As we get closer to November 6 and polls start to look more and more like predictions, new numbers from the ongoing Senate races show the Democrats clinging to their slim majority this fall. Nate Silver and FiveThrityEight have Democrats coming up with 51.2 seats, enough to hold on to their majority* by the slimmest of margins. Electoral-Vote.com's map also has the same one-seat edge, based on their gathering of swing state polls.
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Republicans had hoped to take control of both houses of Congress this year, but a closer breakdown of individual races reveals a few surprises. In one of the most closely watched and hardest fought races, Democrat Elizabeth Warren has opened up a lead on Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts. FiveThirtyEight gives her a 64 percent chance of winning at the moment. A Michigan Senate race that was thought to be competitive earlier this year is now looking like a blowout for Democrat Debbie Stabenow, and Missouri's Claire McCaskill is pulling away from everyone's favorite rape pregnancy expert Todd Akin.
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One big tossup remains in Nevada, where Republicans Republican Dean Heller is projected to beat Shelley Berkley, but polling remains divided. Wisconsin and Virginia are also still close fights.
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If the Democrats retain their lead they will be far from the filibuster-proof super majority, but way better off than they thought they might be after losing six seats in 2010. They can't afford to lose the presidency and all of Congress in one year, but two of the three pillars seem to be trending their way at the moment. Silver also has a lengthy analysis of President Obama's swing state math in this weekend's New York Times Magazine that should have both candidates counting their electoral votes very carefully.
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After first toying with the idea that either candidate could lose the popular vote, but eke out an Electoral College victory, Silver concedes that "the most likely outcome is that Obama wins enough tipping-point states" to secure re-election. (Silver puts his overall re-election odds at 74 percent. For example, he has slight edges in Ohio and Florida, which would be enough by themselves to swing the election in his favor. Exchanging one of them for Nevada and Virginia could do it too, but Romney must contest Wisconsin to have a shot. There's a lot of math.
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(*The current Dem. caucus is 51 Democrats and two independents. One of those Independents (Bernie Sanders) is expected to be re-elected easily. The other (Joe Lieberman) is retiring and his seat will likely go to a Republican, but Independent Angus King will also probably take the Maine Senate seat away from Republican control. He hasn't committed to joining the Democratic caucuses.)