Ian Whittaker on his betting plan
The consensual view on the November mid-terms has been that the Democrats are favourites to win back the House in November.It is almost a given that a party that holds the White House loses seats – Clinton and Bush picked up a few seats in 1998 and 2002 but under unusual circumstances (pushback against Impeachment for Clinton, the aftermath of 9/11 for Bush). Trump disgust is seen as a powerful force for Democrats to turn out and independents to switch sides. The Mueller probe casts a shadow over the Presidency. Moreover, the Maths seem to favour the Democrats. Democrats have to win 23 seats, fewer than the Democrats won in 2006 and 2008 and the Republicans in 2010. There are 23 seats where Clinton won in 2016 but where there are Republican House members. Pennsylvania’s court ruling helps the Democrats in several seats. Special elections in Arizona and Pennsylvania (Conor Lamb) show a swing to the Dems.
However, I think the value is more in the Republicans winning the House, which you can get for 5/4 at Ladbrokes.
First, the Democrats lead in the Generic polls is shrinking. As Mike said, it is down to 3.4% and on a downward trend. The quite frequent double-digit Democrat poll leads have disappeared (the last one was in late April) and there is a question whether the Democrats are suffering from Labour’s problem over here in that it is building up huge but useless majorities in safe seats, which could exaggerate their position.
Second, the economy is improving and Trump is getting the credit. According to CBS, 64% rate the economy as doing well or very well and, importantly, 68% credit Trump’s policies, either strongly or somewhat, with that strength. GDP growth, jobs growth, wage growth all point to a buoyant US economy and Trump’s ratings are improving, 44% on average think he is doing a good job, not great but not disastrous.
Third, the Republicans are far ahead of the Democrats on fundraising,. Up to and including April, they had raised c. $185m and plan to spend $250m on the election. Republican turnout in primaries is up substantially (61% up in West Virginia, 43% in Indiana and 48% in Ohio) and the ground machine looks well prepared and slick. Democrats do have their strengths and, while the national party is in debt, local candidates have been well funded. However, that is a problem because it makes it far easier for the Republicans to shift resources to well needed.
Fourth is impeachment. While Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi states impeachment of Trump is not on the table, that message is constantly undermined by activities and other influential Democrats such as Maxime Waters who says a Democrat-controlled House will push for it. That is a problem, it fires up Republicans to turn out and it alienates swing voters. The more talk of impeachment, the more likely swing voters will stick with the lesser of two evils, essentially in a strong economy.
Finally, I think there will be a “wild card” and that is the Mueller investigation but not in the way you may think. The increasing narrative on the Republican side is that, yes, there is a scandal bigger than Watergate but that scandal is the Obama Administration deliberately placed spies in the Trump campaign in 2016 to spy on his campaign (FWIW, the fact both the NY Times and Washington Post are quoting sources saying, yes, there was a source inputted but it was for the good of Trump etc suggests there is something that is about to come out). The narrative is already firing up Republicans, and if anything fishy comes out, is likely to impact swing voters.
If you do not want to take the risk on the House, then the 4/7 on the Republicans with more than 50 Senate seats on Ladbrokes looks a very safe bet. Ticket splitting is getting rarer and Trump has delivered to the conservatives on judicial appointments. With a fair chance, there could be at least one Supreme Court justice retiring, that gives an incentives to turn out. The Republicans have learnt from the Moore fiasco in Alabama and gone for sensible choices in WV, OH and ID. The Dems only hopes are Nevada and Arizona, and the latter seems too much of a push. The Republicans, on the other hand, would seem to have a very good chance in Indiana, West Virginia (depending on the losing Republican primary candidate getting on the ballot), Montana and North Dakota, with Missouri another good option. I have not seen individual state Senate bets but I would go for Rick Scott in Florida, which I think will be another Republican pick-up and Ohio might also be worth a look.
PS for matters of disclosure on whether to listen to me, I won on Brexit and the US Presidentials but did horribly on the 2017 GE ex-TSE’s great tip on Scottish Tories 🙂