Of the 36 Senate seats up for election, up to nine of them have been worth watching closely. These races will determine who controls the Senate. Over the last month a few seem to have dropped out of consideration. Now, with a new burst of polling, the playing field – at least for now – includes as few as four races. These races, plus a few others, will be crushed by attention.
The new polls, from YouGov/NYT and other organizations, confirm what I’ve said and hinted at: Georgia might be moving out of the competitive range (toward the GOP), and maybe Alaska too (toward the Democrats). That would leave four competitive Senate races. In an election held today, there is an 85% probability that each side would have between 49 and 51 votes; much of that probability is concentrated in a perfect 50-50 split.
Only four races - Kentucky, Iowa, Louisiana, and Colorado – have no clear leader at the moment. If we assign all the other races, that gives 48 Democrats/Independents and 48 Republicans.
Here is where key races stand today. Note the return of Jerseyvotes, which I’ll explain in a moment.
|North Carolina||Hagan +7.0±2.7%||<0.1|
Strictly according to PEC’s method of taking the last 3 polls, there is still statistical uncertainty in Mark Begich’s lead in Alaska. However, only one poll is fresh, this week’s YouGov result showing him leading Dan Sullivan by an amazing 12 points. The Begich campaign has lately given Sullivan a beating over a serious gaffe – a Sullivan ad shot on top of a building that Begich got funded. Now we see the payoff.
Some have complained about the fact that YouGov uses Internet-based sampling. YouGov has an excellent record, and Doug Rivers has pioneered the accurate use of their approach to polling. Not only am I happy including the data point, I think it’s our best measure of what is happening in Alaska today. At this point, Begich is the clear favorite.
The remaining four races will be extremely hard-fought. Buckets of money are pouring in – an estimated $2 billion in outside ads, i.e. those that do not come from either candidate. This is a 70% increase from the 2010 campaign. Much of the money will go to those four races, as well as other states.
In the face of that, how can little citizens make their voices and dollars go farthest? That’s where jerseyvotes come in. I introduced this measure in 2004 as a way of quantifying how much power an individual voter has to influence the overall national outcome. To learn more about the concept of individual voter power and how to quantify it, read this explanation. In 2004-2012, I applied this concept to the Presidency. This year, the target of my analysis is Senate control.
The name jerseyvotes comes from the fact that here in New Jersey, we have virtually no influence over the election. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is going to win, period. On the other side of the aisle, Pat Roberts (R-KS) is in exactly the same position. So New Jersey and Kansas voters are of little consequence to the Senate. However, voters in Iowa are another story, where today Bruce Braley (D) and Joni Ernst (R) are tied. An Iowa voter has thousands of times more influence than I do because the race is so much closer (and to a lesser extent because Iowa’s population is smaller than New Jersey’s).
That influence is quantified in Jerseyvotes. Using the amount by which one voter can influence overall Senate-control probability as the yardstick, Kentucky voters are the most influential, at 100 Jerseyvotes each. Iowa voters have 69 jerseyvotes each. Here in New Jersey, my vote is worth far less than 1 jerseyvote. The reason NJ votes are not worth 1 jerseyvote is that our votes are too worthless to be a stable currency – worse than a Weimar Reichsmark. Instead I am normalizing to the most valuable votes – which today are in Kentucky.
If you want to direct your campaign donation wisely, give to one of the top four states I have listed – or to Alaska and Arkansas, the other races with substantially high jerseyvotes. All races are accessible at the links to the left. Democrats, go to ActBlue. Republicans, go to the NRSC. Libertarians can give to Sean Haugh in NC.