In the ten days since I last looked at the polling in the Senate and Governors races, Republicans have seen some progress in a few races, but the overall steady momentum we had seen throughout September has slowed, and some races have taken a step backwards. Nearly all of these movements have been small, and there remain large numbers of undecided voters in all but a few races, so the broader question – will a national environment of widespread disapproval with President Obama, combined with the dynamics of a midterm election, lead to late-deciding voters breaking heavily Republican? – remains unsettled by the available evidence. There are good reasons for Republicans not to be complacent, but there are also important flaws in some of the theories Democrats are grasping at as causes for optimism.
The Senate Races
For a refresher on this series, you can review my history of mid-September polls in the last six Senate cycles and how those races tended to break in favor of a “wave” towards the party favored by the national environment as reflected in presidential approval and generic Congressional ballot polls, and the first two installments of this series here and here discussing these charts. Short summary: I take the RealClearPolitics polling averages, and look at what percentage of the vote is left over when you subtract the major candidates; that represents the undecided or minor-third-party vote (U%). “R to 50″ shows what percent of the undecided/independent vote the Republican needs to get to 50.01% of the vote and win. The R2% column shows the Republican’s current percentage of the two-party vote. In the one race with a significant enough third party candidate to be included in the RCP average, South Dakota, I include former Republican Senator Larry Pressler, and “R to 50″ shows 50.01% of the non-Pressler vote (for now – one recent poll had Pressler overtaking the Democrat, and if that happens in the average I’d just list him under the Democrat column as Republican Mike Rounds’ main opponent). For Louisiana, the chart compares Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Mary LandrieuSenate Democrat AverageSee Full Scorecard2% with Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Bill CassidyHouse Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard59%, the Republican leading in …read more