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Friday, October 24, 2014

What Current Polls Can Tell Us About the Midterm Elections

Remember that polls are simply a snapshot in time but National Review's Jim Geraghty has shared the enterprising work of Sean Trende of UVA's Center for Politics that looks at the likelihood that a candidate with a certain percentage lead in the polls at this point in an election will go on to win.  Jim then looks at what Trende's chart tells us about the close races and the chances the GOP will send Harry Reid packing his office and moving to the minority leader's office in the Capitol.  First the good news:
Let’s start with the good news for Republicans.
In Arkansas, Tom Cotton is enjoying a 5.5 point lead. 86 percent chance of victory!

In Colorado, Cory Gardner has a 4 point lead. 91 percent chance of victory!

In Alaska, Dan Sullivan has a 4.3 point lead. 91 percent for him, too!

In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell has a 4.4 percent lead.

In Iowa, Joni Ernst has a 2.5 point lead, right between 2 and 3. Oooh, a 70 to 77 percent chance of victory!

(In Louisiana, Bill Cassidy has a 4.8 percent lead in a head-to-head matchup, but that race is almost certain to go to a runoff. Put that one aside for now.)

In case you were wondering, in South Dakota, Mike Rounds has a 9.8 percent lead in the RealClearPolitics average, but it would be 3.5 if you only used polls conducted in October. So you can interpret his odds of victory as either 97 percent or 91 percent if you round up to 4.

Here’s the kind of intriguing news for Republicans: In Kansas, “independent” Greg Orman’s lead is eight-tenths of a percentage point in the RealClearPolitics average. Rounding that to one, we find on the above chart that Orman has… a 44 percent chance of victory. Yup, somehow having a one-point lead 13 days from Election Day is actually a bad sign. However, by 12 days, the chance of victory with a one point lead jumps up to 88 percent; by a few days later, it’s down to 68 percent.

Georgia Michelle Nunn’s lead in the RealClearPolitics average is 0.4 percent. So she’s not even on the chart. Bump her up to one point for the sake of argument, and she’s in the same spot as Orman.
Then he looks at the not so good news:
In North Carolina, Democrat Kay Hagan has a 1.6 point lead, which we’ll round up to 2 points. Bad news, Thom Tillis, that’s a 70 percent chance of victory for her!

In New Hampshire, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen also has a 1.6 point lead, which comes to a 70 percent chance of victory. Considering how steadily Scott Brown has closed these past weeks, you have to wonder if this is one of those 30 percent cases.

Every other Senate race has a 6 percentage point margin or higher.

This is a nice but not quite ideal scenario for Republicans. Assuming neither Georgia or Louisiana are resolved on Election Night, let’s assume Republicans lose the seat in Kansas and gain seats in Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado and Iowa. That’s a net gain of six seats! But as great as that sounds, it would give Republicans 50 seats and Democrats 48. If Democrats win both runoffs, they could keep control of the chamber by having Vice President Biden break the ties. If Cassidy wins the December runoff, Georgia’s January runoff becomes moot to control of the Senate.
If you are not a political junkie, then it probably doesn't matter to you whether we will be following run off elections through Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But it matters which party controls congress.  We know what Harry Reid has done to gun owners.  By changing the rules of the Senate, he has allowed Obama to pack the federal courts with anti-rights judges.  It is in the best interest of gun owners that Harry Reid and his band of cohorts are sent into the minority, thus making it harder for Obama to appoint more anti-rights justices to the courts.  And the only way to do that is if all gun owners in states with U.S. Senate races turn out and vote for the candidates who support our rights.

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