NYT Analyst Pours Cold Water On Democrats’ Midterm Optimism

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Arjun Singh Contributor
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Democratic Senate candidates may be polling far ahead of their real strength among voters, according to an analysis by The New York Times released on Monday.

The analysis, conducted by the NYT’s chief political analyst Nate Cohn, cross-referenced the strength of various Democratic candidates in competitive Senate races this November with the electoral results of presidential candidates in the 2020 election, which were inaccurately predicted by polls. When adjusting for how the 2020 polls overestimated Democrat performance, many Democratic candidates’ leads in 2022 Senate races evaporated. (RELATED: Pollsters Just Delivered Some Bad News To Mitch McConnell)

This was particularly the case in Wisconsin, which President Joe Biden won by less than 1% of the vote in 2020, and where incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is running for re-election against Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. The race has been rated a “tossup” by experts: ABC News’s FiveThirtyEight modeling gives Johnson a 51% chance of winning against 49% for Barnes, while a joint Fox News & Beacon Research poll shows Barnes beating Johnson by 4%.

According to Cohn’s analysis, with 2020-like polling errors, Johnson would win the statewide race by 4%.

This was also the case in Ohio, a closely watched race where Trump-endorsed author and newcomer J.D. Vance is running against Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan for the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Rob Portman. A recent joint Cincinnati Inquirer & Suffolk University poll shows Ryan beating Vance by 1%.

With a 2020-like polling error, the race’s result flips, with Vance defeating Ryan by 7%.

In Georgia and Nevada, two other competitive Senate races this cycle, the leads of Democratic incumbents fell within the margin of error when adjusted for last cycle’s polling errors. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who is running against Republican nominee and former football player Herschel Walker, saw his lead fall to just 1%.

It was even narrower for Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, whose lead over former Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt dipped to less than 1%.

Still, pollsters have been careful to not overestimate the number of Democratic voters in their surveys, i.e., weighting their polls against them. Bryan Stryker of Impact Research, a polling company used mainly by Democratic candidates, told Cohn that he was “restricting the number of Democratic primary voters” in surveys his company was conducting.

Even though Cohn’s model produced what he termed “warning signs” for Democrats, there was some assurance for the party’s prospects in Pennsylvania and Arizona. In the Keystone State, where Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is facing off against Republican nominee Mehmet Oz, Cohn’s model still predicted a five-point victory for Fetterman – in line with most surveys, according to RealClearPolitics. In Arizona, where Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly is defending his seat against venture capitalist Blake Masters, Kelly’s eight-point lead declined to six-points, still outside the margin of error of most major polls.

“Regardless,” Cohn wrote, “the race for Senate control would be extremely competitive. Republican control of the House would seem to be a foregone conclusion.”

Neither the Ryan campaign and Cortez Masto campaign have responded to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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