Republicans Losing the Senate?
Qorvis Communications managing director Bill Cullo thinks the numbers right now are very bad for Republicans in their bid to hold onto the Senate. He notes that the Democrats need to increase their number of seats by 5 to achieve a 50-50 tie (although that would be just as good as a win for the GOP, with VP Cheney breaking the tie) and 6 to regain control.
He points to several key races where the Republican incumbent is polling under 50% less than 90 days out from the election: Burns in Montana,Talent in Missouri, DeWine in Ohio, Santorum in Pennsylvania, and Chafee in Rhode Island. The Burns and Chafee races are statistical dead heats but the incumbents are at 42% and 37%, respectively. Meanwhile, the Democrats appear likely to hold on to the open Dayton seat. Ditto Republicans and the open Frist seat.
These numbers don’t look good for the GOP. On the other hand, if they keep only one of those seats, they’d retain control of the Senate. That appears likely in my view, with Burns in a tie after having trailed 7 points a month ago. Even Santorum is closing the gap, although I doubt he’ll win.
A side note: Cullo is posting on the Crosstabs blog, a new venture sponsored by RedState. They’ve brought together a group of six professional Republican pollsters to analyze survey research and explain it to a public audience. Among them is Rob Autry, a friend and a colleague of my wife’s at Public Opinion Strategies. It should be an interesting contribution to the blog landscape.
Update (Steve Verdon): Just thought I’d point out this isn’t really good news for the Democrats. Suppose that the probability of Republicans holding onto each one of the six seats in question is 0.4 (or 40%). To win control the Democrats have to win all six seats, or conversely the Republicans have to loose all 6. Using Excel’s handy-dandy binomial distribution function the probability of this happening is about 4.67%. Even if we lower the probability of a Republican win in each of these elections to 10% the chances of the Democrats retaking control is still only 53%.