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Wed. Jul 30, 2014
Senate
Republicans 49
Democrats 49
Independents 2
GOP +4
House
Republicans 233
Democrats 202
DEM +1
Governors
Republicans 29
Democrats 21
no change
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2014 Election News

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.

Filed under:  2014 Georgia Senate Race 
posted by Scott Elliott at 10:20pm 07/28/14 :: link
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.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:41pm 07/26/14 :: link
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 status-quo election.

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.

posted by Scott Elliott at 7:41pm 07/23/14 :: link
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.

Filed under:  2014 Georgia Senate Race 
posted by Scott Elliott at 10:42am 07/23/14 :: link
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 governor.

Correction: The post previously and erroneously included Congressman Paul Broun as Kingston's primary opponent. That error has been corrected.

Filed under:  2014 Georgia Senate Race 
posted by Scott Elliott at 11:13am 07/22/14 :: link
This article was published at PJMedia.com on Friday, July 18, 2014. NOTE: Some of the numbers have changes since I originally wrote it.

Four months from now, we'll be looking back on Election 2014 evaluating the votes and how they were cast. Will Republicans succeed in their quest to gain the majority in the Senate, or will Democrats weather the six-year itch and retain control? With primary season taking a month-long break, it seems a good time to pause and look back on how the election season has progressed so far. There have been plenty of intriguing storylines surrounding the 36 Senate races on tap this year. Here are four that have caught my attention.

Tea Party influence in Senate races comes up short
A popular theme all year has been the numerous failures of the Tea Party movement. Media outlets have been quick to herald the disappointments as an indication of Tea Party decline. Some conservatives, however, like to point to certain situations where this is simply not true. They say that narrative is just wishful thinking by a liberal media hoping to temper the Tea Party's effect and hasten, if possible, its demise.

They point to Eric Cantor's primary defeat to unknown Tea Party challenger Dave Brat last month as evidence of the earth-shaking punch the Tea Party still packs. To be sure, Cantor's loss rocked the electoral landscape – and the GOP leadership – but as PJ Media's David Steinberg pointed out, the shocking result came about through a perfect storm of many circumstances, only one of which was Brat’s Tea Party backing.

While House primary elections have produced Tea Party successes, and, fundamentally, the Tea Party continues to change "the dynamic of Republican politics," the fact that several Senate primaries have been disappointing to Tea Party enthusiasts is undeniable. And the list is not short: Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, Thad Cochran in Mississippi, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, even John Cornyn in Texas. All won the GOP nomination in races where the Tea Party had high hopes going into the 2014 election season. In North and South Carolina, efforts to nominate a Tea Party candidate couldn't even force a runoff against the establishment favorite.

Terri Land's fast start fizzles in Michigan
Democrats have dominated Senate elections in Michigan since current Senator Debbie Stabenow unseated Republican Spencer Abraham in 2000. Between 2002 and 2012, she and senior Michigan Senator Carl Levin never won reelection by less than 15 points. So when Public Policy Polling released a poll back in December giving Republican Terri Land a two-point lead in the race to replace Levin, Republicans cheered the prospect of a competitive race in a state void of GOP Senate election success so far this century.

Polling early this year did nothing to quench Republican excitement. Six of the first eight polls of 2014 put Land ahead of the Democratic nominee, Congressman Gary Peters. Until April, this race clearly leaned in the GOP's direction and represented an unexpected pickup opportunity that threatened to make Democrats' task of holding the Senate in a difficult year that much more challenging.

But the arrival of spring ushered in Peters' striking resurgence. All seven polls released since mid-April give him leads ranging from 3 to 9 points. As a result, Election Projection projects Peters will triumph with a 5.6% margin of victory. That doesn’t mean he’s a lock to follow outgoing Senator Levin and keep this seat in Democratic hands – Land, a former Michigan secretary of state, is a legitimate contender. But what looked early on like a very promising Republican surprise has taken on the characteristics of a hard-fought Democratic hold.

Cory Gardner brings a serious challenge in Colorado
As the election season began to take shape late last year, highly competitive Democratic Senate seats abounded. Mark Udall's seat in Colorado wasn't on the list. Cook Political labeled the race "Likely D" along with such races as Hawaii and Massachusetts. Initially, Republicans were looking at a weak field of potential challengers. While the incumbent's job approval suggested potential vulnerability, Republicans did not appear to have a candidate to exploit that possibility.

That all changed on March 1st when Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner announced he would mount a run. Gardner quickly surged to a commanding lead among Republican contenders, and when the primary field subsequently got out of the way, he enjoyed the further benefit of avoiding a prolonged nomination battle.

Since Gardner's entrance into the race, polls have revealed an ever-tightening contest. In fact, taken together, the two latest polls, both conducted in June, give Gardner a fractional advantage. Election Projection has Colorado colored red on the latest Senate map as a result. And in response to Gardner's candidacy, political handicappers have made similar adjustments as illustrated by Charlie Cook's rating. Colorado is now classified as a "Toss-up."

Udall remains a formidable incumbent who likely still holds a slight upper hand, but this race has a completely different feel to it since Gardner jumped in.

Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia – steady as she goes
In contrast to the shuffling that has marked Senate races in Michigan and Colorado over the first half of 2014, the Senate races in three other states have maintained the same outlook all along. Senate Republicans' task of capturing the majority requires them to gain a net 6 seats in November. Most likely, that job is effectively half-accomplished already. Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, barring drastic unforeseen developments, will be won by Republicans this year.

In Montana, the retirement of long-time Democratic Senator Max Baucus gave Republicans a golden opportunity to pick up his seat. When Baucus resigned earlier this year to become U.S. ambassador to China, Democratic Governor Steve Bullock appointed his lt. governor, John Walsh, to serve the remainder of Baucus’ term. Walsh is running for election in his own right, but Republican Steve Daines, Montana’s at-large congressman, has enjoyed double-digit leads in every poll since November last year.

Like Baucus in Montana, Tim Johnson's retirement opened the door for Republicans in South Dakota. And when former Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, a Democrat, decided not to challenge for the seat and former Governor Mike Rounds, a Republican, did, the race was all but over. Rounds was an overwhelming favorite the minute he announced, and with polls giving him consistent double-digit leads over Democrat Rick Weiland, he remains the overwhelming favorite.

Finally there's West Virginia, where a dramatic rightward lurch over the last generation and the retirement of a West Virginia institution, Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, combine to give Republicans another almost certain takeover. Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore-Capito, the best person for the task, announced way back in November 2012. Less than two months later, Rockefeller announced his retirement. From that point, Capito was the odds-on favorite, and recent polls confirm nothing has changed. Election Projection currently rates this race a Strong GOP Gain for Capito against her Democratic opponent, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

With Republicans poised to hold onto the majority in the House and among the nation's statehouses, the biggest question of the 2014 election is who will control the Senate come January 2015. Based on what these storylines tell us, the answer is still very much up in the air.

posted by Scott Elliott at 12:50pm 07/21/14 :: link
Republican Nathan Deal, incumbent governor of Georgia, is facing an ethics investigation at a most inopportune time.  There is never a good time to be the subject of an investigation, but during a re-election campaign is just about the worst.  Deal's bid for another term should not be difficult.  However, investigations usually complicate things, and a recent poll on the race bears that out.

Landmark Communications released a poll that indicates Deal is struggling, and the beneficiary is Democratic nominee Jason Carter.  The poll gives former President Jimmy Carter's grandson an 8-point lead - just enough to offset last month's InsiderAdvantage survey and give him a fractional lead in the Georgia governor election and flip the Peach State to blue on the latest governors map.

In other news relating to the 2014 governor elections, two races are closer than expected if today's polling report is accurate.  Republican Governor Mary Fallin is only 5 points ahead of Democrat Joe Dorman in the Oklahoma governor election, and the likely Democratic nominee for Massachusetts governor, Martha Coakley, is but 3 points clear of her likely Republican opponent, Charlie Baker.  Though both races are in states whose ideology is decidedly partisan, they also have a history of voting for minority party chief executives.

Carter's advance leaves the projected governor tally at 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats.  That's identical to the current partisan makeup of the nation's statehouses.

posted by Scott Elliott at 8:01pm 07/18/14 :: link
Like a pendulum, the balance of power in the Senate continues its ebb and flow.  Just last Wednesday, Republicans could claim 51 seats on EP's Senate projection map.  That number fell to 50 the next day when Democrat Mary Landrieu swung back on top in the Louisiana Senate election.  Now projected Republican fortunes have fallen another notch.  But I must say, I'm not entirely surprised by today's flip.

Cory Gardner, the upstart Republican candidate running against Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in the 2014 Colorado Senate election, captured a small lead when a late-June Rasmussen poll gave him a one-point edge in the race.  That lead evaporated with the release of a poll from NBC News/Marist.  Udall enjoys a seven-point lead in this latest survey.  As a result, the Election Projection for the race moves from Weak GOP Gain to Weak DEM Hold.  Udall is clearly in a much more difficult race than he expected before Gardner announced his candidacy - and one he could certainly lose - but my hunch is the current projection giving him a slight lead is probably on the mark...for now.

The projected Senate tally now stands at 49 Democrats and 49 Republicans, with 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats.

Filed under:  2014 Colorado Senate Race 
posted by Scott Elliott at 11:56pm 07/15/14 :: link
Amid a slow month on the election scene, two states, Alabama and North Carolina, are holding primary runoffs today.  There aren't many federal and statewide races left to be decided, but two open Republicans seats do feature runoffs that will most likely determine who will get to represent their districts in the House.

Republican voters in Alabama CD 6, home of outgoing Congressman Spencer Bachus, will choose between state Representative Paul DeMarco and Gary Palmer.  In North Carolina, the GOP runoff for Howard Coble's 6th district seat pits Rockingham County D.A. Phil Berger, Jr. against Mark Walker.  Neither seat is in danger of going to the Democrats regardless of today's winners.

Filed under:  2014 House Races 
posted by Scott Elliott at 11:05am 07/15/14 :: link
This might get old between now and Election Day - if it hasn't already - but the projected Senate majority has changed hands once again.  Rasmussen just published a poll of the Louisiana Senate election which gives a 3-point edge to incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu.  As a result, the Election Projection for that race moves from Weak GOP Gain to Weak DEM Hold in today's update.

The projected tally now stands at 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and 2 Independents.  Since both Independents caucus with the Democrats, the two major party caucuses have 50 seats each.  However, since Vice President Joe Biden would cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie, the effective majority rests with the blue team.

Filed under:  2014 Louisiana Senate Race 
posted by Scott Elliott at 7:43pm 07/10/14 :: link
I found a good number of recent House polls that I hadn't added to my House race calculations.  You can find them on EP's 2014 House polls page.  They didn't impact the House election projections much, however.  Just one race - MA 06 - saw a rating change.  An Emerson University poll giving Republican challenger Richard Tisei a 5-point lead over incumbent Democrat John Tierney shifted the projection for the race from Mod DEM Hold to Weak DEM Hold.  No other rating changes came out of today's update, so the projected balance of power in the Senate, House and governorships all were unchanged.
posted by Scott Elliott at 7:49pm 07/08/14 :: link
In the last several weeks, the projected Senate majority here at Election Projection has moved back and forth.  Today, with the surprise flip of Colorado, Republicans are back on top in the projections.  Before fans of the GOP get too excited, however, I feel a caveat is in order.  The two Colorado Senate polls used to come up with this new projection are one from Rasmussen, who has a track record of being too optimistic for Republican candidates - especially in Senate races, and Magellan Strategies, a partisan Republican polling firm.

That's not to say the projection should be dismissed out of hand; it just merits some suspicion.  Cory Gardner, the Republican in the race, is a strong challenger to Democratic incumbent Mark Udall, to be sure.  I'm just not convinced he's leading the race right now.

Coincidentally (maybe?), the same two polling firms also comprise all the data in the Arkansas Senate election projection, another projected GOP pickup.  I'll be glad to see other sources release polls on these races to see whether Rasmussen and Magellan are confirmed or contradicted.

With this update, the Senate election projections stand at 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats and 2 Independents.

posted by Scott Elliott at 8:44pm 07/07/14 :: link
Today we are exactly 120 days from Election Day, 2014.  With Independence Day behind us, the buildup toward November 4 should be steady from here on in.  I hope everyone had a meaningful and safe July 4 holiday celebrating what is still the greatest country on earth, our United States of America.

As we kick off this post-holiday summer stretch, I thought it would be a good time to assess the status of the electoral landscape.  Despite the likelihood of strong Republican gains in the Senate, the political waters remain relatively calm.  Democrats still hold a slight advantage in generic Congressional polling, making a wave election in the House of Representatives highly unlikely at this point.  Even in the Senate, where Republicans hope to pick up enough seats to take the majority, Election Projection's summary of the 2014 Senate elections currently has them falling just short.

Senate Review
All year, three states have been looking like certain Republican pickups, and nothing in West Virginia, Montana or South Dakota indicates any change in that assessment.  Republicans should gain all three and raise their seat count in the Senate to 48.  But though opportunities abound for additional takeovers, their prospects of getting to 51 - based on recent polling data - is shaky at best.

Arkansas and Louisiana sport a red shade on EP's Senate projection map, indicating a Republican gain, but neither is a sure thing.  In Arkansas, Republican nominee Tom Cotton is enjoying the benefit of a partisan Magellan poll and a Rasmussen poll to claim a narrow lead over Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor.  A Magellan poll is also the impetus for Bill Cassidy's current lead against Mary Landrieu in Louisiana.

Two other juicy targets for the GOP, Mark Begich in Alaska and Kay Hagan in North Carolina lead their respective Republican opponents. Without a less likely victory in a state like Colorado, Iowa or Michigan, Republicans must win these two to reach that coveted 51-seat mark.  But it might take even more than that given the rumblings of a certain southern belle.

Down in Georgia, it looks like Congressman Jack Kingston should win the runoff for the GOP nomination against David Purdue.  Trouble is, Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn is polling ahead of Kingston right now, and this race is looking more and more like one Nunn could win.

House Review
Not much has changed on the House front over the last several weeks.  Come to think of it, that'll probably be the story all year long - even after the votes have been counted.  With the GOP holding the upper hand by a 234-201 tally, Democrats appear likely to withstand the dreaded 6-year itch without substantial losses in the lower chamber.  I've said this before, but it bears repeating.   Legitimate pickup opportunities for either party just aren't that plentiful this year.

The current 2014 House election projections here at EP have the GOP gaining 3 seats - California CD-52, North Carolina CD-7 and Utah CD-4.  Democrats are projected to add four GOP seats to their numbers - California CD-31, Colorado CD-6, Iowa CD-3 and New York CD-11. Taken together, these gains represent a net improvement of one seat for the blue team.  Don't be surprised to see a similar projection here on November 4.

Historically speaking, this should be a very good election for the GOP. However, unless Republicans can do a better job of connecting Democrats to President Obama's dismal job approval and articulating a better alternative, it looks like this year might be a golden opportunity largely squandered.

Governors Review
Statehouse races are traditionally less partisan than Senate or House contests.  It is much more likely in today's polarized political world to see a governor than a senator or representative from the minority party.  EP's 2014 governor election projections serve to illustrate that point.  Of the three projected Republican pickups, two are in deep blue states - Illinois and Hawaii.

On the other hand, Arkansas' increasingly Republican lean is a major factor in that state's projected switch to red team.  Democrats will have a very difficult time holding the governorship without an incumbent running.

Two positives are there for Democrats, however. It looks like Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is on his way out.  Struggling against approval ratings even worse than President Obama, Corbett is a heavy underdog at this point to Democrat Tom Wolf.  And in Maine, Republican incumbent Paul LePage isn't in nearly as bad a shape as Corbett, but he's locked in a very tough battle, nonetheless. Congressman Mike Michaud leads three-way polling over LePage by a small margin with Independent Eliot Cutler pulling a strong 15% of the vote.

As I mentioned above, Republicans at the present time are projected to win the statehouse in Illinois and Hawaii.  However, this is only July and both those states are heavily Democratic.  I know I claimed that gubernatorial races are less partisan, but party ID still matters.  I have my doubts, especially in Hawaii, that the Republican candidate will maintain the lead until voting starts.

I took the week off last week for the most part.   God willing, it will be the last break for me between now and Election Day.  So look for lots of election coverage here at EP for the duration.  Even if this year turns out to be indeed a status-quo election, there is still plenty of excitement to be had.  And, who knows, a lot of time remains for the political winds to muster a howl.

Look for the next update of the numbers this evening.

posted by Scott Elliott at 12:51am 07/07/14 :: link
Today's numbers are posted.  I found a few interesting results to point out among the latest polls.  First, SurveyUSA has a poll out of Kansas giving Democrat Paul Davis a surprising 6-point lead over incumbent Republican Governor Sam Brownback.  Time will tell if that poll is an outlier or indicative of an unexpectedly difficult re-election bid for Brownback.  Kansas does have a history, despite its deep red nature, of electing Democrats to the statehouse, so Brownback would be wise to take Davis' challenge very seriously.  You can get the details on this race on the Kansas Governor election page.

Second, Rasmussen's latest poll testing the Colorado Senate election puts Republican challenger Cory Gardner just a single point behind incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall.  Rasmussen's track record of late has been suspect, but an April Quinnipiac poll found the same one point separating Udall and Gardner.  It looks like Republicans may have a legitimate takeover opportunity in the Rocky Mountain State this year.

Finally, a poll by the conservative-leaning Civitas organization gives Kay Hagan a four-point lead over Republican Thom Tillis in the North Carolina Senate election.  As a result, the Democratic incumbent is projected to keep the seat for the blue team, reducing the GOP's projected Senate gain to just 5 seats - one less than they need for the majority.  Projected tally:  50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, 2 Independents

posted by Scott Elliott at 5:52pm 06/30/14 :: link
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