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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Democratic Chances of Winning a Senate Majority Improving

There is lots of buzz recently about improving Democratic prospects for winning a majority of Senate seats in the midterm elections, and the consensus of the top political analysts is a lot brighter for Democrats than it was even a few months ago.

CNN editor at large Chris Cillizza sees the range of possibilities for Democrats between +/- 3 seats and Kyle Kondik of Sabato’s Crystal Ball has changed his election outcome estimate from “Likely Republican” to “Leans Republican.”

Of the 36 senate seats in play on November 6th, the Cook Political Report rates only 3 of the races as “Solid R,” 2 as “Likely R” and 1 as “Lean R.” The remainder range from “Solid D” (14); “Likely D” (5); “Lean D” (2); and “Toss-up” (8).

At The Princeton Election Consortium, Sam Wang writes,

Senate control is said to be a difficult challenge for Democrats. However, the eventual seat margin will be close, and the number of critical races is small. If we look at current polling margins, a swing of 3 points would be enough to put Democrats on the brink of having 51 seats. So in the Senate, Republicans have a handicap of 3 percentage points favoring them.

I should throw in here that close Senate races tend to break mostly in the same direction on Election Day. Which way they’ll break isn’t known; one way gets Democrats to 51-52 seats, and the other way gets them to 45-46 seats. It appears that Senate control could go either way.

Ruy Teixeira flags an encouraging survey reported in the conservative Weekly Standard, and notes:

Senate models are a bit thin on the ground but David Byler at the Weekly Standard has one that seems solid. Currently, he has Democratic chances of taking the Senate at 41.5 percent, quite an improvement over earlier runs of his model. This reflects continued good poll results for Democratic Senate candidates, including the many, many candidates who have to hold a seat in red states. Of course, a little better than 2 in 5 still means they’re more likely to fall short than not. But given the Senate map this year, an estimate this high is impressive.

Political analyst Stu Rothenberg sees “an almost impossible map” for Democrats.” However he believes that the GOP’s mounting problems indicate that “the Senate could be in play.” Vox’s senate analyst, Dylan Scott says “while Democrats will need a near-perfect November to win back control of the chamber, a fresh assessment of the Senate battlefield reveals that they should have several opportunities to pick up the seats they need.”

All in all, the odds still favor the Republicans to hold a senate majority, but Democrats have some good reasons to invest more resources in competitive senate races.

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