Two prominent election forecasting models now paint the race for the Senate majority as the purest of toss ups, a clear shift in Republicans’ direction in recent months.
The FiveThirtyEight model finds that Republicans end up in the Senate majority in 52 out of 100 midterm election simulations, while the Economist’s model shows Republicans taking Senate control in 51 out of 100 simulations.
Both of those models suggest clear momentum for the GOP with Election Day now less than a week away. Less than two months ago, the FiveThirtyEight model showed Democrats retaining their majority in 70 out of 100 simulations, while the Economist had them winning in 78 out of 100.
More on key Senate races
Before we go any further, it’s worth noting how these models work. They take into account polling, demographic, fundraising and historical data to produce a prediction of what will happen in the election. Their forecasts are built on probable outcomes and their predictive power depends on how good the underlying data are. So, in short, take them with a grain of salt.
Back in September, the models suggested that Democrats should be regarded as slight favorite to keep their slim majority. The models now make clear that that advantage has disappeared.
A look at the state of the races – in particular the three closest contests – bears that out.
* Pennsylvania: Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz has clearly made up ground on Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, thanks in large part to the Republican base (finally) coalescing around him. It’s not yet clear whether Fetterman’s poor debate showing – he had a stroke in May and continues to suffer some auditory processing issues – will impact the final outcome.
* Georgia: Despite facing a series of allegations from women who say he pushed for them to have abortions, Republican Herschel Walker remains very much in his race against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. If neither candidate reaches the 50% threshold next Tuesday, as appears likely, Walker and Warnock will advance to a December 6 runoff.
* Nevada: Inflation and high gas prices have hit the state hard – and it’s made Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s path to a second term much harder. Republicans also got their top recruit, former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who avoided a bruising primary. Polls suggest the race is a dead heat.
A fourth race – Arizona – has also tightened of late. Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly still leads GOP nominee Blake Masters, but thanks to an influx of outside spending led by a super PAC affiliated with former President Donald Trump, Masters appears to be making up some ground.
Even as those races have moved – albeit marginally – toward Republicans, several other races in GOP-held seats have seen Republicans pull into narrow but appreciable leads.
The most surprising of those is in Wisconsin where GOP Sen. Ron Johnson was clearly trailing Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes earlier this summer. But a concerted and well-financed attacks on crime have clearly moved the race in Johnson’s favor.
In Ohio and North Carolina, Democratic candidates have run creditable campaigns, but are running up against the Republican lean of the states and the national environment, which is clearly in the GOP’s favor at the moment.
One state to keep an eye on is New Hampshire. When retired Army brigadier general Don Bolduc won the GOP nomination – thanks, at least in part, to his election denialism – the expectation was that he would come up short against Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. The super PAC affiliated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell even pulled out their seven-figure investment in the state. But the National Republican Senatorial Committee has jumped back in the state as some polls have shown the race tightening.
The outcome of the fight for the Senate majority remains too close to call. But, it’s clear that Republicans have the momentum in the closing days of the campaign.