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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dem Chances in Midterms: Forecasts, Wild Cards and Hunches

Can Democrats Win 52 Senate Seats And Kill The Filibuster?” Daniel Rakich addresses the question at FiveThirtyEight, digests FiveThirtyEight’s forecasting data and writes:

“Democrats may currently control the Senate, but many within the party believe 52 Democratic senators are necessary for a true governing majority. That’s because moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are reluctant to change the Senate rules and abolish or circumvent the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote supermajority to vote on most legislation.

However, suppose the party wins 52 seats this November and at least 50 senators vote to suspend the filibuster in the following Congress. The Senate could then pass stalled Democratic priorities like codifying abortion rights into federal law and expanding voting rights. As a result, that’s where Democrats are setting the bar this election cycle: Even President Biden has publicly asked voters to “give me two more Democratic senators.”

But, while Democrats have a 66-in-100 chance of holding onto control of the Senate (according to the Deluxe version of the FiveThirtyEight forecast),1 their odds of winning 52 seats are dicier. In the two most likely scenarios, the party would win either 50 or 51 seats (there’s a 32-in-100 chance of that happening).

However, it’s not out of the question that the Democratic dream scenario will come true. According to our forecast, there’s a 34-in-100 chance that Democrats will win 52 or more Senate seats this November. In other words, it’s roughly equally as likely that Republicans will win the Senate, that Democrats will win the Senate with 50 or 51 seats and that Democrats will win the Senate with at least 52 seats.”

Rakich notes that PA, WI, NC and OH are the most likely states to flip senate seats from red to blue, but cautions that “liberal Democrats have one more roadblock.” They also have to pass their legislative agenda in the House, and holding on to their House majority is a much tougher challenge. “They have just a 29-in-100 chance of maintaining control of the lower chamber, a bit lower than their chances of winning at least 52 Senate seats.” Further, “There is a 22-in-100 chance that Democrats will win a majority of House seats and at least 52 Senate seats.” Rakich also links to a hover map that provides data for each state.

A better than one in five chance may be an improvement over what Dems were expecting a few months ago. And this is just one forecasting model’s data, not that there is any reason to believe that other models would be all that   different. But it’s worth remembering that no pundits thought Georgia was going to elect two Democratic senators until late in the 2020 campaign. Sobering as Rakich’s numbers are, a lot of wild cards are floating around in this year’s game, including an exceptionally lame GOP field of senate candidates, fallout from the January 6 hearings and anger at the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which should be weighed against all of the Dem’s vulnerabilities. And despite evidence to the contrary, I can’t dismiss the hunch that increasing numbers of swing voters are thinking something like “The Dems have their screw-ups, but it sure looks like a lot of Republicans have gone nuts.”

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