Republican Rout in November?

Even with some key seats trending Democrat, Republicans are primed to take over both Houses of Congress come November 2.

Dick Morris issues a bold prophecy:

Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, the Democratic Party is facing the biggest defeat in midterm elections in the past 110 years, perhaps surpassing the modern record of a 74-seat gain set in 1922. They will also lose control of the Senate.

Republicans are now leading in 54 Democratic House districts. In 19 more, the incumbent congressman is under 50 percent and his GOP challenger is within five points. That makes 73 seats where victory is within easy grasp for the Republican Party. The only reason the list is not longer is that there are 160 Democratic House districts that were considered so strongly blue that there is no recent polling available.

He contends “There is no Democratic message” and that “they are running almost exclusively negative ads.”   As opposed, of course, to the shiny new message and optimistic, forward-looking ads that the GOP is running.

It could happen, I suppose.  We seem to be in for our third straight wave election.   But it’s highly doubtful.  Even by Morris’ own calculations, the GOP would have to win every single House seat where they’re even marginally competitive to get a 73 seat pickup.  Yet, he thinks they’ll somehow get to 75 or more?!  Presumably, picking up a couple seats in the “160 Democratic House districts that were considered so strongly blue that there is no recent polling available?”    I suppose there’s not much harm in shooting the moon, since he’ll look like a regular Nostradamus if he’s right and few will remember if he’s wrong.   But it’s almost absurd.

And recent polling has been showing two things that should give Democrats some hope.  First, the vaunted “enthusiasm gap” is shrinking.   Whether it’s the prospects of a shellacking or the prospect of Tea Party Republicans gaining several Senate seats, the other team seems to have gotten interested.

Second, a lot of races that were looking like Republican pickups are suddenly trending the other way.  Harry Reid has a slim lead (1.4) but trending up.   Barbara Boxer has opened up a 6.9 point lead.   In Delaware, where Mike Castle would almost surely have won, the nutty Christine O’Donnell is down a whopping 15.7.     In Alaska, the jilted Lisa Murkowski is running neck and neck with Joe Miller (although the chances of Democrat Scott McAdams winning are nil).

Nate Silver currently forecasts the Senate at 52 Democrats and 48 Republicans and the House at 224 Republicans and 211 Democrats.   (RealClearPolitics doesn’t project toss-ups, so it’s hard to compare.)

The good news for Republicans is that of the 9 races where the current part is likeliest to lose their seat, 9 are held by Democrats!   It’s a virtual lock that the GOP will pick up seats in North Dakota, Arkansas, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.  The odds are that they’ll also pick up Wisconsin and Colorado.   And even odds that they’ll pick up Nevada and Illinois.  After that, he’s got none of the other seats seriously in play, despite several races (West Virginia, Washington, California, and New Hampshire) with polling margins of 5% or less.

Similarly, in the House, 16 of 17 the Likely Takeover seats (80% or higher chance) and 23 of 24 Lean Takeover seats (60-80% chance)  and 20 of 22 Even Chance (40-60%) seats are held by Democrats.

But Silver recognizes that there’s a lot of uncertainty.   We’ve got good data on how things work out on average and can produce meaningful confidence intervals based on long term trends.  But any single event can be wildly unpredictable, let alone when that “single” event is actually 435 House races and 33 Senate races.  In a midterm year, no less.

One other factor to consider:  In a lot of states, late polling shifts caused by gaffes, scandals, debates, advertising, and so forth will be muted somewhat by the fact of early voting.   A good third of those who will vote in many states have already done so.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Whether it’s the prospects of a shellacking or the prospect of Tea Party Republicans gaining several Senate seats, the other team seems to have gotten interested.”

    They always do which is why all these summer prophecies led by the media who are intrested in horse races are next to worthless. The generic polls have never shown overwhelming enthusiasm for the Republicans and I’d have said the main affect of all the premature crowing has been to energize the Democratic base. Morris was predicting Obama was going to lose a week before the election so he’s a joke. Personally I expect the Republicans to make some gains but they are going to be much modest than are widely believed. For example, (unlike you who think it’s a lock) I don’t think Toomey is going to win in PA. But I guess we’ll see.

  2. James Joyner says:

    For example, (unlike you who think it’s a lock) I don’t think Toomey is going to win in PA. But I guess we’ll see.

    That we will. I don’t have my fingers on the pulse of many of the individual races. I just know that Toomey’s been up by solid margins for quite some time. Silver has that race as a 92% chance of GOP pickup.

  3. Brummagem Joe says:

    “(although the chances of Democrat Scott McAdams winning are nil).”

    This is an interesting take. As I recall Murkowski only just squeaked home against the Democrat when she ran last time so what’s happened? Have all the Democrats left town or something? Or are they all going to start voting for an independant Republican? These polls are fairly worthless as a guide because quite apart from the difficulties of polling in Alaska they actually put Murkowski’s name in the questionaire whereas in the real poll supporters will be required to write in her name. At bottom it’s hard to see that Murkowski’s campaign is going to do anything other than divide the conservative vote. Ergo if the Democratic vote holds up it’s way too early to write off their candidate. Basically anything could happen in this race.

  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    “I just know that Toomey’s been up by solid margins for quite some time.”

    I haven’t been following the race although I know PA reasonably well which accounts for my scepticism, but just for kicks I googled the latest poll from PA which as it happens was published yesterday. It doesn’t seem to indicate a “lock.”

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/regional/s_701759.html

  5. wr says:

    I can’t remember? Was it Hillary or Condi who won the presidency in 2008? Because that kind of determines how much faith I have in Dick Morris’ predictions.

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Boy are you guys going to be surprised on November 3rd. Question. Does it take just a majority of Senators to vote guilty to impeach?

  7. Tano says:

    “Does it take just a majority of Senators to vote guilty to impeach?”

    Zels,

    “Voting guilty” is not the act “to impeach”. To impeach means basically to indict. This is done by the House. The Senate votes guilty (or not) to convict. That takes a 2/3 vote.

  8. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    No shit Tano! But it takes a guilty vote in the Senate for a person to be impeached and found guilty of the charges, removed from office and shot.

  9. mantis says:

    So Zels shows how little he understands of our Constitution and impeachment procedure, and when you explain it to him, he says “No shit Tano!” as if he knew it all along. Then he dreams about seeing the President shot, rubs one out and falls asleep in a pile of Cheetos.

  10. Tano says:

    “…it takes a guilty vote in the Senate for a person to be impeached ”

    Ah, no Zels. Thats exactly what you got wrong the first time. Impeachment happens when the House indicts you. Thats why we say that Bill Clinton was impeached. He was not convicted.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    “…and shot.”

    Only in your warped wetdreams, loon…

  12. Chrome says:

    Mr. Joyner says :
    “And recent polling has been showing two things that should give Democrats some hope. First, the vaunted “enthusiasm gap” is shrinking. Whether it’s the prospects of a shellacking or the prospect of Tea Party Republicans gaining several Senate seats, the other team seems to have gotten interested.”

    He may want to read the research of comment made in 2006 —

    I’m feeling better about some of the races,” one Republican pollster said at the time. “The campaigns are making a difference.”

    “There’s a real sigh of relief for Republican operatives,” said another. “Unlike 1994, when Democrats were caught off guard, Republican strategists are pretty focused on the environment we’re in and being tactically competent and aggressive. … We all know this is going to be a game of inches.”

    A Democrat said at the time: “A lot of the polls we’ve done this year [showed that] Democrats were more energized behind Democrats than Republicans were. Republicans [now] seem to be awakening and coming back to their partisan senses.”

    (from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/29/AR2010092904116_2.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2010092907410 )

    Sound eerily familiar?

  13. ponce says:

    I feel the need to take a shower every time I see some of Morris’ offal.

    A warning in the title next time you feel the need to regurgitate his filth, please.