We have been noting for several weeks that, with Republican chances having dwindled from slim to virtually none in a few East Coast Senate contests like Connecticut, Delaware, and the New York special election, their prospects of the party winning a 51st Senate seat on Nov. 2 instead boiled down to winning either California or Washington (while sweeping the other competitive contests). Today, they have gotten bad news in one of those races.
That is the race in California, where several polls released within the past 24 hours show leads of 4 to 9 points for the Democrat, Barbara Boxer. Trendlines in these polls show little indication that Ms. Boxer’s lead has eroded; instead, it appears to have at least held steady and perhaps expanded by a point or so. As a result, the chances that the Republican, Carly Fiorina, would win are down to 8 percent from 16 percent yesterday. The forecast does not account for the fact that much voting takes place early in California, which can make it especially difficult to make up a late deficit there, although Republicans are pouring as many resources as possible into the state.
There has been little recent polling in Washington, where the model gives Dino Rossi a 15 percent chance of beating Patty Murray. That figure has been little changed over the past week.
Republicans did get good news today in some Senate contests. For instance, Kentucky: there, two new polls show Rand Paul with leads of 7 and 13 points over the Democrat Jack Conway, suggesting that attack advertisements released by Mr. Conway’s campaign may have backfired. Mr. Conway’s upset odds are reduced to just 4 percent from 12 percent.
Meanwhile, in Nevada, Sharron Angle’s chances of defeating Harry Reid are improved to 73 percent from 67 percent on the strength of a Rasmussen Reports survey showing her with a 4-point advantage, and an extremely strong third-quarter fundraising report. (This fundraising data, which we updated today, is a fairly minor component of our Senate model and had little effect on the other forecasts.)
Kentucky, however, was a state that was more relevant to the Democrats’ best-case scenario of holding on to as many as 56 or 57 seats than it was to the Republican one of winning a majority of the chamber. And while the Republicans would surely relish any victory over Mr. Reid in Nevada, Ms. Angle would represent something like their 47th or 48th senator, based on their relative likelihood of taking over the various Democratic-held seats — rather than their 51st.
As a result, Republican chances of winning a majority of the Senate are down to 14 percent in today’s forecast from 16 percent yesterday.