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Monday, November 6th 2006

Calling Tomorrow

What’s going to happen on November 7th?

House: Democrats +33
Senate: Democrats +4

There I got my predictions out at the top. Now to go on and explain how tomorrow is going to play out and why I made the predictions above.

Some points to be made to the casual voter. After the 2004 exit poll debacle, which left the Democrats crying conspiracy when a major systemic discrepancy existed between the exit polls the National Election Pool was publishing and the final vote counts (in favor for President Bush), the NEP and the networks have decided NOT to release any exit poll data until the polls have closed in a race.

So in previous years, especially before the NEP, you might have seen on the news during the day that Candidate A is leading in such and such a race, even while the polls were open. Not only did this leaked information influence voters (for instance, a supporter of Candidate B decides that Candidate A has already won…based on what he’s heard on the news…and then doesn’t go vote) but they’re also highly inaccurate at times.

So, tomorrow you won’t be seeing that data until the polls have actually closed. Captain Ed at Captain’s Quarters isn’t so optimistic on the chances that the networks can keep their mouths shut,

Journalists will be hermetically sealed, so to speak, until 5 pm — but after that, they will be free to report on the live results from exit polling. That would be 2 pm on the West Coast, and for most of the nation, people will still be at the office waiting to cast their ballots that evening. We can expect to see Drudge Report headlines and wire service analyses shortly afterwards, and the cat will be out of the bag … even if it’s the wrong cat, as in 2004.

I think we can expect to see the networks casting aside their vows of obedience by 6 pm ET, with veiled allusions to the exit polling as it hits the wires. It will be up to voters to recall the abysmal data that first came out of the exit polls in 2004 and give them the credence they deserve.

For more on how exit polls work check out Pollster’s interview with the director of the National Election Pool (Part 1 and Part 2).

Now onto predictions about tomorrow.

The U.S. House

For those who haven’t been following the Democrats have looked poised to easily take back the House. Political pundits and pollsters base this on “generic” house ballots (“Do you plan on voting for a Republican or a Democrat in your House of Representatives race?”) and also more specific polls for some of the more contested House races. At times it has looked like the Democrats might pick up 30 or more seats in the U.S. House. That is a stunning number, considering over a 10 year span the incumbent wins their U.S. House seat better than 90% of the time.

As Pollster points out however, in some “final” generic house ballots on the eve of election day, there has been a significant downturn in the Democratic numbers. Now certainly, if the Democrats don’t win the house we should all be suspicious. But, how many seats they’re going to take from the Republicans is now a hotly contested figure. 20? 25? 30?

[T]he advantage Democrats have built throughout the year has been reduced by from 1.5 to 3.5 percentage points. While forces are still a net positive to the Democrats, these forces are weaker than they were during the week before Halloween. This implies that the most competitive races will now be harder for Democrats to win and easier for Republicans to hold. This implies that the anticipation of a major surge to Democrats now needs to be reconsidered. While race-by-race estimates still show an 18 seat Democratic gain, and 27 seats as tossups…this reduction in national forces makes it less likely the Democrats sweep the large majority of the tossup seats and could result in total gains in the 20s rather than the 30s or even 40s that looked plausible 10 days ago.

Specifically the final generic polls for the House that saw downturn were the USA Today/Gallup:

In a separate nationwide USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, taken Thursday through Sunday, Democrats were favored over Republicans for Congress by 51%-44% among likely voters. That edge of 7 percentage points had narrowed from a 13-point margin two weeks ago.

Pew Research:

A nationwide Pew Research Center survey finds voting intentions shifting in the direction of Republican congressional candidates in the final days of the 2006 midterm campaign. The new survey finds a growing percentage of likely voters saying they will vote for GOP candidates. However, the Democrats still hold a 48% to 40% lead among registered voters, and a modest lead of 47%-43% among likely voters.

And the ABC News/Washington Post final generic ballot where the Democratic lead narrowed to 6%.

You can find all the major generic House polls at Real Clear Politics.

“I Knew My Page Sex Scandal Would Give My Colleague’s A Boost…”

These generic polls are extremely, extremely unspecific. That should be obvious. Take for instance the new/final generic House poll from CNN.

The percentage of likely voters who plan to vote for Democrats in Tuesday’s congressional elections increased in the past week, according to a CNN poll conducted during the weekend.

Those voters supporting Democrats also seem less likely to change their minds before casting ballots, the poll found

Democrats hold a 20 percentage-point advantage — 58 percent to 38 percent — over Republicans among likely voters in the survey released Monday morning. The Democratic advantage was 11 percentage points — 53 percent to 42 percent — in a poll a week ago.

Quite a large discrepancy from 6 points to 20 points in polls conducted over the same time frame. Thus, trying to gauge the way the house is going to “swing” based off of them is difficult. Constituent Dynamics, which has done consistent polling (some of the only consistent House polling) in 60 of the most contested House races has a site up called Majority Watch.

If the Democrats manage to sweep all the races Majority Watch sees them in the lead in (although some of those leads are small) they’ll pick up 38 seats and move to 240 seats in the House. At 535 members it takes 218 to gain a majority.

That number (38) is way outside of MyDD’s projection, a Democratic website which uses a myriad of polling sources (it doesn’t conduct its own) to try to call the House and Senate majorities.

Republican supporters looking for them to keep the House (I’m not one of them) have to take some optimism in the 3 generic polls. But, I wouldn’t take too much. I still think that the gains will be >30. A shellacking of the highest order. Like I listed above, I think Democrats +33.

That is a huge prediction. Make no mistake about it. That is on the order of the sweeping Newt Gingrich led Republican take over of 1994 (they gained 34 seats). I’m betting this despite nutcase concerns for a “Rovian Conspiracy,” despite those three generic House ballots showing the down turn, despite the fact that it is looking like Democrats would need to carry virtually all the considered “toss up” races (and possibly then some) to get to 33. By many polling services the 33 looks like a ridiculous number…one that would imply the Democrats did better than even most polls are suggesting possible. So be it.

Then again it is a “optimistic” prediction but perhaps not completely outrageous. It is within the predicted range for the respected Cook Political Report as well as the Rothenberg Political Report.

As for specific races in Texas…

I don’t think either can do it, but of course I will be watching both the Texas 21st and the Texas 23rd to see if Courage or Rodriguez can force the incumbent Republicans Smith and Bonilla into a run off. And of course, don’t forget Tom Delay’s old district, where despite the fact it is populated by a heavy Republican base, doesn’t even have a Republican candidate on the ballot (she’s a write in).

Texas 21st – Lamar Smith (R-i)
Texas 23rd – Henry Bonilla (R-i)
Texas 22nd (Tom Delay’s District) – Nick Lampson (D)

The U.S. Senate

A brief overview for those not inclined to pay attention in Civics and Government. The Senate has 100 senators, a third of them (well, in some years 1 more than that since 100 doesn’t divide cleanly by 3) are up for reelection ever 2 years. That is 33 Senators up for reelection. To gain a majority the Democrats need to pick up 6 Senate seats. A tie (50-50) gives control to the Republicans since Dick Cheney gets to cast the tie-breaker in all votes.

The Democrats have perhaps eight real targets (and they need to win 6 of them). As well they need to hold off real challenges for currently held Democratic seats in 2 states. Below are the truly contested races:

New Jersey*

* Maryland & New Jersey Are Both Currently Democratic

The Wall Street Journal’s Coverage of their Senate polls while having a cool interactive map is both incomplete and lacking in recently updated polling.

Electoral-Vote trolls polling data and tries to call the Senate. It sees it as 50 Republicans 49 Democrats 1 Tie. This is probably a good analysis, although Montana, Missouri, Virginia, and Tennessee are all actually probably too close to really call.

MyDD has a good analysis, despite Democratic biases,

[I]t does not seem reasonable to me to expect that Democrats will pull out all three close races. Thus, while on a seat by seat level I forecast a six seat gain for Democrats, overall I forecast only a five seat gain. In other words, I forecast six Democratic pickups in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, Montana, Virginia and Missouri. However, I think Missouri, Virginia and Montana are all so close, I think it is more likely than not that we will lose one of those races. I just can’t pick which one we will lose.

This means that overall, I still forecast Republicans narrowly holding the Senate 50-48-2.

Of course any analysis counts independent Joe Lieberman (who was beaten in the Democratic primary but is going to easily win the Connecticut Senate race) and wacky Socialist Bernard Sanders (who is easily going to win in Vermont) as Democrats.

If You Look To Your Left You Can See One Of The Nation’s Last Remaining Socialists…

While more optimistic than many Democratic pundits in the House, I am less optimistic in the Senate. Five pickups is a possibility but I think four more likely. You can see below how I think every Senate race will go.

State Incumbent Predicted Victor
Arizona Kyl (R) Kyl (R)
California Feinstein (D) Feinstein (D)
Conneticut Lieberman (D) Lieberman (I)
Delaware Carper (D) Carper (D)
Florida Nelson (D) Not Katherine Harris Nelson (D)
Hawaii Akaka (D) Akaka (D)
Massachusetts Kennedy (D) Kennedy (D)
Maryland Sarbanes (D) Cardin (D)
Maine Snowe (R) Snowe (R)
Michigan Stabenow (D) Stabenow (D)
Minnesota Dayton (D) Klobuchar (D)
Missouri Talent (R) Talent (R)
Montana Burns (R) Tester (D)
Nebraska Nelson (D) Nelson (D)
New Jersey Menendez (D) Menendez (D)
New Mexico Bingaman (D) Bingaman (D)
Nevada Ensign (R) Ensign (R)
New York Clinton (D) Clinton (D)
Ohio DeWine (R) Brown (D)
Pennsylvania Santorum (R) Casey (D)
Rhode Island Chaffee (R) Whitehouse (D)
Tennessee Frist (R) Corker (R)
Texas Hutchinson (R) Hutchinson (R)
Utah Hatch (R) Hatch (R)
Virginia “Macaca” Allen (R) Allen (R)
Vermont Jeffords (I) Sanders (I)
Washington Cantwell (D) Cantwell (D)
Wisconsin Kohl (D) Kohl (D)
West Virginia Byrd (D) Byrd (D)
Wyoming Thomas (R) Thomas (R)

As Pollster shows the Pennsylvania and Ohio races are basically out of the running. Rhode Island has Chaffee falling farther behind every week, as well. Those will go Democratic. As well, over the past several weeks the Democrats have shored up Maryland and New Jersey, meaning they will not lose any of their incumbent Senate seats.

Arizona while listed as contested, is really Kyl’s to lose. That leaves Montana, Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia. I think most pundits would say Montana and Virginia are complete toss ups. Missouri leans Democratic. Tennessee leans Republican.

The Democrats would need to win three of four of them (along with previously mentioned Ohio, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania) to take the Senate. I think they’re only going to win one and it isn’t going to be the leaning Missouri (where our dear friend Michael J. Fox campaigned for Democratic nominee McCaskill)…

Yes, Yes…Of Course Glenn Beck…Rush Limbaugh Was The One Who Was Wronged Here…
Morons The Lot Of Them

No, I think Montana is tired of Conrad Burns. Always good using Washington D.C. sarcastic blowhard bloggers as a gauge for what the people of Montana are thinking but still…watch these videos…

Being Old Is Being Tired

“Gringo” Burns

See you tomorrow. Go out and vote!