Democrats’ Electoral Chances Less Bad

Ballot BoxAt Real Clear Politics today, Sean Trende published the most cheery piece of analysis I’ve read in months, Could Democrats Gain Senate Seats This Fall? But it’s important to stress the first word in that title. He’s not saying that Democrats are likely to gain seats in the Senate. In fact, he thinks the changes are really really slim. But I have never even considered that the Democrats could increase their majority in the Senate. I’ve just been hoping that we can can limit the damage and maintain the majority.

And there is a good reason why the “limited losses” scenario is cheerful to Democrats. As Trende noted, “[I]f Republicans only gained a seat or two it would be a disaster for them. The intra-party split would be the last thing the GOP needed heading into the 2016 presidential elections, especially since the playing field then is absolutely brutal for them.” So the fact that Trende sees the Democratic prospects improving marginally is very hopeful indeed.

What I find particularly compelling is that the hypothetical future that Trende posited for a Democratic surge strikes me as likely. He suggested that an improving economy and better Obamacare news could sweep many of the marginal Democratic Senate candidates to victory. To me, this isn’t so much a question of if this happens but of how much this will happen. And even today, the Republicans don’t have much to talk about. Their attacks on Obamacare are sounding increasingly shrill—only appealing to the true believers. And their economic arguments are a joke.

But even if things don’t improve much, the November election looks more positive than it did. Yesterday at FiveThirtyEight, Harry Enten wrote, Early Senate Polls Have Plenty to Tell Us About November. In the article, he looked at how accurate early polling is compared to other factors like the popularity of the president. For example, in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes are even in the polls, even as President Obama has only a 30% approval rating. What are we to make of that?

Enten addressed that question of how reliable early polling is compared to other factors. He concluded, “I analyzed which measure is more indicative come November, and it turns out that polls are a more robust metric even though their numbers are still sparse and there’s still so much time remaining before the election.” But he stressed that presidential approval is still a major factor. So taking both factors into account gives Grimes only a 27% chance of beating McConnell. The situation is equally grim in North Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

But I still find this extremely positive news. That’s because I do think that Obama’s approval rating will rise over the next six months because of Obamacare and the economy. What’s more, I still hold out high hopes for get-out-the-vote efforts by the Democratic Party. But pretty much any glimmer of hope would encourage me, because I’ve been absolutely despondent the last few months.

As always: it is extremely important that you vote!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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