The Democrats are slight favorites (58%) to win control of the Senate according to a new statistical model released by FiveThirtyEight. Republicans currently control the chamber 53-47. Because the Vice-President sits as President of the Senate, Democrats need a net pick up of 3 seats, if Biden wins, and 4 seats if Trump wins. Add one to each of those though as it is almost certainly the Democrats lose the Senate seat the party gained during the 2017 special election.
I would place the odds of Democrats winning control of the Senate a bit higher (let's say 65%) and have a few differences on the odds FiveThirtyEight assigned to particular races. Let's examine some of them:
Maine: Democrat Sara Gideon is given a 53% chance of ousting Republican Senator Susan Collins. Too low. Democrats are going to win the President's race big, at least statewide, and I don't think Collins can overcome that. This FiveThirtyEight prediction is a Democratic pickup.
Iowa: Republican Senator Joni Ernst is given a 59% chance of winning re-election. I'm fine with those odds.
North Carolina: Democratic challenger Call Cunningham is given a 62% chance of unseating Republican Senator Thom Tillis. This FiveThirtyEight prediction is a Democratic pickup.
Montana: Republican Senator Steve Daines is given a 68% chance of turning back the challenge posed by former Montana Governor Steve Bullock. That's too high. Maybe 60%;
Colorado: Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is given a 68% chance of defeating Republican Senator Cory Gardner. That's about right. This FiveThirtyEight prediction is a Democratic pickup.
Georgia: Senator David Perdue is assigned a 68% chance of defeating Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. Agree.
Alabama: Republican challenger Tom Tuberville has a 72% chance of defeating Democratic Senator Doug Jones. Those odds may be too low. I'd make it closer to 80%. This FiveThirtyEight prediction is a Republican pickup.
Arizona: Democrat challenger Mark Kelly has a 78% chance of ousting Republican Senator Martha McSally. Too low. McSally is a dreadful candidate. I'd put the odds closer to 85%. This FiveThirtyEight prediction is a Democratic pickup.
Kansas: Republican Roger Marshall is favored to win this open seat (78%) over challenger Barbara Bollier. That's about right.
All the remaining states, the incumbent or party currently in control has an 80% or more chance of winning according to the FiveThirtyEight model. This is where I have my biggest disagreement with the FiveThirtyEight model.
South Carolina: No way Lindsey Graham has an 85% chance of winning re-election. Make that 65%.
Alaska: The 87% favorite rating of incumbent Republican Senator Dan Sullivan against independent challenger Al Gross is far too high. Maybe 70%.
Kentucky: Senate Majority, probably soon to be Minority, Leader Mitch McConnell is a solid favorite to win re-election, but 96%? Too high. Make that about 90%. Maybe 85%. It is definitely high enough though that Democrats wanting to win control of the Senate would be wise to stop sending money to long-shot McConnell challenger Amy McGrath and instead invest that money in more winnable races.
OOP's short takes:
- Indianapolis Republican council members held a press conference in which they demanded a repeal of the city's mask mandate. Yet those same Republicans never have a problem soaking local taxpayers to pay for every corporate welfare scheme proposed by city leaders. To recap those Republicans' position: Corporate welfare paid for by taxpayers? Yes!!!. Wearing a cloth across your face to try to curb the worst pandemic in over a 100 years? No!!! Is it any wonder there are hardly any Republicans left in Marion County?
- The Indianapolis Star reports that the Indiana State Republican Party is sending out absentee ballot application forms to Republican leaning voters. Some of those applications are going to people who are not eligible to vote absentee, since Indiana requires a reason and not wanting to be exposed to a highly communicable disease during a deadly pandemic is not a good enough excuse. In the article, Indiana Republican Chairman and Trump sycophant Kyle Hupfer spins the policy, insisting it is not contrary to Trump's opposition to mail-in voting. No, Kyle. Trump's objection is that vote-by-mail can lead by fraud. Absentee voting is simply a type of vote-by-mail in which an excuse is required. There is no difference in the security of the ballot between no excuse vote-by-mail and excuse vote-by-mail. None.
- As I'm writing this a new CNN article pops up about "new reports" that "reinforce concerns about whether Trump's political motives are a higher priority than Americans' health." Well, duh. Trump has put his own selfish best interests ahead of the country's for 3 1/2 years now. Why would that change now that we are in the middle of a pandemic?
- Scores of battleground polls have been released since I last wrote about the status of the presidential race. They are almost all bad for Trump. Here is a quick summary of this week's state polls of likely voters, with Biden's lead in those states noted: Wisconsin (+9, +7, +9, +4, +9, +10, +7, +7, +7), Michigan (+11, +8), Pennsylvania (+7), AZ (+9, +4, +5, +10, +3), Ohio (-3), NC (+3, +3, Even), Florida (+1, +3, Even), Minnesota (+16, +4, +4, +9), Virginia (+14), Georgia (+6), and Colorado (+11)
- Regarding the working assumption that Biden does better in national polls than swing states, well that does not appear to be the case any more.
- Been hearing reports that the debates coming up are critical to the outcome of the election. What malarkey. Unless Biden (or Trump) keels over during the debate (seriously, several politicians have actually fainted during debates, including an Elkhart (Indiana) mayoral candidate in 2019), a Trump-Biden debate is unlikely to change the solid support both candidates have.
- October Surprise: No doubt Attorney General Bill Barr, to help President Trump's re-election effort, will drop the Durham report on the FBI investigation into Russian interference a month or so before the election. The problem though is that Barr has so damaged his own integrity and reputation, nobody outside the Trump base is going to take the report seriously.
- The threat Barr poses is not what he does before November 3rd, but what he does afterward. Imagine the Justice Department being used to seize disputed ballots in battleground states. Imagine Justice Department lawyers filing lawsuits to throw out ballots which are likely to favor Biden. Barr may be the most unethical and corrupt lawyer in America. There is no discernable limit to how low he will go when it comes to helping Trump.