Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Election Forecast

Okay, I skipped the official NLT election forecast, waiting to see whether a late GOP surge was picked up in the polls over that last week as it was in 2002. There appears to be a slight GOP tide, but with few exceptions it hasn’t put many GOP candidates over 50% in the rolling average polls. But in 2002, there were many victorious Republicans (esp. Allard in Colorado) who were shown trailing badly, but still won.

Here with my tip sheet for handicapping the election, in the fashion of the World Series position-by-position matchups:

  • The usual rhythms of American politics and offyear elections: Advantage Dems.

  • The long-term realignment toward conservatism: Advantage GOP.

  • The superior Republican vote distribution--i.e., Republican district-by-district House majorities up to now have been more widely spread but smaller than the concentrated Dem majorities--is probably a wash or a negative this year, as only a small erosion overall could translate to large House losses at the margin.

  • The GOP turnout machine: Advantage GOP.

  • The economy: There are very recent signs that the solid economy is starting to help the GOP: Slight GOP advantage.

  • The Iraq War: Qualified Dem advantage. (Why qualified?--ed. The Kerry comment underscores the genetic problem Democrats still have on national security. This election will test the durability of the post-9/11 security voters. Despite Iraq, I am guessing some voters won’t flip for the Dems.)

  • Divided government impulse: Potentially big Dem advantage. To the extent that some voters see divided government as a modern substitute for the separation of powers, it will tip the balance in maybe 10 or more House races, turning a small loss into a rout. The caveat here is that quantitative political scientists say there is no empirical evidence to support the view that voters consciously split their tickets according this idea.

To continue the baseball metaphor, if good pitching beats good hitting, the Republican turnout machine and realignment advantages (good pitching) will equalize the Dems’ big hitter (issue) lineup. So herewith my WAGs ( wild-ass guesses) on the outcome:

18 seat Dem pickup in the House, and thereby narrow control. Bellweather district: As always, Anne Northup in Kentucky, where the polls close early. I lived in that district for a year, and it is the quintessential swing district. She’s won several tough races by decent margins (about 54%), and is a target this year. If she loses, then count on a bad night for Republicans. If she holds on (as I expect), then Republican loses will be modest.

Senate stays Republican 52-46-2. I expect some surprise upsets on both sides. I think Webb will beat Allen (and then torment Senate Democrats and the Kossacks much more than Lieberman). I think Steele will win in Maryland. One long shot that is looking longer is Bouchard in Michigan, but that might still surprise everyone. I think Chaffee and/or Burns will hang on, while DeWine and Santorum will lose. Kean might beat Menendez in NJ. Corker will pop his champaigne corks early in the evening in TN. The Missouri election won’t be decided for several days or weeks: expect a Florida 2000-style mess there.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Remove this comment: bellwether, not bellweather.

Otherwise, as good a set of predictions as possible without having returned to the present from late next Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

The influence of the news media gets almost zero attention. I don’t recall partisanship more intense than now. Conservatives may peel off & ignore what the nets say and the newspapers write, but they can’t help being influenced by the received opinions others have.

E.g., one reads that Bush gets low marks for "the economy." Does anyone recall any news organization trying to grasp why that is so? Resentment over the loss of factory jobs? Poll tilts through question wording or respondent selection? I’d like to know . . .

Nice predictions, optimistic, but I’m trying to stay that way myself. I especially like the idea of Northup as a test. She fits the mold well, a swing-district in the heart of the OH, KY, IN, and PA battle ground.

Someone on the right must be paying you a lot of money. This is the worst election climate for Republicans since Watergate and yet you are still out there pimpin for the man. Strong work!

CNN just declared Northup is projected to lose. Looks like the bell"weather" is signaling a tsunami....

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