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, with results coming in on Wednesday from 10am, Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT). In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Democrats lead by 8.3 points in the race for Congress, slightly up from 8.2 points last week. In the FiveThirtyEight Classic Model, Democrats have an 85% chance to win the House, unchanged on last week, but down from 86% on October 30. 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 16% chance to win the Senate in the FiveThirtyEight Classic Model, down from a 17% chance last week. If Democrats win the five close states – Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Arizona and Nevada – where FiveThirtyEight has them slightly favoured, they would still need one of Texas, Tennessee or North Dakota to win Senate control, and those are currently likely Republican. There appears to be some narrowing in Republican Ted Cruz’s lead over Democrat Beto O’Rourke in Texas, but no poll has O’Rourke winning. As I said last week, the best chance for Republicans to retain the House or Democrats to win the Senate is a systematic polling error.
Trump’s ratings in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are currently 42.1% approve, 52.9% disapprove, for a net approval of -10.8 points, down from -10.1 points last week. Trump has closed out the mid-term campaign with vitriolic anti-immigrant rhetoric. This rhetoric risks further alienating educated people, and costing the Republicans in House districts with high levels of educational attainment. However, the close Senate contests this year are in states without high levels of education. In my opinion, Trump would have done better to close out by focusing on the economy – unemployment is under 4%, GDP growth is solid, wages are growing in real terms and inflation is low. Stock markets improved this week.
Early voting in 27 states has already passed the total number of early votes recorded at the 2014 mid-term elections. In Texas, early voting has surpassed the total 2014 turnout! As early voting has gone on, there is clear evidence that young people are voting late in the early voting period. We can already say that 2018 will not be a normal low-turnout mid-term election. Democrats could overperform their polls if they vote at a greater rate than expected, relative to Republicans.
Poll closing times
All times listed here are Wednesday November 7 AEDT. Some states straddle two time zones. In this case, networks will not call a state, and exit polls will not be officially released, until all polls in the state are closed. I will concentrate on poll closing times for the key Senate races below. Source: The Green Papers.
10am: Indiana Senate, eastern zone. Most of Indiana is in this zone, while a small part closes at 11am.
11am: Florida Senate, eastern, and Virginia. The part of Florida that closes at 11am is relatively Democratic-friendly. The deeply conservative “panhandle” closes at noon, and will assist Republicans. Several House races in both Virginia and Florida are contested.
11:30am: West Virginia Senate, where Democrat Joe Manchin is expected to win in a state that vote for Trump by a crushing 42 points.
12noon: Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan (eastern) and Tennessee, Missouri and Texas (eastern) Senate. New Jersey, Illinois, Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania have many contested House seats. Most of Michigan and Texas are in the eastern zone. Republicans are a long shot in New Jersey Senate, and Democrats are a long shot in Tennessee and Texas Senate. Missouri Senate is expected to be close.
1pm: New York, Minnesota, Colorado, Wisconsin and Arizona Senate; many House races are contested in these states, and the Arizona Senate is close.
2pm: Nevada and North Dakota (eastern) Senate. Republicans are favoured to gain North Dakota, while Nevada is expected to be close. Polls in the trailing part of North Dakota close at 3pm.
3pm: California and Washington State, where many House seats are contested.
Vote counting will finish late Wednesday night AEDT in California. Many states also have much post-election counting, which can take up to four weeks in California. This additional counting usually favours the Democrats, so a Republican election-night lead of 52% to 48% in a Californian district is not safe.