Biden Rises In Polls, US Senate Drifts Leftward, New England State Legislative Changes

It’s been quite the busy month in elections: Since our last update on June 4th, many states have passed their filing deadlines and held their primaries. Joe Biden has expanded his lead over Donald Trump into the upper single digits as the country continues to reckon with a pandemic which has killed over 100,000 Americans. According to the RCP average of Trump’s approval on his response to the pandemic, he is viewed, to put it mildly, unfavorably. Overall, things look pretty bleak for the President’s chances going into November, with only a few months to try and close the gap.

Given the shifts in polling in both the national and state polls for the presidency, we have several rating changes in our electoral college ratings today. Before this update, the odds of a Joe Biden victory were at 60.1%, a Trump victory at 38.4% and a tie at 1.5%. Now, with the rating changes below, the odds are at 67.1% for a Joe Biden victory, 31.8% for a Trump victory, and 1.1% for a tie in the electoral college.

  1. IA | Likely R → Lean R
  2. OH | Likely R → Lean R
  3. GA | Likely R → Tilt R
  4. FL | Tilt R → Toss-Up
  5. TX | Lean R → Tilt R
  6. NH | Lean D → Likely D
  7. PA | Tilt D → Lean D

Not only have the polls been bad for Trump this month, but his party members in the US Senate have suffered from poor ratings as well. In the states of Iowa, Michigan and Georgia,the trend has become increasingly leftward.

In Iowa, all three polls conducted this month show a slight lead for Democratic nominee Theresa Greenfield in her bid to unseat incumbent freshman Senator Joni Ernst. The biggest poll was conducted by Selzer & Co., a golden standard poll with impeccable accuracy, especially in the state of Iowa where it is based. Seeing as how there hasn’t been a poll showing Ernst with a lead since early May (a poll by PPP which had her up by 1 point), we now see this race as a Toss-Up, moving leftward from the previous Lean R rating.

In Michigan, incumbent Senator Gary Peters has extended his lead over Republican John James, entering double-digit territory. A recent Siena poll (another quality pollster) had Peters up by 10 points. It’s increasingly difficult to see how Peters could lose, especially since Trump doesn’t look like he’ll carry the state in November like he did in 2016. We’ll be moving this race from Lean D to Likely D.

In Georgia’s regular US Senate election this year, Jon Ossoff has had two good polls this month, with PPP showing him winning by a point and Fox News only showing him down 3. We still see Perdue as the favorite in this race, but we do not feel that given how close the polling has gotten that Likely R is an appropriate rating, thus we will be moving the race to Lean R.

  1. IA-SEN | Lean R → Toss-Up
  2. MI-SEN | Lean D → Likely D
  3. GA-SEN | Likely R → Lean R

As a result of these rating changes, the race for control of the US Senate is neck-and-neck. Before this update, the odds of a Republican majority were at 52.1%, a Democratic majority at 35.0% and a tie at 12.9% Now, the odds of a Republican majority have sunk to 45.0%, while the Democratic majority chances have rose to 42.8%, and a tie in the chamber is at 12.3%.

In the US House, there have been two Republicans who have lost renomination in competitive districts, making the races more competitive: VA-05 and, as of last night, CO-03.

In VA-05, Republican Bob Goode successfully defeated freshman incumbent Denver Riggleman at a drive-thru convention in Campbell County, VA. Goode, an ardent conservative, entered the race when Riggleman officiated at a same-sex wedding, with both spouses being former campaign volunteers of his. This will be the third cycle in a row that Virginia’s 5th is an open race. As a result, we are moving the district from Likely R to Lean R.

In Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, Lauren Boebert won in a major upset over incumbent Scott Tipton, who has represented the district since 2007. Boebert, a QAnon proponent with lackluster fundraising numbers, has now jeopardized the chances of Republicans holding the district. Tipton was likely to cruise to re-election had he won his primary, but now that it’s an open race between Boebert and 2018 Democrat nominee Diane Mitsch Bush, who lost by 8%, we are moving the race to Lean Republican.

We also have two more rating changes in the house, in the state of Iowa. In the aforementioned Selzer & Co. poll conducted in the state, voters favored Democrat nominee Rita Hart by a whopping 18 points in IA-02. In adjacent IA-03, incumbent Democrat Cindy Axne holds a 16 point lead. As a result of these polls we are moving each race from Tilt D to Lean D.

  1. CO-03 | Safe R → Lean R
  2. IA-02 | Tilt D → Lean D
  3. IA-03 | Tilt D → Lean D
  4. VA-05 | Likely R → Lean R

These rating changes, all of which benefit Democrats, have slightly improved Democrats’ odds of holding their majority in the chamber. Before this update, the odds of a Democrat majority were at 85.9%, while the odds of a Republican majority were at 14.0%. Now, there’s a 86.6% chance of a Democrat majority and a 13.4% chance of a Republican majority.

In state legislatures, we have a good amount of rating changes in a few states in New England where candidacy filing deadlines have passed. We have 10 seats we are changing ratings for after recently identifying them as open:

  1. CT HD-30 | Toss-Up→ Lean R
  2. NH HD-Coos 2 | Tilt D → Toss-Up
  3. NH HD-Grafton 3 | Lean D → Toss-Up
  4. NH HD-Merrimack 22 | Lean D → Toss-Up
  5. NH HD-Grafton 15 | Lean D → Tilt D
  6. NH HD-Merrimack 25 | Lean D → Tilt D
  7. NH HD-Rockingham 16 | Lean R → Tilt R
  8. NH HD-Strafford 9 | Likely R→ Lean R
  9. CT HD-143 | Lean R → Tilt D
  10. CT HD-111 | Lean R → Toss-Up

We also have 5 rating changes for districts where former Republican incumbents who narrowly lost in 2018 are seeking a rematch against the now-incumbent Democrat in their respective districts.

  1. NH SD-12 | Tilt D → Toss-Up
  2. CT HD-02 | Lean D → Tilt D
  3. CT HD-36 | Lean → Tilt D
  4. CT HD-60| Lean D → Tilt D
  5. CT HD-64 | Tilt D → Toss-Up

We are also changing our rating for RI HD-46, where the incumbent Republican is now running as an Independent, which complicates his path to re-election. Additionally (and finally) we are changing our rating for NH SD-01, where Democrats landed a strong recruit in State Rep. Susan Ford, who flipped a district blue in 2018.

  1. RI HD-46 | Tilt R → Toss-Up
  2. NH SD-01 | Tilt R → Toss-Up

Of the 5,235 single-member state legislative districts up this year in regular elections, 1,101 are competitive (372 Likely, 370 Lean, 205 Tilt, 154 Toss-Up), or 21.03%. 1626 are uncontested (802 Uncontested D, 820 Uncontested R, 4 Uncontested I), or 31.06%. 2,508 are safe (1,172 D, 1,333 R, 3 I), or 47.98%.

56 districts are currently projected to flip (27 D to R, 1 I to D, 1 I to R, 27 R to D).