After updating its congressional forecast on Thursday, the Washington Post says Republican Bruce Poliquin still has the best chance to win in Maine's 2nd Congressional District.
The newspaper's Election Lab said Poliquin has a 64 percent chance to win the seat over Democrat Emily Cain. That number hasn't changed much since June, when the newspaper gave Republicans a 63 percent chance to win the seat.
The former state treasurer from Oakland would be the only Republican U.S. representative in New England, according to the forecast. Maine Republicans are excited by this, using it to raise money on Thursday. But there's plenty the model doesn't take into account.
For one thing, the Post's methodology for House races isn't well-refined yet. Right now, it's looking largely at the national electoral landscape (which greatly favors Republicans, who the Post says will hold the House and take the Senate), President Barack Obama's share of the vote in the district in 2012 and candidates' elective experience.
Plus, while the Post used polling data to predict Senate races, it didn't use it on House races. In the 2nd District, there has only been one public poll since the June primary. That month, the Portland Press Herald released a poll showing Cain, a state senator from Orono, leading Poliquin 44 percent to 39 percent. However, that was within the poll's margin of error.
Also, the Post forecast doesn't take into account the impact of the third candidate in the race, conservative independent Blaine Richardson of Belfast. Observers have said that he could take votes from Poliquin and last week, Richardson shared headlines with the party candidates when he and Cain held a joint press conference decrying Poliquin's reluctance to attend debates to which Richardson is invited.
If the poll numbers hold, Cain's chances could tick upward in future forecasts. Because of that and Richardson's involvement, Democrats shouldn't be too worried yet. But it's going to take a good defensive effort for them to keep the seat. Poliquin is certainly within striking distance.