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Woody's 2006 Senate Forecast: September Edition

Many pundits, such as Michael Barone, are under the impression that the Republicans got a big boost last month from the allegedly synergistic combination of the Lamont victory and the London terror arrests. These people are either ignoring the polls or only picking the ones they like. In fact, things are looking better for Senate Democrats than ever.

Predicted Breakdown: 51 R, 49 D.

Optimistic Breakdown: 52 D, 48 R.

Predicted Democratic Takeovers

Note: Some links go to a Wikipedia page. The polls are near the bottom of the page.

PA – The polls have tightened up a bit, going from a Casey (D) lead in the low-double digits to a lead in the high single digits. Which is to say, Rick Santorum is still screwed. Pay no attention to the right-wing bloggers who say that Santorum has it in the bag. They aren’t drinking the Kool-Aid; they’re snorting it in powder form.

I was puzzled and disappointed to learn that the Greens were running a candidate. I mean, Rick Santorum is a pretty scary-assed conservative, right? What I did not know is that the Democratic candidate, Robert Casey, Jr., is pretty conservative himself. So I am less ticked than I would be on general principle.

Oddly enough, there is some evidence that the Green candidate could actually take votes away from Santorum. Riddle me this: What kind of person would be undecided between a Green candidate and Rick Santorum? Someone afraid of deranged sodomites ravishing endangered animals? They think all that hot gay sex will cause global warming?

OH – Democrat Sherwood Brown has maintained a small, but consistent, lead for a couple of months now. Considering the strong anti-GOP climate in Ohio these days, we can safely put this one in the D column.

RI – On September 12th, Rhode Island Republicans may follow their Democratic counterparts in Connecticut and reject Lincoln Chafee in favor of conservative Steve Laffey. Unlike in Connecticut, however, it could cost the GOP a Senate seat. Polls indicate that Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse would beat Steve Laffey handily.

I see him beating Chafee, too, however. For one thing, Whitehouse leads in most of the polls. For another, Chafee is a true DINO who backs the Dems on almost every crucial vote. Are Republicans going to miss Survivor for this guy?

MT (yes, Montana) – I was skeptical at first, but every poll since May has shown this race as a tie or lead for Democrat John Tester. Moreover, incumbent Conrad Burns has proved himself to be a complete ass. Whether he is chewing out firefighters, nodding off in Congress, or joking about the Gautemalan man painting his house who wouldn’t show his green card, Sen. Burns has a real knack for finding the wrong thing to say or do. Then there is a certain gentleman you may have heard of named Jack Abramoff…

A note on the corruption issue: Most commentators agree that the Democrats have failed to turn corruption into a national issue. This does NOT mean, however, that corruption will not change the outcome of the election. If the Democrats end up with a one seat majority, they can credit the corruption issue for making the difference in Montana.

An oddity: Zogby/WSJ have added the basically nonpartisan Connecticut race to their polls, but continue to ignore Rhode Island and Montana. Their predicted party breakdown assumes that these seats will stay Republican. This would seem to border on professional malfeasance for a pollster like Zogby; he is putting his stamp on a deeply flawed project. The Wall Street Journal is obviously pretty pro-GOP, but how does it help the GOP to keep their readers in the dark about these potential losses? Not that I’m complaining…

Possible Democratic Takeovers

MO – Last month I had this listed as a predicted takeover, but polls have wiggled in favor of Jim Talent lately.

VA – Macaca, macaca, macaca. Believe it or not, George Allen’s boobery may prove more consequential than the London terror bust. Zogby/WSJ showed Allen 11% ahead of Democrat Jim Webb in July, and now shows Webb 1% ahead. (This poll was taken well after London.) Other recent polls also show a tight race.

NV – For reasons unknown to me, Jimmy Carter’s son Jack appears to be gaining on Republican John Ensign. Zogby/WSJ shows Ensign with a 3% lead.

Possible Republican Takeover

NJ – For someone rooting for the Democrats, this race has been distressingly interesting. Democratic incumbent Robert Menendez clings to a 2-5% lead. Lord, why must you torture me? I haven't ravished a spotted owl in years.

Summary

I predict Democratic takeovers in at least four states, maybe Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Montana. One can easily imagine a much larger victory, however. Throw in Missouri, Virginia, and Nevada, and the Democrats pick up seven seats. I’m not saying this will happen, but there’s no reason it couldn’t.

Posted by Woody Mena at September 1, 2006 7:20 AM
Comments
Comment #178713

This is a good analysis, Woody. Until recently I had dismissed the pundits who talked about significant Democratic pick-ups this Fall.

My main reason for having believed this was that, while a great many undecideds are fed-up with Republicans, they’ll make an exception for the Republican on their own ballot. In their minds, its the rest of the Republican party that’s jerks.

But I believe that is no longer the case. Issues like the war are coming back to haunt Republicans when they actually have to explain themselves to the voters. Of course, Karl Rove hasn’t pulled out his bag of dirty tricks much yet. It won’t be long before we start hearing about TV ads linking Democrats to UBL and Saddam.

Posted by: Steve K at September 1, 2006 8:19 AM
Comment #178714

Another Democratic pickup I should have mentioned: Tennessee. That could give the Democrats a staggering eight seat pickup. And this would by no means be a miracle. All eight seats are within striking distance on at least one poll.

Here is a link to the Tennessee polls.

Posted by: Woody Mena at September 1, 2006 8:24 AM
Comment #178721

Fascinating development from Salon — The National Republican Senate Committee is now running nasty ads suggesting that Steve Laffey, a conservative Republican, would “put our security at risk”.

On the one hand it seems like a pretty pragmatic move, considering that Linc Chafee would be a stronger general election candidate. But what are they going to do if Laffey wins their nomination?

That would be interesting rhetorical climbdown, “We said that Laffey, OUR candidate, will put our security at risk? That must have been a typo…”

Posted by: Woody Mena at September 1, 2006 9:15 AM
Comment #178737

The PA Green Party Candidate was bought by Santorum and his fellow republican high rollers with the intent to take votes away from Casey.
It is another cheap trick, but oh so devious. Sometimes, I wish we had leadership smart enough to think like repugnicans.. But then I wake up and see what their style of government has done to the country!

Posted by: Barb Brown at September 1, 2006 10:44 AM
Comment #178745

If the Democrats only pick up two or three seats in the Senate, what will be the excuse?

Some of the blogs out there already have the excuses lined up and ready to deliver if it happens:

Voter fraud
Voter intimidation
Voter ID’s
Voter stupidity
Voter fear
Karl Rove chicanery
Barb Brown’s Devious Cheap Trick (see above)

What’s the deal?

Posted by: Discerner at September 1, 2006 11:25 AM
Comment #178747

I’d be careful not to put too much faith in these “polls.”

Posted by: nikkolai at September 1, 2006 11:38 AM
Comment #178753

Nikkolai,

I am puzzled by the superfluous quotes, so I don’t really know how to respond to your “comment”.

offthehook,

I think if you look around my prediction of a four seat pickup is pretty consistent with what other prognosticators are saying. My optimistic prediction is, well, optimistic.

Posted by: Woody Mena at September 1, 2006 12:03 PM
Comment #178754

Oh, and Hannity and Coulter are idiots, so their words have no impact on my either way.

Posted by: Woody Mena at September 1, 2006 12:05 PM
Comment #178761

Polls are often wrong—that’s all I meant. Nothing superflous intended.

Posted by: nikkolai at September 1, 2006 12:29 PM
Comment #178762

Methinks as usual the pontificators on this blog are placing all their hopes and dreams on polling data. As often as not, pre-election polls are off the mark for many reasons. The libs are hanging their hopes on a false premise. In most states, the electorate will not be casting their vote as a signal of their supposed hatred of President George Bush, but rather on the actual issues which include illegal immigration, judicial activism, low taxes, low unemployment and a great ecomony.

Posted by: Jim at September 1, 2006 12:30 PM
Comment #178793

I think you republicans don’t see the skleeping giant that looms over your head. The Democrats are not going to win the midterms. The people that were undecided are now decided and they are tired of Bush and they are tired of people like you who don’t care about people, but just care about yourselves, your $$$$, and saving your bottomlines.

Posted by: yourface at September 1, 2006 2:29 PM
Comment #178815

IF there were not rampant voter fraud, via paperless trail electronic voting machines and voting suppression, there’s no way in hell that the repuglycans could maintain any majority in either legislative house. Those easily hackable machines are now the norm in most states so, barring a gargantuanly overwhelming Democratic turnout, these United States (and the world) are completely screwed. The fix is in, so the polls are meaningless. RIP democracy — it was great while it lasted.

Posted by: Patsy at September 1, 2006 4:33 PM
Comment #178827

Pre-election polls are wrong for the same reason Exit polls are wrong, because the machines are fixed. Until we can prove or prevent this the Republicans will remain in power and win close elections. If we can’t catch them at their game we need to win by indisputable margins.

Posted by: mark at September 1, 2006 5:22 PM
Comment #178830

Mark and Patsy who wrote above about election fraud seem to already be ceding the election to Republicans. A favorite tactic of liberals is to cast unverifiable accusations at their opponent while attempting to appear virtuous and clean. Come on folks…this makes about as much sense as believing in “Big Foot”. Throughout the history of our Republic there has been, and will continue to be, some voting fraud by both sides. I am sure you all remember the joke going around in the Lyndon Johnson election. Not only did the dead rise and vote…they did it in alphabetical order.

Posted by: Jim at September 1, 2006 5:55 PM
Comment #178842

Woody,

Good article.
I see you have your eggs counted. But Don’t start counting your chickens just yet… ;-)

Patsy and Mark,

The fix is in, so the polls are meaningless. RIP democracy

Pre-election polls are wrong for the same reason Exit polls are wrong, because the machines are fixed.

So if the Democrats win, I can expect you both to be here complaining that they won by fraud?
I’m looking forward to that!
Assuming they win, of course…

Posted by: TheTraveler at September 1, 2006 7:25 PM
Comment #178845

I hope Dems take 5-6 seats. A shakeup in the republican party will serve as a wakeup call to the party, throw out the idiots who disgrace it, and with a little luck force the ultraright a little to the center.

Patsy
I have not heard of any claims of voter fraud except on this site, which given its partisan status is not particularly credible on the issue. (Sorry, but its true…) Anyway until someone goes to trial I will assume those who run the election are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. Maybe you will claim it is being covered up, suggest there is a “vast right wing conspiracy.” Give me a break, Patsy, you sound like a liberal version of the John Birch Society.

Posted by: Silima at September 1, 2006 7:38 PM
Comment #178854

TheTravelor

No, If the Dems win it will be because they are on to the Republican Party’s dirty tricks or because they won by such a large margin that the Repubs couldn’t fix the election without completely obvious fraud.

Posted by: mark at September 1, 2006 8:02 PM
Comment #178855

Jim
I agree. there has been voter fraud by both sides in the past. The Chicago Democratic machine under the first Mayor Daley were masters at it. Now, With the new voter machines, the Republicans have taken it to another level and can control just about any election, anywhere.

Posted by: mark at September 1, 2006 8:07 PM
Comment #178856

Silma

If this is the only place you have heard of voter fraud, you have led the most sheltered life of anyone in the USA.

Posted by: mark at September 1, 2006 8:10 PM
Comment #178873

I think Jim has been watching to munch Fox News.Jim you should get out of your trailer more often.

Posted by: thelibertine at September 1, 2006 9:36 PM
Comment #178874

Patsy and Mark,

It’s reasonable to be concerned about blackbox voting, but you almost seem to be telling Democrats not to bother voting because their vote won’t be counted. I’m sure nothing would make Karl Rove happier.

Posted by: Woody Mena at September 1, 2006 9:41 PM
Comment #178877

Woody

Sorry if I implied that, I mean just the opposite. We must vote and win by such large numbers that any Republican “squeaker” wins following pre-election and exit voting polls that showed Dems winning by large margins will be investigated and tossed out by the courts because it will be so obvious that fraud was present.

Posted by: mark at September 1, 2006 10:18 PM
Comment #178897

Nikkolai, Traveler, etc.

Yes, polls are flawed, but they are still the best we have at the moment. I contend they are a lot more valid than people’s seat-of-the-pants intuitions, like the idea that the Lamont victory would convince voters that the extremists have taken over the Democratic party and turn them off. When people get ideas like these, they just ignore any evidence to the contrary.

On the other hand, I am all about evidence. If the polls this month show that the Democrats are in trouble, I will still carefully tabulate them and make my report.

Posted by: Woody Mena at September 2, 2006 7:05 AM
Comment #178899

Woody: You analysis is in agreement with the meta-analysis I’ve done of numerous polls over the past 4 months. Of course, no single poll is especially meaningful. However, meta-analysis of polls (looking at several polls at the same time) and polling trends make for strong predictive validity. Over the past four months, the polls have consistently trended against Republican candidates. Polling over the past 7 days is consistent with the over-all trends.

Regarding the Zogby/WSJ poll… it is based on “old” data (the polling ended 8/21/06). However, it, too, is consistent with the trends.

My analysis suggests your 51/49 breakdown is the more accurate prediction. Of course, a 54/46 is not improbable. This would leave only 6 more seats to claim in 2008 to obtain a filibuster proof majority.

Posted by: Dr. Poshek at September 2, 2006 7:55 AM
Comment #178912

“This would seem to border on professional malfeasance for a pollster like Zogby”

It wouldn’t be the first time a Zogby poll has been questioned. Remember this?

“ZOGBY POLLING FOR CATO INSTITUTE, OTHER CLIENTS, MANIPULATES FINDINGS TO MISREPRESENT PUBLIC OPINION ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY”

http://www.ourfuture.org/issues_and_campaigns/socialsecurity/key_issues/public_opinion/riemer__zogby_cato.cfm

Of course this is somewhat off topic, but one does have to wonder. I live in an area where the Republicans hold a strong 80% majority but the chit-chat around the coffee shops and the senior center indicated that the vast majority were opposed to privating Soc. Sec.

Just one of those things that makes me go “hmmmmm?”

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at September 2, 2006 11:12 AM
Comment #178986

KansasDem,

Great example of how the wording of a poll question regarding an issue can influence the results. Obviously, any fool could tell that the public didn’t want to privatize social security. Congressmen who tried to defend it were getting their assed chewed off by their constituents. Zogby could only make it look good by presenting it as a free lunch.

I hope that they keep pulling the wool over WSJ readers’ eyes in regard to the Senate. They may wake up the day off the election and discover that the Democrats pulled off what their trusted newspaper said was virtually impossible.

Posted by: Woody Mena at September 3, 2006 9:11 AM
Comment #179119

It is difficult for me to see how the Republicans can squeeze credit out of the British Airline liquid bombing conspiracy seeing that the British Muslim Community is responsible for the first tip that led to the Pakistanis providing further information that allowed the British to respond accordingly. How do they twist that to their credit?

The problem with the Democrats( I am one) in the upcoming election is that a significant number will decide that we have won before we really have and will decide thay don’t have to bother to vote and then will wander around for two weeks after the election wondering what is wrong with people for voting for the other guy.

If we get up off the couch and vote we will win.

Posted by: Cliff at September 4, 2006 12:02 AM
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