For some time now, we've said that the 2014 midterm elections are looking more and more like the 2006 version
Seven days out from Election Day, many Democratic incumbents are looking like Republican incumbents eight years ago. In 2006, a poor national environment and an unpopular president doomed several Republican senators who were polling below 48 percent:
Jim Talent, Missouri (45.8 percent on the ballot): In an extremely tight race, eleven October polls showed Claire McCaskill ahead while Talent was in the lead in seven others. The final RCP average showed Talent trailing by 2.5 points, and he lost by 2.3 points on Election Day.
George Allen, Virginia (46.8 percent on the ballot): The 2006 Virginia Senate race was closer than any single competitive Senate race today. Allen led in eleven October polls, while Jim Webb led in nine others. Webb closed in the final week of the race, and the RCP average showed Allen trailing by 1.5 points. He lost by less than one point on Election Day.
Conrad Burns, Montana (45.5 percent on the ballot): While Jon Tester led in all but one poll in October, many were within the margin of error. Burns remained stuck between 45-47 percent on the ballot. (Sound familiar? Ask Mark Begich.) The final RCP average showed Burns trailing by three points, and he lost by a point on Election Day.
Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island (45.5 percent on the ballot): In a blue state, Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse did not cruise to victory as many had predicted. In fact, the last poll in the race (USA Today/Gallup) gave Whitehouse a mere three point lead over Senator Chafee. The RCP average showed Whitehouse ahead by a single point. On Election Day, Whitehouse won by seven percent.
For much of the past eighteen months, our friends at the DSCC insisted that they'd hold their majority because incumbents are difficult to beat. Last summer, Guy Cecil wrote, “only three Democratic incumbents have lost reelection in the last decade, and now Republicans need to defeat three in one year.” Democratic incumbents are currently losing in Colorado, Alaska, Arkansas, and Louisiana; they are tied in North Carolina and New Hampshire. In five of these six races, Democratic incumbents are below 45 percent on the ballot — treacherous territory for any incumbent.
The 2006 midterm elections presented Republicans with a very tough environment. In that difficult national environment, every Republican incumbent below 48 percent on the ballot lost their re-election
. In 2014, history seems to be repeating itself.