Tuesday, November 4, 2014

2014 Senate Forecast

Over the weekend, FHQ could not resist the urge to pull the available polling data on the 36 senate races of 2014 and run them through the graduated weighted polling averages we use during presidential general elections to forecast the electoral college. No, there is no shortage of these predictions, but as is FHQ's wont, we like to see how well a simpler method of aggregation and analysis stacks up against the other models. Surprisingly or not, there is some convergence between these models on election day 2014.

FHQ is no different in showing that:
1) There is a band of around 10 states with competitive senate races (seen in lighter shades of blue and red on the map below).
2) Some are more competitive than others. Kentucky, for instance, is less competitive than, say, Colorado or North Carolina.
3) Most of the competitive states -- 7 out of 10 -- favor the Republicans.

4) There is a rough order to the states as far as their average margins are concerned (overall and the more competitive states in gray in the figure of final average margins below). With all the polling data in, that indicates that Colorado, Iowa, Alaska, Kansas and North Carolina are the states to watch this evening as the returns come in. There are still 8 states with races within 3%.
5) Republicans look poised to pick up seats in Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota with Kentucky looking likely to join that group.
6) If Republicans win the 15 states in which they are ahead in the averages by more than 10% then they will be sitting at 45 seats. Add Kentucky and that number increases to 46.

7) Even when the possible implications of runoff elections in Louisiana and Georgia are factored in, Republican candidates are ahead in Arkansas and more narrowly in Colorado, Iowa and Alaska. Those four, if they follow the FHQ projections, would put the Republicans at 50 seats.
8) A Republican Senate majority would then depend on either Roberts/Orman race in Kansas and/or the two runoff states.
9) That does not take into account the possibility of Republican candidates running ahead of their averages in other competitive states, North Carolina and New Hampshire. In both, polls will close early and give a quick indication of whether the Republican tide has pushed to include the more competitive but persistently blue states (given the polling) this cycle.
10) There is more uncertainty about the path Republicans could take to the Senate majority than whether they will take that majority. FHQ projects Republicans will pick up 8 seats (Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and Alaska) while losing Kansas. FHQ also projects Democrats to hold New Hampshire and North Carolina. If there are runoff elections in Louisiana and Georgia, Republicans would be sitting on 50 seats needing one those runoff states to claim the majority.
11) FHQ projects 52 seats for the Republicans and 45 seats for the Democrats with three independents when it is all said and done and the new congress is fully sworn in next January.

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