The Washington Posts’ Election Lab, a joint effort between the Post and a group of political scientists, now only gives Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich a 43 percent chance of retaining his seat in the upcoming election. That’s a six-point drop since May, when the Lab gave Begich a 49 percent chance of keeping his seat.
What’s changed? Campaign contributions, said political scientist Eric McGhee, who is a contributor to the project. The group has yet to include polls in its model, and unlike other people and organizations that predict races, its model doesn’t include subjective information, like news accounts and information from party members and insiders. “It’s entirely model-based,” McGhee said. He cautions against putting too much stock into the percentage-point change. A six point percent change, he said, is “basically no change,” and he said that the model is going to constantly show fluctuations.
Also in Sunday’s Post: Chris Cillizza, a political reporter, wrote that conservative blogger Erick Erickson’s endorsement of Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell for Senate gives Treadwell a “much-needed boost.” However, he said that “it’s not going to change the fact that former attorney general Dan Sullivan is the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination.”
To a D.C.-based reporter, the race might seem sewn-up, but Cillizza isn’t taking into account the unpredictable animals that are Alaska Republican primaries. Former Alaska state Rep. Jay Ramras, who ran against Treadwell for lieutenant governor in 2010, was the clear front-runner, until he wasn’t. Lisa Murkowski was certain to win the primary that same year, and then look what happened. At the end of June 2006, insiders in Alaska smirked at the notion that Sarah Palin might beat John Binkley in the Republican primary. Going back farther, Tom Fink’s win against Terry Miller took most everyone by surprise.
The point: A lot can happen between now and August 19.
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