The battle for the Senate

Real Clear Politics has a nice map that reflects its view of the battle for the Senate. It sees 47 seats as likely to be held by Democrats when the dust settles and 47 likely to be held by Republicans. Six seats are rated toss-ups.

The six toss-ups are:

Indiana (Young vs. Bayh)
Pennsylvania (Toomey vs. McGinty)
Nevada (Heck vs. Cortez Masto)
North Carolina (Burr vs. Ross)
New Hampshire (Ayotte vs. Hassan)
Missouri (Blunt vs. Kander)

To add to the tightness of the battle, RCP has an equal number of “leans Democratic” and “leans Republican” races — two each.

The two races that RCP says lean Democratic are:

Wisconsin (Johnson vs. Feingold)
Illinois (Kirk vs. Duckworth)

Leaning Republican in RCP’s estimation are:

Florida (Rubio vs. Murphy)
Iowa (Grassley vs. Judge)

Some asymmetry creeps in when one digs deeper. According to RCP, the Democrats have 44 seats that are safe or not up; the Republicans have only 40.

Thus, the RCP analysis implies a small advantage for the Democrats. However, I infer from RCP’s analysis that the Republicans have not far from an even money shot at winning the battle for the Senate — a significantly better position than most observers thought they occupied, say, six months ago.

The RCP analysis seems pretty consistent with that of FiveThirtyEight. The latter group gives the Democrats a 59 percent chance of winning control of the Senate. Through much of August, it rated the Dems’ chances at around 70 percent.

In the six races rated toss-ups by RCP, FiveThirtyEight has the Republican slightly ahead in North Carolina, Missouri, and Nevada. The Democrat leads slightly in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, and by a considerable margin (5.9 points) in Indiana.

If I’m reading FiveThirtyEight’s charts correctly, it estimates that there is a 14.2 percent chance that the Senate will wind up 50-50, and that this outcome is more likely than any other. Thus, the presidential race may end up determining who controls the Senate — a fact that some who are undecided between Clinton, Trump, and other options may wish to consider.


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