wings may preclude actually passing bills. Now the House has the excuse that nothing they do will pass the Senate anyway, so why bother? But with control of both chambers, people will be expecting bills to arrive on the President's desk regularly, but internal conflicts within the party may prevent that, with a Republican-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate at loggerheads all the time because the tea party runs the House and the establishment runs the Senate.

How the Republican Leadership Won its House Primaries

At the start of this cycle there were a dozen House races pitting a tea party candidate against an establishment candidate. The Republican leadership was afraid of unelectable candidates winning many of the primaries but it is NRCC policy not to intervene in primaries. Nevertheless, despite Eric Cantor's loss in Virginia, the establishment won most of its races. How did this happen? In short, outside groups favoring the establishment jumped in and saved the day for them. For example, the Chamber of Commerce spent $150,000 in the final days of just one House primary (AZ-01) to pull Andy Tobin over the finish line by 500 votes. Had he lost, the other candidates would surely have gone down in the general election. With Tobin, the Republicans stand a chance to pick off Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ). Similar stories hold for quite a few other House races.

Election Prediction: Polls vs. Fundamentals

Some people who try to predict elections use just the polls. Others use fundamentals, like fund raising. Still others combine the two. An article in the New York Times today claims that using polling data is always better than using fundamentals, but combining the two improves accuracy until 2 months before the election, when including fundamentals doesn't improve the prediction any more. Of course, whether including fundamentals helps depends largely on which fundamentals are included in the model. Do you include how people feel about the direction of the country? How about throwing in the unemployment rate? Does the change in the Dow Jones index since January 1 matter? And for all of these, how much?

Today's Senate Polls

Increasingly it is looking like the Democratic candidates are safe in Colorado, Michigan, and New Hampshire, so more of the action (and money) will be focused on the Southern battlegrounds and Alaska.

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Colorado Mark Udall* 46% Cory Gardner 42%     Sep 08 Sep 10 SurveyUSA
Michigan Gary Peters 46% Terri Land 37%     Sep 06 Sep 10 Suffolk U.
North Carolina Kay Hagan* 45% Thom Tillis 39% Sean Haugh (L) 6% Sep 08 Sep 10 Rasmussen
North Carolina Kay Hagan* 46% Thom Tillis 43% Sean Haugh (L) 5% Sep 09 Sep 10 SurveyUSA
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen* 48% Scott Brown 41%     Sep 10 Sep 10 Global Strategy

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster
Sep11 Cotton Takes the Lead in Arkansas
Sep11 Pelosi is Top Democratic Fundraiser
Sep11 Intramural Battles Loom in 2016
Sep10 New feature: Graph of Senate Scores for the Whole Year
Sep10 Democrat Chad Taylor Asks Kansas Supreme Court to Remove Him from Ballot
Sep10 Primary Season is Over
Sep10 Republican Establishment Triumphs in the End
Sep10 Items Democrats and Republicans Agree On about the Election
Sep09 Icons for Websites and bloggers Now Available
Sep09 The Battle for Kansas Has Started
Sep09 Ten 2014 Races That Will Matter in 2016
Sep09 Constitutional Amendment to Regulate Campaign Finances Advances in the Senate
Sep09 Michelle Obama Hits Campaign Trail
Sep09 Obama Asks for Five Billion Dollars to Go after ISIS
Sep09 Icons for Websites and loggers Now Available
Sep09 The Battle for Kansas Has Started
Sep09 Ten 2014 Races That Will Matter in 2016
Sep09 Constitutional Amendment to Regular Campaign Finances Advances in the Senate
Sep09 Constitutional Amendment to Regulate Campaign Finances Advances in the Senate
Sep09 Michelle Obama Hits Campaign Trail
Sep09 Obama Asks for Five Billion Dollars to Go after ISIS
Sep08 Why Democrats Can't Win the House
Sep08 Final Primaries Tomorrow
Sep08 Economic Realignment May Help the Democrats
Sep08 Dark Horses Are Emerging for 2016 Already
Sep08 Why Democrats Can't Win the House?
Sep08 Final Primaries Tomorrow
Sep08 Economic Realignment May Help the Democrats
Sep08 Dark Horses Are Emerging for 2016 Already
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Sep06 Christie Loses Bet in Atlantic City
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Sep05 Taylor's Withdrawal from Kansas Senate Race Getting More Complicated
Sep05 Political Stupidity is Bipartisan
Sep05 Court Orders Early Voting To Be Reinstated in Ohio
Sep05 Early Voting Is Starting Today
Sep05 Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis Each Attack the Other's Party
Sep05 The Top Eight Senate Campaign Gaffes
Sep04 Chad Taylor Drops Out of Kansas Senate Race
Sep04 Martin O'Malley Says He Will Run for President in 2016
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