Is everyone huffing glue to kill their brain for the next 5 days? I could hardly blame you. And with the inevitable Democratic freakout in the days prior to the election in full effect, let’s all take a deep breath and note the generally positive news coming out of the Senate races.
With less than a week left to go until Election Day, the odds of the Democrats controlling 50 seats or more in the Senate are as high as they’ve been: 72 percent. That’s still far from a sure thing, but the trendline looks very good. There’s one other first that we’re seeing: for the first time, the median number of Democrat-held seats is now 51, not 50.
Fifty-one seats has two advantages. One, it gives the Democrats a bit of a cushion going into 2018, a midterm election where they’re defending a number of red-state seats that they won in 2012. And two, it keeps the Democrats from having to depend on their least-liberal member to reach 50 on non-cloture votes, so it keeps Joe Manchin from being perpetually in the driver’s seat. (Of course, any 5-seat gain includes Evan Bayh, so that would still leave Evan Bayh in the driver’s seat.)
The main reason that we’re seeing our Senate odds increase is the race in Pennsylvania, where Katie McGinty now has an 89 percent chance of winning, based on a polling average of 45-41. Her race with Pat Toomey has been very back-and-forth all year, but she’s led the last eight polls; she hasn’t trailed since an Emerson poll from mid-October, and a Franklin & Marshall poll from a few days ago giving her a 12-point lead is the coup de grâce.
Even with Indiana and Wisconsin getting tighter, the odds are very positive for the Democrats to win 50-52 seats.