Sabato's Crystal Ball

House 2014: Generic Movement, Specific Standstill

Republican gains in national polls don’t necessarily mean large House seat addition

Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor, Sabato's Crystal Ball September 25th, 2014

The national numbers indicate that Republicans should be on the verge of big House gains. But a district-by-district analysis suggests a different story.

Throughout the election cycle, we’ve been closely monitoring the House generic ballot, which is the national poll that asks whether voters would support a Republican or a Democrat in their local House race. For much of the year, the polls have been roughly tied. Those were generally polls of registered voters — a bigger universe of people than the “likely voters” now being tested. With that polling adjustment now in place, Republicans have taken a clear lead in the House generic ballot, though perhaps not as big of a lead as they held at this point in 2010, when they netted 63 House seats and took control of the House.

Table 1 shows the results of five recently released generic ballot surveys from high-quality, nonpartisan pollsters, as well as results from those same pollsters roughly this time four years ago.

Table 1: National generic House ballot surveys of likely voters, 2010 vs. 2014

Source: RealClearPolitics from 2010 and 2014.

This is an imperfect comparison: While the pollsters used are the same, the timing of the surveys does not line up perfectly (we used the most recent survey from these pollsters conducted this year and tried to find the poll from four years ago conducted closest to this point in the election year). However, the Republicans held an average lead on the generic ballot of about 5.8 percentage points in these polls, whereas the same surveys now show an average lead of 4.2 points. That’s good for Republicans, but not quite as good as 2010.

In comparing the overall average (including other polls not included in Table 1), the RealClearPolitics generic ballot average on Sept. 24, 2010 (four years ago as of this writing) showed a Republican lead of 3.7 points. The current average, as of Wednesday afternoon, shows Republicans with a 4.0-point lead. So depending on how one slices the numbers, one could argue that, based on this metric, Republicans are in slightly better shape in the battle for the House than they were four years ago.

Or one could argue that they are not doing as well. For instance, another polling average — HuffPost Pollster — shows Republicans with only a one-point lead on the generic ballot, a couple points less than its average showed at this time in 2010.

So pick your poison. The larger point is that the generic ballot, and how it moves from now until Election Day, might not tell us much more than what we already know about the U.S. House picture. Here’s why:

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Republicans continue to gain in the generic ballot average so that they reach a national House polling lead of 9.4 points (the Election Day generic average on RealClearPolitics in 2010) or 7.7 points (HuffPost Pollster). And let’s also assume that, on Election Day, Republican House candidates win the overall national House vote — the total number of votes cast in House elections for either party — by 6.8 points, matching their 2010 performance.

That performance produced a House with 242 Republican members. At present, Republicans control 234 seats (assuming all vacancies are filled by the party of the previous occupant of the seat).

So it’s possible that a 2010-style domination of the House vote would only result in something like an eight-seat gain for Republicans.

The GOP is already at close to a high-water mark in the House, and their list of truly appetizing targets is limited. Meanwhile, Democrats do not have nearly the broad playing field they had to defend in 2010, and their national third-party groups, like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC (the shadow DCCC), have a distinct dollar edge over their GOP rivals. That doesn’t mean the Democrats can overcome a poor national environment and capture the House — or even net a seat or two — but it does mean that the Democrats are decently positioned to limit their losses even if the national environment gets worse.

This is why Republican advances in the generic ballot are not enough, by themselves, to alter our longstanding outlook for change in the House: A net Republican gain of five to eight seats.

In order to change our overall outlook and increase the expected Republican gain, we’re going to have to see more movement toward the GOP in individual House races. There’s some of that, but not enough to suggest a double-digit Republican addition.

House ratings changes

We’re making 14 changes to our House ratings this week: 10 in favor of Republicans, and four in favor of Democrats. Overall, these changes represent some slight movement toward the Republicans and also a slight narrowing of an already narrow House playing field.

The number of seats not rated Safe for one party or the other decreases from 62 to 59 (out of 435), and the number of truly competitive seats — those rated Toss-up or Leans Democratic or Republican — also decreases, going from 38 to 34. This makes sense on a House map where there are not that many obvious targets for either party: Just 17 Republicans represent districts won by President Obama in 2012, and nine Democrats hold seats won by Mitt Romney in 2012. These outliers, which make for the best House targets, are few and far between. And even then, they are by no means guaranteed to flip.

Table 2: Crystal Ball House ratings changes

One of the 17 Republicans in an Obama seat is Rep. Mike Coffman (R, CO-6), who has spent almost the entire cycle locked in a Toss-up race with Andrew Romanoff (D), a former speaker of the state House of Representatives who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) in a 2010 primary. Both sides are heavily invested here, and it should be a hot race until Election Day. But Republicans are expressing a bit more confidence in this race than Democrats, and in a state where Democratic Senate and gubernatorial incumbents are locked in close races, it’s a good year to be a GOP incumbent even in a swing seat. Coffman is positioned to squeak by, and we’re moving his race from Toss-up to Leans Republican.

Meanwhile, it shouldn’t be surprising that in what is shaping up to be a Republican year nationally many Democratic challenges have sputtered. Reps. David Valadao (R, CA-21) and Rodney Davis (R, IL-13) ranked among the top Democratic targets in the country earlier in the cycle, but neither race has really materialized, and both go from Leans Republican to Likely Republican. The same can be said for three longer-shot Democratic targets: Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R, NJ-2), Mike Fitzpatrick (R, PA-8), and Scott Rigell (R, VA-2) occupy the kinds of politically competitive districts that Democrats need to win in order to grab a majority, but this isn’t a good year to convince voters in these places to swap out their moderate GOP incumbents for Democrats. This trio of seats moves from Likely Republican to Safe Republican. Assuming there isn’t an upset in any of these seats this year, Democrats will revisit all five in what could be a more favorable climate in 2016.

That said, some top GOP targets from earlier this year also don’t look quite as endangered now: Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D, AZ-9), Raul Ruiz (D, CA-36), and Patrick Murphy (D, FL-18). The Republican challengers to these first-term incumbents have not really panned out, and all three have relatively noteworthy feathers in their caps: Murphy and Sinema won the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which endorses Republicans almost exclusively in federal races, and Ruiz, an emergency room physician, won immensely positive local media coverage by helping passengers with medical problems on flights on two separate occasions over the past year. All three races go from Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic. Moving even further off the board for Republicans — just read this to learn why — is the seat of Rep. Steven Horsford (D, NV-4), who goes from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic.

The remainder of our rating changes are all Democratic-held seats moving toward the GOP.

In New York’s North Country, the retirement of Rep. Bill Owens (D, NY-21) left the Democrats in a bind in a district that is trending Democratic but is ancestrally Republican. Elise Stefanik, a Republican operative-turned-candidate, appears to have a leg up here against a nontraditional Democratic candidate, filmmaker Aaron Woolf, who may be having some trouble unifying his base: A Siena College poll showed Stefanik up 46% to 33% on Woolf, with a Green Party candidate at 10%. This race goes from Toss-up to Leans Republican. Another non-New York City Empire State seat, that of Rep. Dan Maffei (D, NY-24), is fairly Democratic (57% Obama in 2012), but Maffei fell in the 2010 wave before regaining his seat in 2012 and both party’s national congressional committees are spending here. John Katko (R), a former federal prosecutor, is still an underdog, but this race is very much in play: A Siena College poll showed Maffei up 50%-42%. So NY-24 is now just Leans, not Likely, Democratic.

Across the country in suburban Sacramento, first-term Rep. Ami Bera (D, CA-7) is locked in a tight contest with former Rep. Doug Ose (R), a favorite of establishment Republicans who advanced to the general election over less electable Republican foes. This is a race where, as is oftentimes the case, both Democrats and Republicans argue they have a small lead. We’re not sure who is right, so we’re moving the race from Leans Democratic to Toss-up.

Finally, watch out for a potential surprise in Hawaii: Ex-Rep. Charles Djou (R, HI-1) is trying to get his old seat back against state Rep. Mark Takai (D), and despite this being a very Democratic district — home-state favorite Barack Obama won 70% here in 2012 — Djou is a strong candidate: He briefly held the district in 2010 thanks to a Democratic split in a special election, and he ran well against the current occupant, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D), winning 47% and 45% of the vote against her in, respectively, 2010 and 2012 (Hanabusa is vacating the seat after her unsuccessful challenge to Sen. Brian Schatz in a Democratic primary earlier this year). A Honolulu Civil Beat poll showed Djou up four points, and this race belongs on our board even if we remain skeptical that this heavily Democratic district will ultimately back a Republican: HI-1 goes from Safe Democratic to Likely Democratic.

Conclusion

We talked to senior Democrats and Republicans involved in the House contests to inform this report, as well as some of our fellow analysts and journalists (all were given anonymity so they could speak freely). We asked each source to give his or her best guess as to what the net change in House seats would be on Election Day. The guesses were generally in the range of a five-to-eight seat GOP net gain — the same as ours — with a low guess of Republicans adding two seats to a high guess of Republicans adding nine.

If the result is somewhere in that range — around a five-seat Republican gain — it’s highly probable both sides will declare victory and move on to 2016. Republicans will have added to their House majority and largely won back the seats they lost in 2012 (they lost a net of eight seats). Democrats, meanwhile, will have held the line in tough conditions with a better-turnout presidential contest on the horizon. Of course, the difference is that the GOP will actually have won, while the Democrats will have “won” relative to the disastrous (for them) wave of 2010.

Still, sources on both sides said, such a modest change in seats would be at least somewhat frustrating: All the money, time, and effort for this?

Such is the trench warfare that defines 2014’s battle for the U.S. House.

Table 3: Crystal Ball U.S. House ratings

Notes: Members in italics hold seats that the other party’s presidential candidate won in 2012. A red-shaded seat in the Democratic column or a blue-shaded seat in the Republican column means that the incumbent party is an underdog to hold the seat.


Senate Ratings Changes: North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Minnesota

Plus gubernatorial updates

Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor, Sabato's Crystal Ball September 18th, 2014

Another week is down the drain in the race for the Senate, and while our overall outlook is unchanged — a five to eight seat gain for the GOP — some of our ratings are in need of adjustments.

One of these comes as a surprise, as Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is proving to be quite resilient.

Several Democrats privately expressed to us earlier this year their pessimism about Hagan’s chances. They didn’t think she had the wherewithal and entrenched image of someone like Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who is a much more respected campaigner. But now those same Democrats, to their surprise, believe Hagan can now win. And we’ve seen a lot of polling, both public and private, indicating that she is ahead, though she’s closer to 45% than 50%, which is still tenuous territory for a Democratic incumbent in a Republican year.

The problem for Republicans in the Tar Heel State is that Thom Tillis, their candidate and the speaker of the state House of Representatives, has particularly poor numbers for a challenger: His unfavorables are usually higher than his favorables, and not just by a few points. It’s not hard to imagine that a more generic Republican who is not tied to the unpopular state legislature — someone like Landrieu’s main challenger in Louisiana, nondescript Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) — would be doing better here.

Hagan’s numbers aren’t great, either, though they appear to be improving: There’s some indication that her favorability is inching up to near an even split, meaning her favorability and unfavorability ratings would be about the same. And even though the president remains unpopular nationally, this state is several points more Democratic than Alaska, Arkansas, or Louisiana, three states where Democratic incumbents with deeper roots and better reputations as campaigners are in more trouble than Hagan is at the moment. President Obama’s not the drag here that he is in those states, though he is still a drag.

For all these reasons, we’re moving North Carolina from Toss-up to Leans Democratic.

We may be getting ahead of ourselves here. Remember: Hagan is really only at 45% or so, and even though there is a Libertarian in the race, Sean Haugh, who can pull votes from Tillis, his share of the vote appears to be decreasing from the high-single digits to the mid-single digits. Tillis still absolutely has a path to victory, but he seems stuck at the moment.

One other change in favor of the Democrats: Polls continue to show Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) leading in his race against businessman Mike McFadden (R). While we believe the race will be closer than the polls currently indicate — the incumbent is up about 10 pointswe are moving this race back to Likely Democratic, a move we suggested was on the horizon in our update last week.

The Republicans are not without good news of their own this week, though.

After winning his primary last week, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) is making a move in New Hampshire. Perhaps it’s just a consolidation of GOP support after the primary, but Brown is now only about four points behind Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). The best poll for Brown was one the political world woke up to on Monday morning from CNN/Opinion Research that showed him in a 48%-all tie.

We cannot reiterate this enough: Trust the averages, not individual polls, although the CNN poll is of higher quality than many of the junk or partisan polls that get released on a daily basis.

Yet even in that CNN poll — really the best public poll Brown has gotten all year — his favorability/unfavorability was still underwater with likely voters at 46%/48%. Shaheen, meanwhile, had a much stronger 54%/42% spread.

We often mention how schizophrenic New Hampshire can be politically, swinging hard from one party to the other as the national mood changes. Well, perhaps we might see that here: President Obama’s approval rating in the poll was dreadful, with a 38%/60% approval/disapproval. Brown may have some baggage because of his carpetbagging, but he’s definitely a good enough candidate to win if conditions allow. And they just might. Furthermore, New Hampshire is a state where retail politicking matters, and Brown has an edge on Shaheen in that department.

Shaheen is still the favorite here. But we’re moving the race from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic.

It’s worth noting that Democrats seem to have an advertising edge in many of the key Senate states at the moment, which might be artificially inflating their numbers in some of these races (kudos to Crystal Ball senior columnist Sean Trende for making this observation). The drag of an unpopular president, and the inherently Republican-leaning nature of many of the key states on this map, may yet boost the GOP from the low end of our range (a five-seat gain) to the high end (eight seats). The Republicans can lose New Hampshire and North Carolina — and also competitive blue states like Colorado and Iowa — and still win the Senate. Their most plausible path to the six-seat gain they need is capturing, in order of least to most difficult, Democratic-held Senate seats in Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alaska, which are all states where Obama got less than 42% of the vote in 2012.

That route to a majority assumes they hold all of their present states, which might be too big of an assumption. Kansas is a potentially huge problem for the Republicans: Sen. Pat Roberts (R) is trying — perhaps not hard enough — to hang on to his seat against independent Greg Orman, and there’s growing indication that the race is tied, or that Orman may even be leading. We’re still calling the race Leans Republican but it may drift into Toss-up land soon.

Table 1: Crystal Ball Senate ratings changes

Map 1: Crystal Ball Senate ratings

Gubernatorial ratings changes

Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) has looked like a goner for a long time: We moved his race from Toss-up to Leans Democratic more than a year ago. We held it there after the primary because of Pennsylvania’s tradition of consistently giving each party two consecutive terms in the governor’s office (Corbett is just in his first party term) and because we wanted to see if there was any sign of movement in Corbett’s direction against his Democratic opponent, Tom Wolf.

There hasn’t been. Wolf’s been up double digits in every single poll conducted since the primary. Corbett looks like a one-termer: We’re moving this race from Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic.

Going the other way for Democrats is Colorado, where Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) appears to be in some real trouble against former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R). We previously thought that Hickenlooper would run ahead of his statewide ticketmate, Sen. Mark Udall (D), but now it appears he might run behind Udall — and Beauprez, too. Recently, Hickenlooper has taken heat for local issues — like potentially granting clemency to a convicted killer on death row and for gun restrictions passed last year that contributed to two Democratic state senators being recalled in 2013. Also, President Obama is very weak in the Centennial State, which hurts Hickenlooper and Udall, too. We’re keeping Udall at Leans Democratic, but moving Hickenlooper to Toss-up. One note: Many readers probably saw a Quinnipiac poll showing Beauprez up 10 points that was released on Wednesday morning. That survey reminds us of another Quinnipiac survey released almost exactly four years ago, showing John Kasich (R) beating then-Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in Ohio by 17 points. Kasich won, but only by two points. This poll also feels like an outlier, but others in the state have shown a close race. Two things worth remembering about Colorado: Recent polling there has often underestimated Democratic performance, and the state now has an all-mail voting system that should help Democratic turnout.

Meanwhile, those looking for a sleeper race this year ought to take a look at Idaho. In his quest for a third term, Gov. Butch Otter (R) really struggled in his primary, getting only 51% of the vote, and we’ve heard from some sources there that he could be vulnerable. Apparently, Otter is having trouble unifying his party, and deep-pocketed challenger A.J. Balukoff, a conservative Democrat who said he voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, might give disaffected Republicans an alternative (a Libertarian is also running).

Data here are scarce: There are only two public polls of which we are aware, which show Otter up an average of 51% to 35% over Balukoff. Based on that information, Otter is seemingly still in decent shape. However, because of what we’ve been hearing, we’re switching this race from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.

Finally, Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM) has long looked like a strong favorite despite New Mexico’s Democratic leanings, and Attorney General Gary King (D) does not appear capable of beating her. He has hardly any money and he just lost his third campaign manager, never a good sign for a campaign. This race moves from Likely Republican to Safe Republican. New Mexico joins Nevada and Ohio as two-time Obama states where first-term incumbent Republican governors are skating to victory. It’s certainly possible that Martinez will have some role to play on the national stage in her second term.

Table 2: Crystal Ball gubernatorial rating changes

Map 2: Crystal Ball gubernatorial ratings


Overtime: Five Reasons Senate Control Might Not Be Decided on Election Day

Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor, Sabato's Crystal Ball September 18th, 2014

Think the Senate will be decided on Election Day, Nov. 4?

There are all sorts of reasons why you shouldn’t, unless in the next seven weeks one side or the other — probably the Republicans — starts opening up a clear lead in enough races to give them a clear majority. If neither side does, control of the Senate could remain up in the air — for a while.

At the very least, political watchers are going to be in for a longer night than usual because one of the key races that is likely to determine control, Sen. Mark Begich’s (D) reelection bid in Alaska, is taking place 4,000 miles and four time zones away from Washington, D.C. (and five in the Aleutian Islands). Load up on Red Bull and, if you can, hold the vodka.

Beyond that, though, the uncertainty could continue for much longer. The potential for overtime exists in two key states, and perhaps others, too, depending on how close the races are on Nov. 4. Beyond that, a close or even tied Senate will test the partisan loyalties of some members, including those who were elected with no party label at all.

With that, here are five plausible scenarios that might prevent us from definitively knowing who controls the Senate for days, weeks, or even months after Election Day.

1. A recount

In the HuffPost Pollster polling averages as of Wednesday afternoon, five races currently show the top two contenders separated by less than three percentage points: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and Louisiana. That does not include some other races that are hotly contested and could be very close at the end, like Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and maybe others.

What if one of these races is so close that the state election authorities cannot certify a winner without a recount?

In Minnesota six years ago, Sen. Al Franken (D) beat then-Sen. Norm Coleman (R) by 312 votes, a result that took so long to finalize that the state’s second Senate seat was vacant until July of the following year. The dragged-out result deprived Democrats of the 60th vote they needed to cement their fleeting filibuster-proof Senate majority (the election of Republican Scott Brown in a Massachusetts special election the following January knocked the Democrats back down to 59 seats).

A recount/legal battle over a razor-thin Senate election could leave the Senate short a member when it organizes in early January. The side with more seats could organize the Senate under its control, but the eventual recount winner could flip control later in the session.

2. A runoff in Louisiana

Of all the possibilities discussed here, this one is the likeliest. Louisiana has an odd election system in which there is an all-party primary in November. Every candidate runs against one another on Election Day, and if no one gets over 50%, the top-two finishers advance to a runoff, which this year would be held more than a month after the general election on Saturday, Dec. 6. That also happens to be the same day as the Southeastern Conference college football championship game: If the LSU Tigers manage to make it, plenty of stories may be written about how football affected voter turnout.

If we had to bet right now, we’d say this race is likely to head to a runoff. In addition to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), the candidates who would almost certainly advance to the runoff, there is a another notable Republican running, retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness. Maness won’t finish ahead of Cassidy, but he’ll get some votes (he’s endorsed by Sarah Palin). Beyond these three candidates, the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office lists four other Democrats, one other Republican, and a Libertarian. Presumably these candidates will all get at least a smattering of votes, further reducing the odds that either Landrieu or Cassidy can get to 50%.

3. Greg Orman’s choice

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there’s not a result close enough to require a recount and there’s no runoff in Louisiana. So we can put this election to bed, right? Well, not necessarily — because Greg Orman, the independent running against Sen. Pat Roberts (R) in Kansas, might actually win.

The Democratic candidate in Kansas, Chad Taylor, remains on the ballot, but he’s trying to remove his name and, even if he can’t, it should be clear to voters that he isn’t really in the race. That leaves Orman as the de facto Democratic candidate, although it is not clear he would caucus with the Democrats.

Orman says that if one side has a clear majority, he will caucus with that party to increase his clout (and that of his state). That makes sense. But what if Republicans have just a 50-49 edge after Election Day, leaving both Republicans and Democrats short of their magic number for Senate control (51 for the Republicans and 50 for the Democrats because of Biden’s tiebreaker)?

Orman would hold control of the Senate in his hand, and he might be able to extract big concessions out of the party caucus he chooses to join. For instance, he has said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are too partisan. Could he make the election of a new caucus leader a condition of his giving one side or the other control?

4. A runoff in Georgia

Like Louisiana, Georgia also requires winners to get over 50% to be elected to the Senate. In the Peach State’s open seat contest, businessman David Perdue (R) appears to have a small lead over former nonprofit CEO Michelle Nunn (D), although Perdue is short of 50% in most polls. He may have a hard time getting there in part because of the presence of a Libertarian, Amanda Swafford, on the ballot.

A Libertarian candidate might also push Georgia’s gubernatorial race between Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and state Sen. Jason Carter (D) to a runoff. What’s odd here is that Senate and gubernatorial runoffs are held on different dates: The gubernatorial runoff is scheduled for Dec. 2, and the Senate runoff is scheduled for Jan. 6, 2015, which would be just after the 114th Congress convenes. That means the new Senate could come to order a member short, and that member could decide the majority, too, even assuming that the first three items on this list are resolved in an orderly way (all the other races have clean winners and Roberts is reelected).

5. A party switch

Beyond the choice of a potential Sen. Orman, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a current senator could switch parties. In a closely divided Senate, that could lead to a change of party control.

We saw this in 2001, a crazy year in the Senate. When the Senate opened that year on Jan. 3, control was split 50-50, but Vice President Al Gore (D) was still in office, which allowed Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) to serve as majority leader for 17 days. After President George W. Bush was inaugurated, Vice President Dick Cheney’s (R) tiebreaking vote made Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) majority leader. Later that year, Sen. Jim Jeffords (VT) announced he was switching from Republican to independent and would caucus with Democrats, which made Daschle majority leader again. Republicans re-took the chamber in the 2002 elections.

Who could switch this time? The most obvious candidate would be independent Sen. Angus King (ME), who currently caucuses with the Democrats. He’s left the door open to a post-election caucus switch.

A longer shot would be someone like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), one of the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus. It’s possible that after this election, he will be the only Democrat in the Mountain State’s congressional delegation, and it’s also possible that his state’s House of Delegates (the lower chamber of the state legislature) will flip to the Republicans for the first time since 1928. Additionally, we’ve heard rumblings that Manchin’s own numbers are not as strong as they used to be, and he might sense the political winds shifting in his state as he eyes a reelection bid in 2018 — or a return to the governor’s office in 2016.

One longtime West Virginia observer said that the chances of a Manchin party switch were remote but added, “Manchin changes with the wind.”

Perhaps other senators could be induced to flip sides, though those changes might not necessarily change the majority party. One possibility if the Republicans win a clear majority (something like 52 or more seats) is that their edge may grow as someone like King decides life is better in the majority. In 1994, Republicans won a 52-seat majority that increased to 54 seats after Sen. Richard Shelby (AL) and then-Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (CO) switched from the Democrats to the Republicans. This is all the more incentive — the good Democratic Senate map coming in 2016 is another — for Republicans to think of their Senate goal as more than just 51 seats.

Conclusion

The general public is probably getting sick of this election because they hate Congress and they would rather watch cereal commercials than political ads. The political class is getting sick of this election because it distracts from Hillarymania and the Republican presidential jumble.

There are many who want this election over and done with on Nov. 4. But they may not get their wish.