“Real Clear” Senate Projections

The Real Clear Politics data group released their updated US Senate projections, and their formula suggests that Republicans will claim a surprising 53-47 majority. 

Such a projection seems to cut against most of the data we currently see, and, in at least three cases, their win projection is opposite of what their own current Real Clear Politics formula portends.

The crux of their predictions lies in a field entitled “Polls Underestimated,” which factors in an average under-poll for one party or the other. In the ten Senate races they isolated, Republicans are the under-polled party in most but not all of the targeted campaigns.

The two competitive Senate races not included were first, Utah, where they presume that Sen. Mike Lee (R) is a “likely” winner, though polling generally shows his race with Independent Evan McMullin falling to within single digits. The second is Alaska, which is excluded because the contest is evolving into a race between two Republicans; hence, the seat is not a factor in determining the overall Senate majority.

The Iowa race between Sen. Chuck Grassley* (R) and retired Navy Admiral Michael Franken (D) is also not included, but Sen. Patty Murray’s (D) battle against Republican Tiffany Smiley in Washington is added.

As mentioned above, in three of the races the RCP prognosticators are expecting a turnaround since their own current data is suggesting an opposite result.

In Nevada, the RCP current polling projection suggests that Republican former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt* holds a slight 0.8% lead over Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D). Here, RCP estimates that Democrats under-poll in Nevada by one percentage point. This should leave Sen. Cortez Masto with a 0.2% edge, but the table shows Laxalt holding such a lead. This appears to be an error. In any event, their final prediction shows a Laxalt victory, which is reasonable.

A state away in Arizona, Sen. Mark Kelly (D) currently holds a RCP polling lead of 2.5 percentage points. A Republican under-poll of 1.6 is factored from results during the last three election cycles, which reduces the Senator’s advantage to 0.9%. In 2020, a total of 21 polls were conducted of the Kelly-Martha McSally Senate race, and Mr. Kelly’s average margin was 6.6 points, yet he won only 51-49%. Therefore, concluding a Republican under-poll exists in Arizona is reasonable. In this situation, while their model finds Sen. Kelly leading today, RCP predicts a Republican victory for venture capitalist Blake Masters.

The other conclusion that is perhaps inconsistent is their prediction for the Georgia Senate race. Showing Republican Herschel Walker with a 1.1 percentage point edge after an under-poll factor of 1.4 is added to the Republican column leads the RCP final prediction to project Mr. Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) are forced into a post-election runoff on December 6th. Yet, in the overall count, Georgia is counted in the Republican column. Though not stated, RCP must be predicting that Mr. Walker would win the runoff election.

Under Georgia law, as we will remember from 2020, a candidate must receive majority support to win the general election. On the ballot with Sen. Warnock and Mr. Walker is Georgia Libertarian Party chairman Chase Oliver. If Warnock and Walker split the vote to where both candidates post in the neighborhood of the 48-49 percent number, then a few points going to Mr. Oliver could send the two major party nominees into a December 6th secondary election. Thus, we will see more even intrigue on election night coming from the Peach State.

RCP is also predicting victory for two candidates who their model suggests are currently behind but flip after adding the under-poll factor. In Pennsylvania, Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman is running ahead by 1.3 percentage points according to the current RCP survey average. Adding a 3.9% Republican under-poll to the aggregate gives Dr. Mehmet Oz a 2.6% adjusted lead. RCP then predicts a Dr. Oz victory on November 8th.

In New Hampshire, the race between Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) and retired Army General Don Bolduc (R) has tightened. The RCP average sees a Hassan lead of 3.6 percent, but adding a large 5.4 New Hampshire Republican under-poll actually gives Gen. Bolduc a 1.8% edge. Still, RCP predicts a Hassan Democratic victory on election day.

Finally, the Real Clear Politics data team predicts Republicans to win the Senate races in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin, with Democrats holding Washington.

In all, these numbers result in a 53-47 Republican majority. Possible? Yes. Likely? No.

* denotes the candidate has received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2021-2022 election cycle. 

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