Polling analyst Nate Silver of the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight has the good news:
It would be only a modest exaggeration to say that it’s been hard to find any strong Senate polls for Republicans in the past two or three weeks.
How good is that for the Democrats?
The Democrats’ chances of controlling the Senate have increased to 79 percent in the forecast, up from 70 percent on Tuesday.Silver cites new polls in Virginia, which he says give Democrat and former Governor Tim Kaine a 75 percent chance of winning what had been thought a deadlock, and even more surprisingly, a new poll out of Wisconsin showing Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin surging into a tie with former Gov. Tommy Thompson, which he says now gives Baldwin a 60 percent chance of winning.
Had we run the model a month ago, based on polls through Aug. 19, the Democrats’ chances of maintaining Senate control would have been listed at just 39 percent.
From other polls, the FiveThirtyEight model now shows Elizabeth Warren at 69 percent to win the Massachusetts Senate seat, Rep. Chris Murphy at 77 percent to win Connecticut, and Sen. Bill Nelson a virtual lock, at 95 percent to be re-elected in Florida.
The two tightest races seem to be the deadlock in Nevada between Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkeley and Republican appointee Sen. Dean Heller, and Indiana, which shows Republican teabagger Richard Mourdock at only 52 percent to defeat Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, and hold the seat Mourdock took from Sen. Richard Lugar in a bitter primary. The other Republican leaving his party drowning in tea is Rep. Todd Akin, whose reprehensible extremism now has Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill at a 64 percent chance of holding her seat.
Silver speculates on the possible reasons for the implosion of GOP Senate chances, including Mitt Romney dragging down his entire party, and the continued lurch to the right of the party taking it further out of the electorate's mainstream, but his bottom line is this:
A large number of Senate races remain in play: of the several states in which there has been a shift against Republicans in the polls in recent weeks, perhaps only Florida seems completely lost.It seems obvious to me that with the presidential race turning into a rout, and likely to grow even more of one after the debates, President Obama will have more opportunities to campaign with Democrats in tight races in states and districts where he is popular. This could be a dramatic coattail election, handing the Democrats a mandate heading into the legislative fights of next year.
But if the trend continues, the question may no longer be whether Republicans can win the Senate — but how vulnerable they are to losing the House.