Nate Silver Blog Projects Senate Races 2016: Top 6 Down Ballot Races To Watch

Senate Races 2016 Project 538 Projections

Election Day is just five days away, and all eyes are on presidential candidates Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton and Republican hopeful Donald Trump. But most voters are also seriously considering the down ballot races. And this year, the Senate races for 2016 election are just as tight as the race for the Oval Office, according to the Nate Silver blog, which gives the Democrats over 62 percent chance of taking the Senate.

As the Inquisitr reported yesterday, the presidential race is neck-and-neck in the polls, with Democrat Hillary Clinton carrying the electoral college advantage going into Election Day. Donald Trump has a very difficult climb to the White House, though it is not impossible. This is leaving many Republicans to focus more on the down ballot races, in their “worst-case-scenario” that Hillary Clinton takes the White House.

If she does, the Republicans want to have at least some cards in their favor for the legislative game post-election, and that would mean a majority Senate. The Nate Silver blog, Project 538, which has successfully projected the last two Presidential elections, says the odds are tight but not impossible for the Republicans when it comes to the Senate as well.

BBC News reports that if the Democrats were to take back the Senate, they would need to win five Senate races at this stage of the game. If Hillary Clinton wins the Oval Office, only four, as Tim Kaine would break any 50-50 tie in the Senate if he became the vice president.

With Donald Trump at the helm of the presidential race, BBC News reports that “Senate Republicans are scrambling” and they are trying to amp up the efforts in the down ballot races as they distance themselves from their controversial Republican candidate. The Nate Silver blog says that Democrats have a good chance at taking back the Senate, but so do the Republicans.

This is largely because Marco Rubio in Florida is likely to win his seat in the Senate, a state where Democrats have all but pulled their funding for the down ballot race. Project 538 gives Marco Rubio an 81 percent chance of winning his seat in the Senate. However, Florida isn’t the only seat the Republicans need.

The Nate Silver blog says that the states to watch come Election Day for the down ballot races are Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. At least three of those states need to go Democrat on the down ballot in order for Democrats to win the Senate, and that is only if Hillary Clinton wins the Oval Office and the Democrats are able to maintain their current stronghold on the Wisconsin and Illinois Senate Races.

At this stage of the game, Pennsylvania looks good for the Democrats, reports the Nate Silver blog. Democrat Katie McGinty is challenging the incumbent Pat Toomey for the Senate seat in Pennsylvania and has been consistently ahead in the polls.

An easy race for Katie McGinty is good news for Hillary Clinton if she wants to win Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral college votes. Project 538 says that many states, particularly Pennsylvania, are polling for the Senate in the same shade they poll for the president. In other words, if Pennsylvania votes blue for Hillary Clinton, it likely will for the Senate race as well.

This puts Katie McGinty in good shape to oust the incumbent in Pennsylvania’s down ballot race for the Senate. Project 538 gives Hillary Clinton a 73.8 percent chance of winning Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral college votes, and Katie McGinty a 76.3 percent chance of winning Pennsylvania’s Senate seat.

In North Carolina, the numbers are very similar in favor of the Democrats. Right now the incumbent Senate seat is up to Republican Senator Richard Burr to keep, but he is losing ground to his Democratic challenger, Deborah Ross. Survey Monkey has the Democrats with a three-point lead for the down ballot race in North Carolina, but Project 538 gives Ross only a 42 percent chance of winning the Senate seat.

BBC News chalks Ross’s lead in some of the polls up to state visits from First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama.

BBC News also says that part of the decline in Republican favor in North Carolina is not just due to a steam roll against Donald Trump. North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory caused some tension in North Carolina this year when signing an anti-gay bill reports BBC News. Survey Monkey says this is showing in the polls for the North Carolina gubernatorial race as well.

If North Carolina votes blue for the Senate, that will improve Hillary Clinton’s odds of getting North Carolina’s 15 electoral college votes. However, she is in a dead heat with Donald Trump at this stage of the race, and Project 538 gives her a 49 percent chance of winning North Carolina.

Indiana is not a state that is likely to go blue for either the Senate seat or the electoral college. Republican Todd Young is well ahead of Democratic challenger and former Senator Evan Bayh by 6 points in Indiana, according to Survey Monkey. But Project 538 says that the combination of polls in their polls-plus model forecasts a different projection in favor of former Senator Bayh. The Nate Silver blog gives Democrat Evan Bayh a 55.3 percent chance of winning Indiana’s Senate seat.

Wisconsin is a swing state for the presidential candidates and is also a state where a Senate showdown is occurring according to Survey Monkey. Democrat Russ Feingold is in a dead heat against Republican Ron Johnson. Feingold has consistently polled well for Wisconsin, but Wisconsin down ballot campaigns have seen an influx of money for both candidates of late, and this has the candidates in a virtual dead heat.

Due to the fact that Feingold has polled ahead of Johnson consistently in Wisconsin, Project 538 gives Feingold an 89.9 percent chance of winning the Wisconsin Senate seat. This could turn Wisconsin blue for Hillary Clinton as well, and Project 538 gives her a 79.2 percent chance of winning Wisconsin’s 10 electoral college votes.

In New Hampshire, the Senate race leans far to the blue side of the map, with Democrat Maggie Hassan having a nice lead over Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, according to Survey Monkey. Project 538 agrees and also says that although Hassan has a nice lead, New Hampshire is an “elastic state,” meaning it is neither straight red or straight blue and is home to a lot of swing voters. The Nate Silver blog also says that New Hampshire will likely trend the same way Pennsylvania does, the party winning New Hampshire’s 4 electoral college votes will likely also win the Senate.

Project 538 gives Hillary Clinton a 61.9 percent of winning New Hampshire, and Democrat Maggie Hassan a 60 percent chance of winning New Hampshire. Project 538 also notes that Donald Trump has been gaining in the polls in New Hampshire, and this race, although it leans Democrat right now, is by no means a lock for either candidate.

Nevada is another very important swing state for both the presidential candidates and the Senate. Survey Monkey has the Republican Senatorial candidate down by one point in the polls and Project 538 gives Nevada’s Democratic candidate, former State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto a 62 percent chance of winning Nevada’s Senate seat. The numbers are tighter for Hillary Clinton, who has a 51 percent chance of winning Nevada, according to Project 538.

If Masto wins, she would make history as the first Latina Senator in the United States.

The Hispanic vote is very important in Nevada, both for the presidential candidates and the Senate race for this historic reason. Being tied to the Republican candidate Donald Trump has hurt Republican Joe Heck, reports BBC News. Heck previously had endorsed Donald Trump for President but withdrew the endorsement once the infamous Trump tapes came out in October.

Joe Heck, a three-term congressman, has had a tough time in the polls ever since. He has also refused to say out loud who he is voting for on Election Day according to BBC News.

To have the majority in the Senate, Democrats would need five of these seats, or four if Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election. Project 538 says that this election cycle has more Senate showdowns than the United States has seen in 30 years.

[Featured Image by Mel Evans/API Images]