The Florida Senate race may be moving away from Republican Rick Scott

First things first: The theme song of the week is "...

Posted: Sep 30, 2018 9:06 AM
Updated: Sep 30, 2018 9:06 AM

First things first: The theme song of the week is "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" by Jesse Frederick and Bennett Salvay from the television show "Perfect Strangers."

Poll of the week: A new Marist College poll finds that Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson holds a 48% to 45% advantage over Republican Rick Scott.

Bill Nelson

Continents and regions

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Florida

Government and public administration

Government organizations - US

North America

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

Rick Scott

Southeastern United States

The Americas

United States

US Congress

US Democratic Party

US Federal elections

US political parties

US Senate

US Senate elections

Two other gold standard polls out this week from the University of North Florida and Quinnipiac University give Nelson an average 3.5 point lead.

What's the point: For much of the summer, Scott has been tied or ahead of Nelson. Some of that polling was from lower quality pollsters (who don't call cell phones or don't use live interviews), but even among higher quality pollsters it seemed Scott was more than holding his own.

A Scott win would be against what we'd normally expect to happen in a midterm election in which there is a Republican president. In midterm elections since 1982, the senator of the opposition party has won about 96% of the time. The only cases where that didn't happen were when the president was extremely popular (President Donald Trump has an approval of around 40%) or when the incumbent was suffering from a scandal (Nelson isn't).

Indeed, I'm not aware of a "fundamentals" model in which Scott would be favored. My own model that takes into account money raised from individuals, candidate quality (i.e., current or previous office held), the partisan lean of the state and the national political environment has Nelson favored by a little less than 10 percentage points.

Put another way, Scott has been doing better than the fundamentals has suggested he would do. The average poll still finds this but to a lesser extent. That is, the polling has moved towards the fundamentals.

That the polling seems to be moving towards the fundamentals is good news for Democrats not just in Florida but nationally as well.

The reason is that the fundamentals indicate that Democrats are in better shape to take the Senate more than the polling does.

When I run the aforementioned fundamentals model to project every race and then simulate the national Senate election, the median result is that Democrats pick up a net gain of 2 seats. That's exactly the number they need to take to take control of the Senate.

Democrats are doing so well for three reasons. First, the national environment (as indicated by the national generic ballot) leans their way. Second, they have quality candidates running (either incumbent senators or former or current US representatives or governors). Third, Democrats are raising a ton of money from individuals. It's not just that money helps you buy ads, but it tends to flow to winning candidates (i.e., is a leading indicator).

The polling, however, shows something different than the fundamentals. When I run the simulations based solely on the polling, the median result is that Democrats pick up a net gain of no seats. That means Republicans will continue to hold a 51 to 49 seat majority in the Senate.

Pretty much all the incumbent Democratic senators in red states, such as Indiana's Joe Donnelly, Missouri's Claire McCaskill and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, are doing worse in the polling than the fundamentals suggest that they should. None of these candidates are massive underdogs in the public polling. In fact, only Heitkamp is trailing and only by a small margin.

Yet, the simulations find that these incumbent Democrats lose a higher percentage of the time than the fundamentals because the polling is tight in all the races.

So is the polling or the fundamentals correct? FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver has found that when the polls and fundamentals differ, the polls end up being closer to the truth on average. He also found, however, that the polling does tend to move closer to the fundamentals on average.

This shift towards the fundamentals may be exactly what is happening in Florida with Nelson.

If it begins to happen in other states, Democrats may have a better shot at winning control of the Senate than the polls would currently lead you to believe.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16322

Reported Deaths: 782
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds106626
Lauderdale76068
Madison75727
Neshoba72244
Jones68632
Scott66212
Forrest59239
DeSoto5598
Leake45412
Rankin4538
Holmes44130
Copiah3254
Jackson30914
Attala30718
Yazoo2914
Newton2834
Lincoln27829
Leflore27336
Oktibbeha26714
Monroe26725
Harrison2657
Lamar2485
Lowndes2419
Wayne2353
Pearl River21231
Pike20511
Adams20216
Washington1947
Noxubee1936
Warren19110
Lee1857
Covington1772
Jasper1664
Bolivar16611
Clarke15519
Smith15311
Lafayette1504
Kemper14911
Chickasaw14014
Coahoma1284
Winston1221
Clay1184
Carroll11611
Marion1169
Claiborne1145
Lawrence1081
Simpson1040
Grenada1003
Yalobusha976
Sunflower933
Itawamba907
Hancock9012
Tate881
Union867
Montgomery861
Panola853
Marshall853
Wilkinson859
Jefferson Davis813
Tippah7611
Webster673
Calhoun674
Amite651
Walthall630
Humphreys607
Tunica563
Prentiss533
Perry513
Choctaw482
Pontotoc453
Jefferson421
Tishomingo350
Greene331
Stone320
Quitman310
Tallahatchie301
Franklin292
George281
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18554

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2284118
Jefferson1884103
Montgomery182343
Tuscaloosa82216
Marshall7059
Franklin5788
Lee55834
Shelby52220
Tallapoosa43266
Butler41918
Walker3812
Elmore3729
Chambers35926
Madison3464
Morgan2981
Unassigned2972
Baldwin2929
Dallas2873
Etowah26212
Lowndes25912
DeKalb2573
Autauga2395
Coffee2391
Sumter2287
Houston2265
Bullock2156
Pike2080
Colbert1872
Hale1799
Russell1770
Barbour1771
Marengo1746
Lauderdale1692
Calhoun1653
Wilcox1547
Choctaw15310
Cullman1501
Clarke1492
St. Clair1311
Randolph1287
Marion12411
Dale1230
Pickens1215
Talladega1175
Limestone1080
Chilton1051
Greene954
Winston910
Macon874
Jackson833
Henry812
Covington811
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia753
Washington726
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe452
Geneva440
Perry420
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Tupelo
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 71°
Columbus
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 71°
Oxford
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 68°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather