Data shows that Republicans have a slight advantage in the fight to take control of the Senate in November and the type of polling is a key factor in the accuracy of these predictions, according to The New York Times.
The latest highest quality, nonpartisan polling, including a YouGov online panel published Sunday, gives the GOP a 60 percent chance of picking up the six seats they need to regain control of the upper chamber, up from 54 percent on April 1, the Times said.
"The Republicans appear to have a slight advantage, with the most likely outcome being a Republican gain of six seats, the minimum they need to finish with a 51-to-49-seat majority," Amanda Cox and Josh Katz of the Times wrote. "But we, like many other forecasters, would not be surprised by a gain of anywhere from four to eight seats."
The results are in line with the Times' forecasting model which incorporates surveys, fundraising data, and other information, such as candidates' political experience, a state's past election results, and national polling, with varying weights given to each of these factors tailored to the races analyzed.
The YouGov poll suggests that Republicans have made gains in Michigan, Georgia, and North Carolina, but that these shifts were offset by some positive numbers for Democrats in Colorado and Alaska, the Times reported.
Meanwhile, Republicans also have a slight lead in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Iowa, and Michigan, the highest quality data suggests, according to the Times.
"The Republican advantage, however, is not especially significant in these states, suggesting that the campaign remains up for grabs," the Times said.
The newspaper emphasized that polling techniques are critical to the accuracy of predictions.
Specifically, most polls continue to use the traditional, random-digit dialing to reach a sample of people by phone, but declining response rates are creating less accurate predictions. And young voters are less likely to respond to telephone surveys as are nonwhite voters who are least likely to own a land line or least likely to respond to telephone pollsters, making for inaccurate predictions.
The YouGov survey produced the first set of data from an online panel this year, making it likely to be more accurate than the traditional methods, the Times said.
"Republicans appear to have narrow leads in enough states to win the Senate, but only narrow leads," the Times concluded.
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