US mid-terms minus 11 days

Democrats continue to perform well in the House, but the Senate looks increasingly difficult for them. Guest post by Adrian Beaumount.

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.

The US mid-term elections will be held on November 6. In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Democrats lead by 8.2% in the race for Congress, slightly down from 8.4% last week. In the FiveThirtyEight Classic Model, Democrats have an 85% chance to win the House, up from 84% last week, but down from 87% on October 22. Strong fundraising for Democrats has affected the classic model’s fundamentals calculation, and the polls-only “Lite” Model gives Democrats a 77% chance to win the House, unchanged since last week.

Democrats are rated just a 17% chance to win the Senate in the FiveThirtyEight Classic Model, down from a 19% chance last week. They have gained ground in Florida, West Virginia and Montana in the last week, but lost ground in Indiana and North Dakota. Trump won North Dakota by 36 points in 2016, and it is likely Democrats will lose it. If they lose North Dakota, Democrats will need to win all the currently close states – Florida, Missouri, Indiana, Arizona and Nevada – to win the Senate. They would also need one of either Texas or Tennessee, where FiveThirtyEight rates Republicans over a 75% chance.

The best chance for Democrats to win the Senate, or Republicans to win the House, is either a late surge in the final days, or a party overperforming the polls across the board on election day. Turnout patterns could be crucial here: if turnout is very high with Democrat-aligned voters, and more moderate with Trump-aligned voters, Democrats probably overperform the polls. Another crucial issue is how the remaining undecided voters in polls break. If Democrats overperform in the House, they will probably win a far bigger majority than the current 234-201 estimated outcome, owing to a long “tail” of Republican-held seats they could win.

Trump’s ratings in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are currently 42.4% approve, 52.5% disapprove, for a net approval of -10.1%, down from -9.5% last week. On October 23, Trump was at 43.1% approve, his highest approval rating since March 2017. Trump has probably benefited from an increase in inflation-adjusted wages. However, the recent slump in the Dow Jones, which has been partly blamed on Trump’s tariffs, could undermine his economic credentials, as people worry that the stock market falls signal worse economic conditions to come.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

26 comments on “US mid-terms minus 11 days”

  1. Unfortunately if the Dems do not win the Senate then Trump & the Repugs will keep stacking the supreme court & all the other federal courts.
    Also the House Dems may not be able to get much legislation through Trump with his veto power – unless they get a big enough majority in the House.
    So, although they would be able to initiate lots of investigations and enquiries, they may still be stymied in the really important stuff.

  2. Good result here can set up Democrats for 2020. State parliaments, governerships etc are all important because they control redistricting for 2020 and are also important for avoiding voter suppression. Also senate battle map will be much easier compared to 2018 where democrats have a lot of seats to defend.

    Keeping an eye on Florida amendment for felon voting rights which can turn Florida into a Democratic-tilting state.

  3. As a long term-U.S political observer, I think that (unfortunately) the Democrats are going to struggle these mid-terms. Early voting isn’t where it should be for them.

    538 are stuck on this notion that the D’s cash advantage is an unknown in its impact on the race. I disagree – a cash advantage is only useful if your opponent doesn’t have enough money to get their message out. In most of these competitive House races the Rs are still able to do this. And a number of them are naturally strong R districts.

    Even in the Senate, in North Dakota the D has a massive campaign cash haul (over $10million advantage) over the R but her chances of winning are basically non-existant.

    Rs are going to pick up 3-5 Senate seats and the House will go down to the wire.

  4. American progressives are as fickle as they are feckless. Republican operatives have known this since Nixon and play them off a break with various forms of (progressive) voter suppression. It’s why public progress has stalled since The Johnson administration.

    I reckon the Democrats will fall short of claiming both Houses this year. I reckon the Democrats will tie themselves in a knot over whether a centrist or ‘progressive’ (leftist) candidate should get the nomination for President in 2020 and the Repubicans will spend a bomb in convincing the supporters of the loser in that primary contest to simply stay away from the ballot box in the General Election – which the stupid fucks will do – thereby gifting the Whitehouse to Donald again on the back of the 27% of the 42% of Americans who actually emote that the Donald is doing a good job (wtf) AND who will actually vote! Enough to win.

  5. Thanks for the rundown. As Booleanbach said, without the Senate the republicans will continue to stack the supreme court.

    Reading this article, I find it extraordinary that those who fell for Trump’s lies in 2016 still imagine they might come true. Trump picked his desperate marks well.

    At the same time, the Democrat party leadership has been culpably weak for a long time. Their continued failure to pay sufficient attention to local politics and governor races has meant that several states with democrat majorities have republican governors who then gerrymander federal seat boundaries. The system is so broken now you have to wonder if the USA still counts as a functionally democratic nation.

    If nothing else, the US shows why Australia must never abandon compulsory voting. Voluntary voting gives rise to a whole new level of corruption in political tactics.

  6. I think if the republicans do keep the house and the dems fail a clean sweep in 2020 they’ll have a failed state / civil war, before they ever have a free and fair election (and admittedly they haven’t got to free and fair since before the Republicans on the Supreme Court appointed the Republican loser candidate to be President, under a thin disguise of legal process, where the Supreme Court no longer has the benefit of a think disguise.

    If the 2018 dem blue wave is a polling mirage, the US is in deep deep deep trouble.

    I genuinely hope Labor win and can pivot to China there is incredibly little chance of the US being any assistance to Australia over the next 10 years and to the extent they are engaged in a cold / economic war with China we need to be on China’s side (economically, I’m not advocating dropping ANZUS, although again it will do us no good as the US slides).

  7. The question is willing the two right wing extremists attacks have any effect. Are they the October surprise?
    The mail bombs might have less of an effect as they were targeted at politicians and ‘elites’. But the Synagogue shooting might resonate more as the victims are everyday people (all be it from a minority religion).

  8. Synagogue attack is more likely to move Jewish voters in Florida away from Republicans due to their association with anti-semite white extremists.

  9. Adrian

    True but there are many other problems in Brazil influencing politics. Not a valid comparator to USA or Australia.


    Agreed. If the USA cannot recover its democratic process I do not see any benefit to anyone in Australia going down with the US ship. China will be the dominant power before 2050 whether the US likes it or not.

  10. best I think dems can do in the senate is 50/50 more likely they will end up 48/52…. curr 49/51
    re house most likely dem majority
    so they can investigate every thing that moves… from Trump and his “friends”

  11. GhostWhoVotes
    ‏ @GhostWhoVotes
    2m2 minutes ago

    #Newspoll Federal 2 Party Preferred: L/NP 46 (-1) ALP 54 (+1) #auspol

    The other thread is borked.

  12. GhostWhoVotes
    ‏ @GhostWhoVotes
    30s31 seconds ago

    #Newspoll Morrison: Approve 41 (-4) Disapprove 44 (+6) #auspol

    ‏ @GhostWhoVotes
    15s15 seconds ago

    #Newspoll Shorten: Approve 37 (+2) Disapprove 50 (-1) #auspol

    ‏ @GhostWhoVotes
    14s15 seconds ago

    #Newspoll Preferred PM: Morrison 43 (-2) Shorten 35 (+1) #auspol

    Also I can’t keep my login.

  13. Yes, the Senate does seem unlikely when the Dems are down in Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota, won’t win Alaska, and trail in early voting in Florida.

    They don’t seem like to take out any Republican senators. Nevada maybe?

  14. One REALLY important thing that often gets missed is that polling is based on particular turnout models, with respondents then informing the pollster how likely they are to vote. One of the reasons why polling missed 2016 so badly (at the national level, they really didn’t) was in those key states, polling did show Clinton getting into worrying territory across the rust belt and NH, but not in danger, because the polling modeled an electorate that was more favourable to Clinton than it turned out. Long-story short, while the state-wide polling (aka Senate/Governor, are likely to be more reliable than CD polling, they’re still a bit of guessing game… especially in a midterm like this).

    I think the actual data we’re getting suggests not just Democratic enthusiasm, but an intensity of that enthusiasm.

    The most recent poll out of AZ was telling about the dangers in this kind of Midterm of assuming that Reps leading in registrants having voted early in places like FL and AZ means they’re automatically votes for Republicans.

    According to current data, Democrats are behind in voters who have already voted R: 43 D: 33 and Indies: 21… but according to that poll, the Democrat is ahead 51-47 among those who have already voted. If you connect those two pieces of data together… and this is something being replicated across the country… Democrats are nearly maxing out support from their own voters, the Republicans are doing OK, but not doing as well and Independents are leaning heavily to the Democrats. If that pattern holds to this time next week, the GOP are in for a decent sized hiding.

    This is likely to be close to record turnout for a Midterm in the modern era… this is totally uncharted territory for a lot of the political commentariat.

    The Senate is hard, even in that environment as we’re dealing with so many States that Trump not only won, but won by scary margins. My guess at this point is that North Dakota is probably gone for the Democrats, but McCaskill, who is likely next in line of vulnerability is still a chance to pull it out. The Dems are a good chance in both NV and AZ. Turnout in TX has been scary so far, so I wouldn’t think it outside the realms that Beto can take out Cruz in a squeaker.

    But with my thinking hat on, influenced slightly by gut… I think the Dems overperform their polling and take the House by a healthy margin, maintain the SQ in the house and steamroll a number of State legislatures and Governorships.

  15. Texas is a historically low turnout state. It also has similar demographics to California. If Texas turns out in the significantly higher numbers it looks like doing, its politics could really change. Texas swung towards Clinton in 2016 (defying the national trend, where she polled lower than Obama), a continuing high turnout may mean Texas may well be in play in the 2020 Presidential election (making a Trump re-election significantly harder).

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