Election modeler consensus: GOP will take control of Senate

I know, I know, we shouldn’t be popping champagne corks yet, but the data certainly seems to justify having some on ice. The Washington Post takes a look at three metamodelers of polling data to see how the midterms are tilting, and the consensus looks good for Republicans:

There’s at least a seven in ten chance that Republicans will net the six seats the party need to reclaims the Senate majority heading into the 114th Congress, according to the three major election models that aim to forecast the results of Tuesday’s vote.

The Washington Post’s Election Lab model casts the Republican takeover as a near certainty, giving it a 96 percent probability of happening.  Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight model says Republicans have a 73 percent chance at the majority while LEO, the New York Times model, pegs it at 68 percent. …

All three models agree on the six Republican pickups that should hand the GOP the majority — either on Tuesday or, potentially, on Dec. 6 after a runoff in Louisiana.  Election Lab, LEO and FiveThirtyEight give Republicans a 70 percent or better chance of winning: Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia.  The latter three races are not seriously contested; the former three — Arkansas, Colorado and Louisiana — are places where Democrats continue to believe they have a path to victory even while acknowledging they are not currently ahead.

All three models also agree that Democrats are likely to hold onto North Carolina and New Hampshire, although the former looks more competitive today than it did a week ago, and that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) is a near-certain victor in Kentucky. (No model has McConnell’s chances of winning below 93 percent.)

Chris Cillizza has more, including a race-by-race rundown, but the general parameters of a GOP majority win have been known for some time now. Three takeaways have been a lock for months — Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. The opportunities for Democratic takeaways have narrowed to only Kansas and Georgia, and the latter is now a leans-R in all three models.

Even if the GOP loses Kansas to Orman, the pickings seem pretty ripe for at least four more takeaways. Louisiana will go to a runoff for sure, but Landrieu won’t survive the challenge. Alaska looks as though it’s moving solidly away from Democratic incumbent Mark Begich, although polling there is notoriously tricky. Iowa has swung in Joni Ernst’s direction, as has Colorado and Arkansas. That’s five more right there, and we haven’t even mentioned some of the longer shots — New Hampshire, North Carolina, and perhaps even New Mexico, although that may be a real long shot.

A Republican wave will run the table. And even if Republicans only manage to win six seats while not keeping Kansas, another dynamic will come into play, which is the desire to be part of a majority. Orman might end up caucusing with Republicans, although that seems temperamentally unlikely, but that’s not as true for Angus King of Maine. King endorsed Lamar Alexander in Tennessee last week, so he’s not hostile to the Republican caucus. If the GOP ends up with 51 or more seats, King may cut a deal to strengthen Republican numbers even further. Whether he’d do that in case the GOP wins only 50 seats is anyone’s guess, but the Maine Sun-Journal thinks that would be unlikely.

The Post’s model of Republican dominance goes beyond the Senate. They’re expecting a historic level of control for the GOP on Capitol Hill:

Barring some sort of systematic polling-collapse/miraculous-combination-of-luck-for-Democrats, Republicans will walk into 2015 controlling both the House and the Senate by reasonable margins. (As of writing, the Post’s Election Lab figures that there will be 53 Republicans in the Senate and 243 in the House.) It will be the first time the GOP has controlled both chambers since the 109th Congress — and, if the Election Lab numbers hold up, the widest margin of control since 1929.

And also in state legislatures:

Republicans have the opportunity to take control of a record number of state legislative chambers across the country this year, as Democrats play defense in unfavorable terrain.

The Republican landslide in 2010 and the subsequent redistricting process in 2012 gave the GOP control of a nearly unprecedented number of legislative chambers. Today, the party controls 59 of the 98 partisan chambers in 49 states, while Democrats control only 39 chambers (One legislature, Nebraska’s is officially nonpartisan).

Once election results are tabulated in the 6,049 legislative races on the ballot in 46 states this year, Republicans could find themselves running even more. …

The GOP controlled legislatures in 30 states after the 1920 elections, Storey said, their modern high-water mark. Before Election Day 2012, Republicans controlled 62 legislative chambers. To match those marks, the party would need to take control of three chambers — perhaps in New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada or Kentucky.

This is shaping up as a historic rebuke to Barack Obama, and don’t think that the White House and Democrats don’t realize it. Olivier Knox reports that the strategy to send Joe Biden rather than Obama out on the campaign trail was a consequence of that realization, although Democratic campaign operatives rank Biden’s impact at around the “bless his heart” level:

The question for Biden is whether his all-out campaigning will secure Democratic victories, which in turn could aid a still-hypothetical run for the top job at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Loyal local officials can provide critical primary fight get-out-the-vote efforts, drive local news coverage, and secure other endorsements for national candidates.

One senior Congressional Democratic aide, whose boss has not taken sides in the upcoming presidential contest, summed up the trouble for the vice president this way: “It’s an A-for-effort campaign in a Ready for Hillary world.”

That’s a reference to the Ready for Hillary super PAC that has been pushing the former first lady to run for president and is expected to provide fundraising and organizational muscle if she does, along with a list of the names of more than 3 million potential supporters. Biden has many friends in politics, but nothing quite so regimented and, well, ready.

After this election, we’ll see just how much the “Ready for Hillary” world materializes. In New Hampshire … not so much:

In recent weeks, Clinton has hit the campaign trail for Democrats running in tough races across from the nation, including Colorado, Kentucky and North Carolina, states where her former boss, President Barack Obama, is unpopular and unwanted. Clinton returned to Iowa, which holds the first caucuses in the nation, in September, joking “I’m back.”

Organizers said they expected thousands to attend the Sunday event, but the Nashua Fire Marshall’s Office put the number at 700. Outside, a bus organized by Ready for Hillary, the political action committee that hopes to lay the groundwork for a second presidential run, was handing out buttons.

That can’t make Democrats feel good about their 2016 prospects.