The developing conventional wisdom is that Democrats’ chances of taking back the Senate in 2016 hinge on their ability to claim a third term in the White House. But is this true? Like most conventional wisdom, there is some truth here, but it probably overstates the case.
To address this question, I decided to revisit a Senate election model I developed early in 2014. I won’t completely rehash the details of the model here (you can read them at the above links), but the basic theory is simple: Our federal elections have become so polarized that you can now predict Senate races accurately knowing just three variables: The president’s job approval rating, whether there is an incumbent in a race, and whether one party or the other nominates a badly damaged, controversial candidate (think Christine O’Donnell).
The data are collected from 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2012. I’ve updated the model to include data from 2014 as well.