Larry Sabatot’s University of Virginia team is betting on a Senate majority, but reckons it’s not going to be cut and dried next week. The factors leading to a GOP Senate majority are largely cyclical. This year’s elections map is the most Republican-leaning in years. Add that to a slew of Dem retirements, Obama’s unpopularity, hardened partisanship and a rare crop of strong GOP candidates and the prospects are good for the Republicans. In addition, GOP stars (and Presidential hopefuls) like Chris Christie and Rand Paul have been wearing the leather off their shoes stumping for candidates. Paul is laying down a lot of chips for the establishment GOP as he campaigns for Pat Roberts in Kansas and Mitch McConnell in their home state of Kentucky, favors that will need repaying if he runs in 2016.
… there’s a decent chance we won’t know who wins the Senate on Election Night. Louisiana is guaranteed to go to a runoff, and Georgia seems likelier than not to do the same. The Georgia runoff would be Jan. 6, 2015, three days after the 114th Congress is scheduled to open. Vote-counting in some states, like Alaska, will take days, and other races are close enough to trigger a recount.
Generally speaking, candidates who have leads of three points or more in polling averages are in solid shape to win, but in this election five states—Republican-held Georgia and Kansas, and Democratic-held Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina—feature a Senate race where both of the two major polling averages (RealClearPolitics and HuffPost Pollster) show the leading candidate with an edge of smaller than three points.
What makes the Democrats’ situation so precarious is that Republicans have polling leads of more than three points in five other states, all of which are currently held by Democrats: Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Two others, Democratic-held Alaska and Colorado, show Republicans leading in both averages, but by more than three points in just one. (These averages are as of the afternoon of Oct. 29.)