Statistician Nate Silver accurately calculated every U.S. Senate race in 2008. He now has a few predictions for this year’s gambit. Spoiler: it is looking good for the GOP.
Silver posted his latest analysis of the 2014 Senate races on Monday:
The problem for Democrats is that this year’s Senate races aren’t being fought in neutral territory. Instead, the Class II senators on the ballot this year come from states that gave Obama an average of just 46 percent of the vote in 2012.1
Democrats hold the majority of Class II seats now, but that’s because they were last contested in 2008, one of the best Democratic years of the past half-century. That year, Democrats won the popular vote for the U.S. House by almost 11 percentage points. Imagine if 2008 had been a neutral partisan environment instead. We can approximate this by applying a uniform swing of 11 percentage points toward Republicans in each Senate race. In that case, Democrats would have lost the races in Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Oregon — and Republicans would already hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate.
It therefore shouldn’t be surprising that we continue to see Republicans as slightly more likely than not to win a net of six seats this November and control of the Senate. A lot of it is simply reversion to the mean.2 This may not be a “wave” election as 2010 was, but Republicans don’t need a wave to take over the Senate.
While Silver admits it is too early to be certain, his prediction is cast alongside other key indicators.
According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, Republicans are far more eager to head to the polls this year than Democrats. This enthusiasm historically goes hand-in-hand with party victory.