Republicans are widely expected to win back control of the House, but the Senate could go either way. This year’s map is definitely favorable to the Democrats, but as we are now in the final lap of election season, Republicans appear to have the momentum.
Well, RealClearPolitics (RCP) is projecting that Republicans will net two seats in the Senate, giving them a majority in the upper chamber once again.
Republicans winning control of the House would effectively stall much of Joe Biden’s legislative agenda; a 52-48 majority in the Senate would similarly make it much more difficult for Biden to confirm judicial nominees.
In Arizona, RCP projects Republican Blake Masters has a chance to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly. In Pennsylvania, Dr. Mehmet Oz appears poised to ultimately defeat Democrat John Fetterman. However, in Georgia, RCP predicts that Sen. Raphael Warnock will be reelected.
It’s noteworthy that RCP projects Masters and Oz will win despite both of them marginally trailing in the polls. How did they arrive at that conclusion? Well, RCP calculated its projected results by looking back at past polling vs. election results. Assuming polls will similarly be skewed in 2022, RCP adjusted their projections based on unskewed figures.
For example, according to RealClearPolitics, polls in Pennsylvania underestimated GOP support by 5.9 points, and so when they unskew current polls, Oz has a projected lead of 2.2 points. In Arizona, polls similarly underestimated GOP support by 2.2 points, which, when unskewed, still puts Mark Kelly ahead of Blake Masters, but only by 1.9 points. It’s not entirely clear why RealClearPolitics counts this as a GOP pickup — and their confidence in Masters is not shared by the folks at FiveThirtyEight, who give Democrats the edge for winning the Senate.
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According to FiveThirtyEight, Mark Kelly has an 82% chance of winning reelection, while Masters only has an 18% chance of winning. It’s possible that Masters’s recent debate performance against Kelly could help swing that race in the Republican’s favor, though so far we’ve not seen that reflected in the polls — but it’s early.
In Pennsylvania, FiveThirtyEight believes Fetterman has a 73% chance of winning, compared to Oz’s 27%. Oz has demonstrated momentum in the final weeks of the cycle, but it’s tough to say whether it will be enough. He has generally been perceived as a weak candidate and arguably should be doing better than he is against Fetterman. His momentum might have come at just the right time, or it could be too little too late.
While FiveThirtyEight is confident that Kelly and Fetterman will emerge victorious, they list Georgia as a toss-up, with Warnock’s chances of victory at 59%, compared to Walker’s 41%. If they’re right, Democrats will hold the Senate, perhaps even gain a seat.
FiveThirtyEight’s projection currently assumes Democrats will hold onto their seat in Nevada, even though Republican Adam Laxalt has been leading in all the polls in that race since mid-September. They give incumbent Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto a 51% chance of winning compared to Laxalt’s 49% — a true toss-up. If we accept their projections except give Nevada to Laxalt, the Senate would remain 50-50 after the November elections.
Finally, there’s Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which has control of the Senate coming down to two toss-up races: Georgia and Nevada.
When we consider these three projections, the only thing that we can say for certain is that every vote will matter in November. Republicans do have a shot to win back the Senate, but there’s little room for error in these final weeks. With GOP momentum on the rise, I’m fairly confident we can, at the very least, keep Democrats from gaining any seats, but the candidates need to bring their A-game these final weeks.