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U.S. Senate Forecast Update: A Republican Wave A Mile Wide, But An Inch Deep?

Republicans now look likely to gain eight Senate seats in November, but their leads are slimming.


After reviewing the latest polling data, campaign spending, ad buys, and debate performances, we at the Ace of Spades HQ Decision Desk have updated our ratings for several Senate races. Overall, Republicans have their widest margin all year, and we see them winning a majority of 53 Senate seats to the Democrats’ 47. But that surface win of eight seats comes with plenty of uncertainty, and is still vulnerable to poor get out the vote opportunities by Republicans, strong get out the vote opportunities by Democrats, and Senate candidate missteps.


What Has Changed In Senate Races


We changed Michigan last week from lean to likely Democratic. The writing has been on the wall for some time in the polling, and Republican PACs have been quietly retreating from a once-promising land. Republican candidate Terri Lynn Land wins this race now only through a dramatic shift on the campaign trail or a large wave.


This state goes from likely Republican to lean Republican. We still find Republican candidate David Perdue, who has proved to be a less-than-stellar candidate, winning this out, but polls have tightened there and one in particular, Survey USA, has found Democrat candidate Michelle Nunn with a slight lead, and at 48 percent. Nunn still needs to win outright, in our opinion, and in the average she isn’t, so the race remains in the Republicans’ favor; but the odds of a runoff race have certainly gone up, and Perdue needs to re-expand his lead to feel comfortable.

South Dakota

This state goes from solid Republican to likely Republican. Former Gov. Mike Rounds had been enjoying a wide lead in a three-way race also featuring ex-Republican former Sen. Larry Pressler (who is running as an Independent) and Democrat Rick Weiland, but several polls have shown a dramatic tightening. Considering his year-long lead, the Republican bend of the state, and the division of the moderate vote, we still find this race likely Republican, but Democrats are going to try to dump what they can where they can to save their majority.


This state goes from toss-up to lean Republican. We have been wary to give this to the GOP mainly because it doesn’t look like its candidate, Bill Cassidy, will avoid a runoff, but with head-to-head runoff polls consistently showing Sen. Mary Landrieu trailing, and the embattled senator’s disastrous numbers among white voters, she will need to dig deep to hang on.


This state moves from solid Democratic to likely Democratic. We have no delusions of Republican Ed Gillespie beating Sen. Mark Warner. But he has shrunk the gap as the electorate has begun to pay attention, so we certainly can see him coming within ten points, a noteworthy loss considering Warner’s is considered one of the safest seats the Democrats have up this cycle. Warner remains the obvious favorite, but this race is now worth at least keeping an eye on.

Republicans are forecast to gain eight seats, but of these flips five are only leaning their way. They must defend Kansas and Georgia, also in the same close category. But they now have more paths to winning a majority than the Democrats have of saving theirs. The clock is ticking.