Sean Trende: How likely are Dems to lose Senate?

Sean Trende: How likely are Dems to lose Senate?

A few weeks ago, I produced two Senate analyses. One focused on the relationship between the president’s job approval, the fate of Senate Democrats during the 2010 and 2012 elections, and what that would mean if this relationship continues through 2014.  The second looked at Republican vulnerability in 2016 using a similar standard.

The first piece concluded that, based on President Obama’s job approval rating, Democrats have substantial vulnerability in 2014. This vulnerability is deeper than many analysts are willing to consider right now.  Over the past two cycles, the president’s job approval has explained 58 percent of the variance in competitive Senate races in any given state. Given Obama’s current weak numbers, this seemingly bodes poorly for Democrats. Remember, the midterm map is the “reddest” Senate map Democrats have had to defend while Obama has been president. Their overexposure makes it something of a perfect storm scenario if things do not improve.  This doesn’t mean that the problems are insuperable for Democrats.  It simply means that the playing field is stacked heavily against them.

The second piece took a somewhat different tack. Instead of just looking at the playing field for 2016, it used that playing field as the basis for a simulation run in a neutral year to help better quantify Republican exposure. It concluded that unless 2016 turned out to be a good Republican year overall, that Republicans would probably have to win 53 or 54 seats in 2014 to feel good about their chances of holding the Senate two years later.

The present article takes the technique used in the second piece and applies it to the playing field described in the first.  In other words, this is a “Monte Carlo simulation” to try to better quantify the amount of exposure Democrats are under this time.

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