Ag Policy Blog

Handicapping the Election One Month Out

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Leading into Sunday's second presidential debate, Democrat Hillary Clinton has 78.8% to 82% chance of winning the presidency, based on daily tracking by the ESPN's FiveThirtyEight blog (yes, ESPN has a blog for political statistics) and the New York Times polling tracker. Clinton's chances are based on the number of various pathways that states could fall her way on Nov. 8 compared to the chances Republican Donald Trump has in carrying those toss-up states.

Clinton and Republican Donald Trump will square off again on another 8 p.m. Central debate slated to last 90 minutes. Of course the debate likely will it harder to draw viewers against a Sunday night NFL Packers-Giants game, as well as MLB playoff games.

The FiveThirtyEight tracker gives Clinton a stronger edge to carry Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico and a slight edge over Trump right now in North Carolina, Florida and Iowa.

The New York Times tracker puts Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Iowa, Maine and North Carolina within the realm of statistical dead heats between Clinton and Trump.

Politico has a piece this morning on everything you need to know about the second presidential debate:…

The Senate

The New York Times daily tracking has swung dramatically in the last two weeks. On Sept. 26, the GOP had a 64% to 36% edge over Democrats in carrying the Senate. The Times has since moved the needle to a 52%-48% Democratic edge.…

FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats a 57.3% chance of flipping the Senate. Democratic challengers are ahead in five Senate races against Republican incumbents -- Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. The blog's analysis also shows Republicans potentially picking up the Nevada seat now held by retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

"To control the Senate, the Democrats need a net gain of four seats (they hold 46 seats now) if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency or five seats if Donald Trump wins. Right now, they have at least a 75 percent chance of winning currently Republican seats in Illinois and Wisconsin. The bigger question is whether they can win any three of the following seven seats: Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania."…

Everyone on the Senate Agriculture Committee up for reelection appears to be having a comfortable run right now. In Iowa, Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican, looks to comfortably hold onto his seat. He was the one member of the Senate Agriculture Committee considered earlier this summer to be in a possible election tussle, but Grassley has a strong lead over his Democratic challenger.

FiveThirtyEight puts the most probable Senate outcome at a 50-50 split with the vice president becoming the tie-breaking vote in key legislative battles.

The House

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, based out of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, has Democrats picking up 10-15 seats, but not the 30 needed to capture a majority.

Roll Call shows Republicans maintaining a majority and less assured about Democrats picking up 15 seats. Roll Call lists eight key tossup races, another eight districts tilting GOP and seven seats tilting Democratic.

Few of the 46 members of the House Agriculture Committee are listed as facing challenging races and a few House aggies are retiring.

Aggie Toss-ups

Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., who opted not to seek reelection (Roll Call also puts the New York 19th as a tossup).

Rep. Dan Benishek, a Republican from Michigan (Roll Call puts this race as tilts Republican)

Leans Republican

Sabato ranks Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., a member of the House Ag Committee, as having the race leaning his way.

Roll Call ranks Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, a member of the Ag Appropriations Subcommittee, in a race leaning his way.

Likely Republican

Mike Bost, R-Illinois, a member of the Ag Committee, is seeing polling more swing his way.

Leans Democratic

The open seat for Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat from Arizona and Ag Committee member who opted to run for the Senate.

Rep. Brad Ashford, a Democrat from Nebraska, an Ag Committee member, gets a lean Democratic status in defense of his seat.

Safe Republican

The seat for retiring Rep. Randy Neugebauer, a west Texas Republican and a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee. His seat is safely Republican…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


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