AR, MA, and NH: Three Races, Three Predictions

Daniel Doherty
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Posted: Nov 04, 2014 11:00 AM
AR, MA, and NH: Three Races, Three Predictions

Of course, regular readers know full well all of us here at Townhall are covering different races this election cycle. But in case you might forget who is covering whom, take a minute to watch this clip below to refresh your memories.

We had some fun shooting it:

As I said, I’m covering the New Hampshire and Arkansas Senate races as well as the Massachusetts governor’s race. In the following post, therefore, I’ll explain my predictions for only those three races. I fully admit I’m no Nate Silver, and these predictions could be embarrassing for me to read tomorrow. But I have been covering these contests for months, and thus the following post, if nothing else, will be a fun experiment to see how close I come.

Let’s begin:

Arkansas: A race that was for months all tied up seems to have shifted decidedly to the Right in recent weeks. For example, a cursory glance at the last half-dozen or so polls to come out of the Natural State show Republican Tom Cotton with a commanding lead, and thus on the precipice of unseating Sen. Mark Pryor. Furthermore, PPP’s survey from over the weekend seemed to add icing to the cake. In that poll, which heavily favored the incumbent, Cotton led by eight percentage points.

Polls, of course, are not perfect indicators of what will happen. And they are often wrong. But for this particular race, based on all the polling we’ve seen, I feel fairly confident Republicans will flip this seat. Prediction: Cotton wins by somewhere between 5 and 7 percentage points.

Massachusetts: What do you get when you nominate a gaffe-prone, largely unpopular Democratic gubernatorial candidate like Martha Coakley in a blue state? Answer: A competitive race. And that, my friends, is exactly what we have here. Charlie Baker, for his part, has maintained a modest lead down the stretch, picked up a huge endorsement in the Boston Globe, and largely sat back while his opponent imploded. As a result, the wind seems to be firmly at his back. It’s also worth mentioning that Massachusetts has a history of electing Republican governors, and that, according to a recent survey, 65 percent of Bay Staters say Beacon Hill functions “better” when there is divided government. And since Democrats control the state legislature, that leaves voters with only one option: Elect Republican Charlie Baker to the governor's office. Prediction: Baker wins the contest somewhat comfortably, edging his opponent somewhere between three and five percentage points.

New Hampshire: I left this race for last on purpose. In some ways, I have no idea what to expect in the Granite State, as the polls have been back and forth for weeks. According to PPP’s most recent and final poll of the election cycle, however, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen only edges Scott Brown by two percentage points, 49 to 47. But context is everything. In 2010, for example, when Republicans gained seats in the Senate, exit polls showed the New Hampshire Senate contest's electorate was R+3. Kelly Ayotte won in a landslide. Four years later, however, while Democrats associated with the president are still vulnerable, this seat isn't open so the contours of the race aren’t exactly the same. But make no mistake: like in 2010, incumbency can be a curse, and therefore PPP’s D+7 sample seems wildly implausible.

Put another way, it’s unlikely Democrats will turn out in such high numbers. Remember, President Obama isn’t even on the ballot. And yet, with such a favorable sample, Shaheen is only holding a two percentage point lead according to PPP, a left-leaning pollster. That can’t be good. Also, could this eleventh hour and devastating news story impact the race? Prediction: Brown ekes this thing out by less than one percent of the vote.

Final caveat: I’m not clairvoyant, and I can only make educated guesses based on the data I’ve seen and the polls I’ve analyzed, which themselves could be inaccurate. My gut tells me, however, that Republicans will win these three seats. We’ll see.

In the meantime, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below about these three races, or any other races you’ve been following closely. Happy Election Day!

UPDATE: Remember to check out Townhall's Live Election Coverage tonight, results will start updating around 7 p.m. EST.