Nate Silver: GOP Is Slight Favorite to Pick Up Six Seats and Win Control of Senate

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 23 2014 2:00 PM

Nate Silver: GOP Is Slight Favorite to Pick Up Six Seats and Win Control of Senate

Stats guru Nate Silver released his latest forecast Sunday and declared that the Republicans are “slight favorites” to win at least six seats and win control of the Senate in the midterm elections. It’s hardly a clear path though. Silver outlines in FiveThirtyEight how Republicans could win:

Republicans have great opportunities in a number of states, but only in West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana and Arkansas do we rate the races as clearly leaning their way. Republicans will also have to win at least two toss-up races, perhaps in Alaska, North Carolina or Michigan, or to convert states such as New Hampshire into that category. And they’ll have to avoid taking losses of their own in Georgia and Kentucky, where the fundamentals favor them but recent polls show extremely competitive races.
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Although the forecast is a “slight” chance of victory for Republicans, it does mark an improvement in the GOP’s prospects from Silver’s last forecast in July when he concluded that the Senate was a toss-up. Since then, “Democrats’ position has deteriorated somewhat ... with President Obama’s approval ratings down to 42 or 43 percent from an average of about 45 percent before.” And the Republican Party has also largely done a better job of picking candidates that can win elections when compared to the 2010 and 2012 elections. That means there’s also a chance that the Republicans could win big. In an interview with ABC News, Silver says his projection now is that Republicans could pick up six seats, but that is “plus or minus five,” meaning the GOP could end up picking up 11 seats.

Another interesting bit from the interview is that Silver says he believes the Republican Party’s chances in New Hampshire, where Scott Brown is trying to oust Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen, are “a little overhyped.” Silver puts the chances of a Republican win in New Hampshire at 25 percent.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.