Don’t bet the ranch on it just yet, but when Huffpost Pollster joins the Princeton Election Consortium in forecasting that Democrats are more likely to keep their Senate majority, that’s good news. Today Huffpost Pollster calculates a 56 percent “chance that Democrats will keep control of the Senate.”
Of course 56 percent doesn’t allow all that much breathing space. But 8 weeks from election day, it’s fair to say that it’s a sign that Dems are in a much better position in the battle for Senate control than many pundits thought they would be in in mid-September, given the lopsided Democratic vulnerabilities this year.
Huffpost Pollster’s Mark Blumenthal and Natalie Jackson explore the ramifications of “the Orman factor” (Independent U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman in Kansas) in their calculations, and conclude:
…Now, however, in the simulations that project an Orman win, our model will usually assign him to the party in the majority…In the rare scenario in which Orman wins and the chamber is split with 49 Democrats and 50 Republicans, we give Orman a 50 percent chance of caucusing with the Democrats and a 50 percent chance of caucusing with the Republicans. (Thus, the overall probabilities of each party’s winning the majority still add to 100 percent.) But we also note the probability of this situation occurring — we call it “the Orman factor.” On the Senate model dashboard, this number appears right below the probabilities for Democratic and Republican majorities.
Other models have also assigned Orman to one side or the other in the case of 49 Democrats and 50 Republicans, but in slightly different ways: Daily Kos similarly assumes there is a 50/50 chance Orman will caucus with each party, but FiveThirtyEight assumes a 75 percent chance he will caucus with the Democrats, and The Upshot assigns him to the Democrats 100 percent of the time.
Sure, as noted elsewhere there are respected poll analysts who still believe the odds favor a GOP takeover of the U.S. Senate. But with both Mark Blumenthal and Sam Wang arguing otherwise, Dems have cause for optimism — especially if they mobilize an energetic GOTV effort where it counts.