Thursday, October 21, 2010

Predicting NC Election Results

Sometimes predicting the future is pretty easy (Didn't everyone predict that Joan would keep the baby on the season final of Mad Men?); other times it's more difficult (did anyone think Alvin Green would be the Democratic Party's candidate for the South Carolina Senate seat?).  So how hard is it to predict the results in the major NC political battles?  Looks like the races in North Carolina contain some Joans and some Greenes.  Here's the linkup starting from the most certain to the least certain (excluding the House races that are virtual locks): 

Burr-Marshall: Richard Burr, our senior Senator was first elected in 2004 by beating my boss', boss' boss' boss' boss, 52-47.  After some tight early polling numbers, Burr looks to be almost a lock in November.  My favorite political site, gives Burr a 97% chance of being re-elected.  The Cook political report and Real Clear Politics list the race as "likely Republican" and the most recent average polling data predict a 51-35 result.  Finally, Political Scientist Tom Holbrook predicts that Marshall will garner a scant 42% of the vote. Barring major disaster, it looks like Burr will coast to victory in November. 

Shuler-Miller (NC-11): Heath Shuler, first elected in 2006 can't rest as easily as Richard Burr, but most indications suggest that Shuler is the favorite in this seat. gives Shuler a 75% chance of holding onto his seat.  The Cook Political Report rates the race as one that "Leans Democratic," although Real Clear Politics marks it a "Toss-up."  As we draw closer to election day, undecided voters tend to fall towards the incumbent, and the most recent polling data look good for the former quarterback.  The race is certainly tighter than the one at the top of the ticket, but Shuler remains the favorite.

McIntyre-Pantano (NC-7): Mike McIntyre has represented the 7th District (Wilmington) since 1996, but he's facing a very tough fight at the hands of  Ilarino Pantano.  Most forecasters are finding this one tough to predict.  538 gives the incumbent McIntyre a 55% chance of victory while the Cook Political Report says it "Leans Democrat" and Real Clear Politics calls it a toss-up.

Kissell-Johnson (NC-8): Perhaps even tighter is the race for the 8th District that stretches from parts of Charlotte to Fayetteville.  Here, the incumbent Larry Kissell is facing  tough fight to keep his seat.  Cook calls this one a "toss-up" Real Clear Politics says it "Leans Republican" and 538 gives the Republican challenger a 54% chance of victory.

So what about the state legislature?  Because there is very little reliable polling data at the state legislative level,  there are almost no credible seat-by-seat forecasts.  One person, however, has begun to forecast overall partisan control at the state legislative level, using a complicated formula that includes 30 variables ranging from campaign spending to previous voting patterns in the district to the popularity of the Governor.  Unfortunately, his forecast in North Carolina is the statistical equivalent of throwing up his hands--he gives the Democrats a 47% of maintaining control of the State House and a 50% chance of maintaining control of the state Senate. 

I'll follow-up soon by collecting forecasts at the national level.

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