Election Eve Update: GOP Prospects Continue to Improve in the Senate

November 3, 2014 · 12:27 PM EST

The playing field of competitive Senate races hasn’t changed, but Republican chances to win those seats has improved in the last couple of days.

Since our latest ratings changes on Wednesday, GOP prospects have improved in Colorado and Iowa, making the path to a net gain of at least six seats, and winning a majority, more likely than even a few days ago. New Hampshire continues to look in play, which would mean a potential net gain of 10 seats for the GOP. Ten seats seemed like a stretch, even a few weeks ago, but at least one veteran Democratic strategist is expecting a huge Republican year and believes it is a real possibility.

Republicans’ inability to lock down Kansas and Georgia is one of the biggest reasons why the majority is in doubt at all. We are maintaining our projection of a GOP gain of 5-8 seats, but expect Republicans to gain at least six seats, with larger gains still possible.

Colorado Senate. The race between Sen. Mark Udall (D) and Cory Gardner (R) continues to be one of the most fascinating in the country as a microcosm of some national narratives. Both parties are extremely confident in their get-out-the-vote operations. Democrats have been laser-focused on female voters and women’s issues against a candidate that has been on the record supporting the so-called personhood amendment. But Gardner has been fighting back with an emerging policy proposal that includes over-the-counter access to birth control. The outcome of this race could cause party strategists to re-evaluate campaign strategies in future races. Toss-Up/Tilt Republican and it looks like Gardner has the momentum into Election Day.

Public Policy Polling (D)(IVR), Nov. 1-2 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Gardner over Udall 48%-45%. Udall job rating: 38% approve/51% disapprove. Gardner ID: 49% favorable/39% unfavorable.
Public Policy Polling (D)(IVR), for LCV, Oct. 28-29 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Gardner and Udall tied at 48%. IDs: Udall 42% favorable/49% unfavorable, Gardner 49% favorable/45% unfavorable.
Quinnipiac Univ., Oct. 22-27 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Gardner over Ernst 46%-39%, Shogan 7%. IDs: Udall 43% favorable/50% unfavorable, Gardner 48% favorable/40% unfavorable.

Georgia Senate. The surprise of the night could be Republican David Perdue crossing 50 percent on Tuesday and defeating Democrat Michelle Nunn without a runoff. It runs counter to conventional wisdom, especially since Perdue has endured a few weeks of negative headlines over his out-sourcing comments. Limited public polling data has the two candidates running even or with Perdue ahead. Libertarian Amanda Swafford appears to be settling at closer to 3 percent, making it easier for either candidate to get to 50 percent on Election Day.

SurveyUSA (IVR), Oct. 30-Nov. 2 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Perdue over Nunn 47%-44%.
NBC News/Marist, Oct. 31 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Perdue over Nunn 48%-44%, Swafford 3%. IDs: Perdue 47% favorable/42% unfavorable, Nunn 49% favorable/39% unfavorable.
Landmark Communications, Oct. 29 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Perdue and Nunn tied at 47%, Swafford 3%.
SurveyUSA (IVR), Oct. 24-27 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Perdue over Nunn 48%-45%, Swafford 3%.
Monmouth Univ., Oct. 26-28 (LVs)--General election ballot: Perdue over Nunn 49%-41%, Swafford 3%. Obama job rating: 38% approve/56% disapprove.

Iowa Senate. The race between Joni Ernst (R) and Bruce Braley (D) has been one of the closest in the country but a late poll by the Des Moines Register shook up the narrative in the race. The Selzer & Co. survey released on Saturday night showed Ernst with a considerable 51 percent to 44 percent advantage. The poll also showed Braley losing his home congressional district by 3 points-- something we have been seeing in district-level data for weeks. Democrats promptly issued a press release calling the poll results an outlier but didn’t provide data of their own. The race feels like it is tilting Republican but there isn’t enough late data to push it quite that way. Pure Toss-Up.

Quinnipiac Univ., Oct. 28-Nov. 2 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Ernst and Braley tied at 47%. IDs: Braley 43% favorable/45% unfavorable, Ernst 47% favorable/45% unfavorable.
Selzer & Co. for Des Moines Register, Oct. 28-31 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Ernst over Braley 51%-44%.
Anderson Robbins (D)/Shaw & Comp (R) for FOX, Oct. 28-30 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Ernst over Braley 45%-44%.
Rasmussen Reports (IVR), Oct. 28-30 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Ernst over Braley 48%-47%.
Garin Hart Yang (D) for Braley, Oct. 25-27 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Braley and Ernst tied at 47%.
Quinnipiac Univ., OCt. 22-27 (LVs)--General Election ballot: Ernst over Braley 49%-45%. IDs: Braley 40% favorable/43% unfavorable, Ernst 45% favorable/43% unfavorable.

Kentucky Senate. As Stu wrote on Saturday, this race is over. We moved Mitch McConnell’s race against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes from Lean Republican to Republican Favored. Since that move, multiple public polls have confirmed the accuracy of that move. Republicans vulnerabilities on Election Night are limited to Kansas and Georgia.

Public Policy Polling (D)(IVR), Oct. 30-Nov. 1 (LVs)--General Election ballot: McConnell over Grimes 50%-42%, Patterson 3%. McConnell job rating: 39% approve/50% disapprove. Grimes ID: 39% favorable/49% unfavorable.
NBC News/Marist, Oct. 31 (LVs)--General Election ballot: McConnell over Grimes 50%-41%, Patterson 5%. IDs: McConnell 44% favorable/49% unfavorable, Grimes 42% favorable/47% unfavorable.
SurveyUSA (IVR), Oct. 25-29 (LVs)--General Election ballot: McConnell over Grimes 48%-43%. Obama ID: 27% favorable/55% unfavorable.

West Virginia Senate. As GOP strategists continue to wrestle with Kansas and Georgia- two states that should be “sure things” for Republicans - it’s remarkable how steady of a race Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) has run. Since Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) announced his retirement, Capito has led in the race for his seat from wire to wire.

Even though she is facing a very credible opponent in Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D), the outcome of the West Virginia race has never really been in doubt. National Republicans even stole her campaign manager, Chris Hansen, so he could take the reins for Rep. Cory Gardner’s bid in one of the most important Senate seats this cycle. Capito hasn’t really gotten very much attention this cycle, but she is playing an oversized role in the Republican math to the majority.

For our full pre-election analysis from Oct. 29, subscribers can click here ($).