The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 1, 2018

Update To An Analytical Look at the 2018 Mid-term Elections

This update to the statistical analysis we gave two weeks ago will be shorter than the previous post given due to time constraints, but we believe it will be a little more accurate now that there are many additional points to plot on our regression boards.


Safe Seats

Dianne Feinstein (D)

Chris Murphy (D)

Tom Carper (D)

Mazie Hirano (D)

Angus King (I)
King caucuses with the Democrats.

Ben Cardin (D)

Elizabeth Warren (D)

Debbie Stabenow (D)

Amy Klobuchar (D)

Roger Wicker (R)

Deb Fischer (R)

New Mexico
Martin Heinrich (D)

New York
Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

Sherrod Brown (D)

Rhode Island
Sheldon Whitehouse (D)

Mitt Romney (R)

Bernie Sanders (I)
Sanders caucuses with the Democrats.

Tim Kaine (D)

Maria Cantwell (D)

John Barrasso (R)

Moved from Safe to Leaning

Minnesota Special Election
Tina Smith (D) vs. Karin Housley (R) Smith +4

Smith has the advantage, but her lead has dwindled to the point where a large GOP voting turnout could flip this seat to the Republicans. Housley has proven to be a formidable campaigner and has cut a double-digit lead down to within the margin of error when our formula has been applied.

Toss-up States


Kyrsten Sinema (D)

Martha McSally (R)

Recent news of statements made by Sinema concerning her constituents has cost her almost any chance of winning this race. It is almost a safe seat for the Republicans

Bill Nelson (D)
Rick Scott (R)

This is probably the closest race in the Senate. Voter turnout on election day will decide the winner. The stats show Nelson with less than two-tenths of a percent lead. Might there be a challenge by whoever loses? In Florida, it’s a good chance.

Joe Donnelly (D)
Mike Braun (R)
Lucy Brenton (L)

This race became a lot more interesting at the end of October, as the Indiana Democratic Party released a mass mailer telling people to vote for Libertarian candidate Brenton, as a ploy to get Braun supporters to vote for Brenton and thus give Donnelly the win. Braun was once a Democrat, and he may lose just enough support to Brenton for Donnelly to win with a plurality but not a majority of the vote.

Mississippi Special Election Primary
Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)
Mike Espy (D)
Chris McDaniel (R)
Toby Bartee (D)

Hyde-Smith appears to be in excellent shape to finish in first in the open primary, but she should fall short of the needed 50%+1 vote to avoid a runoff election. McDaniel is closing in on Espy for second place, but it would be a major upset if the runoff election did not pit Hyde-Smith against Espy. Hyde-Smith polls double digits ahead of Espy in the runoff, which will be held on November 27.

Josh Hawley (R)
Claire McCaskill (D)

James O’Keefe at Project Veritas is proving to be the 21st Century version of Mike Wallace from 60 Minutes in the 1970’s and 1980’s. His undercover sleuthing looks to have proven to be a mortal wound for McCaskill, and The Show Me State is looking like a Republican pick-up. O’Keefe showed them.

Jon Tester (D)
Matt Rosendale (R)

This race has gotten even tighter since our last report. We have moved it to leaning Democrat to toss-up. Tester led this race by close to double digits just after Labor Day, but it is now well within the margin of error, and this is usually a Red state. We believe that Rosendale may have a slightly better than 50-50 chance of defeating the incumbent Tester.  With the Independent candidate dropping out of the race and endorsing Rosendale, this could give the Republican the final two or three percent he needs to defeat Tester.


New Jersey
Robert Menendez (D)
Bob Hugin (R)

Menendez should have secured this victory weeks ago, but Hugin continues to remain within striking distance. How the suburban turnout goes on Election Day will determine if this race will be decided by less than 2% either way. We still believe Menendez will squeak by, but this race has moved from leaning Democrat to Toss-up barely favoring the Democrat.

Dean Heller (R)
Jacky Rosen (D)

This is one race where we have tossed out the outlier polls on both sides. We believe these polls to be too partial and thus discount them to the point where they offer no accuracy. The remaining polls have showed a slow but steady climb in the numbers for Heller. Rosen needed to hit about 48% in the most recent reliable polls, and she has failed to do so. When the challenger cannot get to 48% in the final week of an election, the incumbent will win 90+% of the time. We believe Heller wins by as much as 6%.

North Dakota
Kevin Cramer (R)
Heidi Heitkamp (D)

Really, we should put this race into the safe Republican section, but it began as an up for grabs seat, and we will leave it here. Heitkamp had too much against her in this state. Cramer has become a star in the House of Representatives, and the House seat in North Dakota is a statewide race. In essence, Cramer has more notoriety statewide than the incumbent Heitkamp. Plus, this is a heavy Red state, so the numbers just work against Heitkamp here. Expect Cramer to approach a double-digit win.

Bob Casey (D)
Lou Barletta (R)

Casey has never seriously been threatened in this race, as Barletta’s campaign never took off in the Metropolitan areas. Barletta needed to sweep the Pittsburgh suburbs, and it looks like he is barely getting a majority in this area. Meanwhile, Philadelphia supports Casey by a large margin, and this will lead to Casey winning in a minor landslide.

Marsha Blackburn (R)
Phil Bredesen (D)

James O’Keefe strikes again! Former Nashville Mayor and Governor Bredesen was holding his own in this race in a state that went heavy for President Trump in 2016. When Project Veritas released video of the Bredesen campaign admitting that support for Justice Kavanaugh was a lie, it threw this race into safe territory for the GOP. Plus, Bredesen might have already lost a little of his female base by showing support for Kavanaugh. Blackburn has a chance to score a double-digit victory and become the first female ever to be elected to statewide office in Tennessee.

Ted Cruz (R)
Beto O’Rourke (D)

Cruz is polliing above 50% in all major polls, so this race can be put into the safe Republican seat category. O’Rourke played Russian Roulette with his stance on guns, and he was the unlucky participant.

Late note: Project Veritas struck again Thursday night when they released information showing O’Rourke campaign staffers admitting to illegally using campaign funds to supply the Honduran Caravan.  It should be the final nail in the candidate’s coffin.

West Virginia
Joe Manchin (D)
Patrick Morrisey (R)

Because of the limited number of polls that meet our criteria for limited bias, this race may be the hardest one for us to analyze. Manchin was once above 50% in many polls and is now below 50% in all the reliable polls. Incumbents need to stay above 48% at this point in the race in hopes to receive 2% more from the undecideds. Manchin’s average polling numbers at the end of October place him at 46-47%. Morrisey has about 43%, which means an abnormally high 10% of West Virginia’s likely voters are still undecided (or the polling data is flawed). Our statistical analysis shows that Manchin enters November with a 3% lead and with as much as 8% of likely voters still undecided. At 47.5 to 44.5, Manchin needs 2.5% of the remaining 8% to win. Incumbents tend to lose about 2/3 of the undecided vote in the final week of the election. Thus, we favor Manchin at 50.17% to 49.83% for Morrisey, in other words a very close race.

Tammy Baldwin (D)
Leah Vukmir (R)

Baldwin is consistently polling between 52 and 55% in the polls with about 3-4% undecided votes. She should win by close to double-digits if not slightly over.

As of November 2, Our Prediction for the US Senate is:

Republicans 54
Democrats 46

This would be a pickup of three seats for the GOP. This would be the largest mid-term Senate gain for the President’s Party since 1962 when the Democrats gained four seats in the Mid-term with President John F. Kennedy in office. No Republican President has ever seen his party gain three seats in the Senate in a mid-term election, and George W. Bush, is the only other Republican president to see his party gain in the Senate mid-term election. In 2002, the GOP gained one seat.


The House of Representatives
This is the most interesting and the most difficult thing the PiRate Ratings have ever tried to analyze, be it sports, stock investments, or even when the first snow will fall in our base city. We have to admit that three of us stayed awake until past 3 AM pouring over notes and coming to different conclusions. One of us calculated a 27-seat gain for the Democrats, meaning they would own the majority at 220-215. One of us calculated that the Republicans would squeak by with a 219-216 majority and a loss of 16 seats. The third person totally screwed up his math and kept coming up with different numbers and had 436 votes until he realized at 3:15 AM that he had counted the 25th District of California twice. He came up with 220-215 majority for the GOP.
What does this mean? Be prepared to stay up all night next Tuesday into Wednesday morning, because there are a lot of toss-up races in the State of California, and polls don’t close there until maybe past your normal bedtime on the East Coast. We might not even know which party controls the House on Wednesday morning. What a big win for the news networks if this happens!

Current House Numbers
Republicans 235
Democrats 193
Vacancies 7

As of November 2, Our prediction for the House is.
Republicans 218
Democrats 217
The Democrats gain 24 total seats.

At the present time, there are 33 Republican Governors, 16 Democratic Governors, and One Independent Governor (Bill Walker of Alaska) that was once a Republican but who cut a deal with the former Democratic candidate to end his campaign and team up with him as his lieutenant governor. Walker supports the Democratic nominee Marc Begich.
There are 14 states that do not hold a Gubernatorial election this year, and it so happens that these 14 states consist of seven Republican and seven Democratic Governors. So, we begin with a 7-7 tie.

Safe for the Republicans: 12 (Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wyoming)

Safe for the Democrats: 7 (California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island)

Subtotal: Republicans 19 Democrats 14

Leaning Republican: 4 (Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire)

Leaning Democratic: 4 (Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico)

Subtotal: Republicans 23 Democrats 18

Toss-up States: 9

Ned Lamont (D)
Bob Stefanowski (R)

Lamont has a slight lead and looks to have about a 75% chance of winning

Andrew Gillum (D)
Ron DeSantis (R)

Gillum was close to the 50% threshold until it became news that he is under investigation by the FBI for a corruption issue. His rating stopped at 48 and has dropped a percent or two. DeSantis now has the advantage, and more registered Republicans have voted early than registered Democrats. This looks like it is trending to DeSantis.

Fred Hubbell (D)
Kim Reynolds (R)
Hubbell has a small lead that is within the margin of error, but he must be considered the favorite to win. We give Hubbell a 55% chance of winning.

Laura Kelly (D)
Kris Kobach (R)
Greg Orman (I)

Orman has been polling close to double digits, and he will take away enough votes to decide this election. Kobach is likely to win because Orman will take away enough of Kelly’s support.

Steve Sisolak (D)
Adam Laxalt (R)
Ryan Bundy (I)

This is an interesting race with news that can be considered beneficial to both sides. Laxalt had the lead in early October. Even with the Independent Bundy siphoning off some of his support, he appeared to be close to moving this race into the leaning Republican column. Early voting in crucial counties trended toward the Republicans scoring victories in both the Senate and Governor’s races. However, Heller does not have an Independent running in the Senate race. How much of the early voting Republican votes has gone to Bundy?

Then, an eleventh hour negative editorial by members of Laxalt’s family was published in print media and reported on in electronic media, where the family members claim that Laxalt is not a Nevadan but actually an Eastern elitist. Sisolak will pick up some votes here, and this race will go down to the wire.

Richard Cordray (D)
Mike DeWine (R)

How about a flat-footed tie in a race? This one looks like a 50-50 race with just a week to go until the election. Early voting started in Ohio more than three weeks ago, and the turnout has been rather heavy, about 55% higher than the 2014 Mid-term election. If we had to bet, we’d give Cordray the very slightest edge, because the incumbent DeWine has not reached 48%, which is a vital number to us when looking at incumbents with one week to go in the race.

Kate Brown (D)
Knute Buehler (R)

Brown doesn’t have the 48% minimum as the incumbent, but in this case, her opponent continues to lose a tiny bit of ground. Oregon is usually a Blue State, so we will give the edge to Brown.

South Dakota
Billie Sutton (D)
Kristi Noem (R)

Noem had more name recognition as a member of the House, while Sutton is a state senator. Noem has the advantage here as this is a Red state. Our prediction here is that Noem wins by 4-6%.

Tony Evers (D)
Scott Walker (R)

Here is a race where the trend line is the strongest factor. Even though the incumbent Walker is one percent below the 48% threshold, his opponent is losing ground by a statistically-relevant number. Evers, a lifelong educator and three-time state public school superintendant was pushing 50% before negative ads hit the airwaves in the Badger State. Walker has since reached 47%, while Evers has fallen under 46%, and the trend line this late in the race tilts this one in favor of Walker.

As of November 2, Our prediction for the Governors’ races are:

Republicans 26
Democrats 23
1 race totally too close to call.

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