Democrats will keep the Senate now—best statistical models

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Round 7



Democrats will keep the Senate now—best statistical models

Wang 9-9-14 (Sam, professor, Princeton University, "Democrats Now Have a Seventy-Per-Cent Chance of Retaining Control of the Senate" New Yorker)
In addition to polling data, these analysts are taking into account “fundamentals”—factors that supposedly capture the state of the political playing field—like incumbency, campaign funding, prior experience, and President Obama’s job-approval rating. Fundamentals can be useful when there are no polls to reference. But polls, when they are available, capture public opinion much better than a model does. In 2012, on Election Eve, for example, the Princeton Election Consortium relied on polls alone to predict every single Senate race correctly, while Silver, who used a polls-plus-fundamentals approach, called two races incorrectly, missing Heidi Heitkamp’s victory, in North Dakota, and Jon Tester’s, in Montana. The Princeton Election Consortium generates a poll-based snapshot in which the win/lose probabilities in all races are combined to generate a distribution of all possible outcomes. The average of all outcomes, based on today’s polls, is 50.5 Democratic and Independent seats (two Independents, Bernie Sanders and Angus King, currently caucus with the Democrats). Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity! I did not always appreciate the importance of sticking closely to polling data. I first started analyzing polls during the 2004 Presidential campaign, in which John Kerry and George W. Bush traded the Electoral College lead three times between June and November. An October calculation based purely on polls suggested that Bush would win. However, I added an extra assumption: that undecided voters would break by two percentage points toward Kerry. On Election Day, the president of my university e-mailed me asking for my final prediction. I told her, with confidence, that it would be Kerry. It was a humbling mistake. Because polls have better predictive value than fundamentals do, it would seem prudent to ask what an unadulterated poll-based snapshot of the Senate race looks like. Today, it looks like this: wang_02 Based on this calculation, if the elections were held today, Democrats and Independents would control the chamber with an eighty-per-cent probability. (The green section accounts for Greg Orman, the Independent candidate in Kansas, who would provide the fiftieth vote. Orman has said that he would caucus with the majority, that he would caucus with the other Independents, and that he wants to break the Senate gridlock. For this histogram, I have graphed him as caucusing with the Democrats.) But can a snapshot of today’s polls really tell us that much about an election held eight weeks from now? As it turns out, it might. A poll-based snapshot moves up and down, like the price of a stock. That movement can show us the range of the most likely outcomes for Election Day. The chart below displays those ups and downs. On the right is a zone of highest probability, drawn out in much in the same style as a hurricane strike zone on a weather map. This area indicates where the campaign is most likely to land. wang_03 At the point marked November, the smaller bracket indicates the “two-sigma range,” where I estimate about eighty-five per cent of outcomes should fall. Near the center of this range is the most probable outcome—an equal split of seats, fifty Democratic and Independent, and fifty Republican, a situation in which the Democrats would retain control. The entire range includes the additional possibilities of a fifty-one-to-forty-nine split in either direction, as well as a fifty-two-to-forty-eight split favoring the Democrats and Independents. By adding up the parts of the strike zone that encompass fifty or more Democratic and Independent votes, it is possible to estimate the probability of sustained Democratic control after the election: seventy per cent. A more accurate way to interpret the current state of the race is this: At the start of 2014, conditions slightly favored the G.O.P., when measured by fundamentals. Based on opinion polls, Democrats are currently outperforming those expectations. The shape of next year’s Senate is based on whether that level of performance will continue.

Pot ballot initiatives cause youth turnout – which is key to Democratic victory

Dunkelberger ‘14

Lloyd Dunkelberger, staffwriter for The Ledger Tallahassee Bureau, 1/28/14, “Florida's Marijuana Vote Could Affect Other Races”

But the key variable is this: Voting in nonpresidential election years typically skews older, while polls show support for the marijuana initiative is strongest among the youngest voters.

So on the surface, a larger turnout among younger voters — who don't typically show up in big numbers in nonpresidential years — could help Democrats, as demonstrated by President Barack Obama in his last two successful elections in Florida.

"Very few people are single-issue voters. But that issue could be a mobilizing issue for younger voters," said Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida.

A GOP senate destroys the Iran deal

Julian Pecquet, journalist, “GOP Senate Takeover Could Kill Iran Deal,” THE HILL, 1—23—14,, accessed 5-31-14.
A Republican takeover of the Senate this fall could scuttle one of President Obama’s biggest second term goals — a nuclear deal with Iran. Republicans have lambasted the interim agreement with Iran, calling for the Senate to move an Iran sanctions bill. The House last year passed a measure in an overwhelming and bipartisan 400-20 vote. Both the Obama administration and Iran have warned moving such a measure could kill a final deal. A number of Democrats have also criticized the interim accord, which lifted $6 billion in sanctions on Iran in exchange for a commitment to restrictions on enriching uranium. Critics in both parties say the deal gave away too much to Iran. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has given Obama cover by refusing to bring sanctions legislation to the floor. If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) becomes majority leader, sanctions legislation could move quickly to the floor and could attract a veto-proof majority. If Republicans held the majority, we would have voted already; with Democrats in charge, Harry Reid denies the American people the bipartisan diplomatic insurance policy they deserve,” a senior Republican Senate aide complained. The aide suggested Republicans would use the issue of Iran to show how a GOP-run Senate would differ with the status quo. “So the question really is, what kind of Senate would people rather have — one that puts politics over good policy, or one that holds Iran accountable and works overtime to prevent a world with Iranian nuclear weapons?” the aide asked. A total of 59 senators — 16 Democrats and every Republican save twohave co-sponsored the sanctions bill from Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). Republicans need to gain six seats to win back the majority, something within their grasp this year. The party is a solid favorite to pick up seats in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana, and believes it could also secure wins in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

Causes Israel strikes

Perr 13 – B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University; technology marketing consultant based in Portland, Oregon. Jon has long been active in Democratic politics and public policy as an organizer and advisor in California and Massachusetts. His past roles include field staffer for Gary Hart for President (1984), organizer of Silicon Valley tech executives backing President Clinton's call for national education standards (1997), recruiter of tech executives for Al Gore's and John Kerry's presidential campaigns, and co-coordinator of MassTech for Robert Reich (2002). 12/24 (Jon, “Senate sanctions bill could let Israel take U.S. to war against Iran” Daily Kos,
As 2013 draws to close, the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program have entered a delicate stage. But in 2014, the tensions will escalate dramatically as a bipartisan group of Senators brings a new Iran sanctions bill to the floor for a vote. As many others have warned, that promise of new measures against Tehran will almost certainly blow up the interim deal reached by the Obama administration and its UN/EU partners in Geneva. But Congress' highly unusual intervention into the President's domain of foreign policy doesn't just make the prospect of an American conflict with Iran more likely. As it turns out, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act essentially empowers Israel to decide whether the United States will go to war against Tehran. On their own, the tough new sanctions imposed automatically if a final deal isn't completed in six months pose a daunting enough challenge for President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry. But it is the legislation's commitment to support an Israeli preventive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities that almost ensures the U.S. and Iran will come to blows. As Section 2b, part 5 of the draft mandates: If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran's nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence. Now, the legislation being pushed by Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) does not automatically give the President an authorization to use force should Israel attack the Iranians. (The draft language above explicitly states that the U.S. government must act "in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force.") But there should be little doubt that an AUMF would be forthcoming from Congressmen on both sides of the aisle. As Lindsey Graham, who with Menendez co-sponsored a similar, non-binding "stand with Israel" resolution in March told a Christians United for Israel (CUFI) conference in July: "If nothing changes in Iran, come September, October, I will present a resolution that will authorize the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb." Graham would have plenty of company from the hardest of hard liners in his party. In August 2012, Romney national security adviser and pardoned Iran-Contra architect Elliott Abrams called for a war authorization in the pages of the Weekly Standard. And just two weeks ago, Norman Podhoretz used his Wall Street Journal op-ed to urge the Obama administration to "strike Iran now" to avoid "the nuclear war sure to come." But at the end of the day, the lack of an explicit AUMF in the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act doesn't mean its supporters aren't giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu de facto carte blanche to hit Iranian nuclear facilities. The ensuing Iranian retaliation against to Israeli and American interests would almost certainly trigger the commitment of U.S. forces anyway. Even if the Israelis alone launched a strike against Iran's atomic sites, Tehran will almost certainly hit back against U.S. targets in the Straits of Hormuz, in the region, possibly in Europe and even potentially in the American homeland. Israel would face certain retaliation from Hezbollah rockets launched from Lebanon and Hamas missiles raining down from Gaza. That's why former Bush Defense Secretary Bob Gates and CIA head Michael Hayden raising the alarms about the "disastrous" impact of the supposedly surgical strikes against the Ayatollah's nuclear infrastructure. As the New York Times reported in March 2012, "A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials." And that September, a bipartisan group of U.S. foreign policy leaders including Brent Scowcroft, retired Admiral William Fallon, former Republican Senator (now Obama Pentagon chief) Chuck Hagel, retired General Anthony Zinni and former Ambassador Thomas Pickering concluded that American attacks with the objective of "ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear bomb" would "need to conduct a significantly expanded air and sea war over a prolonged period of time, likely several years." (Accomplishing regime change, the authors noted, would mean an occupation of Iran requiring a "commitment of resources and personnel greater than what the U.S. has expended over the past 10 years in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.") The anticipated blowback? Serious costs to U.S. interests would also be felt over the longer term, we believe, with problematic consequences for global and regional stability, including economic stability. A dynamic of escalation, action, and counteraction could produce serious unintended consequences that would significantly increase all of these costs and lead, potentially, to all-out regional war.

Escalates to major power war

Trabanco 9 – Independent researcher of geopoltical and military affairs (1/13/09, José Miguel Alonso Trabanco, “The Middle Eastern Powder Keg Can Explode at anytime,” ****)
In case of an Israeli and/or American attack against Iran, Ahmadinejad's government will certainly respond. A possible countermeasure would be to fire Persian ballistic missiles against Israel and maybe even against American military bases in the regions. Teheran will unquestionably resort to its proxies like Hamas or Hezbollah (or even some of its Shiite allies it has in Lebanon or Saudi Arabia) to carry out attacks against Israel, America and their allies, effectively setting in flames a large portion of the Middle East. The ultimate weapon at Iranian disposal is to block the Strait of Hormuz. If such chokepoint is indeed asphyxiated, that would dramatically increase the price of oil, this a very threatening retaliation because it will bring intense financial and economic havoc upon the West, which is already facing significant trouble in those respects. In short, the necessary conditions for a major war in the Middle East are given. Such conflict could rapidly spiral out of control and thus a relatively minor clash could quickly and dangerously escalate by engulfing the whole region and perhaps even beyond. There are many key players: the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Arabs, the Persians and their respective allies and some great powers could become involved in one way or another (America, Russia, Europe, China). Therefore, any miscalculation by any of the main protagonists can trigger something no one can stop. Taking into consideration that the stakes are too high, perhaps it is not wise to be playing with fire right in the middle of a powder keg.

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