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.