As they approach the finish. . .

If you believe Nate Silver, and his track record (2010 and 2012) provides plenty of reason to do so, there is only one “toss-up” Senate race at this point. That’s the Kansas race between incumbent Republican Pat Roberts and alleged independent Greg Orman.

In all other Senate races, Silver finds that one candidate has a 66 percent or better chance of winning. And in two races once thought to be highly competitive, he finds a 95 percent or better probability that the candidate leading in the polls will prevail. These races are Arkansas (Cotton over Pryor) and Kentucky (McConnell over Grimes).

In five races, Silver puts the odds of the poll-leading candidate winning at between 2-1 and 3-1. These races are: Iowa (Ernst over Braley), North Carolina (Hagan over Tillis), Colorado (Gardner over Udall), Alaska (Sullivan over Begich), and Louisiana (Cassidy over Landrieu).

Note that the Democrat leads in only one of these races, North Carolina. And in that race, as Eliana Johnson reports, the early voting arguably provides good news for Republican Thom Tillis.

In 2012, Mitt Romney carried the State by more than 2 percentage points. That year, early voting and absentee Democrats outnumbered early voting and absentee Republicans by 16.3 points. This year, according to Eliana, the margin is 15.7 points. If we focus on early voting only, the pro-Democrat spread is down from 19 to 17.5.

Turnout by African-American voters is crucial for Hagan. In 2012, African-Americans comprised 27.5 percent of the early vote. This year, Johnson reports, the number is 25 percent. Meanwhile, the White composition of the early vote is up by 4.3 points.

Tillis has been forcefully attacked because under his leadership, Republicans in the North Carolina House of Delegates made deep budget cuts that aren’t widely popular. Thus, it is not clear that he will perform as well as Romney did among White voters or even among registered Republicans.

In one Red State after another, though, Democratic incumbents have fallen behind their Republican challenger. If any of the five poll leaders in Silver’s non-toss-up but still competitive races (Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, Alaska, and Louisiana) loses, I believe it will be Kay Hagan.


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