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Saturday, December 10, 2016

The latest Election Lab forecast from The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog has grim news for Democrats: The GOP has an 86 percent chance of taking control of the Senate in November, and Democrats have less than a 1 percent chance of winning a majority in the House of Representatives.

Currently, the Election Lab projects that Republicans will win a 52 to 48 majority, and that Democrats will only win 193 House seats, down from the 199 they currently have.

The election forecast looks at factors such as presidential approval ratings, the state of the economy, partisanship within the states, whether or not an incumbent is running, and how experienced the candidates are. It then compares these factors to how important they were to the outcomes of past races. For Senate races, predictions are based on a combination of the forecast model and current polls.

The blog has always been confident that Republicans would win the Senate, due to President Obama’s low approval, the GOP-friendly electoral map, and the lack of extreme candidates like those who spoiled winnable races for Republicans in 2010 and 2012. There doesn’t appear to be a Todd Akin or Christine O’Donnell on the ballot this year.

Control of the Senate will likely come down to nine states: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Michigan. Republicans probably need to win five of those races to claim a majority. The Election Lab model shows that Republicans have a very good chance of winning Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana. It also predicts that Republican Joni Ernst has more than a 50-50 chance of winning Iowa. Democrats only have a good chance of winning Colorado, Michigan, and North Carolina.

While other forecasters see states like Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana as too close to call, The Monkey Cage‘s John Sides doesn’t think the polls give them any reason to question that the GOP will win them.

The Real Clear Politics poll averages for all four of the key states show the Republican candidates ahead of the Democrats. Though Sides thinks that the Democratic candidates are strong in all of these states, the Election Lab will continue to predict GOP wins unless the Democrats manage to move the polls.

In fact, according to Sides’ model, Republicans are less vulnerable than they were earlier this year. Sides notes that the Kentucky Senate race between Republican senator Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes was tied for the past few months, making the race look like it could go either way. But recent polls have placed McConnell ahead of Grimes, which is why the Election Lab now predicts a Republican win.

Sides thinks there’s still a chance that Democrats could keep their Senate majority, as there are a few months left until November and many of the races remain competitive. But if conditions stay the same as they are today, then Republicans will probably take full control of Congress.

Other models are more optimistic about the Democrats’ chances. The New York Times’ Upshot blog finds that Republicans have a 56 percent chance of taking back the Senate, with the greatest likelihood of Republicans controlling 51 seats and Democrats holding 49. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver predicts a similar outcome, with a 60-40 chance of Republicans occupying 51 seats in the Senate.

Photo: Crazy George via Flickr

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