Democrats: start sweating now. The University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato, the most accurate political prognosticator in American (he’sin effect the anti-Dick Morse) says the Republican Party’s chances of taking the Senate have increased. In his must-read Crystal Ball, he and associate Kyle Kondik write:
The race for the Senate is perceptively moving in the Republicans’ direction, but not so dramatically that we’re ready to call the race definitively for them.
While we’ve long said the 2014 map and midterm dynamics make a GOP takeover of the Senate a probable outcome, there are just too many close races left and more than a month to go, when big gaffes, unexpected legal actions, and national events can potentially flip a Senate seat or two.
But right now, Democrats are behind the eight-ball (as well as the Crystal Ball). So many undecided contests are winnable for the GOP that the party would have to have a string of bad luck — combined with a truly exceptional Democratic get-out-the-vote program — to snatch defeat from the wide-open jaws of victory. Or Republicans would have to truly shoot themselves in the foot in at least one race, which has become a clear possibility over the last few weeks in Kansas.
The Republicans are seeing some encouraging public polling in a couple of states President Obama won in 2012, suggesting their increasing potential for gains beyond the comfortable red-tinted territory where they are already positioned to make considerable inroads in November.
And the even the best-case scenario Sabato sees for the Dems is just a tad short of lousy:
Despite the uncertainty about the Sunflower State contest, the potential outcomes still mostly favor Republicans. About the best Democrats can hope for is a 50-50 split with Vice President Biden breaking the tie, a point we made several weeks ago when we upgraded our Senate outlook to a Republican gain of five to eight seats (the current Senate is 55-45 Democratic). A small one-to-three seat GOP Senate majority (51-49, 52-48, or 53-47) appears to be the likeliest outcome as of this writing and as the final month of the 2014 midterm campaign begins.
According to The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, Wall Street is betting — and counting — on the GOP to win the Senate:
Wall Street is pumping more money into Republican campaigns this election cycle, betting that a flip in the Senate could usher in revisions to a key financial reform law.
In past cycles, aside from the last presidential election, securities and investment firms have hedged their bets by donating roughly the same amount to both parties. But this time Wall Street has handed Republicans nearly two-thirds of the $115 million it has contributed to 2014 campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
At stake is the chairmanship of the Senate banking committee, a critical gateway for legislation that governs Wall Street. The top seat is up for grabs next year, once the chairman, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), retires in December.
If you do nothing else in the run-up to the elections, follow Sabato’s predictions and analysis. He’s serious, reliable and deals in data and evaluation, not wishful thinking or promoting one party or dissing another for partisan or financial reasons.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.