For most of 2014, Republicans’ probability of taking over the Senate has been somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 percent, according to theFiveThirtyEight forecast. The gambler in me says that’s not quite close enough to describe as a “tossup”; you’d make a lot of money over the long run betting on a coin toss weighted 60-40 to your side. But it still represents a highly doubtful outcome. A 60 percent chance of an outcome occurring means there’s a 40 percent chance of it failing to occur. As 60-40 underdogs, Democrats’ chances of keeping the Senate would be about as good as Ted Williams’s chances of getting a base hit in 1941.
Over the past week or two, the FiveThirtyEight forecast has drifted slightly more toward Republicans. As of Wednesday night, the GOP’s chances of a Senate takeover were up to 66 percent, its highest figure on the year.
Sixty-six percent might seem a lot different than 60 percent; it tends to read as “2-to-1 favorites” rather than “just slightly better than a coin flip.” But it isn’t much of a change, really; Democrats still have a 34 percent chance of prevailing. The difference between a 40 percent chance and a 34 percent chance is one additional “hit” for every 17 attempts. Essentially, Democrats have fallen from Williams’s chances of getting a hit in 1941 to Tony Gwynn’s in 1989.
And he provides this graphette:
Insert sad frownly-face here.