FiveThirtyEight and NYT: Polls Indicate Robin Carnahan is Totally Screwed

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click to enlarge No Horsing Around: Carnahan needs a miracle to beat Blunt. - Image via
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No Horsing Around: Carnahan needs a miracle to beat Blunt.
To the untrained eye, the race for Missouri's senate seat between Robin Carnahan and Roy Blunt looks like a toss-up. 

A tenacious battle between a longtime Republican congressman with a carefully crafted aw-shucks demeanor and a determined, well-educated former Secretary of State descended from one of the state's political dynasties
-- it sounds like an evenly matched election if ever there was one.

But according to FiveThirthyEight, the baseball-influenced stat geeks who predicted the state-by-state outcomes of the 2008 presidential contest with impressive accuracy, the odds of Carnahan beating Blunt are only slightly better than the Cardinals' bleak chances of winning their division this season.

FiveThirtyEight is the brainchild of baseball sabermetrics guru Nate Silver. The site, which is now affiliated with the New York Times, uses sophisticated analysis of the latest state and national political polls. The polling numbers are plugged into a computer and the possible outcomes of the election are simulated thousands of times.

Based on the latest round of data, Silver -- who openly admits he is biased in favor of Democrats -- believes Carnahan has just a 9.1 percent chance of victory come November.
Click over to the blog's main page on and the graph is interactive. Blunt started out this past February with a substantial lead (65 percent to Carnahan's 34) that has grown steadily ever since.

Nationwide, Silver estimates that there is a one in four chance that Republicans will re-take the control of the Senate. He notes that, "nearly every day now seems to bring another sour piece of polling news for the Democrats."

For Carnahan, that "sour news" has to be today's story in the Post-Dispatch that details her efforts in the early '90s to ban concealed handguns in Missouri. Despite her general support for the second amendment, NRA leaders are still making statements like, "If she thinks she can play gun owners for fools, she's going to find a grass-roots army working to defeat her."

Silver's 9.1 percent chance of victory for Carnahan is depressingly similar to the Cardinals' odds of overtaking the Cincinnati Reds and winning the NL Central this season. According to -- which calculates a team's odds of making the playoffs based on the number of remaining games and the number of runs a team scores and gives up -- the Redbirds have just a six percent chance of winning the division.

On the other hand, the Cardinals have a ten percent chance of winning the Wild Card. Carnahan, however, has no such consolation prize.

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