Damage control: Dem leaders scramble after Nate Silver picks GOP to retake the Senate

Interesting as evidence of the exalted place that Silver now occupies in the lefty political imagination. No one performs the same function for righties anymore. Karl Rove did, kinda sorta, once upon a time, but after Dubya’s dismal second term, the tea party’s break with establishment Republicans, and American Crossroads’ terrible 2012 campaign, his infallibility is long gone. Silver’s is intact, for now. He’s the guy whom liberals turned to through the ups and downs of the last presidential race for reassurance that, yes, Obama was still favored to win and in fact had been somewhat heavily favored to win since day one of the campaign. He was their security blanket, and when all 50 states hit just like he predicted (as they did for other election modelers, thanks to the spot-on state poll averages), they decided he was a cross between Max Cohen and Merlin.

And when Merlin tells you you’re going to lose, attention must be paid.

In an unusual step, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Monday issued a rebuttal the famed statistician’s prediction—made a day earlier—that Republicans were a “slight favorite” to retake the Senate. Silver was wrong in 2012, the political committee’s Guy Cecil wrote in a memo, and he’ll be wrong again in 2014.

“In fact, in August of 2012 Silver forecast a 61 percent likelihood that Republicans would pick up enough seats to claim the majority,” Cecil said. “Three months later, Democrats went on to win 55 seats.”…

It cites four races in which Democrats won despite Silver once predicting otherwise: Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and John Tester in Montana in 2012, and Harry Reid in Nevada and Michael Bennet in Colorado in 2010.

“All four are senators today because they were superior candidates running superior campaign organizations who made their elections a choice between the two candidates on the ballot,” said the executive director. “Only three Democratic incumbent senators have lost reelection in the last 10 years, and our incumbents are once again prepared and ready.”

That’s one prong of Democratic crisis management — reassuring the rank and file that Nate can be wrong, lest some of them despair that The Machine Hath Spoken and therefore there’s no sense actually voting on election day. The other prong, which you don’t need Merlin to help predict, was that they’d try to fundraise off of this — warning the rank and file that Nate’s usually right so they’d better pony up to avert a Republican Senate takeover. (Note that the fundraising e-mail also mentions the Koch brothers, another talismanic entity in the lefty mind guaranteed to open wallets.) They won’t be able to use this strategy forever; Silver will eventually miss a big one and even lefties will scale down their trust in his pronouncements of rapture or doom, but right now there’s no escaping him. Which makes me wonder: If he’s correct about the number of seats the GOP picks up this fall, maybe the new Nate Silver figure for the right will be … Nate Silver.

Here he is yesterday laying odds on the Senate via Legal Insurrection, who marvels at the spectacle of Democratic leaders now trying to un-skew the polls.