Wargaming Control of the Senate

Let’s start today with Sean Trende — still the best name in forecasting — and his new Monte Carlo simulation. He has a sidebar explaining how those work, but let’s skip that for now and get to the meat of the matter:


I first looked at races The Cook Political Report currently rates as something other than “safe”; over the past 20 years, only two races that Cook Political has rated as “safe” at this point in the game have wound up switching hands, so we can be awfully confident that those seats are “staying put.” That leaves me with a universe of 17 competitive Senate races, 15 of which are held by Democrats, two of which are held by Republicans.

The next step is to total up our simulations, showing how frequently Republicans would win the Senate at each job approval interval for Obama.


Gallup has Professor Wiggleroom’s current approval rating at 46%, which Trende rates as good for between 8 and 12 GOP pickups. Even the lower number is good enough to make Harry Reid the new minority leader, which would suit me like a Savile Row tailor.

The are caveats however. Notice that even at 46%, Wiggleroom’s numbers have been on the upswing. I attribute that to him staying out of the news lately, and to the feeling of national wellbeing we usually enjoy during the Olympics. Also note that Trende’s simulation puts the mostly likely Democrat loss at seven seats, which I read to indicate that each seat will be harder to win for the GOP than the previous seat. Or perhaps not, because a nine-seat gain is Trende’s second-most likely outcome.


The third caveat comes in three parts: Candidates, candidates, candidates. Mark Udall should be as good as gone here in Colorado, but our craptaculent state GOP can’t produce any top-tier statewide candidates.



That brings us to Part II of today’s wargaming, which is an extremely handy roundup from Practical Politicking’s Tom Dougherty. He has his own race-by-race data, stacked up with Cook, Sabato, and Rothenberg. I am reproducing Tom’s chart in full here, but you’ll want to click over to PP for his invaluable links.

It’s almost enough to make a conservative weep. While Tom rates the chances of a GOP takeover at about 55.4% (with 18 seats in play, compared to Sean’s 17), that’s still within the Democrats’ ability to hold on. Five likely or leaning R races is not a comfortable place to be, even this early on.

But it gets worse.

AK, AR, CO, VA — these should be fairly easy pickings for the Grand Old Party, but the best of them are all tossups at this stage, and Udall as previously mentioned seems likely to win in CO. Cook and Rothenberg each have only four likely or leaning R races, not enough to win control. Sabato is the outlier at six.


How desperate is it? Dougherty also wrote an approving piece on an Ann Coulter column, and I found myself nodding along to dang near every word. Ann Coulter and me, kids — that’s one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse.

I’m not trying to get anyone down, but I am trying to be realistic. If one of Sean Trende’s likeliest scenarios is to come to pass, it’s going to come down to conservatives and libertarians in several states holding their noses and turning out to vote. The GOP could put up Zombie Nixon against Udall, and I would crawl over broken glass to vote for him. And that’s also considering Colorado Democrats have instituted same-day voter registration, meaning that they may now pretty much steal elections at will.

But they’ve got to be stopped. Somehow. And it starts at the polls.

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