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2014 US Senate Race – Analyzing the Polls in Close Races Plus My Prediction!

As of this moment, Real Clear Politics has the Democrats with 46 seats in this November’s midterm election and Republicans with 45. But not to worry my Republican leaning friends, those numbers really do not mean all that much.

There are 100 US Senators, 2 from each state. Senators serve 6 year terms with roughly 1/3 up for election every 2 years, unlike the US House where every seat is up for election (or reelection) every 2 years.

In the 2014 midterm elections there are 36 seats up for reelection or election. And of these 36 seats, 15 are currently held by Republicans and 21 are held by Democrats. So right out of the starting gate Democrats are tasked with holding 6 more seats than Republicans must defend. And coincidentally, Republicans need a net gain of 6 seats to take control of the Senate from Harry Reid and the Democrats.

Presently, Republicans hold 45 seats and Democrats 53. And there are 2 Independents that caucus with the Democrats giving Democrats a 55 – 45 advantage. And in order to control the Senate, a party must have 51 seats. And keep in mind that if we end up with a 50-50 tie, Democrat Joe Biden is the tie breaking vote as Vice President. So Republicans must have 51 seats to gain control.

Safe Seats

Out of the 21 seats up for grabs currently held by Democrats, only 4 are considered safe: Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. And all 4 are deep blue states. Safe means that the Democrats are so far out in front that there is no realistic chance that a Republican can win. So Democrats must defend 17 seats that are in play.

On the Republican side of the aisle it is a different story. Out of the 15 seats Republicans have up for grabs, 11 are safe: Alabama, Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, Oklahoma (BOTH seats), South Carolina (BOTH Seats), Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. In addition, Montana which is currently in Democrat hands, but is an open seat, is a safe seat for the Republican candidate. This gives Republicans 12 safe seats out of the 15 potential seats up for grabs. So while Democrats are defending 17 seats, Republicans are defending only 3.

Likely Seats

The seats that are considered “likely” to win are the ones where the candidate has a double digit average lead. Democrats have a total of 6 seats that they are likely to win. All 6 are currently held by Democrats, so they are defending in all of these races. Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia. And assuming these seats will go to Democrats, that leaves 11 seats (out of the 17 Democrats are defending) that Republicans could take. And if you consider that Montana is already lost to the Democrats as a “safe” Republican pickup, there are only 10 seats left for Democrats to defend. And they must win at least 6 out of these 10 remaining to keep control of the Senate as Republicans need only 5 considering Montana will be a pickup.

On the Republican “likely” seats front there is more bad news for Democrats. Two states – South Dakota and West Virginia – both currently held by Democrats are considered likely wins for Republicans. And Mississippi is also a likely win for Republicans. And after accounting for the Republican “safe” seats, if we add in these 3 likely GOP wins, Republicans will not lose any seats at all and can concentrate money and resources to winning at least 3 seats out of the 10 Democrats are defending. Which means that Democrats MUST win 8 out of the remaining 10 to hold the senate.

Leaning Seats

Democrats have 2 seats that Real Clear Politics considers “leaning” Democrat. Leaning appears to be defined as an average lead of more than 5 points and less than 10 – with 10 considered “likely”. Both seats, Michigan and New Hampshire – are currently Democrat held seats.

Republicans have no seats listed as “leaning”.

Toss Ups

Toss up seats are those that are within a 5 point average. And often this is within the margin of error for the poll. There are 9 seats listed by RCP as toss ups. And of the 9, only 3 are currently held by Republicans and 6 are held by Democrats. And the Republican is ahead in 7 out of the 9 toss ups.

There are only 11 Races to Watch

If we concede the “safe” and “likely” seats to the party that is ahead we are left with only 11 races that are separated by single digits with Republicans leading in 7 races and Democrat leading in 4. And keep in mind that Republicans are already going to win the net 45 seats they currently hold as well as 3 more seats that will be “safe” or “likely” pickups. So out of the 11 races within single digits, Republicans only need 3 and Democrats MUST win 9 of the 11 to keep control of the Senate. And with Republicans leading in 7 out of the 11 races, the odds are against Reid and the Democrats.

Some Polls May be Skewed Towards Democrats

While RCP averages polls which most likely increases the probability of accuracy, pollsters don’t report the actual results of their polls. Instead, most report “weighted” averages. And what they means is that they record the actual results and then apply a mathematical formula to account for the expected demographic turnout at the polls.

In 2012 Obama won Colorado by 4%. The last poll taken by PPP – a Democratic polling firm – used a demographic of +1 Democrats to weight their final poll. They predicted a 6 point Obama victory using that formula. And since most Democrats voted for Obama and most Republicans voted for Romney it was the independents that pushed Obama over the top i9n this poll.

In the 2 most recent polls listed at RCP, a CBS/NYT/YouGov poll shows Democrat Udall with a 3 point lead while a FoxNews poll performed by one Democrat polling firm and one Republican firm shows Republican Gardner ahead by 6 points. So did the Republican suddenly burst ahead? Possibly. But looking at the internal polling data in the two polls you find that the FoxNews Poll used a model that was Republicans +1 while the CBS/NYT poll’s weighted result showed Democrats +6. Interestingly the unweighted average in the CBS/NYT poll – before they enriched the Democrat’s votes – was Republicans +2 and the unweighted result showed Republican Gardner ahead 55% to 45%.

I think it highly doubtful that we will see Democrats turn out in the same ratio to Republicans as we did in 2012. Democrat enthusiasm is way down as Obama is slipping quite a bit. And the CBS/NYT poll seems to be expecting a larger turnout by Colorado Democrats than in the presidential election 2 years ago. That’s not going to happen.

But the one finding in both polls was that Independents plan to vote for Republican Gardner. He has a 9 point lead among Indy’s in the FoxNews poll and a whopping 15 point lead in the CBS/NYT poll. And the enthusiasm gap between Dems and Republicans and Indy’s is a huge advantage for Republicans.

I am not going to go in dept on the rest of the races below but I am using the same analysis.


So we start with Republicans at 48 seats. Let’s look at the 11 battleground races.

First the 2 seats that lean Democrat.


The RCP poll average shows Democrat Peters leading Republican Land by 7.8%. Independents are strongly trending to Republicans, but with Detroit in the mix the Democrats have an advantage in numbers. The polls seem to fluctuate between a +4 and a +9 for Democrats. And the Democrats hold the lead in the polls.

At this point, the Democrats will most likely hold Michigan.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire should be a strong Democrat hold. But former Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown moved north a bit and is challenging the Democrat Shaheen. When Brown first announced he had a pretty large hurdle to overcome. He was behind nearly 20 point out of the starting gate. But the last few polls show Brown anywhere from 10 points behind to tied. Independents are moving to Brown in good numbers so I am sure the actual polls should be less than 5 points down for Brown. So this race is going to be close. Weather and turnout will be key.

But at this point, the Democrats will probably hold on to this seat.

Toss Ups:


Politically Alaska is a strange state. I spent some time working in the Capitol building in Juneau for the House and Senate several years back and was amused at the alliances that R’s and D’s will form. It seems that Alaskans are less polarized than the rest of the nation. They are somewhat unpredictable but Democrat Begich is behind in the RCP average 4.8% but I think the spread may be even wider.

I see Republicans picking up Alaska. So add 1 to the 48 and R’s should have 49 seats with Alaska.


Republican Cotton is ahead of Democrat Pryor in all but one poll. And that was a USA Today poll that was a +4 Democrat poll, which is far too high. The other polls used a model of a pretty even R and D split. The one factor that will deliver Arkansas to the Republican side is the Independents. They are breaking for the Republican in significant numbers.

This will be another Republican pickup and give the GOP a 50 – 50 split.


Democrat Udall has been slipping as more people start paying attention to the race. Udall decided to focus on the fictional “war on women” and may have the Democrats going to the well on that one too many times. His support among women has declined and his lead among Independents has disappeared as the Indy’s trend towards the GOP.

At this point, all indications point to a GOP gain here. We will count this one as the 51st seat but I can also see this one moving towards Democrats. But as of today, the GOP has the edge and 51 seats. (Good riddance to Harry Reid.)


Neither candidate has 50% and Georgia will most likely be heading into a runoff election. I expect that when the polls close, Republican Perdue will have the most votes, but it will require a runoff election with Democrat Nunn to decide this one.

This is a Republican seat presently and this looks to be anyone’s race to win. Obama is unpopular in Georgia and that gives the Republican an edge. In addition, Independents are strongly going for Republican Purdue. We can’t give this one to either party at this point and it will be a toss up after the votes are all counted.



Republican Ernst has a slight lead over Democrat Braley. This one was headed for a Republican pickup but Ernst made a tactical error by opening the door to privatizing Social Security, a good idea, but one that allows Democrats to scare older Americans with lies.



The polls are all over the place on this race. And for those that like a good conspiracy theory, this one might be a race where the polls are trying to drive the story. Republican Roberts is a long time RINO and strong McConnell vote should the Republicans take the Senate. McConnell will do whatever he can to save a RINO that he is sure will vote to make him majority leader. So how hard is it to hire a couple of unknown pollsters and drive the narrative that Roberts is in trouble? The main reason for such a rouse is to send McConnell into panic mode and see him spend a ton of money in what should be – and probably is – a safe Republican seat. And that is exactly what happened.

I am always suspicious when a poll is released and the internal raw numbers are not available. It makes to too easy to have a poll say whatever you want without accountability. I am sure I have seen this in the past. The reputable firms may play this game to an extent, but as the vote draws nearer, they always say the polls are tightening. But they tend to adjust their weighting and the partisan mix.

Roberts will hold this seat because McConnell will pay whatever it takes, to the detriment of other close races.

Republicans hold and add seat # 52.


This race is close, which is very telling in a conservative state like Kentucky. Senate Minority Leader McConnell looks to be in a bit of trouble, but this one is going to see McConnell stay in the Senate.

Republicans will hold this seat and it will be seat # 53


Democrat Mary Landrieu is in trouble and will not win this race. Several polls have seen Republican Cassidy at 50% or 51%, but the last couple of polls show him at less than 50%. Which would mean a runoff.

Runoff or not, Republicans pick up a seat here. #54

North Carolina

This race was supposed to be a fairly easy pickup for the Republicans, but Democrat Hagan has been tough. Tillis, the Republican has been gaining ground. But right now this race is a toss up.

South Dakota

Republican Rounds will win this one by several points. Some of the polls show the Democrat gaining ground, but it won’t be enough.

Republican seat #55.



This still looks like a Republican wave, but we all know Republicans can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a heartbeat. And Republicans will need to motivate their voters to turn out.

In addition to the 55 seats that look to be well on the way into Republican hands, a couple of the others have at least some potential. This could be a massive win for Republicans and a massive defeat for Obama, Obola and the Democrats.



About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

18 Responses to “2014 US Senate Race – Analyzing the Polls in Close Races Plus My Prediction!”

  1. Bob Shannon

    The most amazing element of republicans asking for a majority in the U.S. Senate is as Mike Gierre asked on the BullElephant a few months back ” what do they plan on doing with it ” ?

    Amazing how quick voters are in forgetting the republicans in the U.S. House in 2010 promising the FY 2011 spending would be cut by 30 billion, if we just gave them support. We delivered 82 new seats , and by ” we” the surge came largely from the Patriot movement, energized with the ACA and groundswell in this new movement called the TEA Party.

    It is as if the republican party thinks we are all suckers and will fall for the same old tired platitudes and slogans yet again.

    Voters have a choice this election cycle, and Sarvis is not a wasted vote, but a vote on principle. A wasted vote would be for a candidate representing the status quo, and one who in your heart you know doesn’t even mean the things they say.

    Now if “winning” is your top priority then of course , continue on the gerbil treadmill the establishment has you on. No Thanks.

    Bob Shannon

    • GeneLefty says:

      What is amazing is what the Republican Party did to this country 2000-06 when they controlled all three branches of government. They virtually destroyed our country.

      What is also amazing is the spending that I have complained about in Virginia. From 2010-14, the Republicans have controlled all three branches of Virginia government. They have raided VDOT, the rainy day fund, and given us the largest tax increase in Virginia history. They increased the size of the state budget from about $75 Billion to $96 Billion??????

      Now, just a few months after passing another massive budget, with about $11 Billion more spending than the last budget, Gov. McAuliffe has to come in and clean up behind the Republican’s. The Republican’s locked the Governor out of the current budget, THEY own it!

      Same as Pres. Obama has had to come in and clean up behind the 8 years of Republican Bush 43′ disaster in Washington.

      And you want to give the Republican’s a chance to destroy what they didn’t the last time?

      You got to be kidding?

  2. Steven Brodie Tucker

    Now, let’s not forgot that the majority of Republicans in the Senate are Corporatist Liberals with an eye on redrawing the maps in the Middle East (not that we could do worse than the English and the French). Republicans could take the Senate and nothing could change.

  3. Rivahmitch says:

    I’d not give the Mississippi race to Repugs just yet. Frankly, the NRSC using money donated to them to defeat Democrats to recruit/pay those same Demorats to support Cochran in the primary is why the national party will never again receive money from conservatives or small business. Cochran will cause many in MS to stay home and has severely damaged the National Repugs ability to raise funds. Frankly, he and they deserve it!

    • Tom White says:

      Cochran leads by double digits and this is Mississippi. My analysis does not address disgusting things that the Republican Party has done to preserve their RINO coalition. This is simply an analysis of the trends and the internal numbers that takes into account the weighting of these polls, the trend among Independents and the approval of the candidates and the approval of the president. According to the polls in every state that is contested Obama is unpopular, the country is on the wrong track, Obamacare is unpopular and the Independents are breaking for the Republican by double digits. What that all means is that on election day, the majority of undecideds will move to the Republicans, so any race that is close will see movement towards the Republicans. We may not like the process that got Cochran the nomination but that is not relevant. Some of the internals show Cochran’s approval is favorable by 47% – 37% while the Dem, Childers is at 26% approve, 27% disapprove. 58% believe Cochran legitimately won the primary and only 29% believe McDaniel won. This will be a landslide victory for Cochran. This one is an easy call.
      Tom White recently posted…2014 US Senate Race – Analyzing the Polls in Close Races Plus My Prediction!My Profile

      • Rivahmitch says:

        You’re probably right…as you say, it is Mississippi. However, I’d still bet that the shenanigans there (and it was not just an isolated case) are one reason why the National Repug donations are down. Personally, I know a number of folks who have devoted their contributions to TP groups, SRC and directly candidates but we have not and will not again give to the NRC, NRCC or NSRC. (I’d also bet that this trend will continue beyond this year and election).


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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