What’s behind Democrats’ shrinking Senate odds?
Republicans’ chances of keeping the Senate are up to about a 4 in 5 (79 percent), according to the “Classic” version of the FiveThirtyEight forecast. Republicans have always been favored to hold the Senate, but that’s nevertheless a meaningful improvement from recent weeks, when their odds were generally hovering between 2 in 3 (67 percent) and 7 in 10 (70 percent) instead.
This means Republicans have left what you might call the “Hillary Clinton zone” – the name I mentally assign to 70-ish percent chances where you’re only a normal-sized polling error away from losing the election. Less snarkily, Republicans have escaped a situation where Democrats could win the Senate merely by winning all the toss-up races. Instead, Democrats would have to win at least one of the four races – North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and the Mississippi special election – that our model currently rates as “lean Republican” or “likely Republican.” to have a mathematical shot at the Senate. So, while it’s crucial to remember that a 4 in 5 chance is a long way from 100 percent, the GOP is in a pretty good position.
Rather than get too philosophical, however, let’s pose a more specific question: Is the GOP’s improved position in the Senate because of just one or two races? Or a certain type of race? (For instance, races in red states?) Or is it more broad-based?