Monday, October 24, 2016

Republican Nightmare: President Clinton, Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi

In a year of voter volatility and unpredictability, the forecasts are closing in on a Clinton victory. The New York Times Upshot has Clinton a 93 percent likely winner and the review of colleagues shows across-the-board agreement: 538 (Nate Silver) at 86 percent, Huffington Post 96%. This is largely because polls three weeks out from the election begin to dominate the forecasts and Clinton is ahead by 6 to 7 points in all the polling aggregator sites.

But, the next unknown is will Trump’s loss lead to a wave election? A wave this year would require a 30-seat shift to the Democrats in the House to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker and 4 or 5 seats in the Senate (depends on which party wins the presidency) to put Chuck Schumer in charge.

Shifts of that magnitude are rare. The American Presidency Project reports only four presidential elections since Roosevelt’s 1932 win shifted 30 or more seats. And presidential landslides don’t necessarily correspond to huge shifts in the House. In 1936, Roosevelt won every state except Kansas, but only added 12 seats to the big Democratic majority created in 1932. Richard Nixon’s 45 states sweep in 1972 only added 12 Republican seats. Obama’s 9-point victory gained 23 seats in 2008 and Reagan’s massive re-election in 1984 only shifted 14 seats.

Barry Goldwater (1964) and Jimmy Carter (1980) did cost their parties major losses in the House.

The Senate this year was always assumed to be at risk for the Republicans because of defending so many seats and having several states where Democrats are likely to win the electoral votes, such as Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The RealClearPolitics generic congressional ballot test has increased to 4 points in favor of the Democrats in recent weeks. There have been some recent mid-term elections with major losses for the president’s party: Obama losing 63 seats in 2010, Bush 30 in 2006 and Clinton 52 in 1994.

But, this remains a difficult election to predict. Although Republicans are likely to suffer losses, it’s not clear that a wave is building, at least not yet.
  • Republicans may skip or write in the top of the ticket to vote for Republican senators and congresspersons (or split their ticket if voting for Clinton)
  • Republicans no-shows at the polls may equal Democrats, especially Democratic minority and Millennial voters. Many of them who do vote for Democrats may not vote for lower races.
Clearly, the Democrats feel a wave. They are shifting their attention and resources to Senate and House races.

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