Odds Of GOP Senate Takeover Less Likely After Delaware Primary

Christine O'Donnell's victory in Delaware Tuesday has made it less likely that the GOP will be able to take control of the Senate, but they still have an excellent shot of making substantial gains that will transform Congress's Upper House.

Nate Silver runs the numbers again and finds, not surprisingly, that Christine O’Donnell’s victory in Delaware makes a GOP takeover of the Senate much less likely:

Republicans, who are modest favorites to take over the House from Democrats, still have a chance to do the same in the United States Senate. But their odds have dropped significantly: from a 26 percent chance last week to 15 percent today, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecasting model.

The main reason for the decline is the outcome of Tuesday’s Republican primary in Delaware, in which the insurgent candidate, Christine O’Donnell, defeated Michael N. Castle. Two recent polls, including one completed after the primary, show her trailing her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, by margins of 11 percent and 16 percent.

Although Ms. O’Donnell and Mr. Coons remain relatively unknown to some Delaware voters, and a comeback by Ms. O’Donnell is not impossible, the forecasting model gives it only a 6 percent likelihood of happening — and has established Mr. Coons, therefore, as a 94 percent favorite. Had Republican voters selected Mr. Castle instead, the numbers would be exactly the opposite: Mr. Castle would be the 94 percent favorite to win the seat, leaving Mr. Coons with just a 6 percent chance of an upset.

With Delaware seemingly out of the picture, the GOP would need to essentially run the table on all the remaining competitive Democratic seats. As Silver notes, though, that may not be so easy. Take, for example, Connecticut, which has appeared to narrow recently, and which Charlie Cook recently moved into the “Toss Up” category:

Another opportunity that Republicans may be considering is Connecticut, where two recent polls of likely voters give the Democrat, Richard Blumenthal, a lead of 6 and 9 points, respectively. Here, the model is more skeptical of their chances: although a lead like Mr. Blumenthal’s is surmountable under most circumstances, the new polls, from Quinnipiac and Rasmussen Reports, show there are almost no undecided voters in the race (and have Mr. Blumenthal polling above 50 percent). This is perhaps to be expected, since Mr. Blumenthal, the state’s Attorney General, and his opponent, Linda McMahon, are familiar figures to voters, with Mr. Blumenthal keeping a high profile and Ms. McMahon having put millions of dollars of her own money into advertisements.

While the race in Connecticut has tightened considerably since the spring, there is no evidence that it is doing so further, and with the supply of undecided voters nearly exhausted, Ms. McMahon may be unable to make up much further ground. Although the forecast model’s call — it makes Mr. Blumenthal a 98 percent favorite — is too assertive for my tastes, and although the race is certainly close, its outcome is perhaps not all that uncertain.

So, the likelihood of the GOP taking both Houses of Congress, which seemed to be the way this race was trending a couple weeks ago, now appears less likely. Even so, Republicans stand to make substantial gains. In Kentucky, Rand Paul seems to once again be opening a large lead over Jack Conway. In Ohio, Rob Portman has a substantial lead over his Democratic opponent. A new Rasmussen Poll shows Ron Johnson opening up a lead over Senator Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, possibly ending the long statistical tie in that race. Roy Blunt seems to be well-positioned to pick up Evan Bayh’s seat in Missouri. Ron Kirk remains tied with Alexi Giannoulias in Illinois in a race that will likely come down to which candidate the voters hate less. According to some polls, Carly Fiornia seems to be closing on Barbara Boxer in California. And, in West Virginia, developer John Raese has surprisingly closed the gap with Governor Joe Manchin.

Even if the Republicans don’t win control of the Senate, they stand a very good chance of coming very close. And a Senate that is 53-47, to pick one outcome, would be far different from won that 59-41.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    I don’t know if it’s just because OTB has tipped over to be a nest of progressive types, but the vibe I’ve been getting here for the last few days is that the Tea Party and Republicans are about out of gas.
     
    I’m not hearing strong, rational, believers.

  2. If you’re looking for mind numbed “believers” who will spend the next 46 days talking about how great the GOP is going to do on Election Day, I’m not sure that ever existed around here.

    It’s called looking at the tea leaves and trying to figure out what they say. It’s political analysis, not cheerleading.

    As I said to someone else in a comment thread yesterday, I am not a partisan cheerleader.

    Nor, for the record, am I a progressive

  3. Michael says:

    OTB is a liberal site…why don’t you come clean Doug? Why the pretense? Typical liberal dishonesty?

  4. john personna says:

    I was hanging around here in 2004, I think.  I remember more reasoned “why we need a Republican” arguments.  I’m seeing that less now.  Maybe right-of-center types here have been depowered by the Palin generation.
     
    Doesn’t it seem that with McDonnell the Tea Party has jumped the shark?

  5. Michael,

    Why do you feel the need to label everything you disagree with as the enemy ?

    For the record, I hope the GOP makes substantial gains in November if only because I hope it will bring about the gridlock that is the only thing that keeps the general populace safe from the rapacious actions of the state. I have no faith that they will actually follow through with their promises of reducing the size of government, but. hell, if they surprise me I’ll be the first to admit.

    The GOP has burned me twice already, I’m not prepared to be fooled again

  6. john personna says:

    I’m sorry Doug, but “gridlock” is only a good policy when you’ve got a generally balanced budget.
     
    When you have spending out of balance with tax receipts deadlock deepens the disaster.  I mean look at my home state of California.  It’s got plenty of “gridlock.”  That doesn’t really make conservatives here happy.
     
    (Also of course it is telling that “gridlock” is the best you can name.  It is the best face that can be put on “we have no plan.)

  7. Since both parties are responsible for our unbalanced budget, fiscal irresponsibility, and out of control spending, I really don’t see that handing complete power over to one or the other is really going to solve anything.

    When I hear people protest ObamaCare by saying they oppose government run health care and don’t want anyone cutting their Medicare, I have serious doubts that this “Tea Party” movement is really serious about anything.

  8. Doesn’t it seem that with McDonnell the Tea Party has jumped the shark?

    You want to see shark jumping, my friend, wait until 2012 heats up. Especially if Sarahcuda runs

  9. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    In the end, it doesn’t matter if the Republicans win the Senate or not. What matters is that Congress as a whole begins to listen to the American people rather than concern themselves with a political football game of which party has the most seats.

    With a Tennessee Democratic Congressman now calling for Pelosi to step down from the Speaker position, I think the Tea Party is making this message loud and clear.

  10. sam says:

    “With a Tennessee Democratic Congressman now calling for Pelosi to step down from the Speaker position, I think the Tea Party is making this message loud and clear.”
     
    Right. As Tennessee goes, so goes Kentucky. Big deal.

  11. john personna says:

    Well, it would be nice to find someone with a plan.  For all the snipes against it, this is the most real of the things I’ve seen:
     
    http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/
     
    It’s sad actually.  What if you threw a bipartisan deficit reduction commission, and no one came?

  12. anjin-san says:

    > OTB is a liberal site

    The Kenyan, Marxist influence is everywhere…

  13. Steve Plunk says:

    Prognosticationville.  That’s what it has become around here, everyone predicting the future of things they know little about.  While the Tea Party grows in size and power I hear talk of them jumping the shark.  Why?  Because they backed a candidate in the primary who represented their views but was less likely to win in the general election.  I’d wait before pronouncing the end of the Tea Party movement.
     
    I keep hearing about the lack of a plan and understand why that might be an issue.  The thing is when your boat has a large hole and is sinking you yell ‘fix the damn hole’ not ‘what’s your plan for fixing that hole?’.  The Tea Party sees record spending, record debt, and a Democratic party who won’t even recognize there is a hole let alone think about fixing it.  Peggy Noonan does a much better explanation in today’s WSJ of why the Tea Party has materialized and why it’s a good thing.
     
    I think the Democrats have jumped the shark.  Progressive ideas and the spending it takes to advance them has passed it’s time.

  14. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Ignore the Tea Party at your own peril.  Castle got phone calls from Obama and Biden the night he lost the election.  One has to wonder what promises were made to the Democratic leadership by a GOP candidate.  Coons is a self disclosed Marxist.  If that is what the people of Delaware want and are fooled into thinking O’Donnell is to radical to hold a senate seat.  What is a F ing Marxist?  Bearded at that.  I think I would wait until the polls close on November 2nd before I made any predictions about who holds on to the Senate and who loses.  There were about 40,000 tea partiers at the event in Sacramento.  The Sacto Bee said over 5,000.  Way over that.  You are about to see something unique in American history.  The American people have had enough progressivism.  We want smaller government, less spending and lower taxes all around.  We will have our way.

  15. Brummagem Joe says:

    “For the record, I hope the GOP makes substantial gains in November if only because I hope it will bring about the gridlock that is the only thing that keeps the general populace safe from the rapacious actions of the state. ”

    I see, we’re emerging from the worst recession since the thirties, engaged in two wars (our people are dying every month) we’re facing a major economic challenge from China; and Doug’s recipe is 18th century style Polish sclerosis. Or what some would call nihilism which is essentially what lies at the heart of “libertarianism”

    “f you’re looking for mind numbed “believers” who will spend the next 46 days talking about how great the GOP is going to do on Election Day, I’m not sure that ever existed around here.”

    You jest Doug.

  16. Tano says:

    When I hear people protest ObamaCare by saying they oppose government run health care and don’t want anyone cutting their Medicare, I have serious doubts that this “Tea Party” movement is really serious about anything.
     

    The Tea Party is simply the latest manifestation of the reactionary wing of American politics. These are the people who always lag behind, fearful and resistant to change. Rather than standing athwart history and yelling “stop!”, they dig in their heels, and tug from behind, trying to halt our nation’s progress. They always lose, because that is the way of the world. And then they make their peace with the new order, and end up becoming its strongest defenders, once the next round of progress begins.
     
    These are the descendants of those who bitterly, fiercely opposed the New Deal – but eventually came to accept it. Before that they opposed giving the franchise to women, and afterwords they opposed civil rights, but now have accepted both. Medicare was the latest communist plot,. but now you better leave it alone!. So too will it be with Obamacare.
     
    Ronald Reagan is a good figure to look at to understand this type of attitude. He was young enough and of the right age to fully embrace the New Deal at the time. All his life he claimed to be a New Dealer – he was never hostile to the New Deal like some of today’s wingers. But we also have probably all seen those clips from the fifties and sixties when he went full bore with the “medicare is communism” line. He also, of course, was against the civil rights movement, and hostile to women’s movement. But he came to peace with all of that eventually – even appointing the first woman to the SC.
     
    One can argue that every society needs its sea anchor to be deployed – to slow the rate of progress somewhat so that people can adapt to the changes and feel secure. So maybe it is all necessary, even if it is so irrational, just so long as they don’t actually win anything, but rather just keep the rate of change manageable.

  17. john personna says:

    Steve Plunk asks “why?”
     
    When I can defer to Carl Rove for an answer you know the Repubs have a problem.

  18. ponce says:

    “You want to see shark jumping, my friend, wait until 2012 heats up. Especially if Sarahcuda runs”
     
    Oh, come on.  A Sarah Palin run in 2012 could be…wonderful.

  19. An Interested Party says:

    “The thing is when your boat has a large hole and is sinking you yell ‘fix the damn hole’ not ‘what’s your plan for fixing that hole?’.”
    Oh please…endorsing cutting taxes even more and not mentioning specific budget cuts (earmarks and pork are not major, significant parts of the budget), it’s more like them yelling, “Put us in charge and we’ll make a larger hole!”

  20. wr says:

    Zels — If Biden called Castle the night of the election, maybe it’s because they’ve both been involved in the politics of a small state for several decades and have known each other a long time. And maybe it’s because even though they come from different parties and have different ideologies, they didn’t consider that a mark of evil in the other person, and they were courteous, or perhaps even friendly, to each other.

    The fact that you find this shameful only reflects badly on you.

  21. sam says:

    @Zels

    The American people have had enough progressivism. We want smaller government, less spending and lower taxes all around.
     

    Do your bit, and stop taking unemployment.

  22. wr says:

    Actually, I’m one of the American people, and I want more effective government, even if that means enlarging it, spending that’s adequate to the job at hand, even if that means raising it, and much higher taxes on the ultra-rich so that we can reverse the current trend towards feudalism. I realize, Zels, that you want something else, but neither you nor I defines the “American people.”

  23. john personna says:

    Barry Ritholtz, after discussing matters financial, declares himself of neither party:
     
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/09/democrat-or-republican/
     
    We need enough such declarations to get the two parties back on focus.

  24. mantis says:

    Why do you feel the need to label everything you disagree with as the enemy ?
     
    That’s what the rightwing does, first, foremost, and always.  The question is, why haven’t you figured that out yet?

  25. Herb says:

    Nice link, JP.

  26. LJ says:

    I think you mean Coats picks up the Bayh seat in Indiana and Roy Blunt will keep Kit Bond’s seat in Missouri.

  27. john personna says: