I wrote about a similar finding back in May, poking fun at the precision of this model (eighty-six percent, not eighty-five) as silly, while confessing I wasn't -- and still am not -- nearly as bullish on Republicans' chances as these Washington Post/Election Lab analysts are. Nevertheless, there's little doubt that Democrats are in for a difficult fight to maintain their Senate majority:
Our model suggests that the GOP has a very good chance of winning the Republican-leaning states: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana. That gives them five seats. They also have a better than 50-50 chance of winning Iowa, where Joni Ernst’s recent surge has made the race neck-and-neck—a trend that is consistent with what our model suggested about the Iowa race back in May. Meanwhile, Democrats have a good chance of winning Colorado, Michigan, and North Carolina.
That summary also assumes that Republicans will hold on to large leads in the contests to fill open seats in Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota. It also strangely lists Iowa is a likely Republican pick-up, while categorizing North Carolina as solid for Democrats. I'm dubious of both propositions, but this is all an imprecise science. Here's how the Election Lab Senate projection map looks at the moment, less than four months out from the midterms:
Rather than repackage my admonition from May, I'll take the liberty of quoting myself verbatim: "You may recall that Republicans were supposed to have a decent chance to capture the Senate two years ago. They managed to lose two seats. This round, if the party were to relinquish any of the 45 seats they currently control or fail to secure the trio of aforementioned low-hanging pick-ups, it’s probably game over right out of the gate. Moral of the story: Take nothing for granted." That being said, Chris Cillizza points to another historical trend that pulls strongly in Team Red's favor. This is why the lame duck president's dismal approval ratings still matter:
One of the biggest threats to Senate Democrats' control of the upper chamber is the relative ambivalence and disillusionment among core sectors of Obama's 2012 victory coalition. In order to mitigate their inevitable losses, Democrats must motivate these groups -- which explains their shameless and utterly perfidious grandstanding about the Hobby Lobby decision and birth control. The Washington Post's fact-checker ran through an embarrassing series of false and misleading statements from elected Democrats, who are attempting to convince their low-information base that the Supreme Court effectively handed employers veto power over the contraceptive choices of female employees. That's not what the Court did in its appropriate and narrow ruling, of course, but details are intentionally being subordinated to passions here. The Left's base-goosing, anti-liberty rhetoric is taking various forms. For instance:
.@SenWarren: Remember the government shutdown? That was started by a GOP effort to let employers deny workers access to birth control.— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) July 15, 2014
Indeed, who among us doesn't remember that the government shutdown was all about birth control? And that anti-McConnell ad from a pro-abortion group jumps aboard the moronic "not my boss' business" bandwagon -- a specious slogan that gets things perfectly backward. Indeed, it's not women's boss' business what sorts of birth control they choose to use. The Obama administration proactively made it some "bosses' business" when they required -- for the first time in US history -- that employers pay for a litany of contraceptives, even if that act violated the proprietors' religious beliefs. The administration has also sought to extend this unprecedented coercion to explicitly religious groups, embodied by the outrageous lawsuit against the Little Sisters of the Poor. Defenders of religious liberty merely want to return America to the pre-2012 dark ages, when women were free to obtain the affordable birth control methods of their choice, and the vast majority of businesses voluntarily provided contraceptive-inclusive health coverage. Radical. One last thing: The NARAL ad hits McConnell for opposing "equal pay for women." Over to you, Obama White House.