Yesterday, a wave did indeed form across the country, and the GOP was the beneficiary. In need of six net seats for the Senate majority and facing vulnerable seats in Kansas and Georgia, Republicans ran the table, winning every close Senate election save one. Only Scott Brown's defeat in New Hampshire prevented a true sweep. (Yes, I know Louisiana will now head to a runoff after no one there achieved enough support to avoid it. But who can argue that Republican Bill Cassidy is well-positioned to continue Republican gains into December?)
Eight new seats will reside on the Republican side of the Senate aisle come January's next Senate session. On some levels, even
though Republican gains in the House were limited to "only" 12-14 seats, 2014 was a broader and deeper wave than the one that swept America in 2010. That year, though they did accomplish a history-making feat by winning 63 seats in the House, many objectives - particularly in the Senate - went unmet. Yesterday, the GOP met and exceeded any and all reasonable expectations in both Houses of Congress and among the nation's statehouses.
A couple of races are still outstanding, but assessing the results that are complete, Republicans will hold significant majorities in the Senate, in the House and in governorships. The gubernatorial races were most surprising. Election Projection projected Republicans to lose a net of two statehouses, one to the Democrats and one to an independent. Instead, the GOP enjoyed a string of close victories to extend the majority they could already claim.
I'll be taking a look at the election results for each of these groups in the next three days, starting with an in depth look at the Senate races tomorrow. I'll also be continuing updates on the election results (Senate, House and governor) until all race have been officially decided. And then there will be retooling of the Louisiana Senate election page in advance of Senator Mary Landrieu's primary showdown against Cassidy.
Millions across the nation have already voted, and many millions more will cast their vote tomorrow. Dozens of close, exciting elections
will be settled tomorrow night as the votes are counted. As we near the end of this election cycle, I thought I'd offer some things to
consider as the returns come in.
I will be surprised if...
Three 2014 Flameouts These candidates far underperformed down the stretch, proving early optimism to be misplaced.
Republican Terri Land held the early lead in the Michigan Senate race, but faded dramatically over the Spring and Summer.
It looks like Democrat Domenic Recchia, New York CD-11, won't be able to defeat an incumbent House member who faces 20 counts of breaking federal law.
Democrat Martha Coakley gets a second walk of shame on the flameout list. After losing to Scott Brown in the famous Massachusetts special Senate election in January, 2010, it looks likely she'll fall short in this year's Massachusetts governor election as well.
Later, I'll post more on what to look for once the returns start coming in.
23 New Polls: 8 Senate, 5 House, 5 Governor, 5 Others
1 Pundit Rating Change: 1 favors GOP Generic Poll Adjustment: New: GOP +0.1, Previous: GOP +0.3Party Switchers In Republicans' Favor Alaska SenateWeak DEM Hold to Weak GOP Gain Other Ratings Changes In Democrats' Favor Utah CD-4Strong GOP Gain to Mod GOP Gain In Republicans' Favor Kentucky SenateWeak GOP Hold to Mod GOP Hold Virginia SenateStrong DEM Hold to Mod DEM Hold
Early voting is coming to a close today in many areas, and the results are mixed. In the 2014 North Carolina Senate election, for example, black voters are turning out in greater proportion than in 2010. That's good news for Democratic Senator Kay Hagan. But 2010 was a big time Republican year, so the GOP can withstand a marginally increased African-American slice of the electorate and still perform well. That said, almost all recent NC Senate polls give Hagan a slight lead. With just 3 days until the voting concludes, for her to fall short would be a mild upset.
Colorado, on the other hand, looks good for Republicans. As of noon Thursday, the red team's share of the early vote is higher than the 2010 electorate. That's probably bad news for Democratic Senator Mark Udall. Cory Gardner, the Republican challenger, is in a good position to earn the takeover in the Colorado Senate election, but we shouldn't forget Colorado's history. Ken Buck's situation in 2010 looked similarly rosy, but he lost to Democratic incumbent Michael Bennett anyway.
Voting in Georgia looks much like North Carolina with the percentage of black early voters outpacing their proportion of the total 2010 electorate. But like in North Carolina, Georgia Republicans have some buffer because of their substantial margin of victory in 2010. Regardless of who is actually performing better so far, it'll be hard for either candidate in the 2014 Georgia Senate election to earn the outright majority. A runoff has seemed likely these past several weeks, and these numbers do nothing to change that expectation.
Reacting to early voting numbers is somewhat like trying to compare apples to oranges, however. I couldn't find corresponding early voting percentages for 2010 - which would be a more consistent comparison. So, like in every cycle before this, we'll have to wait until Election Night for any definitive results.
Now that November has arrived, I wanted to extend the final opportunity of the 2014 election season to my readers to contribute to the efforts that go into providing Election Projection and its content. Since 2004, reader contributions have been invaluable to me in the labor of love that is Election Projection. If you would like to make a contribution, please click on the button below. You don't need a Paypal account to help out.
Thanks so much!!
This evening's update will feature six new seats: AR-4, CA-21, HI-1, IA-2, NV-4, NY-24. Four of the new seats are currently held by Democrats. FL-18, the one race to be removed, is also held by a Democrat.
Republican nominee Charlie Baker has now lead in all 5 of the latest Massachusetts governor polls. He must be considered the favorite to best Democrat Martha Coakley in the 2014 Massachusetts governor election. For Ms. Coakley, a loss would be her second statewide loss in the last 4 years or so - no small feat for the Democrat in the Bay State.
40 New Polls: 12 Senate, 12 House, 12 Governor, 4 Others
No Pundit Rating Changes Generic Poll Adjustment: New: GOP +0.2, Previous: GOP +0.1Party Switchers In Democrats' Favor Alaska SenateWeak GOP Gain to Weak DEM Hold In Republicans' Favor Georgia SenateWeak DEM Gain to Weak GOP Hold New Hampshire CD-1Weak DEM Hold to Weak GOP GainRatings Changes In Democrats' Favor Louisiana SenateMod GOP Gain to Weak GOP Gain In Republicans' Favor California CD-31Mod DEM Gain to Weak DEM Gain Minnesota CD-7Mod DEM Hold to Weak DEM Hold Rhode Island GovernorMod DEM Hold to Weak DEM Hold
Two Senate races have shed Monday's color for a new one after last evening's update. But since the two party switchers cancel out each other, the projected balance of power in the 2014 Senate elections remains 51 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and 3 Independents.
The Alaska Senate election is now projected to be a Weak DEM Hold. Democrat incumbent Senator Mark Begich benefits from an apparent outlier poll giving him a 6-point lead to reclaim the advantage over Republican Dan Sullivan. I'll discuss outliers and how I've decided to handle them this year in the notes.
Moving in the opposite direction is the Georgia Senate election. After a short time in the lead, Democrat Michelle Nunn has again relinquished the lead here as Republican David Perdue is now projected to earn a Weak GOP Hold. I want to reiterate a point I made earlier. Perdue's newfound success does not imply a victory on Election Day. Instead, all signs point to a January runoff to decide who will succeed outgoing GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss.
In the House, one race has flipped. Last night's numbers from the ever-changing New Hampshire 1st District re-rematch between Carol Shea-Porter and Frank Guinta fall in the Republican Guinta's favor. He is now projected to win by a fraction, pushing this race from Weak DEM Hold to Weak GOP Gain.
But back and forth they go. Since I began tracking this race in early May, these two have switched places no less than 7 times. And it wouldn't surprise me if another switch or two comes down between now and next Tuesday. With Guinta in the lead, for the moment at least, Republicans are projected to enjoy a nice increase in their majority in the 2014 House elections. The current tally of 242 Republicans and 193 Democrats would be a net gain of 8 seats.
A word on outliers. If you were with me last election, you may remember that I incorporated an outlier test in my projection formula which would eliminate polls too far out of the norm. I am not doing that this year, but I do reserve the right to ignore grossly irregular polls at my discretion any time up to and including Election Projection's final projections on Monday, Election Eve.
Speaking of outliers, the polls coming out of New Hampshire have been all over the map. To illustrate, the two polls in the calculations for NH-CD1 are 10 points apart. The latest, a University of New Hampshire survey, gives Democrat Shea-Porter a 4-point lead, while the second most recent, from New England College, puts Republican Guinta 6 points ahead.
Upset alert? Hawaii's 1st District is not on my competitive House race list. However, that will change before the election. Three of the last four polls from the district have the open seat race between Democrat Mark Takai and Republican Charles Djou exactly tied. The fourth has Takai up by 7, but that survey is a partisan poll from Democratic-leaning Global Strategy.
Well, the absence of polls on Saturday was more than made up for by yesterday's poll deluge. Almost six dozen polls fill the latest
poll report this morning. The CBS News/NY Times/YouGov collaboration published their third round
of polling. They have been doing extensive work, surveying many races other pollsters largely overlook, and their results contribute greatly to the large number. With all the new
data, I thought today would be a good day for a few lists.
Top six closest Senate races 1. Georgia - EP margin: Nunn +0.3 (DEM Gain) 2. Kansas - EP margin: Orman +0.6 (IND Gain) 3. North Carolina - EP margin: Hagan +1.6 (DEM Hold) 4. New Hamp - EP margin: Shaheen +2.2 (DEM Hold) 5. Iowa - EP margin: Ernst +2.4 (GOP Gain) 6. Colorado - EP margin: Gardner +2.8 (GOP Gain)
Top six closest governor races 1. Wisconsin - EP margin: Burke +0.1 (DEM Gain) 2. Colorado - EP margin: Hickenlooper +0.8 (DEM Hold) 3 (tie). Florida - EP margin: Crist +1.3 (DEM Gain) 3 (tie). Georgia - EP margin: Deal +1.3 (GOP Hold) 3 (tie). Illinois - EP margin: Rauner +1.3 (GOP Gain) 6. Kansas - EP margin: Davis +1.5 (DEM Gain)
The problem with these nail biters, for prognosticators like me, is that they introduce more likelihood of getting the outcome wrong. A classic example of this occurred in 2008. That year, Election Projection correctly projected 48 out of 50 states
in the presidential elections. One of the incorrect picks, North Carolina, was projected to go to John McCain by less than one percent. It ended up going for Barack Obama by less than one percent. So, even though my projection was within a point
or so, I still got it wrong. Oh well...
Come back this evening for a new set of numbers and tomorrow morning for another write up. Tomorrow will be exactly one
week away - anybody else sitting on the edge of their seat?
Strangely, yesterday evening's poll report contains just two presidential approval polls. With the election just 9 days away, I would think a ton of polls would be released everyday. Hmm. Anyway, the shortage of polls does provide me occasion to mention something I've been curious about all year.
Who is Rasmussen polling in their Obama job approval surveys? They publish a new version everyday, and everyday Obama's approval is several points higher in their poll than in anyone else's. Take Gallup's daily approval poll for example. Yesterday's number, 43%, is approaching the highest mark Obama has been at in months. On the other hand, according to Rasmussen, Obama's approval is 47%. And that number has stayed above 45% almost every day for months.
It just seems odd for a polling firm whose track record is anything but pro-Democrat. And compounding the strangeness, Rasmussen claims to poll likely voters, ostensibly the most Republican group in this pro-GOP election cycle, for their surveys, while Gallup samples Americans in general, the least Republican by the same measure. Yet, Gallup's (and everybody else's) approval number is much lower.
Finally, there seems to be a pattern in the ups and downs of the job approval metric. Whenever Obama's numbers lag in the Gallup poll, they don't for Rasmussen. Conversely, as is the case in yesterday's numbers, when his numbers rise according to Gallup, Rasmussen generally has them at a periodic low. Go figure.
Moving on to actual election news, I'll close with some quick hit observations for your Sunday dose of election analysis.
Georgia Senate Election: Neither candidate has polled outside the margin of error (MOE) in any of the last 10 Georgia Senate election polls. But Democrat Michelle Nunn's advantage in the majority of them, albeit slight, is enough to earn the projected victory over Republican David Perdue right now.
Arkansas Senate Election: Tom Cotton appears to be moving into breathing easier territory. In addition to staking out a 6-point lead here at Election Projection, Cotton is the beneficiary of Larry Sabato's recent Arkansas Senate rating change. Sabato now sees Cotton as a Likely GOP winner.
Colorado Senate Elections: GOP challenger Cory Gardner has led every poll save one here since mid-September. Democrat incumbent Mark Udall's chances of winning appear to hinge on the tendency of polls coming out of the Rocky Mountain State to underestimate Democratic participation.
Louisiana Senate Election: There is a good possibility that both the Georgia and Louisiana Senate elections will head to a runoff. Please note that EP's projection is based on the competition between the top two candidates. Currently, Republican Bill Cassidy (in Louisiana) and Nunn are the projected winners in those two states. Consider that EP's word on who will win in the end - runoff or not.
As a way to kick off the countdown this morning, I thought we'd catch up on the party switchers we've seen over the last few days. Let's start with the 2014 House elections. A week ago, thanks to a favorable flip in the Maine CD-2 race, Republicans were projected to gain a net 9 seats in the lower chamber. That was the largest projected gain they've enjoyed so far this year.
Then came Thursday's update. A not-so-favorable generic congressional preference poll reduced the GOP's advantage in the House projection adjustment and caused three seats to move to the blue column. One of them was Maine CD-2, which didn't last long as a projected GOP gain. The second was New Hampshire's 1st District seat, and the third came from Arkansas' 2nd District - a rare competitive GOP seat - where Republican French Hill is battling Democrat Patrick Hays for the open seat of retiring Congressman Tim Griffin.
Accounting for these seats moved the projected balance of power in the House to 240 Republicans and 195 Democrats. That represents a projected net gain of 6 seat for the GOP - not a wave, to be sure, but still a nice haul given their existing strong majority.
In the Senate, Democrats can claim the only party switcher this week. Democrat Michelle Nunn has performed better than most expected all year and, lately, polls are starting to show her with a small lead in her Georgia Senate election contest against Republican businessman David Perdue.
A quick perusal of Georiga Senate polls reveals her improving fortunes. In 12 polls released from early September through the first week of October, Perdue enjoyed the advantage in all but one. However, Nunn is the one on top in 5 of 8 surveys released since then. As a result, she is now projected, by a very narrow 1-point margin, to earn a takeover for Democrats.
Hers is the lone bright blue race on the 2014 Senate election map. But it is, nevertheless, a bright spot in an otherwise difficult year for Senate Democrats. Republicans boast eight projected takeovers as of today with seats from Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia set to move to the red team if the current numbers hold.
All those projected pickups would give Republicans a 52-seat majority in the Senate - even with Georgia going blue - except for an Independent named Greg Orman. His campaign in Kansas has been a major thorn in the GOP's side this year. Though it appeared Republican incumbent Pat Roberts was gaining ground after Orman enjoyed a big lead a few weeks ago, the latest Kansas Senate poll shows Orman maintaining a small but clear lead.
Moving on to the gubernatorial elections, party switchers have abounded this week with at least one showing up each day. On Monday, Republican Tom Foley started off the barrage by moving ahead of Democratic incumbent Dan Malloy in the Connecticut governor election. Tuesday showed Democrat John Hickenlooper losing ground to Bob Beauprez in Colorado's governor race.
Wednesday, it was another Republican challenger's opportunity to push into the lead. This time, Charlie Baker took an unexpected advantage over Martha Coakley in the open Massachusetts governor election. The next day, Hickenlooper regained the upper hand in Colorado, but Democratic Governor Pat Quinn lost his lead to Bruce Rauner in Illinois. Finally, on Friday, Republican Sam Brownback, embattled Kansas governor, fell behind Paul Davis again after a short run on top there.
With the week's dust settled, the projected balance of power among the nation's governorships now stands at 28 Republicans, 21 Democrats and 1 Independent. Despite nine projected takeovers, that tally represents very little change in the current makeup. Republicans are set to lose a net one chair with the net gain going to Independent Bill Walker in the Alaska governor election.
Well, that's enough for today. Don't expect everyday's countdown post to be as lengthy as this one - I had a lot to cover to get us all up to date. However, do expect some electoral observations from me each morning from now until Election Day. So, y'all come back, y'hear?
This article was published Tuesday, September 9 on PJMedia.com.
How primary results have affected the parties' general election prospects.
Republicans enjoyed a hurricane force wind at their backs going into the 2010 elections. On Election Day, GOP candidates running for seats in the House realized the full potential of the wave they were riding by earning a massive and historic 63-seat net gain. However, Republican candidates vying for their place in the Senate did not. Sure, they did well, picking up six seats in the upper chamber, but they missed out on several additional opportunities.
Amy Walter, National Editor for CookPolitical.com, points out a major reason why. She writes:
In 2010, in what was a "wave year" just two of the seven toss-up races went to Republicans, though public polling predicted that four of those seven (57 percent) would flip to the GOP. Terrible GOP candidates like Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Ken Buck were the real culprits in the GOP underperformance that year.
Party nominees matter - even in wave elections. So, with the primary season drawing to a close, let's take a look at the candidates from each party who made it past the qualifying round and evaluate how those choices impact their party's prospects for success in Senate and gubernatorial elections this November.
Thirty-six Senate seats are up for grabs this year. Twenty-three of them are non-competitive races which the incumbent party is very likely to retain. The remaining thirteen seats are either competitive or non-competitive projected takeovers (South Dakota, for example). Coincidentally, thirty-six governorships, of which 14 are currently competitive, are also on tap. Looking at the primary lineups for these competitive races, we see that they fall into three different categories.
Incumbent Running Seven senators, 6 Democrats and 1 Republican, are seeking reelection in competitive races this year. The Democrats are Mark Begich (AK), Mark Pryor (AR), Mark Udall (CO), Mary Landrieu (LA), Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Kay Hagan (NC). They are joined by Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY). Eleven incumbent governors are also facing competitive reelection bids in 2014. They consist of 8 Republicans and 3 Democrats.
Non-competitive Primaries Thirteen Senate primary contests from eight different states and twelve gubernatorial primaries in eleven states held primaries that were, well, no contest. I won't list them all here, but it is worthy to note that in some cases - Arkansas GOP Senate, Georgia DEM Senate, for example - having a non-competitive primary meant the nominee was the top choice of the party from the outset. In other cases - Michigan GOP Senate, Montana DEM Senate - the absence of primary competition resulted from the best choice deciding against running.
The first two categories are included for completeness. However, these races are not very useful when evaluating the role of primary voters in their parties' prospects. Their impact is gleaned best from races which featured a primary election in doubt.
Competitive Primaries Let's take a look at several of these primaries race by race and grade primary voters on whether they have improved or impaired their parties' chances by the choice they made.
Alaska Senate (GOP) Republicans here are salivating at the opportunity to unseat Mark Begich in this conservative state. Three high profile candidates vied for that honor. GOP voters made the right choice by selecting Former Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan. While Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell would have given Begich a strong challenge, Republicans avoided a concession by not picking lightning rod Joe Miller. GRADE: AGeorgia Senate (GOP) Businessman David Perdue and Congressman Jack Kingston got the most votes in the primary election. However, since neither was able to eclipse the requisite 50% +1 to avoid a runoff, Georgia Republicans had to return to the ballot box a month later to finalize their pick. They get high marks for picking Perdue, but the prolonged runoff period subjected the nominee to more intra-party conflict and gave Democrat Michelle Nunn a longer grace period. GRADE: BIowa Senate (GOP) The biggest accomplishment by GOP primary voters here was to avoid having the state convention decide their nominee. Joni Ernst, who has an enviable bio well-suited to run for public office, captured more than enough votes to earn the nomination outright. A convention-brokered selection could have resulted in an untenable general election option. GRADE: ANorth Carolina Senate (GOP) Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan is one of the more vulnerable incumbents in the Senate this cycle, and Tarheel Republicans had at least three viable options who were faring well, pre-primary, against her in the polls. Thom Tillis, the GOP establishment candidate, prevailed, avoiding a potentially damaging runoff in the process. While Tea Party fans aren't as keen on the career politician as they would have been with either physician Greg Brannon or Pastor Mark Harris, Tillis is an electable choice in the general election - and avoiding that runoff is a big positive. GRADE: A-Colorado Governor (GOP) Primary voters on the Republican side get high marks for not nominating unelectable Tom Tancredo. They settled on Bob Beauprez, 2006 gubernatorial nominee, by just 3 points over Tancredo in a four-way race. And while Beauprez was not impressive in his failed bid for governor 8 years ago, he has seemed a stronger candidate so far this year. GRADE: A-Hawaii Governor (DEM) Democratic voters in the Aloha state made history this year by handing Neil Abercrombie the largest primary defeat of a sitting governor in U.S. history. Judging from pre-primary polling, they made a great move in doing so. As a result, they have improved their chances of keeping this deeply blue state in the fold. State Senator David Ige still trails Republican nominee Duke Aiona, Jr. in the polls (ed. note: not anymore), but he has the potential of staging the comeback Abercrombie could not. GRADE: A+Illinois Governor (GOP) Bruce Rauner has the funds to finance his campaign for governor. That's important in a state that contains the expensive Chicago media market. Also, as a political newcomer, he doesn't have the track record the other Republican contenders have. That's likely a good thing as well in this race against a wily, battle-tested incumbent like Democrat Pat Quinn. GRADE: AWisconsin Governor (DEM) Democrats would like to get rid of Scott Walker perhaps more than any other governor. He survived their recall election in 2012 and has taken steps to undermine their power base in the state. Democratic primary voters selected educator Mary Burke to take him on in 2014. Judging from how she is performing in the polls so far, it looks like they have made a good choice. As of this writing, Election Projection shows Burke defeating Walker by a fraction. GRADE: A
That's a lot of good grades! Unlike the Republican primary disasters noted by Walter, this year's primary results show that voters from both parties have done a good job picking the right nominees to make the most of their general election opportunities.
Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue have held the title CEO, but in very different circumstances. In their
race for the open seat Georgia Senate election, both are trying to cast
the other in a bad light because of their former executive position. The Telegraph from Macon, GA notes their
Both candidates are political newcomers who see their business backgrounds as key to wooing independent voters in a race
that has garnered national attention as Republicans seek control of the Senate. The candidates also see an opportunity in
attacking their opponent's business record as they look to the general election.
Nunn highlights her position's philanthropic efforts.
"David and I do have different real world experiences," Nunn said at a recent candidate forum. "I have an experience that has been about lifting people up over the last 26 years, building and growing organizations and getting things done for the people of Georgia in a collaborative way, a proven way of working across differences and party lines."
While Perdue touts his past experience dealing with the practical issues involved in running a private sector business and improving
"My issue isn't so much how she ran that organization," Perdue said. "It's just that that leadership does not prepare you, in my mind, to deal with issues we have in a free-enterprise system. I want to focus on why my background is more appropriate to lead in the Senate in regard to bringing economic and free-enterprise solutions to fix the problems that we have with the economy today."
This race continues to be a close battle - one of just two featuring seats currently held by Republicans (the Kentucky Senate race is the
other). Election Projection rates the contest a Weak GOP Hold with Perdue ahead at the moment
by 2.8 points.
Today's polling update has produced one party switcher. The Senate race in Georgia turned blue here at EP
last Thursday. However,
Michelle Nunn's advantage was short-lived. Landmark Communications, whose July 15th poll put the Democratic nominee ahead
by 6 and propelled her into the lead, released another poll today. Nunn's lead has shrunk to 4 points in this most recent poll, but
because of the closeness of the race, the Democrat's edge narrowed enough to flip the projection calculations to Republican nominee David Perdue's favor.
Removing the only projected Democratic Senate pickup returns the projected balance of power
in the Senate to
49 Republicans, 49 Democrats and 2
Independents, a net gain of four seats for the Republicans.
Be sure to turn in tomorrow for a big bunch of polls. CBS News and NY Times have collaborated with YouGov to conduct
a boatload of polls surveying Senate and governor races from all over the country. It'll be interesting to see how these new polls
affect Election Projection's numbers.
On Wednesday, I reported Charlie Crist's move ahead of Rick Scott in the
Florida governor election. A
day later, SurveyUSA released a poll giving Democrat Paul Davis an eye-popping eight-point lead over Kansas incumbent governor,
Republican Sam Brownback in the
Kansas governor election. I'm pretty sure that poll will be shown to be an outlier. Nevertheless, the result shifted the
color of Kansas from red to blue on the
2014 governor election map.
These two flips combine to give Democrats a projected net pickup of 2 governorships, with the projected balance of power moving to
27 Republicans and 23 Democrats.
Late yesterday, Rasmussen released a poll too late to be included in Friday's update. The survey of the
Georgia Senate race, the first since
Georgia's primary runoff on Tuesday, puts GOP nominee David Perdue well in front of Democrat Michelle Nunn. While I don't
necessarily disagree that Perdue is ahead - GOP voters should coalesce behind Perdue now that the runoff has passed - I'm skeptical he
leads by 6.
The other poll in the projection calculations for this race is a Landmark Communications offering taken on July 15. It showed
a quite different picture of the race - exactly opposite, in fact, with Nunn enjoying a 6-point lead over Perdue. When I average
the two polls together to arrive at the Election Projection for the contest, the calculation reveals a tie. So why is Georgia still
colored blue on today's
Senate projection map?
In developing my
projection methodology, I have always made it my
policy to avoid "toss-ups" in my projections. As a result, I had to devise a strategy for handling ties. Because undecideds
have a tendency to break toward the challenger in any given race, I have adopted the policy of projecting the challenger in a tied race
by 0.1%. Therefore, Georgia Senate stays blue for the time being.
Last night's Georgia primary runoff election cemented the GOP nominee, David Perdue, and allowed me to move the
2014 Georgia Senate election from a preliminary
projection to an official one. As a result, Democrat Michelle Nunn is now projected ahead of Perdue thanks to her aggregate
0.5% lead in the last two polls here. The change reduces the net Republican pickup in the Senate to just 3 seats - 3 short of
the mark they'll need to regain the majority. Today's Senate tally stands at 48 Republicans,
50 Democrats and 2 Independents
The good news doesn't stop there for the blue team. On the
2014 Governor elections summary page, EP's latest map features a
blue Florida, heralding Democrat Charlie Crist's new lead over Republican incumbent Rick Scott. With this update, the projected
Republican gubernatorial majority is reduced by one. The projected tally stands at
28 Republicans and 22 Democrats
Back on June 10, the projections offered a much different outlook. Senate Republicans were projected to win
six seats and win the majority, while Republicans were also looking
at a projected gain in governors of two seats. Declining
GOP fortunes are not indicative of a coming red wave and further bolster my current conviction that 2014 may be a
That said, there is
still plenty of time for the GOP to gain momentum - President Obama's
dismal approval numbers continue to provide potential fuel for that - but, as
things stand now, Democrats must be feeling pretty good about their situation in this sixth-year midterm election.
David Perdue, cousin of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, surprised pollsters yesterday by claiming a narrow victory over
Congressman Jack Kingston in the Republican Senate primary runoff. Kingston led the polls going in by a half dozen, so Perdue's
win was unexpected.
Now that the nominees have been decided for both parties, look for this race to increase in intensity. As one of just two
possible Democratic takeovers in the Senate, it was already bound to attract some interest. However, with Michelle Nunn, the
Democratic nominee, polling very well,
I'm sure it will garner even more attention both in the state and nationally.
Democrats may be poised to enjoy some success in this red state this year. Unique circumstances, rather than a
long term trend, are more to credit, I believe. Powerhouse names on both the Senate and governor lines shore up their
possibilities, and an ethics investigation in the statehouse
helps out, too. In what should be a strong Republican year, Georgia may turn out to be an unlikely bright spot for the blue team.
Update: The numbers for this race here at Election Projection will be updated this evening after I post the daily
projection update. The projection currently is still just preliminary. You can track this race on the
Georgia Senate election page, and
get a covenient at-a-glance look at all the Senate races on EP's
2014 Senate elections summary page.
The GOP senate primary runoff today in Georgia will determine who will run against Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn. The two
Republicans battling for that honor are Jack Kingston, a congressman who represents the Savannah-area 1st district and David Perdue, cousin of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.
Primary polling gives
Congressman Kingston a small edge just outside the margin of error.
Notably, both Kingston and Perdue have fallen behind Nunn in
general election polling. The
Peach State is shaping up to be an expected headache for Republicans this year. Democrats enjoy a super-heavyweight combo,
at least from a name recognition standpoint, with Sam Nunn's daughter on the Senate line and Jimmy Carter's grandson running for
Correction: The post previously and erroneously included Congressman Paul Broun as Kingston's primary opponent. That error
has been corrected.
This article appeared last week on PJMedia
Given all the dissatisfaction with President Obama and his administration and the level of frustration with ObamaCare, one might
expect a shellacking is on the horizon for his party in the 2014 elections. The latest round of
job approval numbers shows the president's
approval still languishing in the low 40s, while approval for his health care law
is even lower. That's not an
environment conducive to a strong electoral performance. On the contrary, such numbers should portend a calamitous result for
Democrats in November.
We saw that kind of election in 2010 when Republicans captured six Senate seats and won just about everything in sight en route
to an historic 63-seat net gain in the House. Some see a similar result looming in 2014 -
especially in the Senate. However, were the votes cast today, I believe a case can be made that the GOP, while they likely would make
gains, would not perform well enough to term this cycle a wave election. There are factors on both the Senate and House fronts
that seem to indicate weíre heading toward a more neutral outcome.
Letís first take a look at the House and the factors that temper my bullishness toward the likelihood of a Republican wave in the lower chamber.
Generic congressional preference polling
There have been four elections since Bill Clinton ascended to the presidency in 1992 that I would consider "wave" elections.
In 1994, Newt Gingrich and friends crafted the "Contract with America" and captured the House majority by gaining 54 seats.
Congressional Republicans nationwide enjoyed a 7.1-point voting advantage over their Democratic counterparts that year.
Twelve years later, Bush fatigue precipitated a wave of a different color and ushered in a run of three consecutive wave elections.
In 2006, Democrats used an 8-point advantage in congressional voting to gain 30 seats and take back control of the House.
A 21-seat gain followed in 2008, aided by President Obama's sizable triumph on the top line and an even larger 10.4% Democratic
advantage at the congressional level. Then came the red tsunami of 2010. Republicans used a 6.8-point congressional
voting spread to score their now famous 63-seat haul.
The average voting advantage for the victorious party over these four wave elections was 8.1% and the average net gain was 42
seats. By contrast, the average voting advantage over the six non-wave elections during the same period was just 1.7% with an
average net gain of just 4.7 seats. This year, polling data measuring
this critical indicator falls solidly in the
non-wave range. In fact, the Democrats are currently fractionally ahead. So, itís difficult to envision any sizable
Republican gains in the House this year.
Competitive races outlook
Each wave election shares common characteristics for the party riding it - an abundance of pickup opportunities and a
dearth of vulnerable seats to defend. Election Projection wasn't around for the Republican romp in 1994, but I do have data from
the latter three wave elections to illustrate this point. By the time Election Day rolled around in 2006, EP was tracking 55
congressional races. Fifty-one were held by Republicans.
The same lopsided count benefited Republicans in 2010, only to a much greater degree. That year, Election Projection
tracked 112 congressional races, a staggering number in the age of incumbent-protecting redistricting strategies. Even more
remarkable is that 103 were held by Democrats! With so many vulnerable Democrats and so few vulnerable Republicans, it's no
wonder the GOP ruled the day once the votes were counted.
This year, congressional election waters seem much more placid. Election Projection is currently tracking just 46 competitive House
races, and the partisan breakdown is nearly even. Twenty-one seats are held by Republicans, twenty-five by Democrats.
Balance like that hardly indicates a wave is brewing out there.
One more point before we look at the Senate. In 2008, the blue team's advantage in the competitive House races list was clear, but,
at 49-18, it wasn't as pronounced as in 2006 or 2010. Moreover, despite the largest congressional vote advantage of the last
quarter-century, Democrats realized a net gain that fell short of the other three wave elections. The reason? They
already held 233 seats, so there simply wasnít as much upside for them.
lofty starting point faces the GOP this year. With 234 seats already in their quiver, Republicans will find it hard to produce
substantial gains. And with no advantage in the congressional preference metric, they may find it hard to earn any gains at all.
Structural advantages in the Senate election line-up should produce large GOP gains in November - with or without a
Republican wave. And early polling data doesnít fit a wave-election model.
Nearly all the battlefields are in red states
Open Democratic seats in the deep red states of Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia all but ensure GOP gains in the Senate
this year. But the structural advantages for Republicans don't end there. The four most vulnerable Democratic
incumbents also hail from states won by Republican Mitt Romney in 2008. Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary
Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina are all struggling to keep their Senate seats in Republican-leaning states.
Even races which have Republicans concerned, the open seat election in Georgia and Mitch McConnell's re-election bid in Kentucky, are
being waged in GOP-friendly territory.
So from a structural standpoint, this year's Senate elections favor Republicans in a big way. With so many targets situated
in Republican states, the GOP conceivably could win the Senate majority without a significant tailwind. That means a true GOP
wave requires a more aggressive target. Sweeping the races I've mentioned would be but a baseline. To achieve wave
election status, the GOP would need to add victories in blue states like Colorado, Iowa and Michigan.
Polling data is good - but not great - for Republican Senate candidates
So are the poll numbers there to foster confidence that such a run might come to pass for Republicans? Not at this point in
the election season. Election Projectionís current
Senate projections do show the GOP
regaining the majority, but the massive takeover count one would expect in a wave election with such strong structural advantages just
Pryor leads Tom Cotton in Arkansas. Begich is ahead in Alaska. That's two races in red states which Democrats are
defending well. In Michigan, Republican Terri Land's early leads have vanished, and while newly-minted Republican nominee Joni
Ernst bests Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley in two post-primary polls in Iowa, her lead seems more like a temporary primary bounce than a
true advantage. Taken together, the polls show a good election is in store for Republicans, but a landslide may not be.
The political barometer, based on news cycles and voter unrest, promises a wave election for Republicans. But a deeper
investigation into the underlying factors of Election 2014 paints a different picture. The overall outlook is certainly positive for the
red team, but it might not deliver the kind of rout intrinsic to a wave election.
A perusal of the 2014 primary election schedule reveals that only June 3 is a bigger primary day than
tomorrow. Voters in six states will cast ballots to decide party nominees for races at all levels of government. The table
below has the list of states, along with a race from each that Election Projection is tracking this year.
Some time before polls close, I'll be providing links where you can watch the returns come in tomorrow evening.
Races that are of particular interest to me tomorrow include the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania Governor, the Kentucky Senate GOP primary and the GOP primary for Georgia Senate.
Pennsylvania primary polls
show Tom Wolf to be headed to the Democratic nomination. Current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is way ahead of Tea
Party favorite Matt Bevin in
Kentucky primary polls.
And businessman David Perdue, cousin of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, leads
Georgia primary polling by an
average of 8 points.
Update: Links to the returns are now posted for each state. Tomorrow, I will begin updating EP's race pages to reflect the results of today's primary elections.
Last Friday, I wrapped up a tour of the 2014 gubernatorial elections. Tomorrow I'll be embarking on a quick tour of 48
competitive House races. In the interim, I thought revisiting the Senate election landscape would be interesting and
relevant, especially since some recent polling data has altered the outlook of a few races.
Arkansas: Incumbent Mark Pryor is polling better than he was when I published Election Projection's
preview of the
Arkansas Senate race. The last two surveys put him ahead of Republican Tom Cotton by an average of 1.5 points.
This race is still a major target for Republicans, and I have major doubts as to whether Pryor can survive Cotton's challenge in this deeply
Republican state. However, the polling data calls it differently at this point in the campaign. Based on that data, I am
changing the preliminary projection of the
Arkansas Senate Election to
Weak DEM Hold.
Colorado: The candidacy of Cory Gardner, a GOP congressman, has generated some excitement among Colorado Republicans
as they try to unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Udall. They believe he represents the best chance to claim this Senate
Polling data supports their optimism, to
a point. Gardner gets closest to Udall in polls conducted here, but he still comes up a couple points short. Now, to be sure,
his prospects could improve as we move closer to the election, but for the time being, Udall is still the favorite.
Weak DEM HoldGeorgia: Michele Nunn, the Democratic Senate candidate with the golden last name, looks like
she'll be every bit as strong a contender for the open seat here as Democrats hoped she would be.
Polls actually give her the
advantage against three of five Republican nomination contenders. David Perdue, cousin of former Governor Sonny Perdue, is
leading the race for the GOP nomination. He also happens to be one of the two Republicans who are polling ahead of Nunn. I'm still confident
a Republican, probably Perdue, will be victorious come November, but Nunn's success so far prompts me to move this race to
Weak GOP Hold.
Michigan: Republican Terri Land marched out to a surprise lead over
Democrat Gary Peters in the
Michigan Senate election. Multiple early polls from a variety of polling firms showed her ahead by two to eight points over the
winter. With the coming of Spring, however, Peters began to close the gap. Two of the last three polls give him the
edge. Notably, those two polls are both from Democratic pollsters while the third, the one which has Land up by 2, is a Republican
firm. Partisan polling slant notwithstanding, I do believe Peters has moved out in front by a hair, and, as a result, I'm changing
the preliminary projection for this race to Weak DEM Hold.
Significantly, these updates remove two projected Republican pickups from the
2014 Senate elections map and return
the projected majority in the Senate to the Democrats. Let me add a caveat: these are preliminary projections that can and will
change, perhaps drastically, between now and Election Day. To illustrate that point, Nate Silver has stated that Republicans
could win anywhere from 1 to 11 Senate seats in 2014. That means a lot of Senate races are still very much up in the air.
As an electoral prognosticator and election observer, I can't wait to see how all these competitive races develop. It's going to be
an exciting 7 months.
In a climate that favors Republicans, Democrats look to two states for opportunities to mitigate GOP gains in the Senate in 2014. Only Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and the open seat here in Georgia are
considered even remotely vulnerable among the fourteen Senate seats Republicans must try to hold. Three factors give Democrats hope that they can get a rare victory in a southern state Senate
race - Saxby Chambliss' retirement, a crowded, possibly contentious GOP primary field, and Democrat Michelle Nunn's candidacy.
Three congressmen, Paul Broun (CD-10), Phil Gingrey (CD-11) and Jack Kingston (CD-1), are running for the Republican nomination in the 2014 Georgia Senate Race. Five others have also entered the
race including David Perdue, a cousin of former Governor Sonny Perdue. Third quarter 2013 FEC reports show three candidates - Kingston, Gingrey and Perdue - have over $1 mlliion on hand, and two more -
Broun and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel have over $300,000. The abundance of money portends a heated battle for the GOP nomination that could and probably will help the Democratic
nominee make this a fight in the general election.
Michelle Nunn looks to be that nominee. Her name value here provides instant recognition (she's the daughter of former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn), and Georgia Democrats are encouraged
by her first-tier candidacy. Since jumping into the race back in July, Nunn has already raised $1.7 million and has nearly $1.4 million on hand. Several others have declared on the Democratic side,
including a former Georgia state Senator, but none is expected to give Nunn a legitimate challenge in the primary.
Once the primaries are settled, we should see an interesting and competitive general election campaign. Considering Chambliss' narrow 3-point victory here in 2008, one might be tempted to give Nunn
even-money odds to capture the seat now that Chambliss is retiring. But 2008 was a strong Democratic year with President-to-be Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. On the flipside, take a look at
2010's Georgia Senate race, a 20-point rout by Republican Johnny Isakson, and one might want to write off any chance of a Democratic victory. 2014 will be unlike either 2008 or 2010. Instead, with
at least a moderate GOP wind blowing, the Republican nominee - despite primary bruises - should be able to claim a close but comfortable win.
Preliminary projection: Mod GOP HoldYou can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Georgia Senate Election
page for polls, projections and updates. Also, check out the 2014 Senate Elections page for a summary of all Senate races on tap
in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Senate map.