With only 15 days to go until the election, we’re going to be upping the frequency of our forecast updates somewhat.
Today, we’ve rerun the numbers for the Senate, and they show little change in the overall likelihood of a Republican takeover. The model gives Republicans a 17 percent chance of winding up with at least 51 Senators after Nov. 2. That’s essentially unchanged from our previous update, from last Wednesday, when they were given an 18 percent chance.
There is modest movement in some individual races, however. Democratic chances are somewhat improved in West Virginia, where a new poll from Orion Strategies gives Gov. Joe Manchin III a 10-point lead over his Republican opponent, John Raese. Because West Virginia had been fairly heavily polled, however, and because the survey was issued by an unfamiliar pollster and had a small sample size, it does not have all that much influence in the outcome. Mr. Manchin’s chances are improved to 62 percent, from 57 percent last week.
Three additional polls are out in Washington State since our last update, and all of them show the Democratic incumbent, Patty Murray, with a small lead; her winning chances are improved to 84 percent from 78 percent. While her Republican opponent, Dino Rossi, is far from out of the running, and while the polling has been inconsistent, the only nonpartisan polls since August to show Mr. Rossi with a lead are a series of polls from Rasmussen Reports — and their most recent survey now shows Ms. Murray with a lead.
Polling suggests the race may have tightened some, however, in California, where a new survey by Ipsos shows the Republican Carly Fiorina trailing Barbara Boxer, the Democratic incumbent, by a single point. Although no polling has shown Ms. Fiorina in the lead for some time, her chances are up to 18 percent from 14 percent, according to the model — meaning that the race may be no worse a bet for Republicans than Washington State would be.
Republicans will most likely need to win two out of these three states — California, Washington and West Virginia — to take control of the Senate; the model remains largely unpersuaded about their chances in states like Delaware and Connecticut.
They will also need to win a number of other close states, like Illinois, Nevada and Colorado. As of today, they are slight favorites in all three, with Sharron Angle’s odds having improved slightly in Nevada since the last update, but Ken Buck’s having deteriorated some in Colorado, which is moving closer to being a genuine tossup.
Other states that theoretically remain on the Democrats’ radar, like Pennsylvania and Kentucky, have seen a dearth of public polling of late, but the Republicans remain solid favorites in each on the basis of the available information.