Friday, October 22, 2010

Photo Finish in the Senate But Not In The House, NPR's Foolish Decision

It's going to be a crazy finish to a campaign season that has a mere 11 days left in it:

So, at the moment, the projection is an evenly split Senate, with 50 votes caucusing with the Dems and 50 with the GOP, which, given that Joe Biden is constitutionally the President of the Senate, makes for the slimmest of Democratic majorities.

But let's look at how many close races there are:
Let's first grant as a given that any race that has a 20%+ spread at this point is completely out of reach for the other party. Let's also grant that races that have 10-20% spreads are extremely unlikely to shift.

This leaves us 11 races that are within 10 points.
A Democratic sweep of all of those races yields a 1 seat loss for the Dems and a 1 seat Independent pick-up, with a continuation of a 56/41/3 Senate, with a 58-42 working majority for the Dems. Pretty unlikely, it would seem, but not impossible.
A Republican sweep of all of those races yields an 11 seat gain for the GOP or a 52/46/2 GOP majority. Not as unlikely, as you'll see below.

Let's say you think the 5%+ races are out of reach and let's just look at the races that are very close to toss-ups:
A Democratic sweep of those races yields a net gain of 2 for the GOP and a gain of 1 Independent and therefore a 54/43/3 Senate with a 56-44 working majority for the Dems.
A GOP sweep of those races yields a net gain of 11 seats or the same 52/46/2 GOP majority (52-48 working majority) as the 10 point scenario (since there are no races where the Dem is favored by between 5 and 10 points)

So, at this point, I think the likely range of possibilities is that the Democrats will control between 48 and 56 working seats after November, a very large range for so close to the election because of the broad number of races that are exceptionally close.

My Current Projection: 48 D/50 R/2 I (50+D/50R)
realclearpolitics (no toss-ups): 49 D/49 R/2 I (51D/49R)
electoral-vote: 48 D/49 R/ 2 I / 1 Toss-Up (50-51D/49-50R)
electionprojection: 49 D / 49 R / 2 I (51D/49R)

So, all close, but all projecting a Democratic-controlled Senate at this point.

In the House, my current generic polling average of averages has GOP at +8.5%. The range of my averaging methods puts the GOP lead at between 7.4% and 9.0%.

My current projection: 234 Republicans, 201 Democrats
realclearpolitics (splitting toss-ups): 236 Republicans, 199 Democrats
electoral-vote (splitting toss-ups): 218 Republicans, 217 Democrats
electionprojection: 234 Republicans, 201 Democrats

It has always been my theory that generic polling gives a far better view of the macro shift in the House than trying to cobble together the few and far-between polls in individual congressional districts. We'll see if that ultimately proves true, but it is interesting to note how close my projection is to sites that are doing that detailed analysis. Electoral Vote appears to be a Democratic dream scenario. I don't see how they can hold the House, barring a big move in the next week. There is one outlier Newsweek poll that actually shows them with a 3 point lead, but unless it is supported by some other polls, it is just that, an outlier.

Juan Williams Fired for Saying What Many Are Thinking
In case you haven't actually seen the quote that got Juan Williams fired from NPR (from an interview with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News):
"I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot, you know, the kind of books I've written about the Civil Rights Movement and this country. But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Let me state the obvious: that it is not right to assume that someone is a terrorist because they dress in Muslim garb. Let me also state what should be another blindingly obvious fact: if you have flown in the past decade and been on a plane with a group of people who were obviously Muslim, you more than likely got at least a little bit nervous. It isn't logical (the overwhelming majority of Muslims aren't terrorists) and it isn't fair (those Muslims didn't do anything to be branded terrorists), but it's also basic human nature. We should fight that nature and not let those feelings influence our actions. But is admitting to those feelings and talking about them really a fireable offense for a network that claims to want to spawn intelligent political dialogue?

NPR has ever right to fire Juan Williams...heck, journalists have been fired for a lot worse reasons than this. But SHOULD they have? Absolutely not.

How can we ever overcome Eric Holder's statement about being "basically, a nation of cowards" on race if we can't even have a dialogue? Holder's words ring more and more true every time I think about them. What a shame that we are a country that doesn't talk about tough issues.

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