Thursday, September 20, 2018

BTRTN Senate and House Mid-Term Snapshot: Split Decision Highly Likely with 46 Days To Go


Tom with BTRTN’s latest on the race for control of Congress.

There are 46 days left until the mid-terms.  The tickets are set for every race, and the bell has rung for the traditional Labor Day sprint until November 6.

These have been an enormously consequential last 30 days in American politics, and not a good one for Donald Trump and the GOP.  We have witnessed the Manafort and Cohen convictions, the Bob Woodward book and the anonymous New York Times op-ed, and now the uproar over the Brett Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court.  Each has rocketed some horrific aspect of the Trump presidency – the corruption, dysfunction, the assault on women – to daily headline status.  An already wretched electoral environment for the GOP in the mid-terms has unarguably gotten worse.

And yet, there has been little material change in the prospects for November outcomes.  Since our last “snapshot” a month ago, the headline remains the same:  the Democrats have no more than an outside chance to take over the Senate.  But their odds of taking over the House remain very high – and have risen in the last month -- and continue to be extremely imposing at this point. 

Our proprietary BTRTN models, which calculate the odds of Democratic takeovers of each branch of Congress, peg the likelihood of each as follows:

House
Senate
82%
12%

In the last month, the House odds of a Dem takeover have jumped up from 76% to 82%, while the Senate odds, despite the toxicity around the Trump Administration, have dropped from 16% to 12%.  This reflects, among other factors, roughly 40 new polls in the contested Senate elections.

Remember:  this is just a “snapshot” – what would happen if the elections were held today.  This is not a “forecast” or a “prediction.”  Not yet.

SENATE

We have changed three race ratings in the last month, and none represent a change from one party to the other.  Arizona and Montana appear to be tightening up a bit, while Joe Manchin is solidifying his lead in West Virginia.

BTRTN RATING CHANGES

8/20/18
9/20/18
Arizona
D Lean
D Toss Up
Montana
D Lean
D Toss Up
W. Virginia
D Lean
D Solid

Despite the low odds, if Election Day were today, the Dems would actually pick up a seat, bringing the Senate to the tightest of possible splits, 50/50, with Vice President Mike Pence able to break partisan ties in the GOP’s favor. 

BTRTN SENATE RACK-UP

8/20/18
9/20/18
DEM TOTAL
50
50
Dem Holdover
23
23
Dem Solid
19
20
Dem Lean
4
1
Dem Toss-up
4
6
GOP Toss-up
2
2
GOP Lean
2
2
GOP Solid
4
4
GOP Holdover
42
42
GOP TOTAL
50
50

We have the Democrats flipping three seats as of now: Nevada, Arizona and Tennessee.   But the GOP would hold on to the “majority” by flipping two of their own:  Florida and North Dakota.  Those five races are all basically “toss-ups,” along with Missouri, where we have incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill ahead by a nose (in large part due to the presence of a Libertarian candidate in the race); Indiana, where Joe Donnelley is slightly ahead; and Montana, where Jon Tester maintains a tight lead.

These eight “toss-ups” essentially define the range of possible outcomes. If the Democrats sweep them, they would emerge with a 52-48 majority, a prospect that leaves Mitch McConnell cold with fear.  But if it goes the other way, and the GOP takes them all, the GOP actually would build their razor thin majority to 56-44, which would eliminate the power that moderates Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowsky hold today.  This would be an outright disaster for the Dems.

The odds of a Dem takeover are so low – 12% -- precisely because of the difficulty of winning so many toss-ups.  Odds makers would say that the eight races should split 4-4; flip a coin eight times and that’s the most likely outcome.  That would leave the GOP with a 52-48 majority, +1 seat versus now.  For the Dems to take over they need that coin to come up heads seven out of eight times.

Now this is not exactly like flipping a coin.  There is some possibility of that all races could move one way or the other in unison due to some macro factor that reflects well or poorly on one party.  Peace in North Korea on the one hand, or a movement of Russian troops into a neighboring country on the other.  Regardless of candidate, events like these can move the undecideds as one, or incent die-hards to go to the polls in outrage, or stay home.

In addition to those eight “toss-up” races, there are three more we classify as “leans” (for a total of 11 truly competitive races):  Texas, where Beto O’Rourke is threatening to end Ted Cruz’s political future, and the two special elections in Minnesota and Mississippi.  These races, ultimately, could go either way as well, though the incumbents are all ahead.  And we are watching several other races that, theoretically, could become competitive, including West Virginia and New Jersey. 

Here is the race-by-race rundown.  The 11 races that we consider to be truly competitive are in the middle of the chart, between the two purple lines.  Of course, these designations could change in the coming weeks and more (or fewer) races might be deemed “competitive.”

SENATE SNAPSHOT
State
Inc. Party
Incumbent
Democrat
GOP
2012 Margin
2016  Pres Margin
Recent Polls Avg
BTRTN Rating
CAL
D
Feinstein
Feinstein
de Leon (D)
D + 24
D + 30

D Solid
VER
I
Sanders
Sanders
Paige
D + 46
D + 26

 D/I Solid
NY
D
Gillebrand
Gillebrand
Farley
D + 45
D + 23

D Solid
HAW
D
Hirono
Hirono
Curtis
D + 26
D + 32

D Solid
MARY
D
Cardin
Cardin
Campbell
D + 28
D + 26

D Solid
RI
D
Whitehouse
Whitehouse
Flanders
D + 30
D + 16

D Solid
DEL
D
Carper
Carper
Arlett
D + 37
D + 11

D Solid
MASS
D
Warren
Warren
Diehl
D + 8
D + 27

D Solid
WASH
D
Cantwell
Cantwell
Hutchison
D + 20
D + 16

D Solid
NJ
D
Menendez
Menendez
Hugin
D + 18
D + 14

D Solid
MN
D
Klobuchar
Klobuchar
Newberger
D + 34
D + 2

D Solid
CONN
D
Murphy
Murphy
Corey
D + 12
D + 14

D Solid
MAINE
I
King
King (I)
Ringelstein (D), Brakey (R)
D + 22
D + 3

 I Solid (D)
MICH
D
Stabenow
Stabenow
James
D + 21
R + 0.2

D Solid
NMEX
D
Heinrich
Heinrich
Rich
D + 6
D + 8

D Solid
VA
D
Kaine
Kaine
Stewart
D + 6
D + 5

D Solid
PA
D
Casey
Casey
Barletta
D + 9
R + 1

D Solid
WISC
D
Baldwin
Baldwin
Vukmir
D + 5
R + 1

D Solid
OHIO
D
Brown
Brown
Renacci
D + 5
R + 8

D Solid
WV
D
Manchin
Manchin
Morrisey
D + 25
R + 42

D Solid









MN (SP)
D
T. Smith*
T. Smith
Housley
D + 10
D + 2
D + 7
D Lean
IND
D
Donnelley
Donnelley
Braun
D + 6
R + 19
D + 4
D TU
MONT
D
Tester
Tester
Rosendale
D + 4
R + 20
D + 2
D TU
ARIZ
R
Flake (ret.)
Sinema
McSally
R + 4
R + 4
D + 2
D TU
NEV
R
Heller
Rosen
Heller
R + 1
D + 2
D + 2
D TU
TENN
R
Corker (ret.)
Bredesen
Blackburn
R + 35
R + 26
D + 1
D TU
MO
D
McCaskill
McCaskill
Hawley
D + 16
R + 19
D + 1
D TU
FLA
D
Nelson
Nelson
Scott
D + 13
R + 1
R + 2
R TU
NDAK
D
Heitkamp
Heitkamp
Cramer
D + 1
R + 36
R + 4
R TU
MS (SP)
R
Hyde-Smith*
Espy
Hyde-Smith
R + 22
R + 18
R + 2
R Lean
TEXAS
R
Cruz
O'Rourke
Cruz
R + 17
R + 9
R + 3
R Lean









MS
R
Wicker
Baria
Wicker
R + 17
R + 18

R Solid
NEB
R
Fischer
Raybould
Fischer
R + 16
R + 25

R Solid
UTAH
R
Hatch (ret.)
Wilson
Romney
R + 35
R + 18

R Solid
WYO
R
Barrasso
Trauner
Barrasso
R + 54
R + 46

R Solid
* Tina Smith replaced Al Franken, who resigned in 2018
** Cindy Hyde-Smith replaced Cochran, who resigned in 2018

HOUSE

The Democrats continue to be in strong shape.  The latest generic ballot – the single biggest predictor of House seat gains and losses – continues to show a commanding Democratic lead, at +5.5%, up +1.0 point from one month ago.  Our BTRTN models, which have been highly predictive in the past, and use the generic ballot as a key variable, indicate a +39 seat gain for the Democrats, which would take them to a 233-202 majority.  Again, we see the overall odds of the Dems taking the House at 82%.

BTRTN HOUSE RACK-UP

8/20/18
9/20/18
DEM TOTAL
230
233
Dem Solid
181
182
Dem Likely
8
8
Dem Lean
10
13
Dem Toss-up
31
30
GOP Toss-up
11
0
GOP Lean
6
23
GOP Likely
26
28
GOP Solid
162
151
GOP TOTAL
205
202

Using an average the eight rating services (Cook, Sabato, CNN, RCP, IE, 538, Politico and Daily Kos), there are 102 competitive races among the total of 435 (in the chart above, the middle six rows).  Of these 102, a whopping 89 of them are held by GOP incumbents (including vacancies previously held by the GOP).  The Democrats only need to flip 23 of them – or, more precisely, net +23, to take control of the House.

Here is a list of those 102 seats, with columns for the incumbent party, the 25 GOP districts that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, as well as our current BTRTN ratings, which are ranked from most likely to be won by the Democrats to the least likely.  You can use this chart to determine which districts to focus on with your volunteer efforts.

State
Dist.
Incumbent Party
GOP districts won by HRC in '16
BTRTN         Rating as of 9/20/18

102
89 R / 13 D
25

New Jersey
2
R

D Likely
California
7
D

D Likely
New Jersey
5
D

D Likely
Pennsylvania
6
R
HRC
D Likely
Minnesota
7
D

D Likely
Florida
7
D

D Likely
Pennsylvania
8
R

D Likely
Arizona
1
D

D Likely
Nevada
4
D

D Lean
Pennsylvania
17
D

D Lean
Florida
27
R
HRC
D Lean
New Hampshire
1
D

D Lean
Nevada
3
D

D Lean
Virginia
10
R
HRC
D Lean
Arizona
2
R
HRC
D Lean
California
49
R
HRC
D Lean
Iowa
1
R

D Lean
New Jersey
11
R

D Lean
Pennsylvania
7
R
HRC
D Lean
Colorado
6
R
HRC
D Lean
Minnesota
3
R
HRC
D Lean
Michigan
11
R

D TU
Minnesota
2
R

D TU
North Carolina
9
R

D TU
California
25
R
HRC
D TU
Washington
8
R
HRC
D TU
California
48
R
HRC
D TU
Kentucky
6
R

D TU
New York
22
R

D TU
California
10
R
HRC
D TU
California
39
R
HRC
D TU
California
45
R
HRC
D TU
Iowa
3
R

D TU
New Jersey
3
R

D TU
New Jersey
7
R
HRC
D TU
New York
19
R

D TU
Kansas
2
R

D TU
Kansas
3
R
HRC
D TU
Minnesota
1
D

D TU
Minnesota
8
D

D TU
Ohio
1
R

D TU
Texas
7
R
HRC
D TU
Illinois
6
R
HRC
D TU
Michigan
8
R

D TU
Florida
26
R
HRC
D TU
Illinois
12
R

D TU
Maine
2
R

D TU
Virginia
7
R

D TU
Texas
23
R
HRC
D TU
Texas
32
R
HRC
D TU
Virginia
2
R

D TU
West Virginia
3
R

R Lean
Nebraska
2
R

R Lean
New Mexico
2
R

R Lean
Ohio
12
R

R Lean
Pennsylvania
1
D
HRC
R Lean
North Carolina
13
R

R Lean
Washington
5
R

R Lean
Illinois
13
R

R Lean
Utah
4
R

R Lean
Virginia
5
R

R Lean
Wisconsin
1
R

R Lean
Montana
1
R

R Lean
Arkansas
2
R

R Lean
California
50
R

R Lean
Georgia
7
R

R Lean
Illinois
14
R

R Lean
North Carolina
2
R

R Lean
Washington
3
R

R Lean
California
21
R
HRC
R Lean
Florida
16
R

R Lean
Michigan
7
R

R Lean
New York
11
R

R Lean
Georgia
6
R

R Lean
New York
27
R

R Likely
Pennsylvania
10
R

R Likely
Florida
15
R

R Likely
Florida
25
R

R Likely
New York
24
R
HRC
R Likely
Ohio
14
R

R Likely
Pennsylvania
16
R

R Likely
California
4
R

R Likely
Florida
6
R

R Likely
Florida
18
R

R Likely
Michigan
6
R

R Likely
New York
1
R

R Likely
Texas
21
R

R Likely
Wisconsin
6
R

R Likely
Colorado
3
R

R Likely
Indiana
2
R

R Likely
S. Carolina
1
R

R Likely
Texas
31
R

R Likely
Arizona
8
R

R Likely
Alaska
1
R

R Likely
Iowa
4
R

R Likely
Michigan
1
R

R Likely
Arizona
6
R

R Likely
California
22
R

R Likely
Indiana
9
R

R Likely
Ohio
7
R

R Likely
Missouri
2
R

R Likely
North Carolina
8
R

R Likely






7 comments:

  1. Here's the problem with your analysis and all those you referenced. I live in CA-25. Knight won by 6% less than 2 years ago VS. a stronger Democrat. In the Primary, Dems went with Katie Hill, a millennial who once said she wants to be "the first open bisexual" in Congress. She beat Bryan Caforio who was the DCCC choice for the seat.
    All you people who make predictions need to look at the micro scale and ignore macro data as it's meaningless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've looked at every race, and so have the eight rating services. Latest Siena poll in CA 25 is a dead heat. Given Dem energy (equals turnout), dead heats in the polls will lean to the Dems.

      Delete
    2. In fact, a NYT/Sienna poll came out today, Knight +2

      Leans Dem, eh?

      Delete
    3. The same "energy" that elected HRC?

      Anyways... I enjoy your blog, will follow thru the elections

      Delete
    4. Also... If you have time...

      Comments re: TX SD-19 where a Republican won big in a HRC district with 70% minorities?

      And, are you aware that the hottest topic for the California ballot is Proposition 6 to repeal the Gas and Car Tax which is regressive, hitting working families for avg. $700/year. Polling shows the Tax repeal is winning AND its bringing Republicans to the polls. Here in California, this will have a greater impact than Kavanaugh, Tweets or toadstools.

      Delete
  2. And also... Lol...

    You should try seeming less biased/partisan if you want to expand your reach.

    ReplyDelete

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