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.