Two weeks ago, the odds of Trump winning the election and the GOP holding onto the Senate couldn’t have been much more than five percent. Post-Comey? Figure 20 percent and rising.
Bayh lost 3-points since an earlier WTHR/HPI Indiana poll in September while Young has gained 6-points…
Bayh’s slide manifested itself in his favorablity rankings. Bayh started the campaign with a +20-point net favorablity score in September but now slipped into the negatives with a -6-point score…
He dropped from an 11-point favorability with independents to a -12-point score. He also lost 11-points of net favorability with his own party.
What happened? Occam’s Razor suggests that this poll is an outlier, not an accurate picture of the race, right? Well, no, not really. The latest one from Monmouth, conducted partly before the FBI news about Hillary dropped and party afterward, had the race tied — the first time this year that Young hadn’t trailed. A SurveyMonkey poll that included several additional days post-Comey found Young suddenly ahead by seven points, if you can believe it. And now here’s the WTHR/HPI poll essentially confirming that result by putting Young up five. The race does seem to have changed.
Is it really Comey whodunnit, though? Partly, perhaps. Trump’s lead in Indiana fell to four points in mid-October, per Monmouth; his lead was back to 11 in their latest survey, the same one that had Young and Bayh tied. (My hunch is that it was the “Access Hollywood” tape that drove his numbers down more so than the FBI news that drove them up, but opinions might differ on that.) If you’ve been following Ed’s posts lately about Bayh’s political misfortunes, though, you know most of this damage is self-inflicted. Bayh’s become a poster boy for establishment sleaze, a man who was up to his ears in lobbyist cronies and dubious business interests while he was in the Senate and who seems to strongly prefer spending his time in New York and Washington rather than in his alleged home state. The drip-drip of those revelations over the last few weeks appears to have destroyed him — which is ironic, given that the country’s poised to elect another Democrat president who’s up to her ears in influence peddling. (It’s Bayh’s bad luck to be running in a red state.) In fairness to Young, though, his supposed long odds of winning were never reflected in state polling, where he’s trailed by no worse than six points in any survey since the beginning of September. It’s been a two-point race on average for more than a month. Bayh was the heavy favorite mainly because he’s a household name in Indiana and because it looked like Clinton was cruising to a landslide. Not anymore.
So, big picture. What does this do to the GOP’s chances of holding 51 seats in the Senate next year? Here’s the map.
That’s a 46/46 split with eight states in play. Can the GOP get five? Barring something crazy happening, Rubio’s going to win his race, so color Florida in red. Assume that the oppo barrage on Bayh will also tip Indiana to Young. That’s 48. The fact that New Hampshire is suddenly in play between Clinton and Trump is good news for Kelly Ayotte, who leads there now by an average of 2.5 points (although the very latest poll, from left-leaning PPP, has her down three to Maggie Hassan). Let’s cross our fingers and give that to the GOP too. Can they get two more seats from the five left? Pat Toomey increasingly looks like a goner in Pennsylvania, so scratch that one off. Ron Johnson also looks like a probable loser in Wisconsin, although he’s gamely made a race of it against Russ Feingold down the stretch. In all likelihood it’s a best of three among Missouri, North Carolina, and Nevada. As chance would have it, the Republican candidate leads in all three of those races — but by 1.6 points or less. And given the strong Democratic early voting in Nevada this year arranged by Harry Reid’s turnout machine, NV may be a tough night for Trump and Senate candidate Joe Heck. It may come down to Richard Burr in NC and Roy Blunt in MO. But thanks to Bayh’s faceplant in Indiana, that’s a much rosier scenario that the GOP could have expected a few weeks ago.