Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nate Silver's Shot Across the Democrats' Bow

Nate Silver, the man who nailed the 2008, 2010 and 2012 elections, has just made his admittedly still early prediction for the 2014 midterms and you can just imagine Democrats are not too happy with him. Seems old reliable Nate has had the gumption to say that the GOP has a pretty good chance of taking the Senate. Rubbing salt in the wound, he even hints that there is a slight chance Republicans might end up with as many as 56 seats. That would mean an eleven seat swing. But the more likely scenario, he thinks, is six seats. That would give the GOP a 51 - 49 majority.

Silver arrives at his conclusions by basically calling four races - West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota and Arkansas - as GOP pickups and then gives Republicans wins in two of the four tossup races - North Carolina, Louisiana, Michigan and Alaska.

To be perfectly frank, it's hard to argue with Silver's math. In fact, it's damn near impossible. Assuming that the four aforementioned GOP pickups are a given - and let's face it, they're in red states - it's hard imagining Republicans not winning in Louisiana, where Mary Landrieu is in big trouble in the polls. That would mean a 50 - 50 tie with VP Joe Biden sleeping on Harry Reid's couch for the next two years. Does any reasonable person think for a moment that the GOP can't pick up at least one more seat?

Really, anyone?

Now, all should not be doom and gloom in Democrat land. For one thing, it's still fairly early. March is not September, or October for that matter. If past elections have taught us anything, it's that polls have a way of changing. As I recall, two years ago, Claire McCaskill was trailing, and rather badly, in her senate race when her Republican opponent decided to do an interview in which he expressed some rather, shall we say, strange views on rape. Within days of that interview the polls did a complete 180 and McCaskill ended up winning reelection.

Which leads me to my second point and one which should give Democrats some reason for hope. Twice before Republicans have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. In 2010, Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell cost the GOP wins in Nevada and Delaware respectively; in 2012, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock did the same in Missouri and Indiana. Going into this year's midterms, by all accounts Democrats should only have a two seat majority. That's what stupidity does to you. It costs you wins. If it is reasonable to expect Democrats to lose six seats, is it not also reasonable to expect Republicans to give back at least two of their own? If history is any indicator, the answer is yes.

In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes is going to give Mitch McConnell the fight of his life. At present the race is a tossup. In Georgia, Saxby Chambliss's decision not to seek reelection means the GOP must find another candidate who can hold his seat. The Tea Party will no doubt will try to nominate someone more conservative than Chambliss. Just to be clear, Chambliss was the one, you'll recall, who ran an ad against his then Democratic opponent, Max Cleland, that was so despicable, even Republicans called him out on it. It would not surprise me one bit if both these seats flipped in November.

I realize it's asking a lot for lightning to strike three times. So does Nate Silver, which is why he's "bullish" on the GOP's chances in November. He feels they are "poised to nominate equal or superior candidates" in those states they need to win the majority.

He may be right. Only time will tell. Sooner or later even the most inept person learns not to shoot himself in the foot.

Link: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/fivethirtyeight-senate-forecast/

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