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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Did Obama Have Senate Coattails?

In this election, Democrats unexpectedly scored a net gain of two Senate seats.  Were President Obama's coattails responsible?  To find out, we can look at the 11 Democratic victories in races that RealClearPolitics rated as "tossups" or "leans."  In the table below, we compare the percentage of the vote for the winning Senate candidate and President Obama


Connecticut
Murphy
55.2%
58.4%
Florida
Nelson
55.2%
50.0%
Indiana
Donnelly
49.9%
43.8%
Massachusetts
Warren
53.7%
60.7%
Missouri
McCaskill
54.7%
44.3%
Montana
Tester
48.7%
41.8%
North Dakota
Heitkamp
50.5%
38.9%
Ohio
Brown
50.3%
50.1%
Pennsylvania
Casey
53.6%
52.0%
Virginia
Kaine
52.5%
50.8%
Wisconsin
Baldwin
51.5%
52.8%

Only in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin did the president get a higher percentage of the vote than the winning Senate candidate, and only in Massachusetts was the difference more than five percent.  We have to conclude that the evidence for any coattail effect is very weak.