Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian’s work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.
US mid-term elections will be held on November 6. In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Democrats lead by 8.4 points in the race for Congress, the same lead they had last week, but down from an 8.7 point lead for Democrats on October 14. In the FiveThirtyEight Classic House model, there has been a boost for Democrats, with their win probability up to 84%, from 79% last week. This boost reflects the impact of strong fundraising for Democrats in the “fundamentals” calculation; ninety-two Democratic challengers outraised Republican incumbents in the September quarter.
The big question is whether these great fundraising totals for Democrats can be converted into greater support at the polls by more advertising and field operations. The FiveThirtyEight “Lite” model, which just takes the polls into account, gives Democrats a 77% chance to win the House, little changed from their position last week.
The FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate model gives Democrats just a 19% chance of winning the Senate, unchanged on last week. Poor polling has continued for the Democrats in Texas and Nevada, and Florida, Arizona and Missouri are also concerns. There is now as much chance of Republicans gaining four Senate seats for a 55-45 majority as there is of Democrats gaining the two seats they need for a majority.
Florida, Texas, Nevada and Arizona have large Hispanic populations. Hispanics usually vote strongly for Democratic candidates, but polling suggests they are less likely to vote than whites. A positive for Democrats in the Senate is that they are easily winning the mid-western states that swung from Obama to Trump in 2016; Democrats have double-digit leads in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If these states vote Democrat in the 2020 presidential election, it will make it more difficult for Trump to win the Electoral College.
Trump’s approval in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate is 42.6% and his disapproval is 52.1% for a net approval of -9.5 points, up from -10.7 points last week. It appears this is Trump’s highest approval rating in this aggregate since May. The strong US economy is helping Trump, and he may also be benefiting from not doing or saying anything highly controversial for the last two weeks. Although Trump’s ratings are higher, the Republicans are not doing better in national likely voter polls, perhaps due to greater motivation to vote among those who disapprove of Trump.