Election Forecasters Briefly Forget That Independents Exist
Data company dipping toe in predictions makes revealing gaffe, snubs Angus King
Updated 2:30 p.m. | A new breakaway study shows that in the Maine Senate race, 30-year-old Republican challenger Eric Brakey has surged 20 points to capture a commanding 54 percent lead.
The only problem? The global data and marketing company behind the study apparently included just Democrats and Republicans, snubbing incumbent Sen. Angus King, an independent and the clear frontrunner in the race.
SEMrush circulated a report Thursday predicting the outcomes of the midterm Senate races based on Google searches for the candidates’ names. The study gave Democrat Zak Ringelstein a projected 46 percent share of the vote tally, leaving King with zero percent, the Portland Press Herald reported.
Independents are rare on Capitol Hill: Only King and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders do not identify as a member of either major party. Both typically caucus with the Democrats, which is why Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Maine Senate race Solidly Democratic. Zero members of the House identify as independents.
A spokesperson for the company told the paper the omission was a “a total oversight” and that it would update its report.
A spokesperson clarified the company’s methodology in an email to Roll Call Friday, saying it initially studied only candidates who won major party primaries. “It was not our intention to undermine Sen. King’s work or service, and incumbents and leading independents must be recognized,” she said.
12 Ratings Changes for House, Senate and Gubernatorial Races: 4 Toward GOP, 8 Toward Democrats