FiveThirtyEight: Republicans have 63% chance of taking Senate

If you’re a regular reader of FiveThirtyEight you’ll know that our Senate forecast has said pretty much the same thing every day. When we officially launched our model in early September, it gave Republicans a 64 percent chance of winning a majority in the Senate. Today, the number is similar: 63 percent.

Republicans’ odds have never been higher than 66 percent — a figure they reached late last week — or lower than 53 percent. The informal model updates we published going as far back as March also had Republicans as 55 or 60 percent favorites.

To an extent, this stability reflects the noise-reducing features of the FiveThirtyEight model. Our program examines the polls for signs of statistical bias, and weighs them more heavily when they have larger sample sizes, better methodologies and better track records — which can reduce the impact of outliers. The FiveThirtyEight model is also fairly conservative in estimating the uncertainty associated with each race and the disposition of the Senate overall. At times in the past, the polls in most swing states have been biased in the same direction (either toward Democrats or Republicans).

But this degree of stability is unusual. In pretty much every election we’ve covered, the polls have more clearly broken toward one or another party by this point.

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