A Surprisingly Varied Battleground Landscape

So if you’re bored with generally available information out there on the most highly competitive Senate races, help has arrived: Victory Lab author Sasha Issenberg has a detailed analysis up at Bloomberg Politics of the contests in Colorado, Arkansas, Iowa, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alaska, and Georgia, with propriety data on the breakdown of the electorates in each state into base voters, “persuadables,” and marginally voting GOTV targets. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of his numbers, but his characterizations of the challenges facing campaigns in the various states, buttressed by conversations with people on the ground, rings true and really does serve as an aid to comprehension.

Some key insights from Issenberg’s analysis:

* Arkansas has a very large number of persuadable voters, and the theoretically rich Democratic GOTV targets among African-Americans are tough to reach because they are disproportionately located in rural areas.

* In Colorado, Cory Gardner has a much bigger voter base for a midterm than Mark Udall, but the universe of persuadable voters tilts blue.

* The older, whiter nature of Iowa’s universe of persuadables means Bruce Braley needs every advantage he can obtain in early voting.

* North Carolina has an unusually small proportion of persuadable voters, and Kay Hagan is focused on those who are younger and thus are responding to attacks on Thom Tillis’ education record.

* Georgia also has a relatively low number of persuadable voters, and Michelle Nunn seems to be doing better among them than other recent Democrats; among GOTV targets, Georgia has an unusually large number of Democratic-tilting new voters.

There’s a whole lot more. The most important takeaway is that the Senate battleground is a lot more complicated that all the talk of a “nationalized” election would indicate.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.