Numbers guru Nate Silver says no senator is safer than Jack Reed heading into the 2014 elections.
“Senator Jack Reed, a Democrat, is quite popular in Rhode Island, one of the bluest states in the country, and this should be Democrats’ safest Senate race next year,” Silver wrote Wednesday in a FiveThirtyEight post analyzing whether the GOP can win back the Senate.
Silver gives Republicans a razor-thin 1% chance of defeating Reed on Nov. 4, 2014, even slimmer odds than their 3% chance of victory in New Mexico or 5% chances in Delaware, Hawaii, Virginia and Illinois.
Silver’s forecast shouldn’t be a surprise: the last Republican to win a U.S. Senate race in Rhode Island was Lincoln Chafee in 2000, following his father John’s four terms – and the last non-Chafee Republican to win was Jesse H. Metcalf back in 1930, when Herbert Hoover was president. (Metcalf was ousted in 1936.)
“Summing up the possibilities across all 35 Senate races yields a net gain of four to five seats for Republicans, just short of the six they would need to win back the majority,” Silver writes. He adds that while 2014 is shaping up as a tough cycle for Democrats, 2016 could be a tough cycle for Republicans.
Last year Silver projected that U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse would win 59% of the vote, which was actually less than the 65% the Democrat got on Election Day.
A Public Policy Polling survey last month gave Reed a 29-point point lead over Republican Brendan Doherty, his closest competitor in a set of hypothetical contests. Reed was first elected to the Senate in 1996 after serving three terms in the U.S. House.
Reed is quietly kicking off his re-election push on Sunday with a fundraiser at the Providence Biltmore that boasts a host committee loaded with big-name local Democrats and other Rhode Island notables. Reed’s campaign account had $1.9 million as of Dec. 31.
• Related: Reed giving up Senate Banking subcommittee to keep 2 others (Feb. 6)