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The Senate in 2018

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The map makes it almost impossible for the Dems to be favored, but at least they’re live dogs:

Many of the individual race forecasts in the FiveThirtyEight Senate model, which launched on Wednesday, look pretty optimistic for Democrats. The model shows Sen. Joe Manchin in a strong position to retain his seat in West Virginia, for instance. It has Democrats as ever-so-slight favorites to win the GOP-held Senate seats in Nevada and Arizona. It thinks Democratic incumbents like Missouri’s Claire McCaskill and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp could close well down the stretch. It even gives Democrat Beto O’Rourke a credible shot in Texas — although it has Sen. Ted Cruz as the favorite in the race.

But despite that, the model has Democrats as reasonably clear underdogs to take control of the Senate. Even though it’s more optimistic than the consensus about Democrats’ chances in several individual races — and even though the model is generated by the same program that gives Democrats around a 5 in 6 chance of winning the House — it nevertheless says Republicans have somewhere between a 2 in 3 and 7 in 10 chance to hold the Senate, depending on which version of our model you look at.

This isn’t any sort of paradox: The Senate map is simply very, very daunting for Democrats. In fact, it’s about as unfavorable a map as any party has faced in the Senate, ever. Democrats have 26 seats up for election in November; Republicans have just nine. Moreover, 10 of those 26 seats are in states that President Trump won in 2016, including five states (West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana, Montana, Missouri) where he won overwhelmingly.

Ain’t democracy grand? Alas, we’re dealing with the United States Congress.

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