How bad will tomorrow be for the Democrats?
The final day and the dice are cast. Early voting has been heavy, but returns by party affiliation may be of little value in predicting either turnout (the percentage of voters voting early is expected to increase) or relative turnout between the parties.
Neither campaign changed tactics much over the last few weeks. The GOP kept banging the anti-Obama/Pelosi/Reid drum, the Democrat House campaigns went nastily ad hominem, and the President sought to energize his base, but probably further alienated Independents. I suspect this strategy will have limited the damage in the Senate, but worsened the situation in the House.
The final generic polls have certainly not seen the usual August-November swing towards the governing party. Indeed, RCPâ€™s Generic Poll average GOP lead has gone from a 4.8% on 1 August to 8.0% on 1 November, with CNN putting the lead at 10%, Fox at 13% and Gallup at 15% (up 3%, 4% and 1% respectively on the month). And according to Politico.com:
â€œWhile few will say so on the record â€¦ every one of nearly a dozen Democratic House consultants and political strategists surveyed expect a GOP majority â€¦ â€” the consensus was that Democrats would lose somewhere between 50 and 60 seats.â€
â€œThe commanding 15-point advantage â€¦ could produce GOP gains â€œanywhere from 60 seats on up, with gains well beyond that possible,â€ according to the Gallup analysis.â€
This is where I was about two weeks ago. Given this last batch of polls, these are my final predictions:
|Net GOP Gains||Confidence 90||Confidence 50||Best bet|
|Senate||+4 to +11||+6 to +9||8|
|House||+35 to +90||+50 to +75||68|
Senate: North Dakota, Arkansas, Indiana and Wisconsin look like certain gains. I think Colorado, Pennsylvania and Illinois are very likely, and Nevada a little less so. Those are the 8 in my best bet. My gut tells me the GOP will gain Washington and West Virginia, but my head is doubting it. California is just possible, but it would be a shocker.
House: The professionals have been behind the curve on the GOP wave all cycle. So if they are now on 50-60, my guess is that it will be worse than that. Taking RCPâ€™s House table, assuming the GOP win all the 221 seats that lean or better to them, 60% of the 43 toss ups and 10% of the 26 lean Dem, I arrive at a GOP net pick up of 70. Give a few hiccups, and you have my best bet of 68. The upper limit is probably all of toss ups (43) and 15% of lean Dem (4) for a total of 268, ie 90 net gains.
But there has been considerable uncertainty throughout this election cycle, particularly in relation to the likely make up of who make it to the polls and turn out levels. It is conceivable that the Democrats will hold the House, or that the GOP will take the Senate. Both are very unlikely.