ABC’s Crystal Ball: Democratic Senate ‘Likely’

Moving past a Hillary Clinton victory, ABC now sees a Democratic Senate “likely.” Reporter Jon Karl touted his conclusion, Monday, ignoring past media botches on predictions. Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos hyped, “Control of Congress at stake in this election. Both in GOP hands right now. Those majorities may be in jeopardy.” 

Replying to Stephanopoulos’s note that the Democrats need just four Senate seats, Karl responded, “That's looking more likely. Democrat odds of winning the Senate have gone up as Donald Trump's campaign has gone down.” 

He justified, “Our partners at 538 now put the odds of a Democratic senate take over at nearly 70 percent.” 

On the subject of toss-up states, such as Pennsylvania and Florida, Karl added, “I got to tell you, George, in every one of those races, Republican candidates have been forced to come out and defend or take account for things Donald Trump has said or done.” 

Of course, journalistic predictions haven’t been so great lately. On August 1, 2014, NBC’s Chuck Todd speculated, “If November comes and goes and Democrats hold the Senate and break even in the House, I think we’re going to look back at the month of July as the month Republicans lost their shot at the Senate.”

The GOP gained the Senate that fall.  

Talking to Congressman Paul Ryan about GOP governor Sam Brownback on September 15, 2014 Todd lectured, "If he loses re-election, he’s going to essentially have lost because he cut taxes too much. Okay? That's really become a referendum." The host pressed, "What happens to the Republicans’ economic philosophy of cut taxes if he does lose?"

Brownback did not lose. 

Regarding Kansas and Brownback, Todd opened the September 21 Meet the Press by hyping, "Some Americans suddenly saying tax cutting has gone too far?... Could Republicans now become the victims of a new anti anti-tax fever?" 

Republicans may well lose the Senate in 2016, but with Pat Toomey and Marco Rubio pulling even or ahead, it seems early to declare these races over. 

A transcript of the exchange is below: 

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GMA
10/24/16
7:04AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Control of Congress at stake in this election. Both in GOP hands right now. Those majorities may be in jeopardy. Let's go Jon Karl with a closer look. Senate first Jon. Democrats need four seats in the Senate to get control. 

JON KARL: That's looking more likely. Democrat odds of winning the Senate have gone up as Donald Trump's campaign has gone down. Our partners at 538 now put the odds of a Democratic senate take over at nearly 70 percent. And if you look at our latest ABC News race ratings, we have 11 competitive Senate races. In ten of those, Republicans are playing defense. We have two seats that are already looking look likely Democratic pickups. Illinois and Wisconsin. Three others tilt toward Republicans. We have six seats, those are the ones in yellow on the map that are pure toss-ups. Democrats need to win only half of them to gain control of the senate and I got to tell you, George, in every one of those races, Republican candidates have been forced to come out and defend or take account for things Donald Trump has said or done. 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Whether they embrace him or distance themselves from him. And Jon, meantime In the House, much tougher for Democrats to get control. They need 30 seats there.

KARL: Yeah privately, even the most optimistic Democrats say they're unlikely to get the 30 seats they need to get control of the House. But top Republicans tell me they feel they'll lose at least half dozen seats. Maybe as many as 15. That would cut the majority in half, George, and make it extremely difficult for speaker of the house Paul Ryan to control the house. It could even put his speakership in jeopardy. And I gotta tell you, If things keep going so badly at the top of the ticket, I would not rule out a possibility of a big wave election that takes everybody by surprise. Things go bad at the top, they could go very bad for house Republicans.

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