Skip to main content

On July 24, I commented Tariff Backlash Could Cost Republicans the Senate.

My comment then: "The math for Democrats to win the Senate looks extremely daunting. However, I see more than a reasonable shot for them."

Many people likely thought I was nuts.

RCP No-Tossup Scenario

Flash forward to today.

The "Real Clear Politics" base scenario, ignoring tossups, is that Democrats pick up a Senate seat, making things a 50-50 tie.

I did not record it at the time, but I believe the RCP base scenario in July was that Democrats would lose at least two seats.

National Polls

The national polls are as useless today as the were when Trump beat Hillary. Throw them away. This is about individual races not national polls.

The surge in the strength for Trump likely reflects a surge in belief of the conservative base.

Regardless, the base is meaningless. The independents and swing voters, and individual matchups, not the base, are what matters.

Overall Picture

Image placeholder title

Daunting Math

​The math looks improbable at best. Democrats need 37 safe seats, plus 3 likely seats, plus 4 leans seats, plus 7 of 9 tossup seats.

The problem with that outlook is the RCP math is extremely one-sided. By that I do not mean against either party, but rather in the definition of likely vs lean.

For example, in Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin (D) has an 11 point lead over Leah Vukmir (R), and RCP only rates the race as "leans" Democratic.

Image placeholder title

Why might RCP do this?

The obvious answer is to do as sportscaster do. Pretend a game is not over when it is, so that viewers do not switch channels.

RCP ought to at lest be reasonable about this and put the race in the "likely" column, but alas, that might cost them a few clicks.

Toss the BS Aside

If one tosses the BS aside, the RCP "No-Tossup" Map looks like this.

Image placeholder title

What Happened?

That's easy. Two things:

  1. Trump's tariffs are massively backfiring
  2. Kavanaugh is taking a huge toll on moderates and independents

In regards to point number one, China's retaliations are hitting the farm belt and rust belt hard.

In regards to point number two, the smear attack on Kavanaugh is also talking a toll.

Race by Race

As stated above, national polls are meaningless. Let's look at all the alleged RCP "toss-ups" and see where they stand.

In all cases, ignore the RCP "average". RCP averages things that are hopelessly out of date.


Image placeholder title

My take: Arizona is no longer a tossup.The most recent four polls all put Sinema in the lead. Mentally move Arizona into the "Leans Democrat" category.


Image placeholder title

My take: At best (for the Republicans), Florida is a tossup. My rating "Slightly Leans Democratic"


Image placeholder title

My Take: This is an example of silly RCP averaging. I would put far more weight on the most recent polls, but there are only two.

This race is either a "Genuine Tossup" or if you prefer, "Slightly Leans Republican". Take your pick.


Scroll to Continue


Image placeholder title

My Take: Four consecutive ties resolved in favor of the Republicans. I like to give weight to the most recent polls, especially if there is a trend.

But there is no trend. This race is either a "Genuine Tossup" or if you prefer, "Slightly Leans Republican". Take your pick.


Image placeholder title

My Take: One poll is stale, but all three polls show a small lead for Tester,

This is no longer a tossup. Rather, label it "Slightly Leans Democrat".


Image placeholder title

My Take: It is far beyond absurd for RCP to average in an April poll.

This is no longer a tossup. Rather, label it "Slightly Leans Democrat".

North Dakota

Image placeholder title

My Take: the theater of the absurd is even more in play here. RCP averages in a February poll.

Unfortunately, there is only one poll of relevance, and it is slightly stale. If there were multiple polls in about the same place, I would call it "Leans Republican" Instead, label it "Slightly Leans Republican".


Image placeholder title

My Take: Two polls are stale, one in each direction. The two most recent polls are also in opposite directions.

I would call this a "Tossup". If you place more weight on the most recent poll, label it "Slightly Leans Democrat".


Image placeholder title

My Take: Cruz had been sinking badly. RCP does not seem to have all of the polls.

However, Cruz recovered strongly.

This race is "Leans Republican".


Democrats clearly have their work cut out for them, but a path to victory is in play, and increasingly so.

No one was discussing this at all when I brought it up in July, now it's on the radar.

A couple of percentage points could decide the whole thing.

Mentally give the Democrats Arizona, Montana, Nevada, and Florida. They would lose a seat. Add in Missouri or Tennessee, and they hold. Add in Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee, and they take the Senate.

They need 7 of 9 to win, 6 of 9 to tie (both assuming they hold everything else).

The problem children for the Democrats are Texas and North Dakota. The polls in North Dakota are stale, but I do not envision (right now) that state going Democrat.

Yet, it could, if tariffs and/or the Kavanaugh affair bite hard enough enough.

Importantly, the trend and the political setup are very favorable to the Democrats.

Final Comments

Every time I do a post like this I get accused of something.

I have been recently been labeled a "never-Trumper" despite the fact I voted for Trump and would do so again, against Hillary.

In 2000, I called every state but one correctly for Obama, and that was before he even won the nomination. For that write-up, I was labeled an "Obama Lover" but I did not vote for Obama.

Typically, I seem to get judged by my most recent article. Thus I have been accused or being an extreme right-winger as well as an extreme left-wing loonie.

I do not care for either major party.

I voted for Trump despite the fact that I am pro-choice because I believed then that he was the lesser of the two warmongers.

I am staunchly pro-free trade, pro-choice, pro-small-government, and extremely anti-war.

Neither party does a damn thing about government spending. Both parties openly support war and military spending, and neither party really believes in free trade.

As such, I tend to object to the party in power most of the time.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock