Morning midterms update: Nate Silver sees a “troubling trend” for Senate Democrats

Plus: Republicans' fundraising angst, the GOP's post-midterm agenda, the Kansas Senate race, and Chris Christie

By Luke Brinker
Published September 26, 2014 5:08PM (UTC)
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Nate Silver (Nam Y. Huh)

Forecasting that Republicans are still slightly favored to retake the Senate this year, FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver writes in his latest post of a “troubling trend” against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in must-win Colorado.

Despite his hard-line conservative views, Rep. Cory Gardner has recently opened up a small lead over Udall, who had maintained a narrow edge ever since Gardner launched his campaign in March. While Silver sees a bit of a built-in bias toward Gardner in the polls, his adjustments still show Gardner in the lead.


Although this shift in Gardner’s favor has "troubling implication[s]" for Udall, Silver cautions that Udall’s cash-on-hand advantage, based on June 30 Federal Election Commission figures, could allow him to build up a clear advertising advantage as the race enters its final stage. But, Silver adds, it’s unclear whether the June 30 numbers accurately depict the current financial landscape in the contest.

Silver’s model currently gives Gardner a 56 percent chance of defeating Udall, while Republicans overall have a 58 percent chance of winning control of the Senate. Similarly, the New York Times’ Upshot calculates that Gardner has a 60 percent chance of victory, while Republicans have a 61 percent chance of taking over the Senate.

In other midterm news:

  • Republicans remain confident that they’ll have a good election night, but National Journal examines mounting fears from some in the party that its candidates will come up short on cash in the midterm home stretch. Despite a massive early infusion of cash by Koch brother-aligned groups attacking Senate Democrats, Democratic campaigns and allied organizations have since matched or outpaced spending by GOP campaigns and outside groups, National Journal notes. GOP strategist Brian Todd told the outlet that “there is concern among a lot of Republicans” that the party could squander opportunities by allowing Democrats to wage late-stage ad blitzes.
  • Mother Jones looks at one of the Republicans’ top priorities if they manage to gain Senate control: an all-out attack on the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Look no further than the repeated attempts by House GOPers to gut the CFPB’s authority; one Democratic aide told Mother Jones that Senate Republicans would follow the same path. Indeed, the piece points out that Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who would chair the banking committee in a GOP Senate, has been a fervent advocate  of curbing the CFPB’s power.
  • In Kansas’ surprisingly competitive Senate race between Republican Pat Roberts and independent Greg Orman, GOP Secretary of State Kris Kobach has signed on to a lawsuit by a registered Democrat who wants to force Kansas Democrats to name a replacement candidate for Chad Taylor, who dropped out of the race earlier this month. David Orel, the registered Democrat who filed the lawsuit, is the father of an aide to vulnerable conservative Gov. Sam Brownback. Meanwhile, Politico reports that Milton Wolf, the Tea Partyer who unsuccessfully tried to knock off Roberts in the GOP primary, is considering endorsing Orman – if the independent promises to caucus with Senate Republicans.
  • While he’s been forced to confront Bridgegate and a pension scandal at home, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has spent more than a third of his second term – which began in January – out of state, according to the Associated Press. Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, has spent much of 2014 campaigning and fundraising with GOP gubernatorial candidates across the country. As the AP observes, though, he’s also ventured to states where Republicans are clear favorites to win their races, suggesting an effort to ingratiate himself to as many elected officials as possible ahead of a potential 2016 bid for president.

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