Things HAVE improved for Democrats from just a little while ago…
There are several interesting things going on here:
- The “toss-ups” aren’t really toss-ups. The four races that were originally rated as pure toss-ups — Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada — now rate as having a two-in-three chance of going for Democrats instead.
- Republicans have fewer targets. Seemingly competitive Midwestern states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where there are potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbents, become real long shots for Republicans.
- And Democrats have more targets. The blue team has some realistic prospects of picking up Republican seats beyond their primary targets of Arizona and Nevada, with Tennessee or a second seat opening up in Arizona being the most likely possibilities.
So this is what a true 50-50 battle for the Senate would look like — but are these revised ratings realistic? You’d have to go through on a case-by-case basis. As I mentioned, for instance, I’d have no problem with treating Arizona as leaning Democratic. And the revised ratings for some of the Democratic incumbents in purple states, such as Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin and Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey, seem more realistic than the original ones to me; they shouldn’t be all that vulnerable in this sort of political climate. But I’m not sure I buy that Democrats have a 42 percent chance of a pickup in Tennessee or that McCaskill is a two-to-one favorite in Missouri, where Republicans are fielding some strong opponents.
Personally, I’d probably split the difference between the macro and the micro views and put Democrats’ chances of winning the Senate somewhere in the range of 35 percent to 40 percent. That’s a lot better for Democrats than it was before Alabama, and it’s higher than it probably “should” be given how favorable the Senate map is for Republicans. But it’s still a fairly steep hill to climb….