An early look at the 2014 Senate battleground

Nate Silver believes that Republicans “will end up with somewhere between 50 and 51 Senate seats after 2014, putting them right on the threshold of a majority.” He bases his conclusion on a race-by-race analysis of the seats being contested.

In the key contests, Silver finds the probability of a Republican victory (and thus a pick-up) as follows:

Alaska — 40 percent
North Carolina — 45 percent
Arkansas — 50 percent
Louisiana — 50 percent
Montana — 75 percent

Silver essentially concedes two Republican pick-ups — in West Virginia and South Dakota — assigning a 95 percent probability of Republican victory in each of these races. With these two pick-ups, the Republicans would need to win four of the five closer contest listed above to gain control of the Senate.

Silver identifies only two possible pick-ups for the Democrats — in Kentucky and in Georgia. But he sees only a 20 percent chance of a Democratic victory in each of these races.

Indeed, Silver finds the Republicans more likely to pick up Senate seats in Michigan, Iowa, or New Hampshire than to lose them in Georgia or Kentucky. He sees a 30 percent chance of a Republican victory in Michigan, a 30 percent chance in Michigan, and a 25 percent chance in New Hampshire. In Minnesota, Silver puts the probability of Al Franken’s reelection at 80 percent.

Silver concludes with this word of caution to Republicans:

It is. . .important to look for early indications of whether G.O.P. primary voters will be more tolerant of moderate and “main street” Republicans than they were in 2010 and 2012. A strong set of Republican nominees could give the party as many as a dozen credible opportunities to pick up the seats they need – whereas a weaker series of candidates could require them to win almost all of the races that remained competitive after the primaries.

This statement may not sit well with some conservatives, but it is no less obviously true for that reason.

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