We’ve been working away on a slideshow about the 2012 US Senate elections. We’ll post it next week. When we launched the Business Insider Politics vertical in February, we shared the view that the GOP would almost certainly recapture control of the US Senate in the 2012 general election.
The reason was (and is) simple: 23 Democratic seats are up, 10 Republican seats are up. The 23 Democrats were elected (or re-elected) in 2006, a banner election year for the Democratic Party. A number of those seats were won in traditionally Republican states. So, without boring you with every last detail, a 4-6 seat pick-up seemed both plausible and probable.
A 4-6 seat pick-up seems less probable now. We’ll get into all that in the slideshow next week, but if you want a long statistical analysis of why Democratic prospects appear to have brightened, then Nate Silver’s post today is worth reading. Here’s a taste:
I don’t think the Republicans are terribly heavy favourites: instead just a wee bit above 50 per cent.
By contrast, the political betting market Intrade gives Republicans a 66 per cent chance of a takeover, which would require their winning either three seats and the presidency or four seats without it. And the buzz I’ve heard from some strategists — including some Democratic ones — is that the takeover is all but inevitable.
The mistake these strategists are making is in neglecting the degree to which the outcomes in different races are correlated with one another. If Democrats are having a good cycle in 2012 — like they did in 2006 or 2008 — they could win all or almost all of the toss-ups, as well as make inroads into a couple of seats in Republican territory. It’s entirely plausible, in fact, that Democrats could actually gain seats.
You can read the whole thing here.