Election Projections: September 28, 2014

This week’s updates, in terms of the raw numbers, show a shift to the Republicans in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and in two gubernatorial races. Looking at the most recent available public polling, this blog now believes that it is clear that the Republican Party is on pace to capture 51 seats—and the majority—in the Senate. It also appears that the GOP is on pace to make a net gain of eight seats in the House, for a 242-193 majority, and to lose a net of two governorships, as compared to this blog’s opinion last week that Republicans were on pace to lose four. Updates to the ratings are pointed out below, and the chart of all competitive races, and their ratings, can be found by clicking here.

Senate Race Updates


I have long recognized the weakness of the campaign of Democrat Bruce Braley, currently a U.S. representative from Iowa’s 1st District, who was caught on tape some months ago making a remark disparaging the notion of a farmer (Iowa’s Republican Senator, Chuck Grassley) becoming the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Meritorious or not, this remark was bound to cause him trouble in Iowa, and the results of a Sept. 24 Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, by respected pollster Selzer & Co., indicate he has never recovered from the gaffe. Selzer’s Iowa Poll now shows Republican Joni Ernst ahead by 6 points. While the last 12 polls have had Braley ahead in three and Ernst ahead in three, with the other six tied, Ernst appears to have the edge and this blog is moving Iowa from “Leans Democratic” to “Leans Republican,” and this puts Republicans on track to claim 51 Senate seats on Election Day.

North Carolina

I have always considered this state the best shot, in all the 2012 Romney seats held by Democrats, for the Democrats to hang on, and the recent polling indicates that Sen. Kay Hagan (D) is ahead by a slim but consistent margin. She has led in 10 of the last 11 polls since mid-August, and her opponent, Republican Thom Tillis, led by only 1 point in the one poll which he led. I am now moving this race from “Leans Democratic” to “Likely Democratic.”


The campaign of Republican challenger Monica Wehby has been a train wreck, beset by numerous allegations against Wehby that include plagiarism and stalking. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) holds double digit polling leads, and I see no way that he loses this race. This blog is moving Oregon from “Likely Democratic” to “Safe Democratic.”

South Dakota

The uncertainty inherent in a three-candidate race, with former Republican Sen. Larry Pressler achieving sizable polling numbers as an independent, has kept South Dakota at “Likely Republican.” However, Gov. Mike Rounds (R) continues to hold a double digit lead, and this blog is moving South Dakota from “Likely Republican” to “Safe Republican.”


Although the most recent public polls give a slight lead, on average, to challenger Cory Gardner (R), a Quinnipiac poll giving him an 8-point lead appears to be an outlier. The preponderance of the public polling still favors Sen. Mark Udall (D), but if more than two notable polls show a Gardner lead, a reassessment of the race may be in order. For now, this race stays “Leans Democratic” but moves onto the Watch List. Keep in mind that recent elections have shown Democrats outperforming their polling numbers in Colorado on Election Day.


Sen. Mark Begich (D) has not led in a single poll since August 3rd, and this blog already has this race designated “Leans Republican.” The average lead for Republican challenger Dan Sullivan is just shy of 5 points. If Begich’s numbers do not begin improving soon, the race will shift to “Likely Republican,” but I am going to keep it unchanged right now until more data is available. At this point, I am confident enough of a Republican lead in this race to move it off the Watch List. In recent elections, Republicans have considerably outperformed their polling numbers in Alaska on Election Day.

House Race Updates

New York 11th District

It has long been presumed that Congressman Michael Grimm (R), embroiled in legal issues, would lose this district centered on Staten Island and also including a small part of Brooklyn. However, a Siena College poll published Sept. 17th actually showed Grimm with a 4-point lead over Democrat Dominic Recchia. Given the district’s Republican lean and the results of the recent poll, I am moving the race from “Leans Democratic” to “Leans Republican” and placing this race on the Watch List.

Hawaii 1st District

A recent Honolulu Civil Beat/MRG poll showed former Congressman Charles Djou (R) leading Democratic nominee Mark Takai by 4 points. Given that polling in Hawaii is sometimes wildly off the mark, as well as Hawaii’s considerable Democratic skew, it is hard to take this poll at face value. That said, Djou has previously won the district, albeit in a special election, and even when he lost the seat, he competed well. I am moving this race from “Likely Democratic” to “Leans Democratic” and moving it to the Watch List.

Gubernatorial Race Updates


A series of polls showing a tightening race, including a poll showing Democratic challenger Mark Schauer with a slight lead on August 10th, caused me to take a gamble and bet on Schauer’s trend line. Since that time, recent polling has shown Republican Gov. Rick Snyder reopening a lead, and I am moving this race from “Leans Democratic” to “Leans Republican.” I am keeping it on the Watch List for now.


Democratic challenger Mary Burke appeared to be making a move in the polls, but the last two have gone back in the direction of Gov. Scott Walker (R). This is a very tight race, but with Walker leading in a slight majority of polls right now, I am moving this race back from “Leans Democratic” to “Leans Republican,” but also putting it on the Watch List.


Democrat Anthony Brown is averaging a 15-point lead over Republican Larry Hogan, and Maryland is a heavily Democratic state. This blog is moving Maryland from “Likely Democratic” to “Safe Democratic.”


Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has not trailed in a single public poll and, on average, leads Republican challenger Jeff Johnson by 9 points. This blog is moving Minnesota from “Likely Democratic” to “Safe Democratic.”


There is no evidence that Democrat Chuck Hassebrook is making inroads in this heavily Republican state against Republican Pete Ricketts, who led the most recent public poll by 20 points. This blog is moving Nebraska from “Likely Republican” to “Safe Republican.”

New Hampshire

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has not led Republican Walt Havenstein by fewer than 12 points in a single reputable public poll. This blog is moving New Hampshire from “Likely Democratic” to “Safe Democratic.”

South Carolina

No reputable public polling has shown Democratic challenger Vincent Sheheen within 10 points of Gov. Nikki Haley (R) in the last 11 months. Despite the fact that these two candidates had a close race four years ago, there is no way to keep this one in the “Likely Republican” column, and I am moving it to “Safe Republican.” Frankly, I missed the boat on this one by not moving it earlier.


A recent outlier by Quinnipiac showing Republican challenger Bob Beauprez with a 10-point lead has skewed the numbers to give him a slight lead, on average, but this poll is so far afield from all other recent polling that I tend to discount it. As in the Senate race, I am also factoring in the fact that Democrats, in recent years, have outperformed their polling numbers in Colorado and keeping this race at “Leans Democratic” in favor of Gov. John Hickenlooper. However, I am moving it onto the Watch List.

Election Projections: September 20, 2014

The Wide World of Politics Blog Election Ratings reports two changes this week.
First, developments in the Kansas Senate race have led me to move this race from “Leans Republican” to “Leans Independent.” The recent ruling of the Kansas Supreme Court that Democrat Chad Taylor may, in fact, withdraw his name from the ballot is clearly beneficial to independent candidate Greg Orman, and one-on-one polling pitting Orman against incumbent GOP Senator Pat Roberts shows a clear Orman lead. This blog now sees Orman as a slight favorite, though it remains to be seen if the professional help Roberts has recently begun to receive from GOP HQ in Washington will help him right his sinking ship.

This rating change now puts the Republicans at 50 seats—1 shy of a majority—and the Democrats at 48 seats, with two independents, Orman and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), positioned to determine the Senate majority. King currently caucuses with Democrats.

The second rating change involves the Illinois governor’s race. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has been struggling for a plethora of reasons, but recent polling has shown Quinn rebounding considerably and moving ahead of Republican businessman Bruce Rauner. Given Quinn’s big move in the polls, and his history of overcoming long odds to prevail, not to mention the state’s strong Democratic edge, this blog has now moved the Illinois governor’s race from “Leans Republican” to “Leans Democratic,” though it also has been added to the Watch List.

This rating change now shows an even split at the gubernatorial level, with Republicans and Democrats each poised to control 25 seats, though two of this blog’s ratings (favoring Democrats in Michigan and Wisconsin) are out of step with most predictions at this point. This blog favors Democrats Mark Schauer in Michigan and Mary Burke in Wisconsin due to their recent upward polling trends. It remains to be seen if a plagiarism flap involving Burke will halt or reverse her momentum.

Click here for the newest ratings sheet.

Election Ratings: September 13, 2014

Now that all states have held their primaries and the general-election nominees have all been determined, I am publishing my first list of race ratings for the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and governors’ races across the country. Here I will provide some basic explanations of my Election Race Ratings Chart.

First, I have selected only those races that have been deemed competitive, either by myself or another leading, reputable election analyst (such as Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook, Stu Rothenberg, etc.). Therefore, not every race will appear here. Those offices that are not listed are considered safe for the party currently holding them.

My chart lists, from left to right, the state or district; the Democratic candidate; the Republican candidate; and my current rating of the race. If the state or district is currently held by a Democrat, it is colored blue; if the state or district is currently held by a Republican, it is colored red. Lighter shades of blue or red denote an “open seat” race in which no incumbent is seeking reelection. In the candidate columns, incumbents are listed in bold type. In the rating column, races in which I rate the Democrat a favorite will be colored light blue if it leans Democratic; medium blue if it is likely Democratic; and dark blue if it is safe Democratic. Similarly, I use light red, medium red and dark red, respectively, for leaning, likely or safely Republican.

As to the ratings themselves, I will differ from the more established analysts in one crucial respect: I do not list any races as toss-ups. In races that appear extremely close, I am exercising my best judgment to project them either “Lean D” or “Lean R.” I make these judgments based on the following factors:

1) Current polling numbers (where available). This is the key factor, but these are much more available in Senate and gubernatorial races. Many House races have little, if any, reputable public polling readily available.

2) Current polling trends; even in a case in which a candidate may still be trailing by a small margin, if his/her polling trends are clearly moving upward, I may move a race rating in his/her direction. (Key examples here include the governors’ races in Michigan and Wisconsin, which I currently rate “Lean D” due to the upward trending of the Democratic candidates in that race. If those trends reverse in the coming weeks, I will reassess.)

3) The district’s electoral history—for example, if a state or district has a history of flipping depending on whether it is a presidential year or a midterm; if the race is a rematch of a close race in a previous election; if the trends in a state or district are moving in favor of one party or the other; etc. (A key example is the 10th District of Illinois, which has a Democratic partisan voting index, but where Republican House candidates traditionally overperform and where the Republican candidate, Bob Dold, has previously been elected to the House.)

4) An unusually impressive (or unimpressive) candidate, or a relatively new or unknown candidate who may appear to have great potential (A key example is Republican nominee Marilinda Garcia in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District.)

In marginal races that would normally be listed as toss-ups in which I still have a strong degree of uncertainty, I add a black box next to the rating to denote that the race is on my “Watch List.” A race may be watch-listed for any of the factors listed above.

This site will publish an updated list every Saturday between now and the election. At this moment, my ratings indicate the Republican Party will pick up a net of 7 seats in the U.S. House, for a 241-194 majority, and 6 seats in the U.S. Senate, for a 51-49 majority. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, appears headed for a net pickup of 3 governors’ mansions, which, if accurate, would leave the Republicans with a 26-24 advantage.

In future ratings, this site will also make estimates as to the partisan control of state legislatures after the November elections.

For the current race ratings, please click here.