Reason For Optimism In The House? A Look At Some Numbers And The Influence Of The News

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The Numbers

Although we no longer hear much about the inevitable blue wave that would crash over the GOP this November, most pundits preface all forecasts by saying that Democrats will win control of the House.


Even so, I can’t shake the feeling that Republicans just might pull off a win. Most of the 2018 polling data suggests otherwise, which makes me wonder if my confidence is merely what one RedState reader calls “wishcasting.” Do I hope to see a GOP win so badly that I’m cherry picking data points to reinforce my desired outcome? Or are there valid reasons for optimism?

The number of races ranked as “toss-up” by RCP has increased to 37 (from 30 last week) as polls have tightened. I looked at each race as objectively as possible and I believe that Republicans can hold on by at least 1 seat. That would mean a final result of 219R-216D or better. (If I don’t post on Wednesday, it means I’m in hiding!)

Last week, I compared the last Real Clear Politics polling averages with final election results for the 14 most competitive 2016 Senate races (complete polling data was unavailable for the House). I found that the election results were 3.14 points higher than the last polling averages.

Republicans outperformed the poll numbers in 11 out of the 14 races (in one of those, the Democrat won with a smaller margin than the polls had indicated, the rest were Republican victories). In the remaining 3, the Democrat outperformed the polls by 0.6, 1.7 and 1.8. This would mean that Republicans outperformed the races even higher than the overall 3.14 error.

This week, I looked at the number of races won, by party, in competitive races (one in which at least one of five pollsters did not agree that the district was “safe Democratic” or “safe Republican”) and toss-up races from 2010 through 2016. In 2014 and 2016, Republicans prevailed over the Democrats in both categories.



2016 Competitive Races:  58

Won by DEM:  17  (29%)

Won by GOP:  41  (71%)


2016 Toss Ups:  21

Toss Ups Won by DEM:  4  (19%)

Toss Ups Won byGOP:  17  (81%)


2014 Competitive Races: 77

Won by DEM:  29  (38%)

Won by GOP:  48  (62%)


2014 Toss Ups:  26

Toss Ups Won by DEM:  9  (35%)

Toss Ups Won by GOP:  17  (65%)


But when I took it back to 2012 and 2010, the results were different. In 2012, the GOP won only 37% of the toss-ups and 53% of the competitive races. Republicans actually lost the total popular vote by 1.2% (for all House races), but still managed to maintain their majority. Districts across the country had been redrawn based on the results of the 2010 census, which impacted many races. Also, this was a presidential election year. Obama had fallen from the height of his popularity and ran a very negative campaign, but many voters felt that Romney was out of touch with regular Americans. Voters were lukewarm in their support for him and this cast a shadow on downballot races.

In 2010, the GOP won 64% of the competitive races and 49% of the toss-ups.

However, 2010 was an outstanding year for Republicans in the House. They gained 63 seats. The explanation for what look to be unimpressive results is that there were more seats in the “safe Republican” category going into the election, leaving a smaller number of competitive or toss-up races.



2012 Competitive Races: 112

Won by DEM:  53  (47%)

Won by GOP:  59  (53%)


2012 Toss Ups:  35

Won by DEM:  22  (63%)

Won by GOP:  13  (37%)


2010 Competitive Races: 123

Won by DEM:  45  (36%)

Won by GOP:  78  (64%)


2010 Toss Ups:  43

Won by DEM:  22  (51%)

Won by GOP:  21  (49%)


I also found the same degree of polling error in random samples of 2010, 2012 and 2014 House races as I did last week when I detailed the 2016 races. The polls frequently underestimated the final election results for both parties, but more so for Republicans.

For some heartening polling news, please look at yesterday’s post written by RedState’s “Joliphant.” You can read it here. The new Rasmussen polls discuss what we’re not hearing because, apparently, many Republicans feel the need to keep their opinions to themselves.


The Influence of The Latest News on the Midterms

Recent news has helped Republicans recover from the previous week’s one-two punch. The dust is settling from the news of the pipe bomber and the synagogue shooting. The two stories, coming so close together slowed Republican momentum. Although the left continues to shame and blame President Trump for both crimes, that narrative seems to be losing its power.

Also helping Republicans last week was the news that a second accuser of Justice Brett Kavanaugh has been discredited. Judy Munro-Leighton allegedly admitted that she’s never even met Kavanaugh. Of course, Trump immediately sent out a tweet, as well he should.


Sen. Charles Grassley (R-OH), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has referred the case of Judy Munro-Leighton to the DOJ. In his referral letter, he wrote:

Under questioning by Committee investigators, Ms. Munro-Leighton admitted, contrary to her prior claims, that she had not been sexually assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh and was not the author of the original ‘Jane Doe’ letter.

In late October, Grassley referred the case of Julie Swetnick and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, to the DOJ “for criminal investigation regarding a potential “conspiracy” to provide false statements to Congress and obstruct its investigation.” Swetnick accused Kavanaugh of participating in gang rapes at high school parties, as many as ten of them as I recall.

Let’s hope the criminal referrals snare Christine Blasey Ford next and her accomplices including her lifelong friend, retired FBI agent Monica McLean, as well as her activist attorneys.

The strength of the economy was proven once again when the Labor Department reported a stronger than expected jobs report.


In the meantime, the caravan continues on its way to the US border which plays well for Republicans. A group of them have decided to sue President Trump and the government for violating their civil rights. Their civil rights?

Democrats have spent very little time discussing the caravan. They deny that any members of the caravan are dangerous, although evidence shows otherwise and most voters, contrary to Democratic talking points, do not advocate open borders.

Candidate Beto O’Rourke’s campaign has allegedly been sending money to support the migrants in the caravan. Not a great optic.

Trump continues on his midterm campaign blitz, and he’s still attracting overflow crowds. Famed Indiana Coach Bobby Knight’s appearance at a Friday night rally was a highlight.

The debates are over. The mudslinging is almost over. Candidates have done just about all they can do. And now, we wait.






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