Rasmussen tells us three out of five voters believe there will be a GOP Senate, and belief in inevitability can be powerful. So how do we judge how well the parties actually do? Thankfully, sports gambling concepts can help. Isn’t it great that two of America’s finest traditions, illegal gambling and politics, go so well together?
The actual spread: 5 1/2 seats. Because Republicans have been so bad at tamping down expectations, the basic spread for the Senate will be 5 1/2. If the Republican gains are higher than that (six seats or more) it means Senate control; any fewer means the story on Wednesday morning is that the Republicans are limping out of the midterms once again foiled by a changing demographic.
What the spread ought to be: 8 1/2 seats. Better messaging and more advanced voter identification, starting in 2013, would have created a foundation for the party to take much better advantage of the wave of unrest the electorate has. An unending series of scandals and screw-ups from the White House gave the GOP and the broader conservative movement the platform they needed to articulate a better vision for a smaller, more competent government.
And make no mistake: The lower spread is more an indictment of a broader conservative movement content with winning ankle-hurdle victories in red states and not nearly aggressive enough in expanding the base of people receptive to such messages. It’s tough for Republicans to win the battle of the ballot box in places where no one is fighting the battle of ideas.