Nate Silver: GOP Could Take Senate

Suddenly, it looks like a coin flip

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 15, 2013 1:56 PM CDT

(Newser) – Harry Reid might want to think carefully before revising the filibuster rules—because there's a decent chance he'll soon be on the other end of them. Nate Silver at the New York Times has crunched the race-by-race numbers, and based on them and his own best guesses and assumptions, concluded that "Republicans might now be close to even-money to win control of the chamber," even though they'll have to win more seats to do it this year (net six) than they needed in 2012.

Some key races include:

  • South Dakota and West Virginia: Democrats are retiring in both these states, the GOP has strong contenders, and the electorate leans red already.
  • North Carolina: Republicans still don't have a good candidate here, but given how poorly incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan is polling, they need only a halfway decent one.
  • Arkansas: Democrat Mark Pryor's poll numbers took a dip recently, and given how badly Blanche Lincoln lost her seat here, he can't be feeling safe.
  • Montana: Barry Schweitzer's decision not to run is a huge boon for Republicans who now have the most qualified potential candidate in former Gov. Marc Racicot, in a state that already leans red.
  • Alaska "is the closest thing to a tipping point state," representing Republicans' best bet to go from 50 seats to 51—assuming they win all of the above, plus tossup Louisiana—but incumbent Democrat Mark Begich is polling pretty well right now. (Will a familiar name be in the mix?)
That doesn't mean things will be easy for Republicans, who'll also have to hold the line in states Democrats are targeting like Kentucky, Georgia, and Maine. And Silver warns that just because it looks close now doesn't mean the outcome will be close. "One party has won the vast majority of tossup races in each of the past four election cycles," he points out, so keep an eye on "macro-level indicators" like President Obama's approval rating. For his full analysis, click here.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. gestures as he speaks with reporters on Capitol, July 9, 2013.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. gestures as he speaks with reporters on Capitol, July 9, 2013.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Graphic shows map of U.S. showing the margin of victory for each state in the presidential election, with electoral vote totals
Graphic shows map of U.S. showing the margin of victory for each state in the presidential election, with electoral vote totals   (Associated Press)
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