Democrats Poised To Win Back The House, But Need ‘Systematic Polling Error’ To Take Senate, Nate Silver Says

It is a good news/bad news scenario regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on. Democrats are poised to win the House with a cakewalk. But they will need something big to regain the Senate. In the article, “Election Update: Democrats Need A Systematic Polling Error To Win The Senate,” FiveThirtyEight explains the numbers.

“The divide between the House outlook and the Senate outlook continues to widen. Democrats’ chances of winning a majority remain at or near their all-time highs in our House forecast — ranging between 78 percent (7 in 9) and 85 percent (6 in 7) in the various versions of our model. But they’re at their lowest point yet in the Senate. All three versions of our forecast give them only about 1 in 7 shot (about 15 percent) of taking over the Senate from Republicans.”

I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 7. Your chances of guessing it are about the same as the Democrats’ chances of taking back the Senate. It is not impossible. But a lot of somewhat improbable things have to happen first.

The most straightforward of those things is for there to be some sort of systematic polling error. A lot of polls have to be wrong in a number of battleground states, some by a significant margin. All of this has happened before. Polling is still more of an art than a science. Just look at how many pollers were embarrassed by Trump’s election.

The fact still remains that even if the Democrats completely ran the table in these contested states, they would only have a 50 seat tie, which would always be broken by the Republican Vice President. That means in the best-case scenario, Democrats would have to flip a solidly red state.

The key races are in the following states:

  • Missouri
  • Indiana
  • Navada
  • Florida
  • Arizona
  • New Jersey
  • Montana
  • West Virginia
  • Minnesota (special election)

If the Democrats win all of the above races, they will still need to pull off a win in at least one of the following:

  • Texas
  • North Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Mississippi (special election)

Polling data should not be seen as deterministic. It represents snapshots of our best guess of what people are thinking at a given moment. Some polls show one candidate with a seven point lead. Others show their opponent with the same seven point lead.

One of the strategies employed by election hackers is to corrupt the polling data so that a candidate seems to be ahead when he is not, thus suppressing the vote. At the end of the day, the only poll that matters is the one where your vote is counted on Wednesday.