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September 24th Ratings Update –

Presidential –

This race is starting to get ugly.  Barack Obama’s lead is now the biggest it’s been all campaign long.  It’s starting to resemble the advantage he had against McCain with just weeks to go in 2008.  Perhaps most ominously for Mitt Romney, polling right now is showing that Obama is at or breaking the 50% mark in many battleground states, including Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio.  Some firms even have Obama breaking 50% in Colorado and Florida as well, and indeed those states are in danger of drifting out of toss up and into lean democratic territory too with Obama leading by an aggregate of 4% in each.  In all, there are 10 ratings changes this week, with one such change moving a state from the red column to the blue column.  That state is North Carolina, where multiple polls showed Obama in the lead this past week.  

The longer this trend toward Obama continues, the more I’m inclined to believe that Romney basically needs a hail mary to win.  He’s got two chances to turn the tide, either in the debates, or if a negative economic event of some sort were to strike before Election Day.  That’s Romney’s potential golden ticket, if a Lehman Brothers-style event that struck in September 2008 and sunk McCain’s candidacy were to arise.  But if you’re dependent on that kind of an event to win, that’s not a good place to be.

If however, this polling trend continues, you’re going to see less attention paid to the presidential contest in the final weeks, with the focus turning toward whether the Democrats will hold the Senate or possibly even gain seats, and win back the House of Representatives.

Race Ratings Changes for week of 9/18-9/24:

Maine – from Likely D to Safe D
Connecticut – from Likely D to Safe D
Michigan – from Lean D to Likely D
Pennsylvania – from Lean D to Likely D
Virginia – from Toss Up/Tilt D to Lean D
Iowa – from Toss Up/Tilt D to Lean D
North Carolina – from Toss Up/Tilt R to Toss Up/Tilt D
Arizona – from Lean R to Toss Up/Tilt R
Nebraska – from Safe R to Likely R
Tennessee – from Safe R to Likely R
Texas – from Safe R to Likely R

Safe D – ME, CT, VT, MA, RI, NY, DE, MD, DC, IL, CA, WA, HI – 165 EV
Likely D – NJ, PA, MI, MN, NM, OR – 72 EV
Lean D – NH, VA, OH, WI, NV – 51 EV
Toss Up/Tilt D – FL, NC, IA, CO – 59 EV
Toss Up/Tilt R – AZ – 9 EV
Lean R – SC, GA, IN, MO, MT – 51 EV
Likely R – TN, TX, ND, SD, AK – 56 EV
Safe R – WV, KY, AL, MS, LA, AR, OK, KS, NE, WY, ID, UT – 75 EV

Total Obama EV - 347
Total Romney EV – 191

The Map:


Popular Vote Projection:
National – Obama 51.81%, Romney 46.49%
DC – Obama 91-7
Hawaii – Obama 69-30
Vermont – Obama 66-34
New York – Obama 62-37
Rhode Island – Obama 62-37
Maryland – Obama 62-37
Illinois – Obama 61-37
California – Obama 61-38
Massachusetts – Obama 61-38
Delaware – Obama 59-39
Washington – Obama 58-41
Maine – Obama 57-41
Connecticut – Obama 57-41
Oregon – Obama 56-43
New Jersey – Obama 56-43
New Mexico – Obama 55-43
Minnesota – Obama 55-44
Michigan – Obama 55-44
Pennsylvania – Obama 54-44
Nevada – Obama 53-45
Ohio – Obama 52-46
Wisconsin – Obama 52-46
Iowa – Obama 52-46
New Hampshire – Obama 52-47
Virginia – Obama 52-47
Colorado – Obama 51-47
Florida – Obama 51-47
North Carolina – Obama 50-48
Arizona – Romney 51-47
Indiana – Romney 52-47
Montana – Romney 52-47
Georgia – Romney 53-46
Missouri – Romney 53-45
South Carolina – Romney 53-44
Tennessee – Romney 54-43
South Dakota – Romney 55-43
North Dakota – Romney 55-43
Alaska – Romney 55-42
Texas – Romney 56-42
Nebraska – Romney 56-42
Mississippi – Romney 57-41
Kentucky – Romney 58-41
Kansas – Romney 58-41
West Virginia – Romney 58-40
Louisiana – Romney 59-40
Arkansas – Romney 59-39
Alabama – Romney 61-37
Wyoming – Romney 62-36
Idaho – Romney 62-36
Utah – Romney 64-34
Oklahoma – Romney 65-33

Senate –

As with the presidency, there has been a lot of movement in the Senate landscape too.  With each passing day the math gets grimmer for Team Red.  I still have the Democrats controlling 53 senate seats and the Republicans controlling 47, a wash for this election cycle, however, the overall odds of the Republicans taking over the Senate dropped hugely.  Two seats changed hands from the previous week, one in each direction.  Republican Denny Rehberg has inched back ahead of Jon Tester in Montana, turning that seat back into a republican pickup.  On the flip side, there has been a dramatic turn of events in Wisconsin, where Democrat Tammy Baldwin has rallied from behind to take a solid lead over Republican Tommy Thompson.    

Right now we have a total of 7 toss up contests.  The bad news for the GOP is that even if they win all 7, that still only brings the Senate breakdown to 50-50, meaning they will need Mitt Romney to win the presidency to gain control.  In other words, you’re talking about the unlikeliest of unlikely situations.  If however, the democrats sweep and win all 8, they will control 57 Senate seats going into next year, an outcome so incredibly outrageous just months ago that you would’ve had your permission to talk denied if you even suggested it.  And to be honest, right now, the democrats sweeping all 7 is much more likely than the republicans doing it, because the GOP is literally hanging on by a thread in all four of IN, NV, MT, and AZ, while the democrats are leading in MA and ND by 3-4%, just barely outside of lean D territory.

Ratings changes for week of 9/18-9/24:

Maine – from Safe D to Likely D
New Mexico – from Lean D to Likely D
Florida – from Lean D to Likely D
Virginia – from Toss Up/Tilt D to Lean D
Montana – from Toss Up/Tilt D to Toss Up/Tilt R
Wisconsin – from Toss Up/Tilt R to Lean D
Arizona – from Lean R to Toss Up/Tilt R

Safe D – VT, RI, NY, PA, DE, MD, WV, MN, CA, WA
Likely D – ME, NJ, FL, MI, NM, HI
Lean D – VA, OH, WI, MO
Toss Up/Tilt D – MA, CT, ND
Toss Up/Tilt R – IN, MT, NV, AZ
Lean R –
Likely R – NE
Safe R – TN, MS, TX, WY, UT

Democratic Pickups – ME, MA
Republican Pickups – NE, MT
New Senate Partisan Breakdown – 53 democrats, 47 republicans
Swing – Push

The Map:


House –

Oh man, the battle for the House of Representatives is REALLY getting interesting now.  We had a whole slew of ratings changes this week in favor of the democrats, and the margin for error for the republicans to keep the majority keeps getting thinner and thinner by the day.  They still have it for now, but by next week that could change unless there is a change in national momentum.  

There were 5 seats that switched columns this week, 4 from red to blue, and 1 from blue to red.  CA-10, OH-6, and TX-23 became democratic pickups thanks to favorable polling from those districts that showed the democratic challenger either tied or leading.  As we saw in 2010, basically any House incumbent that was either losing, or polling with 46% or less going into election day lost, and Jeff Denham, Bill Johnson, and Quico Canseco all fit that criteria.  The fourth democratic pickup came in NV-3, where I was forced to discredit SurveyUSA’s polling in the Silver State after they showed Danny Tarkanian ahead of Stephen Horsford in nearby NV-4, a race I had at Safe D due to Tarkanian being bankrupt.  Given this poll and last week’s ridiculous result in NV-3, I have to conclude that SUSA can’t poll Nevada to save their lives, on top of all pollsters generally underrating democratic performance in that state since 2008.  

The one republican pickup came in GA-12, a district that has been on a razor’s edge all cycle.  The overall polling out of Georgia hasn’t been a favorable as I would have expected, and that to me is just enough to knock out John Barrow and put the seat into the red column.  

Bottom line, this week the Republicans still hold the majority with 222 seats, but that is down from 225 last week.  The Democrats now hold 213 seats, and only need 5 more pickups to win the majority.

Current regression – 45.8% democratic, 42.8% republican
Projected 2-party vote share – 51.64% democratic, 48.36% republican
Battleground PVI – R+1.64 (the PVI of all 105 competitive districts on the equal area map)
Battleground 2-party vote share – 50% democratic, 50% republican
New House Partisan Breakdown – 222 republicans, 213 democrats
Swing – Democrats +20

Beginning next week with my October 1 update, I will be listing margins of victory for every competitive House race.  You won’t want to miss that.

The Equal Area Map:



Which is more likely to happen on November 6?

66%49 votes
33%25 votes

| 74 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I wonder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How do you go about assessing a House race in a mess of a district like PA-07? I live here and I can't make heads or tails of it.

    There's smart, and there's K-mart smart. Sarah Palin is K-mart smart.

    by InsultComicDog on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 03:19:13 PM PDT

    •  Yes! (0+ / 0-)

      Stephen, I have literally been checking DK all day to see when you would post this, to see if you were verifying Sam Wang/Princeton Election Consortium's conclusion last week that Dems had a 74% chance of taking back the House.

      You're now showing we're adding net seats every week, and it's clear the momentum is building.

      Go, Dems! Looking forward to next week!

    •  PA-7 (4+ / 0-)

      I actually have a lot of firsthand experience with the district, as I have relatives who live in Ridley Park, Wallingford, and Media.  Delaware County, especially the section outside of Upper Darby and Chester, both of which got gerrymandered into PA-1, is socially liberal but extremely fiscally conservative.  At the local level, the people there are used to voting republican.  It wasn't until the last 20-25 years that the area started voting consistently D at the national level.  Joe Sestak's victory in 2006 was a big step in the right direction as it showed that Delaware and other counties in the Philly burbs were prepared to start voting D downballot too.  

      As it stands now, Meehan is a pretty strong republican incumbent with a lot of cash and a profile that is conservative but not offensively so.  Outside of maybe Chris Gibson, Peter King, or Frank LoBiondo, he's probably one of the toughest outs for Dems in the northeast.  That being said, even while gerrymandered, its still a nearly even PVI seat.  If the Dem wave grows big enough he could still lose.  

      What doesn't help is that the Dem candidate, George Badey, isnt exactly first tier.

      •  thanks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I think it's about 54% GOP by design.

        I think it's possible but not likely this year, but I am also thinking of the longer term for this district, and hoping that (as happened with the previous gerrymander) the changing landscape will prove favorable in 2-4 years.

        I'm in the new Montgomery County part of the district that was formerly in PA-13.

        There's smart, and there's K-mart smart. Sarah Palin is K-mart smart.

        by InsultComicDog on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 05:16:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Recc'd except for this part (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        That being said, even while gerrymandered, its still a nearly even PVI seat.
        While this is an Obama district (technically R+1 or 2 but that doesn't matter) when you look at the 2004-2008 statewide average on DRA it and the 6th are almost just as Republican as the 18th where McCain won by 10%, a district that no one is really calling in play.

        If you adjust for how much better Republicans do downballot than McCain did in the 6th and 7th, and how much better Democrats do downballot in the 18th than Obama did, all three would be about R+4 meaning a 50-49 McCain win.

        On the bright side though, the trend in SEPA shows no signs of stopping, so hopefully this district will become more competitive later in the decade, but I'm not holding my breath.

        NC-06/NC-04; -9.00, -8.41; progress through pragmatism

        by sawolf on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 03:15:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why exactly do you think this? (0+ / 0-)
        What doesn't help is that the Dem candidate, George Badey, isnt exactly first tier.
  •  Questions: (0+ / 0-)

    Why so generous with TN-Pres?

    Has there been some not-so-favorable polling in MT-SEN in that you moved it to tilt-R?

    Thank you. I like your updates.

    Farm boy, 20, who hit the city to go to college, WI-03 (home, voting), WI-02 (college), -6.00, -3.54, I finally get a chance to do something my parents have done for years- vote against Tommy Thompson!!!! Tammy Baldwin for US Senate!!!!!

    by WisJohn on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 03:54:33 PM PDT

    •  MT-Sen (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WisJohn, a2nite, MichaelNY

      Has been a back and forth contest.  It was red two weeks ago, then PPP showed Tester ahead so I moved it to the blue column.  Then Mason-Dixon showed Rehberg up 3, which turned it red again.  Really, this is a race that I'm convinced will go all the way to the wire, because Tester's run about 4-5% ahead of Obama, and Obama's losing by about 5% at the moment.  Tester will either have to get further ahead of Obama, or the national Dem momentum will have to carry him across to ensure victory.  

      Tennessee has been surprisingly close in a lot of polls this year.  The last poll that came out was by YouGov, and that showed it as just an 8 point contest.  Polls back in the spring showed around that same margin.  I am somewhat skeptical that this will be the final margin, but at some point you have to start taking the totality of polling seriously.

  •  Nice map link! (0+ / 0-)

    Love your same-size map of the House seats.

    I can see stuff and it makes more sense. Really nice work with that.

    •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I actually drew one of those maps on a posterboard at my election night party in 2010, and everybody found out then just what a huge political goob I was.  But in all seriousness, with all the crazy, stupid maps that were drawn this year, I needed an easy way to keep track of the seats myself!

      Also, its not fair how most of the big seats size wise are red and the really itty bitty ones blue, so the map looks all red.  It's misleading and not a sight for sore eyes unless you're a republican.

      •  Put the graphic in the diary itself (0+ / 0-)

        The graphic needs to be in the body of the diary, not in a link that few will follow.

        In fact, you need to split your diary into three. By the time we get down to the House races, you've lost a lot of readers to information overload of words, names, and numbers.

        The Presidential and Senate forecasts are often covered by others, more than the House races where your info is more clearly presented.

        Having the House forecasts in its own diary then lets you put the great graphic at the top, for all the world to see!

        And I wonder if you could split the country along the Mississippi River? You'd get two parts, two maps consisting of larger blocks with easier-to-read type for us old-timers.

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