Former Sen. Russ Feingold’s (D) long-expected decision to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson (R) in a 2016 rematch crystallized for us that Johnson is the most vulnerable incumbent senator in the country . But it also helped put the other top Senate races into context.
First of all, let’s re-set the scene. Map 1 shows Senate Class 3, which will be contested in November 2016. The 34 seats up next year are lopsidedly controlled by Republicans: They are defending 24 seats, while the Democrats are only defending 10.
The retirement of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last week gives Republicans something they have been lacking in the early stages of this Senate cycle: a 50-50 shot at picking up a seat currently held by a Democrat.
True, Reid’s poor approval numbers meant he was going to be a target of Republicans anyway. But he’s also a proven commodity who would have had the power of incumbency. In our view, the open-seat race is now a Toss-up, as opposed to the prior rating of Leans Democratic.
On Wednesday, the Public Religion Research Institute released its new American Values Atlas. It is full of information regarding the American public’s religious identity, political views on hot-button issues such as abortion and immigration, and demographic information for regions, states, and major metropolitan areas. This atlas should prove to be a highly useful resource, especially because of the incomplete state-by-state data in recent exit polls.
Using this treasure trove of new data, the Crystal Ball took a look at three major religious groups in the American public: white evangelicals, the unaffiliated, and Catholics.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, elected to a third term earlier this month, often notes that the presidential cycle is harder for his party than midterms because the electorate is more diverse and Democratic. “For us to win a presidential election, we have to be just about perfect, and the Democrats have to be good,” he told Kyle Cheney of Politico .
After playing offense in 2014 and netting nine Senate seats to set up a 54-46 majority in the 114th Congress, Republicans will mostly be playing defense in 2016. That probably means the GOP will end up losing seats, but recent history suggests that we should not be certain about that.
Heading into the 2016 Senate cycle, Republicans find themselves in a position similar to the Democrats going into 2012, with a Senate map dotted with vulnerabilities created by victories won six and 12 years prior.
There is great symbolic importance to the lone U.S. House race where votes are being recounted. If Martha McSally (R) holds her narrow lead against Rep. Ron Barber (D, AZ-2), Republicans will have netted 13 House seats, giving them 247 in the 114th Congress and narrowly topping the 246 seats the Republicans held after the 1946 election, giving the GOP its biggest House caucus since 1928. If Barber somehow survives, the Republicans will only tie that mark with a net gain of 12.
The GOP gain proved to be a bit smaller than seemed likely on Nov. 4: ABC News , for instance, projected a 14-to-18 seat Republican net on Election Night. But Democrats won nearly all the races that were called in the days following the election. Still, the Republicans did slightly better than most prognosticators expected (we pegged them for a gain of nine before the election).
With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, the picture in several key races remains hazy. But when the dust settles, the most likely result is a Republican majority, as the Crystal Ball ’s outlook of Republicans adding five to eight seats has long indicated.
The GOP needs at least a net gain of six seats to win back Congress’ upper chamber. But the math is complicated by Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R) struggles in Kansas against independent Greg Orman, and even if Roberts wins, the GOP may not get to 51 seats until after Dec. 6 (Louisiana’s runoff) or even Jan. 6, 2015 (Georgia’s runoff), making it difficult to actually call the Senate for Republicans even this close to Nov. 4.
The national numbers indicate that Republicans should be on the verge of big House gains. But a district-by-district analysis suggests a different story.
Throughout the election cycle, we’ve been closely monitoring the House generic ballot, which is the national poll that asks whether voters would support a Republican or a Democrat in their local House race. For much of the year, the polls have been roughly tied. Those were generally polls of registered voters — a bigger universe of people than the “likely voters” now being tested. With that polling adjustment now in place, Republicans have taken a clear lead in the House generic ballot, though perhaps not as big of a lead as they held at this point in 2010, when they netted 63 House seats and took control of the House.
Another week is down the drain in the race for the Senate, and while our overall outlook is unchanged — a five to eight seat gain for the GOP — some of our ratings are in need of adjustments.
One of these comes as a surprise, as Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is proving to be quite resilient.
A Republican at the end of 1928 could look back on the previous few decades and smile: His party was quite clearly the dominant force in American politics. Starting in 1896, Republicans had held the White House for 24 of 32 years, interrupted only by the GOP split that helped Democrat Woodrow Wilson get elected in 1912.* Another Republican, Herbert Hoover, was about to stretch that streak in the White House to 28 of 36 years.
In the House, Republicans also had held control for 24 of 32 years, and Hoover’s 444-electoral vote landslide in 1928 boosted the House GOP majority to 270 seats, a Republican edge whose size was only eclipsed by the 302-member Republican caucus elected in 1920 (the House expanded to its present 435 seats in 1913).