Our election prediction is based on historical models, not polls.
Out of 15 mid-term elections since 1958 3 have been outliers.
In 1966 despite falling unemployment and high GDP growth Lyndon Johnson saw his party lose 47 seats in the mid-terms.
In 1970, Richard Nixon saw the Republicans lose only 12 seats in the house despite rising unemployment and GDP growth of just .2 percent.
In 1994 Bill Clinton was president and unemployment was falling and GDP growth was a healthy 4%. But a brilliant political strategy by Newt Gingrich and corruption within the House led Republicans to a 54 seat pickup.
A fourth outlier could be considered under George W. Bush who’s party lost 30 seats also despite falling unemployment and comfortable GDP growth.
Focusing on similar races:
If we look at the 7 mid-term elections where GDP was growing and unemployment was falling we find that the average loss in the House for the President’s party is 15.5 seats. The two outliers involving Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both involved very big and controversial legislation (health care in both instances) that affected most Americans.
To win the House the Democrats would need to pick up 23 seats. Since 1958 this is just under the average. But again, most of these big losses have happened when the economy was in recession and unemployment was high or there was major, controversial legislation.
92% of President Trump’s media coverage has been negative. Will that sway voters? Right now it’s tough to say but our guess is, probably not. It’s going to be close which means the independents are going to be the deciding voice. We also believe that these voters are going to look at the unemployment rate and economic growth and decide to stay the course.
That leaves us with the voter turnout. The Kavanaugh hearings appear at this point to have incentivized the Republican base and passion is about equal right now. Democrats are hoping that those hearings will sway educated Republican women in the suburbs to support them. The problem with this is that these are the same women who voted for Trump and have been called “deplorable” among other slurs. It’s hard to see them suddenly swinging to the Democrats.
Thus our prediction is the Democrats pick up somewhere between 13 and 17 seats.
With history as a guide we feel very confident in this prediction. If Republicans do get energized and there is high turnout the Democrats could see a sub 10 pickup in the House and Republicans could gain three or four seats in the Senate.
This would be a worst case scenario for the Democrats.
The only polls we will look at right now is The Cook Political Report.
It currently (October 12th) shows the Democrats with 192 safe or leaning seats and the Republicans with 195 safe or leaning seats and 48 seats as tossups. The New York Times suggests 69 highly competitive seats, so not too far off from Cook.
If Cook is right, of those 48 seats the Democrats would need to win 26 of them to get to 218. If the Republicans manage to win just 23 of them, they hold the House.
Much has been said of the 40 Republicans who are retiring. But only 7 of those are in areas that went for Clinton. Of the 18 Democrats who are retiring 4 are in areas that went for Trump.
The bottom line is that this just strengthens are prediction that historically speaking, the Republican Party will probably hang on to the House. But it may be just by the fingernails.
Some surprises that are possible:
One thing the last election showed us is that the polls are far from perfect. With the negative coverage of President Trump we can only imagine this has gotten worse. If a polling company calls you on behalf of the main stream media the perception among Republicans is that they are biased and hate Trump. Thus they aren’t going to be very accommodating. And, let’s be honest, people want to be nice. So they may say they don’t support Republicans, when in fact they do.
If the margin of error is skewed just the wrong way the Republicans could get four or even five Senate seats and hold the losses in the House to single digits. This would be a disaster for the Democrats.
If however the Kavanaugh hearings have driven women in large numbers to the Democrats it’s conceivable that they could have a very big night and pick up 30 or 35 seats and take back the Senate. We find both scenarios to be highly unlikely, but within the realm of possibility.
For either of these scenarios to play out it would require a fairly big October surprise.