Monday, August 2, 2010

Latest 2010 Projections and My Unofficial Advance Guide

2010: No GOP Senate Control Yet
As the candidate fields are largely set in the Senate races, we've seen the polls somewhat stabilize, so only a few rating changes to report from the past month of polling. Here they are:
Nevada -- a major change here, as for the first time since I started tracking the races back in November 2009, this state is not projected a Republican pick-up. The race moves from Lean GOP Pick-Up to Toss-Up as Sharron Angle's somewhat unorthodox views and poorly run campaign cost the GOP ground. Last two polls have Reid at +1% and +2% respectively.

Wisconsin -- apparently Russ Feingold is not as beloved in Wisconsin as I once thought. The seemingly safe, then very much at risk (when Tommy Thompson appeared to be running), to safe again Senator is once again at risk. This race moves from a Lean Democratic Hold to a Toss-Up and could move further right with more polling. Last two polls have Feingold at even and -6% respectively.

New Hampshire -- the race for retiring Sen. Judd Gregg's seat tightens up a little as Ayotte is only up +3%, +8% and +12% in the last 3 polls. The race moves from a Likely GOP Hold to a Lean GOP Hold.

Lots of other new polls that don't facilitate rating changes:
Pennsylvania -- even and Toomey +6% in last two polls. Stays Lean GOP Pick-Up.
California -- Boxer +5%, +7% in last two polls. Stays Lean DEM Hold.
Washington -- Murray +2% in one new poll. Stays Lean DEM Hold.
Delaware -- Castle +11% in one new poll. A marked decline in lead but not enough on its own to move from a Likely GOP Pick-Up.
Indiana -- Coats +21% in one new poll. Stays a Likely GOP Pick-Up.
Oregon -- Wyden +16%, +18% in two new polls. Stays a Likely DEM Hold.
Connecticut -- Blumenthal appears to have stabilized from the damage he suffered from his false war vet stories. He is +13%, +17% in two new polls. Stays a Likely DEM Hold.
New York (Gillebrand) -- Gillebrand +22% in one new poll. Stays a Likely DEM Hold.
West Virginia -- Gov. Manchin is at +16% in one new poll. Stays a Likely DEM Hold.
Arkansas -- Boozman +19% to 25% in four new polls. Stays a Safe GOP Pick-Up.
Illinois -- Gianoullis +2% in one new poll. This remains a Toss-Up and continues to be the most competitive race of the year.
Missouri -- Blunt +6% in two new polls. Stays a Lean GOP Hold.
Kentucky -- Paul +3%, +3%, +8% in three polls. Stays a Lean GOP Hold.
Florida -- Crist is +6%, +7%, -2% in three new polls. Stays a Lean Independent Pick-Up for now, but it is getting close to a toss-up with Republican Rubio (Democrat Meeks continues to trail badly.)
North Carolina -- Burr +10%, +15% in two new polls. Stays a Likely GOP Hold.

All of which leaves us with:
Projected Democratic Holds (10)
Safe Holds (4)
Hawaii, New York (Schumer), Maryland, Vermont

Likely Holds (4)
Oregon, Connecticut, West Virginia, New York (Gillebrand)

Lean Holds (2)
California, Washington

Potential Democratic Pick-Ups (1)
Toss-Up - GOP Controlled (1)

Potential GOP Pick-Ups (9)
Safe Pick-Ups (2)
Arkansas, North Dakota

Likely Pick-Ups (2)
Delaware, Indiana

Lean Pick-Ups (2)
Colorado, Pennsylvania

Toss-Up - DEM Controlled (3)
Nevada, Wisconsin, Illinois

Projected GOP Holds (16)
Safe Holds (9)
Kansas, Louisiana, Iowa, South Dakota, Alabama, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah

Likely Holds (4)
Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, Alaska

Lean Holds (3)
Missouri, Kentucky, New Hampshire

Potential Independent Pick-Ups (1)
Lean IND Pick-Up (1)

Projected Senate: 48-52 Democrats, 45-49 Republicans, 3 Independents
Central Projection: 50 Democrats, 47 Republicans, 3 Independents

My Guide to the 5 Most Interesting Races to Watch:
1. Illinois -- the race for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat is likely to be among the closest in the country and a bellweather of election night. If the DEMs win it, we are probably looking at modest losses of 6 or so Senate seats..if they lose that one it could be a close Senate.
2. Ohio -- the DEMs best chance for an actually pick-up in a classic large swing state that Obama won handily in 2008.
3. Florida -- Marco Rubio's epic battle with Charlie Crist is sure to entertain. A Crist victory could make him a kingmaker in a closely divided Senate and would be a win for moderates. A Rubio win would make him the biggest star in the GOP and immediately start talk of Presidential ambitions (probably not in 2012, although you never know, but certainly a contender in 2016.)
4. Washington -- the so called "51st Senate Seat", this is likely the one the GOP needs to win to regain control of the Senate, this erstwhile blue state could be the decider of Senate control for the next two years.
5. Kentucky -- is even dark red Kentucky ready for Rand Paul's brand of extreme libertarianism? We shall see.

In the House,

The GOP is WAY up in the generic ballot question, with our average of averages now at GOP +5.8%. This leads to:

My Projection: Republicans 228, Democrats 207
Realclearpolitics Projection (evenly splitting toss-ups): Democrats 218, Republicans 217
The Cook Political Report (evenly splitting toss-ups): Democrats 238, Republicans 197

Clearly either the race-by-race dynamics are a lot different on the ground or individual race analysis hasn't caught up to the national polls as we haven't seen this kind of divergence between the national generic ballot polls that I use and the race-by-race analysis that other sites use until now.

Either way, here are the races to watch:
(1) Louisiana's 2nd -- the most liberal district that elected a Republican in 2008 at Democrat +25%, Joseph Cao is the second most at-risk Republican in the House (the Hawaii special election silliness, sure to be reversed in November, doesn't really bear watching.) This might be the only 2008 GOP seat that the DEMs pick-up in 2010.

(2) Washington's 3rd -- a dead neutral district (it mirrors national voting patterns with neither party favored), it is also an open seat. Well worth attention as a national bellweather.

(3) Texas' 17th -- Chet Edwards is a Democrat in a very conservative (Republican +20%) district, precisely the kind of seat that has the GOP licking its chops.

(4) Ohio's 15th -- Mary Jo Kilroy won one of the closest races of 2008 in the Democratic sweep. She's under fire this time around.

(5) Arizona's 8th -- this race is somewhere around the seat that the GOP would need to take to regain control, both in terms of closeness in 2008 and in terms of early polling this time around. Gabrielle Giffords is at risk in this swing district (Republican +1%)

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