University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato predicts a blue wave in the House on Election Day. He’s not sure if it will be a tsunami, a medium wave or a small one. But he said a “red wave ain’t going to happen, it’s just a question about how big the blue wave is.”
Let’s go back to Sabato’s final predictions for the 2016 election. He anticipated that Clinton would defeat Trump, winning 322 Electoral Votes to Trump’s 216. He said the Senate would be a tie. He correctly predicted the Republicans would win the House. However, he underestimated the margin of victory.
A look at the House races ranked as toss-ups tell a different story. According to Real Clear Politics polling data, 32 races fall into the toss-up category. The following table shows the most recent poll results for each race and based on that information, whether they lean Republican, Democratic or in one case, a tie.
I must preface this by saying that I am not, nor have I ever been, a pollster or a political analyst. The point of this exercise was simply to take a deeper look at how the individual toss-up races might affect the outcome. When we see a headline stating that 204 seats lean Democratic, 199 lean Republican and 32 are toss-ups, it is reasonable to conclude that the Democrats will win the house. By estimating the direction of each race separately, we gain more clarity.
Of the 32 races, 18 lean Republican, 13 lean Democratic and one is impossible to determine.
As mentioned above, Real Clear Politics currently ranks 204 seats as likely or leans Democratic and 199 as likely or leans Republican. Adding the expected toss-ups would leave the Democrats with 217 and the Republicans with 217. CA48, being so difficult to call would determine the final number.
Although several of the polls were conducted in October, most of these results are from September. And polls tend to tighten the closer we get to November.
A glance at the recent ranking changes provides another indication that prospects are brightening for Republicans. Since October 4th, eleven house races moved from “toss up” to “leans GOP,” four moved from “leans DEM” to “toss up,” and only one changed from “leans GOP” to “toss-up.”
The stats from September 1-18th tell a different story. Seven races changed from “toss-ups” to “leans DEM,” six from “leans GOP” to “toss-up,” one “likely GOP” to “leans GOP,” only one “toss-up” to “leans GOP,” and one “likely DEM” to “leans DEM.”
So, the Republicans have gained some momentum in October. Part of the reason for that might be that voters are disgusted by the Democrats’ performance throughout the Kavanaugh confirmation process, and really in general. Other reasons may be Trump’s recent string of successes and he has campaigned tirelessly for Republican candidates nationwide.
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