So since my last update 4 days ago, an entire boatload of polls have come out. Many were GOP shill/unreliable pollsters, but many were legitimate as well. So what changes have there been? Absolutely none, either in the presidential or the Senate races. The legitimate polls show a race in stasis, and this is a good pre-debate baseline to see if it ends up moving the numbers at all. Maps are below.
Safe D: ME(R)^
Likely D: MO(D), OH(D), PA(D), FL(D)
Lean D: AZ(R)^ CT(D), MA(R)^, VA(D), WI(D)
Toss Up: IN(R), MT(D), ND(D)
Lean R: NV(R)
Safe R: NE(D)^
Senate without Toss Ups, Angus King as Dem: 53-44-3.
Senate assuming candidate with tiny leads wins: 55-45. (GOP picks up NE and MT, Dems pick up ME, MA, AZ, IN).
A good question to ask is: How much does Romney have to gain to win? And how much does the GOP have to gain to win the Senate? In other words, their path of least resistance. Here is the answer to that question:
Romney must win these two states where he is already ahead:
North Carolina: Romney +0.5 (Likely understated since the state has been under-polled)
Florida: Romney +0.8
Secondly, he must win the other two toss ups where Obama is slightly ahead:
Colorado: Obama +1.0
Virginia: Obama +2.0
And finally, he must win Ohio:
Ohio: Obama +3.7
OR, he must take both Wisconsin and Nevada:
Wisconsin: Obama +3.0
Nevada: Obama +3.5
At the moment, the average in Iowa is Obama +4.5, and New Hampshire is Obama +4.0, so these wouldn't come into play assuming you're looking at the reliable polls only.
Perhaps Mitt's biggest problem is that he's getting absolutely destroyed in early voting in Ohio, Nevada, and Iowa. His chances there are looking pretty slim because of that. Could his best move be to go all in on the states that don't have early voting, Wisconsin and New Hampshire? That would be my strategy if I was him. NH is extremely quirky and the polling average is likely inflated there due to a UNH poll showing Obama up 9. Wisconsin went to both Gore and Kerry by less than a percentage point. And he doesn't have a huge deficit to make up in these states.
Now for the Senate...
The Republicans' path of least resistance is not hard to see. They must win the chronically under-polled toss up states of IN, ND, and MT. This would put the Senate at 53-47, assuming Angus King caucuses with the Dems. They must then flip Arizona back to the red column, where Carmona has surprisingly taken a lead in the most recent polls. Once it gets to 52-48, it gets a bit dicey for them. These would be their easiest three pick ups:
Wisconsin: Baldwin +2.0
Massachusetts: Warren +3.7
Virginia: Kaine +4.3 (Or hope Angus King caucuses with them)
So GOP Senate hopes are looking pretty bad right now, which is pretty amazing considering the fact that it looked like they were going to gain a handful of seats at the start of the year.