Nate Silver: In Georgia Senate Race, 70% Chance of a GOP Win

March 23, 2014 10:45 am

by Jon Richards · 17 comments

Last week, we reported Charlie Cook’s Political Report rated the Georgia Senate race as a tossup.

This morning, Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com takes a detailed look at the battle for the Senate nationwide, and concludes that there’s a chance of Republicans taking control in November. In the Georgia race to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss, he predicts a 70% chance of a GOP win. Here’s what he has to say about the race:

Georgia might be the slightly better opportunity for Democrats. The Republican primary, to be held May 20, has been a mess in the polling, with any of five different GOP candidates near the top of the race depending on the survey. Their prospects range from Secretary of State Karen Handel, who might be the strongest general-election nominee, to Reps. Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, who have amassed conservative enough voting records that they might turn off swing voters even in red Georgia. Democrats are almost certain to nominate Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, who has run even with or slightly ahead of the Republicans in scant polling so far. Ordinarily, we are skeptical of candidates who lack previous experience in elected office, but those from famous political families don’t have the same name-recognition deficit to overcome and can sometimes tap into their families’ networks to raise funds and staff their campaigns.

Karen Handel, of course, is the former Secretary of State. Despite that small error, Silver is highly regarded for his political predictions. In the 2012 presidential race, he ran the table predicting the outcome in each state. And, note he’s no longer doing his work for the New York Times. This new site, now owned by ESPN, went live last Monday.

David C March 23, 2014 at 12:16 pm

This early in the cycle, with so few polls out (and in Georgia a very uncertain nomination process on the GOP side) so much of his model right now is guess work and using underlying patterns, that it’s not so different than Cook et. al. at the moment. The heart of Silver’s model is predicting from a having a lot of polls and controlling for their biases and statistical noise. So trust Nate in November, ignore him in March (except perhaps for his bracket predictions).

The Last Democrat in Georgia March 23, 2014 at 2:14 pm

It’s not shocking that the GOP has at least a 70% chance of winning the Georgia Senate Race.

What’s shocking is that the GOP only has a 70% chance of winning the Georgia Senate Race.

George Chidi March 23, 2014 at 10:37 pm

+1

John Konop March 23, 2014 at 4:16 pm

This is nothing but political propaganda……oh wait, that is what was said when Silver predicted Obama over Romney….I am confused help me with the political spin…..:)

John Sanders March 23, 2014 at 4:47 pm

It’s all about who the Republicans nominate.

The Last Democrat in Georgia March 23, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Mr. Sanders, I agree that it is all about whom the GOP nominates in the Georgia Senate Race, but not necessarily in the way that many observers may think.

Outside of Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey (whom both seem to be the biggest liabilities to the GOP at this point in that they are most likely to make verbal gaffes at an inopportune time), this race is going to be about whom will be the biggest and best fundraiser going forward against Michelle Nunn in the general election.

Though everything is obviously subject to change, at this very exact moment, Jack Kingston looks like he may potentially be the best fundraiser of the bunch.

Karen Handel and Phil Gingrey (if he can avoid making gaffes) also have great fundraising potential because of their high name recognition with voters in the most-populated part of the state in North Georgia (particularly in the powerful Northern suburbs of Atlanta).

Sybil Wainwright March 24, 2014 at 9:19 am

Just want to mention that Karen Handel is hugely strong in metro Atlanta, her home base. Just Fulton County has more votes than the entire 1st Congressional District of Jack Kingston. Karen Handel also has a solid statewide grassroots organization that is pretty amazing, a nice residual from her nearly-won campaign for Governor in 2010 . Grassroots popularity does not need a big war-chest because it spreads, one with another, and is free. This election cycle, there appears also to be vast numbers of folks who are stepping away from the “career politicians” in this Senate race, as well as in other races, because the results from those Endless Terms in Office have not been very effective or even visible. Voters are a lot more demanding this time.

UpHere March 24, 2014 at 2:53 pm

What elected officials in Fulton County are supporting Handel?

If memory serves, she didn’t have not one Fulton County republican House member that supported her race for Governor.

tdk790 March 25, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Handel got upwards of 60 and 70 percent of Fulton County’s vote in 2010. If she didn’t have the support you speak of, she apparently did quite well without it.

Salmo March 24, 2014 at 4:15 pm

If Karen Handel were better at winning elections, wouldn’t she be called a “career politician” at this point?

chamblee54 March 24, 2014 at 7:31 am

Mrs. Handel sent this tweet: @karenhandel Nate Silver of http://fivethirtyeight.com calls Karen the strongest general election candidate. http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/fivethirtyeight-senate-forecast/ … I guess “might be” would have put her over 140 characters.

Jon Richards March 24, 2014 at 7:40 am

From National Review’s Jim Geraghty this morning:

“Nate Silver also wrote that Duke had a 92.9 percent chance of beating Mercer in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.”

John Konop March 24, 2014 at 8:18 am

Jon,

Like him or not he is one of the best…..As far as his Duke prediction…..if Duke payed Mercer 10 times they would more than likely win 9 times….nothing against Mercer….the odds are the odds….He is one of the few who follows the numbers….not create results….

Jon Richards March 24, 2014 at 8:51 am

And of course, that’s why they play the game. And why the only poll that matters is the one on election day.

xdog March 24, 2014 at 9:42 am

NR shouldn’t gamble since they don’t understand that 10-1 shots pay off everyday. Or maybe they feel Silver’s numbers are skewed.

northside101 March 24, 2014 at 11:17 am

Ms. Wainwright above stated that “Just Fulton County has more votes than the entire 1st Congressional District of Jack Kingston.” That can be true or false, depending on which particular contest you are looking at. In the 2012 presidential election, yes, Fulton County cast more votes, 397,000, than did Kingston’s CD 1 (about 260,000). Of course, Fulton’s 2010 census (about 920,000 people) was greater than the 2010 census count for the current CD 1 (about 692,000). However, in the 2010 GOP primary for governor, the current CD 1 cast more votes (about 52,000) than did all of Fulton County (about 42,000). Fulton did outvote CD 1 in the 2012 presidential primary (about 60,000), but given Fulton’s much greater size, the difference was not all that much (about 55,000 votes in CD 1). Fulton is more heavily Democratic than CD 1 (64 percent for Obama in Fulton last time, just 43 Obama in CD 1), so that lessens the proportion of potential voters who will show up in the GOP primary. In other words, just because Fulton is one-third larger in population than CD 1 doesn’t mean it will outvote CD 1 in May by that proportion as well.

The Last Democrat in Georgia March 24, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Good analysis, northside 101.

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