Political nerds everywhere rejoice – Nate Silver’s Senate model is back. To the uninitiated, Nate Silver is a statistician with a nearly unimpeachable record for predicting the outcome of elections (and, coincidentally the performance of Major League Baseball players). His highly regarded model weights the veracity of various polls, and then runs their outcomes, along with historical and demographic information of the district, through thousands of simulations to create a race’s odds.
The launch should be especially exciting to Republicans. Why? Silver writes for his website FiveThirtyEight:
[I]f you’re looking for a headline, we have two. First, Republicans are favored to take the Senate, at least in our view; the FiveThirtyEight forecast model gives them a 64 percent chance of doing so.
The reasons for the GOP advantage are pretty straightforward. Midterm elections are usually poor for the president’s party, and the Senate contests this year are in states where, on average, President Obama won just 46 percent of the vote in 2012.1 Democrats are battling a hangover effect in these states, most of which were last contested in 2008, a high-water mark for the party. On the basis of polling and the other indicators our model evaluates, Republicans are more likely than not to win the six seats they need to take over the Senate. This isn’t news, exactly; the same conditions held way back in March.
What Silver’s model doesn’t reflect—at least not yet—is the litany of disastrous campaign gaffes that have beset Democratic candidates across the nation over the past week.
The “Worst of the Week” award undoubtedly goes to Alaskan Sen. Mark Begich who was forced to take down one of his political ads for crossing the lines of decency. The ad blamed one of the most famous, and most horrific, crimes in Alaskan history at the feet of GOP Senate challenger Dan Sullivan, who was the state’s former Attorney General. Begich’s ad conveniently leaves out that the accused murderer’s early release from prison, during which he murdered and sexually assaulted two family members, happened before Sullivan even became the state’s Attorney General.
The advertisement was roundly criticized by nearly everyone. Politifact gave the ad a “Pants on Fire” rating. The current Attorney General issued a statement saying that the charge against Sullivan “has no basis in fact” and calls the ad “inappropriate and offensive.” The victims’ family was equally disgusted. A letter to Begich through their attorney said they were “highly offended” by “this abomination of political abuse” and reminded the campaign that the “family directly and without question has told your campaign that they want to part of this.”
Politics can be a nasty business, but to mislead voters and drag the victim’s family through the experience all over again is beyond the pale.
Though not nearly as morally despicable, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall got caught in a lie of his own this week. The Denver Post dug up a statement from Udall saying that he was against any government-sponsored solution to health care.
“I’m not for a government-sponsored solution,” Udall said. “I’m for enhancing and improving the employer-based system that we have.”
Once elected Udall then broke that promise by being one of the deciding votes for Obamacare. And not only that, he became one of the more vocal proponents of a public option, which is considered the Holy Grail for government-run health care. As the Pueblo Chieftain reported in 2010: “Udall said he supports creating a public option, but added, “I thought we needed to bring this drawn-out process to an end.”
With flip-flops like that it’s about time voters bring Udall’s time in Washington to an end.
And then there is North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan. In a debate last night with GOP challenger Thom Tillis she hinted that she didn’t know that Obamacare would require insurers to cancel plans until “last fall.” She then went one step further, claiming that she “immediately sponsored legislation allowing those plans to become permanent.” Neither of those statements is true. Guy Benson clears things up in HotAir:
Fun fact: Hagan has never been a primary sponsor on any piece of legislation that went on to become law. . .
Hagan didn’t just vote for the provision that triggered mass cancellations; when Republicans offered a resolution to spare consumers from that rule’s consequences, Hagan voted in lock step with her fellow Democrats to bury it. She was warned explicitly about this issue at the time and chose to side with Barack Obama and Harry Reid against North Carolinians.
That’s right – it was Republicans who offered the bill to block implementation of the Obamacare rule that was designed to force the cancellation of current policies. It was Democrats, voting along party lines, who killed it.
Ugly partisanship, blatant flip-flops and flagrant attempts at misleading voters – this is your class of Democratic candidates in 2014. Nate Silver should have a pretty easy job this year.