Mitch McConnell (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Nate Silver: GOP is "slight favorite" to take control of Senate

"We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber," Silver says

Katie McDonough
March 23, 2014 8:03PM (UTC)

The GOP is the "slight favorite" to control the Senate come 2014, according to Nate Silver.

"We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber," Silver writes Sunday at FiveThirtyEight. "The Democrats’ position has deteriorated somewhat since last summer, with President Obama’s approval ratings down to 42 or 43 percent from an average of about 45 percent before. Furthermore, as compared with 2010 or 2012, the GOP has done a better job of recruiting credible candidates, with some exceptions."


Silver writes that he is "bullish on Republican chances" in West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana and Arkansas, and that the GOP could take control of the Senate if it wins at least two additional races in Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska or Michigan -- states that are at the moment very much in play, he notes. Wins in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire could be considered "backup options" for the GOP, according to Silver.

More from FiveThirtyEight:

As always, we encourage you to read this analysis with some caution. Republicans have great opportunities in a number of states, but only in West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana and Arkansas do we rate the races as clearly leaning their way. Republicans will also have to win at least two toss-up races, perhaps in Alaska, North Carolina or Michigan, or to convert states such as New Hampshire into that category. And they’ll have to avoid taking losses of their own in Georgia and Kentucky, where the fundamentals favor them but recent polls show extremely competitive races. [...]

There are still more than seven months for news events to intervene and affect the national climate.

There are 10 races that each party has at least a 25 percent chance of winning, according to our ratings. If Republicans were to win all of them, they would gain a net of 11 seats from Democrats, which would give them a 56-44 majority in the new Senate. If Democrats were to sweep, they would lose a net of just one seat and hold a 54-46 majority.

So our forecast might be thought of as a Republican gain of six seats -- plus or minus five. The balance has shifted slightly toward the GOP. But it wouldn’t take much for it to revert to the Democrats, nor for this year to develop into a Republican rout along the lines of 2010.


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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