Republicans are currently favorites to take control of the Senate this
fall. That prediction could open Democratic wallets.
Nate Silver, the political prognosticator pilloried by Republicans for
correctly predicting President Obama’s convincing victory in 2012, has
perhaps just given the GOP another reason to curse him.
He has predicted that Republicans are better than even odds to take
back the Senate this November.
At first blush, that might seem like something for Republicans to
celebrate. Control of the Senate is the Grand Prize up for grabs in
this fall’s midterm elections. Few doubt that Republicans will hold on
to the House, and most also acknowledge that Republicans are likely to
cut into the Democrats’ 55-to-45 majority in the Senate. (There are
actually only 53 Senate Democrats, but both Senate Independents side
with the Democrats.)
The burning question is whether that Republicans will win enough seats
to become the majority. And now Mr. Silver, the web’s foremost
political polling analyst and the very man who refused to give Mitt
Romney much electoral love two years ago, has suggested on his
FiveThirtyEight blog that “Republicans are now slight favorites to win
at least six seats and capture the chamber.”
Crack open the caviar, right? Cue the images of Mr. Obama’s final two
lonely years in the Oval Office, where filling out the presidential
Final Four bracket will be the height of his executive action.
But here’s the rub.
One of the great challenges facing Democrats this November is the
threat of getting outspent, big time. That is why Senate majority
leader Harry Reid (D) has taken every conceivable opportunity (and a
couple fairly inconceivable ones) to attack the Koch brothers, the
conservative political donors who even at this early stage of the
election are spending millions on advertisements to unseat the most
vulnerable Senate Democrats.
Fortunately for Senator Reid, no one opens Democratic pocketbooks like
Nate Silver, it seems.
Democratic operatives have found that the most effective way to get a
potential donor to open an e-mail is to put Silver’s name in the
subject line, according to a report by National Journal’s Scott Bland.
As in: “Nate Silver’s terrifying math.”
The last time Silver released a Senate forecast (July), he called
Senate control a “toss-up.” His new analysis, released Sunday, could
be the forecast that launches a thousand Democratic e-mails. If the
June forecast was “terrifying,” the new one is nearing a Democratic
“There’s a lot of testing, particularly for subject lines, to see what
has the best open rates,” Taryn Rosenkranz, a Democratic digital
fundraising consultant, told National Journal. “Using that name
[Silver] over and over suggests it’s successful, and people are
opening and giving.”
The Koch brothers’ early spending is already forcing some Democrats to
dip into funds they had hoped to hold in reserve. The Koch brothers’
“super political action committee,” Americans for Prosperity, has
reportedly spent $3 million on ads attacking Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) of
Louisiana on Obamacare.
“Now, Landrieu is reserving $2.6 million in airtime between April and
June, an apparent recognition that the cascade of opposition ads has
forced her to consider spending big months before the November
election,” The Washington Post reported last week.
Perhaps the biggest problem facing Democrats this fall is getting
their own voters to the polls. In midterm elections, when the
political buzz is lower, many voters stay at home — and those voters
often trend Democratic.
“During presidential elections, young people vote, women are more
likely to vote, blacks, Hispanics more likely to vote,” Obama said
Thursday at a fundraiser in Miami for the Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee. “But in midterms, we get clobbered — either
because we don’t think it’s important, or we’ve become so discouraged
about what’s happening in Washington that we think it’s not worth our
Motivating those voters to think voting is worth their while this
November will be Job No. 1 for the Democratic campaign operatives. And
on Sunday, Silver might have given them a little more ammunition.