Now, to beat the margin of error.
With just 9 days to go until Election Day, consultants and pollsters are busy running the numbers and developing eleventh hour strategies for candidates running for Senate in key swing states.
In competitive states like Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, and North Carolina, Republican momentum has pushed those Senate races to well within the margin of error, and even the New York Times has Republicans well ahead of Democrats and on track to take back the Senate.
“Senate contests are coming down to the wire,” says pollster Barbara Carvalho of Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion. “ In a reversal from 2012, when there were multiple paths for [President] Obama, now the Democrats are struggling to protect their firewall in Iowa, North Carolina and Colorado.”
All five of these races are within the polls’ margins of error. The lone exception is the NBC/Marist poll of South Dakota, where Republican Mike Rounds enjoys a 14-point lead over Democrat Rick Weiland, 43 percent to 29 percent, while independent Larry Pressler, a former Republican senator, gets 16 percent. To win control of the Senate, Republicans must gain a net of six seats. Two pick-up opportunities – in Montana and West Virginia – appear to be slam dunks for the GOP. And South Dakota, per the NBC/Marist poll, looks to be a safe bet for a third.
That means Republicans need to win three out of these seven other Democrat-held seats to get to a majority: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire and North Carolina.
But if Democrats win a GOP-held seat – say Georgia – or if Orman decides to caucus with Democrats, that means Republicans must win an additional seat (or two) to net six Senate seats.
The Times’ predictive software gives an even better picture of just how attainable a Senate majority is for Republicans. A combined result of 250,000 separate simulations has a think Republican majority as the most likely result of November’s elections:
Multiple national polls tell a similar story. Polls from the New York Times, 538, DailyKos, Huffington Post, Princeton, PredictWise, and the Washington Post each have Republicans taking the Senate (Princeton has the parties at even odds) by as much as an 87%-13% split (Washington Post.) Additionally, the Times has Sens. Landrieu (LA,) Prior (AR,) Udall (CO,) and Begich (AK) losing their seats (some in a landslide)—but their numbers also have Kansas Republican Pat Roberts at a 57% chance of losing his seat.
None of this should make Republican voters comfortable or complacent. Polling isn’t an exact science, and neither is GOTV strategy. Each day that goes by gives both parties time to hit up undecided and independent voters for their support; Republicans should use their momentum to reach out to crossover and past general election voters, and also to get consistent supporters to actually go to the polls and vote the entire ticket.
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