Prediction time

Is it wrong that I basically am going to go with Nate Silver?  Hell, no.  Nate Silver respects the Political Science as well as anyone and he was easily the most right in 2016 (he had Trump with a 30% chance on election day because he recognized the solid possibility of correlated polling error plus Trump sneaking by in the Electoral College).

So, that means I’m going with the Republicans holding onto the Senate and Democrats picking up 30+ in the House.  Just because I might as well, I’m saying Democrats take the close Senate races in Florida, Indiana, WV, Arizona, and Nevada, but I think Heitkamp falls in ND and Dems lose Tennessee too.  I think Ted Cruz will hold on, but based on the reports of the youth turnout in Texas it would not surprise me at all for Beto to pull this off.  And, actually, it would not really surprise me to be wrong on any individual race.  Though, I really doubt Republicans manage to run the table on close Senate races (strikes me as far more likely for Democrats to pull off that trick).

As for the House, my gut tells me that Silver’s median prediction of +36 Democrats is more likely to be on the low side than the high side.  When elections go “wave” they can really out-perform the poll predictions (I seem to recall both 2006 and 2010 leading to notably larger pick-ups than most predicted).  So, I kind of think it might well be over 40.  But, hey, because we are all so much more cautious now, I will say I will be a little surprised, but far from shocked if the Democrats only pick up 20 or so and fail to get a majority.

Mika pointed me to this nice Rachel Bitecofer analysis which puts the Democrats at +45, which I find quite plausible.  Bitecofer’s models is based largely off of negative partisanship, so, yeah, that sure makes a lot of sense.  It’s a really interesting analysis and well worth reading in full.

Both Bitecofer and Silver point out how many of the Democratic advantages are already baked into the cake because of candidate quality (and related fundraising).  I love this, because it is where Political Science comes in.  Gary Jacobson showed a long time ago that national tides get turned into local results by the strategic calculations of retiring incumbents and quality challengers who decide whether to run or not.  And in 2018, all of these favor Democrats.  Here’s Silver with the summary:

  • large number of Republican incumbents retired, including House speaker Paul Ryan, perhaps because they anticipated a tough time being re-elected or don’t enjoy dealing with Trump.
  • Democrats have nominated “good” candidates almost everywhere. They’re competing in all but three congressional districts. And the candidates are usually good fits for their districts, not necessarily having a history in politics, but often having military or business backgrounds.
  • Democrats have raised a disproportionate amount of money, leading Republicans by somewhere on the order of 2-1 among individual contributions in competitive districts. We’ve never seen numbers this lopsided before and they’re producing a similar Democratic advantage in television advertising in the closing weeks of the campaign. This may be what’s behind the apparent shift toward Democrats in swing-district polling.

My final point about something that is going to be super under-reported and that I’m going to mention anytime I talk to media.  Silver:

  • Second — and this is perhaps the most important factor that I’ll list — Republicans hold a huge intrinsic advantage because they dominated the redistricting process after the 2010 elections in many states. [emphasis Silver] Voter self-sorting further contributes to the Democrats’ problems. Democrats will almost certainly win more votes for Congress on Tuesday — generic ballot polls put them ahead by margins of 8 or 9 percentage points, larger than the margins in the 1994 Republican wave, or Obama’s landslide victory over John McCain in 2008. But Democrats would have to win the popular vote by somewhere on the order of 5 to 7 percentage points, according to the various versions of our model, to actually win the majority of House seats. [emphasis mine]

No matter what happens with number of seats, this will surely be, raw vote-wise, a huge repudiation of Trump and the Republicans.  Unfortunately, the massive gerrymandering may very much cloud that important message.


Don’t sweat it

This from SNL is just so perfect.

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