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Senate Projection for October 3, 2012: 50-50

Eleven of the U.S. Senate seats up for grabs this November are  “toss-ups,” with Republicans in control 44 seats and Democrats in control of 45 (including independents who caucus with the Democrats).

Based on prior election results and comprehensive analysis of state polls, the Republicans and Democrats are currently projected to end up with 50 seats each in the battle for the Senate.

Of the eleven “toss-up” races, Republicans currently lead in six of those races: Indiana, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Virginia, and Massachusetts.  Democrats currently lead in Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Missouri, and Ohio.

In previous weeks Michigan had been included in the analysis, however that race has now turned into a double-digit lead for the Democratic candidate.

In Florida, Bill Nelson (D) continues to lead Connie Mack (R) on the strength of a substantial double-digit lead with independents.

In Massachusetts, Scott Brown (R) has taken a slim lead in recent weeks on the back of his strong lead among independent voters.

In Missouri, Todd Akin (R) continues to trail Claire McCaskill (D), as Republicans have abandoned him in large numbers following his controversial comments concerning rape.

Dean Heller (R) continues to lead in Nevada, as Shelley Berkley (D) struggles to shore up support from her Democratic base.

Sherrod Brown (D) leads Josh Mandel (R) in Ohio.

The race in Virginia has tightened significantly in recent weeks, as Tim Kaine (D) has pulled to within a few points of George Allen (R) among independents, making this race a dead heat.

In Wisconsin, after strong early support, Tommy Thompson (R) has fallen victim to a huge surge in support for Tammy Baldwin (D).

Methodology:

Rather than simply averaging the overall result of major swing-state polls pitting Senate candidates against one another (as is done on sites like Real Clear Politics), The Washington Dispatch digs into the cross-tabs of data behind major polls (those that freely publish the necessary data breaking down responses by party identification), and averages each candidates’ share of the vote among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.  Then, these shares are applied to the actual turnout by party identification in each state (as measured by CNN’s comprehensive exit polling in 200420062008, and 2010) for the past four national elections.  To calculate poll numbers for each race for purposes of The Washington Dispatch’s Senate projections, each candidates’ average share of the vote by party affiliation is applied to the average turnout by party affiliation in each state over the past four national elections.

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