Senate Surprises: What to Look Out For in the Election


The Democrats are favored to win the Senate primarily because they win a 50-50 tie and Biden is expected to beat Trump. But the range of possibilities is huge.

Potential Surprises 

I created the above map starting from a 270-to-Win Senate projection based on current polls.

270-to-Win had Alaska and South Carolina as tossups. I felt that was a bit far-fetched although it is "possible".  Even Texas is "possible" but I discount anything under a 20% chance.

Meaning of Circles 

  • A red circle on a brown state designates a tossup state but one that I expect Republicans will win.
  • A green circle on a brown state indicates a state that I believe can easily go either way.
  • A red circle on a blue state indicates that I believe the Democrats will win the state. The state is in play for the Republicans, but not close enough to call a tossup.
  • A blue circle on a red state indicates that I believe the Republicans will win that state. The state is in play for the Democrats but not close enough to call a tossup.

Iowa Senate Polls 

Iowa Senate Polls

All polls from 538 Political Polls.

Iowa Analysis

Iowa represents the Democrats best chance to win the Senate outright. 

538 has the Iowa Republican Senate Forecast as 53-47 for the Republicans but I rate the state a 50-50 tossup because all recent polls of "likely voters" give Greenfield a lead with by an average of 2 percentage points. 

Why does 538 have Ernst ahead? I believe it is because 538 expects Iowa to vote for Trump by a 50.5 to 48.2 margin. 

By the way, that is close enough that Iowa could easily land in Biden's column.

Georgia Senate Polls

Georgia Senate Special Election 2020-09-27

Georgia has two Senate races in play. Republicans will easily hold the race between Perdue (R) and Ossoff (D). 

In the Special Election there are 6 candidates, three of which have no chance. It is between two Republicans (loeffler and Collins), and Democrat (Warnock).

538 Georgia Forecast 

Georgia Special Forecast 538 2020-09-27

The Special Election Rules are such that if no candidate gets 50%, there will be a another vote on January 5.

538 expects Georgia to vote for Trump by a 50.7 to 48.5 margin. 

That puts Georgia in play for Biden. It also puts Warnock in play in the January 5 election.

Silver's 17% estimate is thus way too low. The special election will also be influenced by turnout in January adding more uncertainty.

Republicans dismayed by Trump's loss might not show up to vote in January.  

I give Warnock a 40% chance, more than double Silver's estimate.

Kansas Polls

Kansas Senate Polls 2020-09-27

That's the only Kansas poll recent enough to discuss. It looks like a tossup but Data for Progress is a sponsored poll, I suspect by Democrats.

I accept Silver's assessment that Republican Marshall has a 79% chance of winning.

Montana Polls 

Montana Senate Polls 2020-09-27

Once again there is only one poll recent enough to discuss. This time, however, the poll is by A+ rate Siena College. 

The poll shows Democrat Bullock trails Republican Daines by a mere one percentage point.

Wendie Fredrickson is the Green Party candidate.

Given that Fredrickson would likely take votes away from Bullock, it's somewhat a mystery this race is close.

Silver has Silver Republican Baines a 66% to 34% favorite over Bullock.  Silver also has Montana going to Trump by a 54.2 to 43.7 margin. 

Given that Montana is not really in play for Biden, I think a 34% chance for Bullock is too high. I give Bullock about a 20% shot. 

Maine Senate Polls 

Maine Senate Polls 2020-09-27

Maine Senate Discussion

Maine has more polls to discuss than any other state. Clearly the spotlight is on Sue Collins who is expected to lose.

But note that only one poll has Gideon above the 50% mark. This is similar to no poll having Hillary over 50%.

More Information has the poll tied. I doubt it. Pollsters marked with an "*" are sponsored. 

Silver gives Collins a 41% chance. 

But Silver also projects Biden will win Maine and Maine1, the former 55.3 to 43.2 and the latter 60.4 to 38.2.  

It will take huge split ticket voting if those numbers are accurate. 

I suspect Collins has about a 33% chance of winning.

North Carolina Senate Polls

North Carolina Senate Polls 2020-09-27

North Carolina Discussion

Tillis must be truly despised to be trailing in every poll by 4 to 11 percentage points.

Yet Silver gives Tillis a 36% chance.

I suspect the key reason is Silver expects Biden to win North Carolina by a mere 50.0 to 49.2 margin.

Given the polls, I suspect a 30% chance for Tillis is about right.

South Carolina Senate Polls

South Carolina Senate Polls 2020-09-27

South Carolina is considered so much of a shocker that few believe it. Color me sceptical as well.

Pollster "Brilliant Corners" is sponsored, most likely by Democrats and possibly Harrison. Silver lists sponsored polls with an "*" but does not list the sponsor.

The polls from August are too stale to consider. 

 The best poll of the lot is by highly respected Quinnipiac University who rates this even. 

Nate Silver has the odd of Harrison winning at 21%. The reason is clear to see. Silver projects South Carolina will go to Trump by a  53.8 to 45.3% margin. 

It will take enormous split-ticket voting if Silver has the presidential forecast correct.

Polls show Trump leads Biden in South Carolina by 6 to 10 percentage points. 

If that lead holds, it will be very difficult for Harrison to pull this off. 

Nate Silver 538 Senate Projection

Nate Silver Senate Projection 2020-09-27

Nate Silver's Senate Projection  has the Democrats a slight (62-38) chance of winning the Senate.

Here is my assessment.

Possible But How Possible?

Possible but How Possible

To hold the Senate, Republicans will need to win a clean sweep of Iowa, Montana, Kansas, South Carolina, and the Georgia Special Election, plus Maine or North Carolina or some unknown surprise.

If the above map holds and it comes down to Maine and North Carolina then Republicans should hold the Senate as winning one of those two states is likely.

The problem is the the "IF". The above map is "possible" but very unlikely based on a more realistic assessment. 

Expected Results

I expect Democrats will win all the blue states, the Republicans all the red states plus all the tossup states with red circles. 

That makes the map 50-49. 

That's a win for the Democrats if they win the White House as is increasingly likely.

Odds of Democrats Winning At Least One of Iowa or Georgia

  • If we assume the Democrats odds of winning Iowa are 50% and Georgia 40% then the odds of the Democrats winning at least one is (0.50 + 0.40) - (0.50 * 0.40) = 0.70. 
  • If you go with Silver's model, the odds of the Democrats winning at least one are (0.47 + 0.17) - (0.47 * 0.17) = 0.56. 

Thus even Silver's has a better than 50% chance of the Democrats winning at least one of those two states. 

Democrats chances of winning the Senate are substantially higher than Silver projects. Georgia and Iowa are the keys to understanding why.


Comments (53)
No. 1-18

36 days till election. I wonder how those projections would look if everyone voted. I read somewhere 800,000 already voted vs last election of 10,000 at this same time - sorry no link.

17 days till Boris Brexit Bonanza.

4 days till mass layoffs begin.

Addendum - So if Dems win and add D.C. and Puerto Rico as states, they would each get two senators no? That would make the Senate 104 members. I would assume the new 4 would all be dems.


I'd like to see trump win the election and the democrats take the house and senate. I figure armageddon is baked in at this point... lets see some SPORT!


Looks like the IRS is about to bring the hammer down on Trump. That $100M the government paid to Trump was based on accounting chicanery. City of New York now looking into why rent payments were going to a P O. Box on Long Island rather than Trump Tower. Uh-oh. Again this is why Dems keep saying to close loopholes for billionaires.


Mish what's up with going after Nate Silver. He is being conservative oh his forecasts based on what happen in 2016.


I read and posted reporting that gives Democrats a 70% probability of capturing the Senate but that probability goes down if Trump ekes out a win because voters often vote down ballot


My prediction:
Republicans lose 2 Senate seats (currently 53-47) but keep Senate 51-49

Trump will lose the popular vote but win the presidency.

Biden will win two of the states Trump won in 2016 but Trump will get Minnesota this time due to the riots and looting and arson and increased crime after Democrats decided to abolish the Minneapolis police and reimagine policing and Trump gets over 270 electoral college votes and continues as president.

If Joe Biden has meltdowns in the debates like he has in interviews and his virtual appearances then it might become a Reagan style trouncing and Trump will win more traditionally Democrat states than in 2016.


The Senate confirmation hearings will likely have some interesting impact on the Senate elections, but the effect is not one I can predict. Some will be happy with the outcome, others will be unhappy. Some will be happy they held hearings, others will be unhappy. It may increase turnout, or increase support for certain candidates, or decrease it. As a result, polls may shift quite a bit in the last month.


If Trump wins again, I see the US continuing on it's present path of self-destruction. The virus will continue to spread, as Trump continues to downplay it and claim victory over it. The economy will continue to suffer because of the unchecked spread of the virus.

I can see a couple of positives if Biden wins the Presidency:

A much needed national strategy to fight the pandemic.

A willingness to work more closely with former allies to counteract China on trade and other matters.

However, I don't know if there is any way to heal the hatred and division that Americans feel for each other because of political differences.

I don't know if who wins the Senate makes much of a difference.


Posted 2 hours ago: Ilhan Omar connected Ballot Harvester in cash-for-ballots scheme: "Car is full" of absentee ballots.


Trump seems to love urine.

Biden camp clapback: Trump’s best debate case ‘made in urine’


Even Biden had to chuckle at Trump’s latest taunts, although the Democratic nominee opted against saying anything when a reporter asked him later Sunday about the president’s demand.

“He’s almost ...,” Biden said before interrupting himself. “No. I have no comment.”

Later, the Biden campaign reconsidered.

“Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it,” said Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager. “We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200K Americans when he didn't make a plan to stop COVID-19.”


@Mish my apologies but your blog is about to get flooded by me probably until January 20th.

Looks like there’s an answer to the $4B question on Trump’s finances: Smells like mortgage fraud

Early last year, Michael Cohen released a few pages of Trump’s financial statements in advance of his testimony to the House Oversight committee, newly in the hands of a Democratic majority. I noticed something strange in those statements, and wrote a diary about it: In the March 31, 2013 statement of Trump assets, there’s a new asset line for “Brand Value,” listed at a whopping $4 billion, that wasn’t on the previous statement from June 30, 2012. This $4 billion accounted for nearly the entire increase in Trump’s net worth over those 9 months. So I asked:

How was that valuation of the “brand” justified? Who came up with it, and who was involved in the discussions surrounding it? More importantly, why? Why was it so important for Trump’s net worth to nearly double in the course of 9 months? Was it, as Cohen said it might be, a vanity exercise to get high placement on a Forbes list? Or was it, as he also said could be the case, to get a loan or favorable insurance premiums? And why was the 2013 disclosure done in March instead of June like the previous ones? Was there perhaps some immediate financial need that required a loan in Spring 2013?

Well, the diary didn’t get much attention, and understandably: Trump had managed to keep his financial details under wraps up to that point, so there just wasn’t much to go on to answer those questions.

But now, thanks to the New York Times’ bombshell reporting today, we have a whole lot more, and it looks like there’s an answer to these questions.

Everyone should read the full article, but the apparent answers can be found in the Times’ summary of revelations from the tax documents. First, we have:

With “The Apprentice” revenue declining, Mr. Trump has absorbed the losses partly through one-time financial moves that may not be available to him again.

In 2012, he took out a $100 million mortgage on the commercial space in Trump Tower.

So Trump’s TV profits were declining, and he needed cash to cover losses from his golf resorts. And indeed, it appears that this loan was taken out sometime in late 2012, between the 2012 and 2013 financial statements: The 2012 statement lists loans on commercial New York real estate at less than $250 million, but in 2013 that number is $322 million, a jump that the $100 million loan could account for.

But this doesn’t address the $4B “Brand Value”—wouldn’t a mortgage on a property be based on the value of collateral, i.e. the property being mortgaged, not some other “asset”? Usually, but not in this case, since Trump personally guaranteed those loans:

In the 1990s, Mr. Trump nearly ruined himself by personally guaranteeing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, and he has since said that he regretted doing so. But he has taken the same step again, his tax records show. He appears to be responsible for loans totaling $421 million, most of which is coming due within four years.

Now, you don’t personally guarantee a loan unless you absolutely have to. So it looks like whoever was underwriting this mortgage didn’t believe there was enough equity in the property itself to back the loan. (Trump’s 2013 financial statement has the net equity of New York City commercial real estate at $1.06 billion.) So the lender required a personal guarantee. But Trump needed to show personal assets to back that guarantee, and poof! The $4 billion in “Brand Value” appears.

Wherever that “Brand Value” supposedly came from, apparently it’s not real enough to generate actual cash, since Trump hasn’t paid off a single dime of that loan:

He appears to have paid off none of the principal of the Trump Tower mortgage, and the full $100 million comes due in 2022.

There’s a term for inflating assets, or making them up out of whole cloth, in order to secure a loan: Mortgage fraud. Now, the usual caveats apply: I’m not a financial fraud expert, we can’t draw definitive conclusions from just a few pages of actual documents, etc., etc. But this certainly does smell. It looks like it smells to New York State investigators too, as there’s an ongoing fraud investigation into the Trump real estate business (emphasis mine):

The attorney general, Letitia James, a Democrat, has been conducting a civil investigation into whether President Trump and the Trump Organization committed fraud by overstating assets to get loans and tax benefits.

To summarize (TL;DR):

In late 2012, Trump’s golf properties are hemorrhaging money, and with his “Apprentice” revenue drying up, he needs a cash infusion to cover the losses.
He gets a $100 million loan on Trump Tower, but he needs to personally guarantee it.
At the same time, a new $4 billion “Brand Value” asset appears on his financial statements.
Whatever personal assets he claimed to the lender would enable him to pay back the loan, he’s not actually making any principal payments. So it’s possible that there aren’t any actual assets that could be used to cover the loan.


Its going to be rough very rough in the near future and most likely beyond for we plebeians


Technology and social media use are increasingly associated with delays in nightly sleep. Here, we consider the timing of President Trump’s official Twitter account posts as a proxy for sleep duration and how it relates to his public performance.


At last report I saw, Maine has single transferable vote (or something similar) for Federal elections, meaning that the 8 points for the Libertarian and the Green get moved someplace in the Maine Senate race.


The DIMS CANCEL movement is demanding a new system but they are voting for a man that has been in office 47 years, he is the system. He’s been in the system 20% of the time America has been a country.


So Joe is as clean as the wind driven snow. Watch this clip
Now we spent 4 years hearing how bad Trump is. If they had a clip like of Trump that is all you would have seen untill they through him out but you wont see that clip of biden on cnn abc cbs.

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