There are big happenings in the Senate modeling community: the election is looking better and better for the Democrats. And I think this is excellent news for the country. But not in the way you probably think, coming from a Democrat.
Just two weeks ago, the Senate election model of The Upshot gave the Republicans a 67% chance of taking control of the upper chamber. But it has been coming down steadily since then. It currently gives the Republicans just a 52% chance of taking the Senate. Even the FiveThirtyEight model is down to a 59% chance. But what’s interesting is that it is now the outlier. No one else gives the Republicans that high a chance. Daily Kos gives the Democrats a 51% chance of keeping the Senate. And the Huffington Post model gives them a 57% chance of keeping the senate.
This isn’t to mention Sam Wang. He’s been bullish on the Democrats for a long time. He currently gives them a 70% chance of keeping the Senate on election day. (He gives an 80% chance if the election were held today.) But the most amazing change came from The Monkey Cage model. A couple of months ago, they gave the Republicans an 86% chance of taking over the Senate. That’s because the model at that time was entirely based upon fundamentals. But up into this last week, it still gave the Republicans a slight advantage. At least it did until today. Now they give the Democrats a 50% chance of keeping the Senate.
It is important to remember that none of this means that the Democrats will keep the Senate. But I think it means something far more important. The fundamentals are on the side of the Republicans. There are far more Democrats up for re-election than there are Republicans. The economy sucks. Obama has low approval ratings. Really: the Republicans ought to be looking at gaining ten seats. Instead, they are looking at six if everything goes their way.
What I think we are seeing at long last is voters punishing the Republican Party for its insanity. I think the constant obstruction and doing the bidding of the rich has finally seeped into the thinking of more casual voters. This isn’t a profound realization. It’s more like people preferring Coke to Pepsi: they just have a vague feeling that the Republicans aren’t worth giving yet another chance to. And it is manifested in Democratic candidates doing just a couple of percentage points better than they normally would.
This could be very good news for the nation. I don’t mean that because the Democrats might well hold the Senate. That’s good but nothing exciting. If the Republicans fail to take the Senate after this very favorable election and then they get clobbered in 2016, the party finally will reevaluate its “race to the right” commitment. And that is absolutely a good thing for America. We need two sane parties. The current situation cannot stand. Of course, if the Republicans do not change, there is my old standby: they become a regional party and the Democratic Party breaks in half.
Regardless, that’s what we are looking at. Anyone who cares about the Republican Party should hope that they blow this opportunity. Because you know what will happen if they manage to just get 51 seats in the Senate. There will be people everywhere talking about how this shows that liberalism is dead and how everyone repudiates Obamacare. And if the Republicans only manage 50 seats, the more reasonable but still wrong narrative will be that the country has turned against Republicans. But that’s an exaggeration that could be very good for the nation.