Only 20 days before the mid-term elections and while it seems that the race seems to be moving in a GOP way for control of the U.S. Senate there is still plenty of time for changes to happen. There are very few solid races going either way. Most contests are still very close.
The chart of races above includes 13 total senate races, the top ten are currently held by Democrats, the bottom three are close races for current GOP held seats. The columns include the Real Clear politics average followed by the current evaluations for each race from the three big prognosticators Charlie Cook, Stuart Rothenberg, and Larry Sabato. Finally on the Right are the current evaluations by race from yours truly.
In the Senate today the Democrats (including independents caucusing with Dems) have 55 seats. The GOP needs to pick up a net of six seats to take over the Senate. Should they pick up only five, resulting in a 50-50 tie the Senate would remain in Democratic hands because per the Constitution the Vice President casts the deciding vote.
As of today, I see a GOP pickup of 7-8 seats and a possible loss of 1-2, in other words things are still much to close to call.
Alaska and Arkansas I see as going GOP. Both Republican candidates have the momentum, and to be quite honest the only reason Alaska turned to the Democrats six years ago was that the incumbent the late Ted Stevens was wrongly convicted of corruption (the charges were over turned after the race). Even though Stevens was seen as corrupt Begich won by fewer than 4K votes. In Arkansas, Tom Cotton continues to run a very impressive campaign.
The numbers show the Colorado race is still very close but based on trends it seems as if Cory Gardner has the momentum. However this will be the first Colorado race with mail-in voting and it is not known how that is skewing the polls and the voter models by changing the voter base.
I almost went with Iowa as leaning R. Seven of the last eight polls have shown Ernst as leading by a small margin. But this is Iowa a much different state which prides itself on how on top of the issues their voters are and this is a state that always surprises For now I leave it in the toss up category.
Bill Cassidy will win Louisiana. But he may not win on election day. Right now it looks as if Neither Cassidy or the incumbent Mary Landrieu will generate the 50% of votes needed to avoid a runoff. There is a second Republican (it is an open primary) Rob Maness who right now seems to be getting about 8% of the vote. Traditionally as the election gets closer the number three candidate will lose votes to the top two. If it goes to a runoff, Bill Cassidy will win going away.
Montana will go big for Republican Steve Danes. And West Virginia will go big for Republican Shelley Moore Capito.
A week ago I would have said that North Carolina incumbent Democrat Kay Hagen had this one almost in the bag. Thom Tillis has been closing in and with 20 days left he could pull it off. Either way be happy you don’t live in North Carolina because both parties will be spending heavy.
New Hampshire‘s GOP candidate Scott Brown seems to be closing in on Democrat Jeanne Shaheen but he’s not as close as Tillis in NC. For now I will color both states blue, but they might change (especially NC)
Mike Rounds has led all the way in the three candidate South Dakota, but in recent weeks Independent Mike Pressler has closed in as the last few polls have seen Rounds drop from a double digit to a 3-4% lead. I believe Pressler (a former GOP senator) has peaked and look for the Rounds vote to grow in the next 20 days. Look for the NRSC to move money to this important state in an attempt to seal it in the Republican category.
The three seats the GOP must hold are very close. The GOP could win all three or could lose two out of the three.
In Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes has had a lousy week. No one has been listening to her positions or watching her debate performances against GOP incumbent Mitch McConnell, instead people are wondering why she wont admit she voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. Yesterday the DNSC announced they are pulling their advertising dollars from Grimes and moving it to other markets. It is proof they believe McConnell is going to win going away. I agree.
Georgia has tightened up considerably over the past few weeks. What should have been an easy win for Republican David Perdue is now a nail-biter. Democratic Candidate Michelle Nunn has a famous last name which is helping her move up. Recently dug up Perdue comments about outsourcing (made in 2005) has made it even tighter. This race is now a pure toss up.
Finally there is Kansas. This state is going to take a lot more than GOP Chair Reince Prebious clicking his ruby slippers together three times to stay in the GOP corner. Incumbent Republican Pat Roberts was down by 5%+ two weeks ago and now he is in a tie with the independent Greg Orman (who will caucus with the Democrats). This is a toss-up but Roberts may have the momentum.
If a gun was placed to my head and I had to predict the outcome of the election 20 days out I would predict the Republicans take 7 of the 10 currently held Democratic seats. But Keep an eye on Iowa and NC because those two may also become Republican. Either Kansas or Georgia will swing the other way.
Net-net as of today it looks a if Mitch McConnell will be the majority leader in 2015, but there is plenty of time left.
Look for my final predictions the day before election.