Nate Silver is at his new digs over at The New York Times, and he has his forecast for this year’s Senatorial races. The short version: say hello to 6-7 new GOP Senators: and that doesn’t include the possibility of pickups in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington, etc.
Silver also finds that the possibility of a Republican Senate takeover is not that far off:
The Democratic majority is in increasing jeopardy in the Senate, according to the latest FiveThirtyEight forecasting model. The Democrats now have an approximately 20 percent chance of losing 10 or more seats in the Senate, according to the model, which would cost them control of the chamber unless Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, who is running for the Senate as an independent, both wins his race and decides to caucus with them.
In addition, there is an 11 percent chance that Democrats will lose a total of nine seats, which would leave them with 50 votes, making them vulnerable to a defection to the Republican Party by a centrist like Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut or Ben Nelson of Nebraska. On average, over the model’s 100,000 simulation runs, the Democrats are projected to lose a net of six and a half Senate seats, which would leave them with 52 or 53 senators. (Even though the G.O.P. primary in Alaska remains too close to call, that outcome is unlikely to alter the model.)
I wouldn’t go so far as to predict that the GOP retakes the Senate this cycle: while a 20% chance is better than none, it’s not likely. But some of the polls in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Washington show a possibility of the GOP taking those seats—and if that happens, then it’s sayonara to Democratic control of Congress.
All the signs point to this being a “wave” election—and even a 7-seat loss is more than typical for a midterm election. But if this wave is as big as it could be, then the Democrats are in deep trouble. Their House majority is likely to fall, and if they lose the Senate, Obama becomes a lame duck.
In the end, gridlock is the best thing that could happen to this country. If no major bills can be passed, much of the uncertainty that’s killing the markets will be lifted. If businesses can be safe in knowing that there won’t be a major regulatory overhaul (like cap-and-trade/tax) they will be more likely to start expanding again. Divided government helped the US in the early 1990s, and while Barack Obama isn’t the triangulating centrist that Bill Clinton was, a Republican Congress will at least curb some of Obama’s excesses.