Nate Silver’s not betting on Brown
Scott Brown ‘s move to New Hampshire, and his impending run against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, have set area political circles aflame. That’s the power of Brown’s political celebrity. He plays well in the press because the guy loves the camera and he delivers fantastic copy. Just this week, he told the AP, “Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. ‘Cause, you know, whatever. But I do have strong ties to this state.” But at this stage, it’s looking like the legacy of Brown’s political comeback tour will come in the form of impressive Twitter photo-ops, not in a changed Senate map. Politically, it doesn’t look like Brown’s New Hampshire Senate run has changed anything.
Nate Silver published his 2014 Senate forecast this week. The political statistician believes that Republicans are in position to have a huge year. Silver’s model gives the Republicans a slight chance of regaining control of the Senate. It paints four Democratic-held Senate seats as likely Republican pickups, and has another four Democratic-held seats as tossups. Republicans need to flip six seats into their column to retake the Senate. But, according to Silver’s model, Brown’s challenge to Shaheen only figures tangentially in the GOP’s Senate calculus.
Silver’s forecast model currently gives Brown only a 25 percent chance of toppling Shaheen. Those are among the longest odds Silver has set in plausibly competitive Senate matchups. According to Silver’s current model, Brown is as likely to win in New Hampshire as Alison Lundergan Grimes has of toppling Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Silver ranks Senate contests in Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, Alaska, Louisiana, and Arkansas as more competitive than the Brown-Shaheen contest.
Silver cites recent polls showing Brown’s relative unpopularity, and New Hampshire’s consistent Democratic tilt over the past several election cycles. Just as importantly, he writes, is the fact that Shaheen is a relatively popular incumbent. She has, Silver writes, consistently posted approval ratings “that would be good enough to get her re-elected.” It’s not that Silver and his crew at FiveThirtyEight are ruling out a Brown victory — there’s still a one-in-four chance of the race turning in his favor. But Silver’s conclusion is almost more damning to Brown, personally, than the race’s long odds are worrisome, politically. For all his star power, Silver writes, Brown hasn’t moved the needle in New Hampshire yet: “We don’t think Brown improves the GOP’s chances much as compared with another credible candidate.”
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