Here’s Nate Silver’s first Senate projection at the new 538:
When FiveThirtyEight last issued a U.S. Senate forecast — way back in July — we concluded the race for Senate control was a toss-up. That was a little ahead of the conventional wisdom at the time, which characterized the Democrats as vulnerable but more likely than not to retain the chamber.
Our new forecast goes a half-step further: We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber. The Democrats’ position has deteriorated somewhat since last summer, with President Obama’s approval ratings down to 42 or 43 percent from an average of about 45 percent before. Furthermore, as compared with 2010 or 2012, the GOP has done a better job of recruiting credible candidates, with some exceptions.
Here’s what I think will change before November to move this in the Democrats’ direction. First, Obamacare is going to be progressively more popular, and with that we’ll see a rebound in Obama’s popularity, which will lift all boats. Second, Baby Jesus is going to give us the present of a wingnut candidate in Georgia to power a Nunn win. Third, I think the Montana race will go to the Democrat.
Also, on the topic of Silver, I think Krugman gets it about right here. Silver’s premise assumes that other areas of journalism are the same (extremely) low-hanging fruit as politics, because the political press is so incredibly innumerate and CW-driven. Where I’d differ with Krugman is that I think there are plenty of other places where Silver’s style of journalism can be successful. He just needs to find those places rather than, for example, specializing in ill-conceived and unwarranted contrarianism.