Prognostications: The Senate race

We all know that a Democratic President is largely ineffectual without both houses of Congress, especially in these days of political fractiousness. The Senate is especially important—not for this Supreme Court nomination, which is a fait accommpli even if Trump gets very ill or dies, but for “packing the courts”, which roughly half the readers here want to happen. And of course no legislation will sail through Congress unless both chambers are Democratic (I’m assuming Biden will win).

So what are the odds that the Dems will take the Senate in November? I was going to post this the other day, but forgot.  Here’s the new prognostication from FiveThirtyEight, which gives a roughly 64% chance that the Democrats will recapture the Senate.

And the daily forecast in The Economist, which also gives time course (the latter showing a wee bit of Democratic progress in the last few weeks). The chance of the Dems winning is pretty much the same as the FiveThirtyEight forecast: around 70%. 

The “chance of control”. Don’t ask me how this is calculated. It’s models, Jake!

And the estimated seats:


However, I’m not making bets on this one. . .

h/t: Charles


  1. GBJames
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I think the Dems will take the Senate. Nothing is going right for Republicans electorally.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Yeah, there are some signs the bottom is dropping out on the GOP.

      Hell, recent polls have Lindsey Graham in a statistical tie with his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison. The two debate tonight at 8 pm. It’ll be livestreamed here. I am so hoping Harrison wipes the stage with Graham’s perfidious, pusillanimous ass.

      If Lindsey goes tits-up in SC, we’re in for a blue wave. I think Joni Ernest in Iowa will go down with him. McSally in AZ and Gardner in CO are already toast. So, too, I think are Collins in ME and Tillis in NC. The Dems also have a fightin’ chance against Daines in Montana and to pick up one or both the Georgia seats, and maybe even the open seat in Kansas.

      • Posted October 3, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        Wouldn’t count on NC, just yet. Democrat Cal Cunningham has admitted sexting a woman who is not his wife. A full-blown extra-marital affair could sink his chances. Jeez, why are these people not more discreet?

        • jezgrove
          Posted October 3, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          Or more faithful…

      • Posted October 3, 2020 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Hoping you are correct for Colorado, and it’s been looking good. However, even though we have had basically fraud-free mail ballots for years, the GOP establishment is pushing Trump’s narrative that it is rife with fraud.

  2. Posted October 3, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I fervently hope this. And then if we get sufficient control, I would very much like to see these things be done.
    1. Give statehood to Washington DC and/or Puerto Rico.
    2. Rebalance the damn electoral college. Or do away with it. I doubt either will happen.
    3. Create new constitution that de-politicizes the process of selecting Supreme Court justices. I have an idea about how to do that. Fat chance though.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      4. Get rid of gerrymandering by turning redistricting over to a nonpartisan commission. It’s high time voters started choosing their representatives, rather than vice versa.

      • GBJames
        Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        This is critical. It would be nice if the federal government could require this but my guess is that the supremes would void it and make it be a state-by-state battle.

      • Posted October 3, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        That’s a good one.

      • Derek Freyberg
        Posted October 3, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        I wonder if federal legislation could make federal election districts, at least, non-gerrymandered. I’m not sure that federal legislation could ensure that states did not gerrymander for state elections; but it seems plausible that the federal government could claim a compelling interest in fairness (non-gerrymandering) in federal elections.
        But then I’m not a constitutional lawyer.

    • tomh
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Getting rid of the filibuster is necessary before #1, even then it would be a tough sell. #2 is virtually impossible, would require a new Amendment. #3 is absolutely impossible.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        If Trump gets trounced in the popular vote (by, say, five points or more) yet tries to upset the EC results in court — or if Republicans were to play hanky-panky in the selection of slates of electors in states where they control the legislatures — I think it would sound the death knell for the electoral college. Enough is enough, already.

        • tomh
          Posted October 3, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

          Well, it sounds good, but considering that there are 20 states that comprise 10% of the US population, any 13 of which could sink a new Amendment, and that they would have to give up the power they hold in the EC…I’m afraid it’s wishful thinking.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 3, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

            There is also the possibility of enacting the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would achieve the same result.

            Currently, 15 states representing 73% of the 270 votes needed to ensure a candidate’s electoral college victory have signed onto the compact. I think either of the scenarios I’ve limned above would add momentum to that movement (although the constitutionality of the compact is by no means a foregone conclusion).

            • rickflick
              Posted October 3, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

              I had not heard of that mechanism. Sounds like a good way to go, but it might not be sustainable. States could drop out or add in at any time. We could get a very unstable and unpredictable system.

              • Posted October 3, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

                It’s framed in such a way that you can’t just drop out. On the other hand there is reason to believe it might be unconstitutional.

            • tomh
              Posted October 3, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

              Yeah, I’ve watched that compact for a while, seems a long shot at best. Consider, 25 states represent about 16% of the population. They each get 2 senators, they have extreme undue influence in the EC, in effect, the US is a minority-governed country. Have the rulers in any minority-governed country ever given up power willingly? IMO, they’ll make their stand on the EC issue.

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know where to list this in “importance”, but we MUST get dark money out of politics and overturn (or create legislation to block) the corrupt Citizens United ruling. It’s a sick and dying democracy that allows the purchase of politicians by the highest bidder.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    The Dems must win the Senate. One of the first orders of business should be to put the Senate out of business and go to a unicameral congress. Think of the money it would save.

    • yazikus
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Nebraska likes their unicameral house – I believe they instituted it as a cost saving measure and haven’t looked back.

    • Posted October 3, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      The would be a constitutional amendment. How do you propose to get that past the Senate (two thirds majority needed) and the states (three quarters majority needed)?

      • Posted October 3, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        It would be even more difficult than that. Article V states “…no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.” So it would take the unanimous consent of the states to abolish the Senate.

        • Posted October 4, 2020 at 5:08 am | Permalink

          Ah, but you could amend article 5 to drop that requirement with only three quarters of the states.

  4. Posted October 3, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    The Lawd Jayzus freaks are more likely to vote Republican I suppose? I wonder if it makes much of a difference to the politics?

  5. rickflick
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I sure hope so. The very BEST would be if Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are unseated.

    • Posted October 3, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      I see your point, but it would be nice t see Mitch McConnell have to sit in the Senate not running it.

      • tomh
        Posted October 3, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        Not as nice as having a Dem in his place. But your scenario is much more likely and almost as good.

      • GBJames
        Posted October 3, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        My guess is that Moscow Mitch will resign if he loses control of the Senate while still holding his seat in the election. The timing would depend on Kentucky politics, I expect.

        • tomh
          Posted October 3, 2020 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

          Well, Kentucky has a Democratic governor who would appoint his replacement, so I guess it depends on if he cares about that. I tend to think he wouldn’t care if the GOP lost the majority.

          • GBJames
            Posted October 3, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

            Other things can come into play, although I don’t know Kentucky’s laws. The power to appoint can be limited by how much time is left on the term. Also, special elections can bee required. But I’m too lazy to go find out what the situation in KY is on this subject. Too close to dinner.

            • tomh
              Posted October 3, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

              Well, it’s barely lunchtime here, so…in Kentucky and 36 other states, “U.S. Senate vacancies are temporarily filled by gubernatorial appointment. The appointee serves until the next statewide general election is held; the winner in that election serves out the remainder of the term.”

  6. Posted October 3, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    “However, I’m not making bets on this one. . .”

    Me neither….

  7. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    The League of Women Voters has a national operation to end gerrymandering named People Powered Fair Maps. Republicans fight these efforts, even though they normally have the support of a majority of voters. My wife was president of the ND effort. They gathered more than enough valid signatures to get their measure on the 11/3/20 ballot. Republicans sued and got the measure thrown out because it didn’t include the full relevant text of the ND constitution. Many measures have been passed previously without any such requirement. This is just more of Republicans suppressing democracy. They have a measure (Measure 2) of their own which would make it much more difficult to get initiated measures on the ballot. Fortunately, it appears that this will be soundly defeated. We will try again in two years.

  8. johnjfitzgerald
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I claim that the Democrats will win in a landslide in 2020. I believe they will take the Presidency, the House and the Senate.

    Here are my reasons for thinking so, beyond my personal preference for such an outcome.

    1. This will be a record voting year. More people than ever before will vote in the November 2020 election. Barriers to minorities and to women have dropped and more of them will turn out.
    a. The number of women running for public office is higher than ever before. From state legislatures to the top of the ticket, women are on the ballot in the greatest historical numbers. This will attract more female voters and thus increase participation by women. (Women won the right to vote in 1920, but many of them declined to participate over the years. That situation has changed drastically.) 2020 will see a record number of women voting, perhaps exceeding the per centage of men voting, and the sheer number of men voting.
    b. The number of Afro-American and Hispanic candidates for public office is larger than ever before. From the state level to the national level this is true. This will attract similar folks to participate as voters. Urban voters will be present in greater numbers than in 2016.
    c. Voting is easier this year than ever before. Vote by mail will massively increase participation. This will help low income focused candidates. The wealthy almost always vote. Low income people in the past have been discouraged, and not encouraged, to vote.

    2. Trump is a truly obnoxious person with little to no socially redeeming value. His base is actually what you see at his so-called rallies. It does not extend beyond what you see. He has rallied the racists, the anti-Semites, the gun nuts, the misogynists, the chauvinists, the xenophobes, the alienated and the insane to his campaign. He has lost the support of most of the moderate conservative Republicans.
    a. Trump is running for re-election without the support of the Bush family, the McCain family and the Romney family. He is actually being actively opposed by these families.
    b. Biden is running with the support of a united Democratic Party. A party that represents a broad spectrum of people and ideas. They represent the alternative to the chaos and sheer craziness of the last few years.
    c. No President who has been impeached by the House and given a trial in the Senate, has been elected in the following election cycle. Cf. Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and William Clinton. They were not removed from office, but their party was tarnished by their crimes and misdemeanors.
    3. Trump goes into the final days of the campaign as an unhealthy, and now hospitalized, President, presiding over a seriously weakened economy, having recklessly killed over 200,000 Americans with an incompetent response to the pandemic that he refuses to admit is beyond his competence to understand. Coupled with his flagrant disregard for any sense of morality or mere decency, he deserves no respect or support from any American citizen, who loves this country, its constitution and its continuing struggle to live up to its own ideals and best practices.
    For all of these reasons, Donald Trump and his version of the Republican Party are doomed to defeat in November.

    John J. Fitzgerald

  9. merilee
    Posted October 4, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink


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