Articles and Analysis


Dogs and Husbands 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Patrick Ruffini thinks 2010 will be bigger for Republicans than 1994; Andrew Sullivan raises an eyebrow.

Jon Chait takes on Frank Luntz and his "bailout bill" spin, Kevin Williamson says it is a bailout bill, Chait responds.

Jennifer Agiesta notes that current generic House "reelect" numbers match those from the early '90s.

Jennifer De Pinto assesses where Americans rank immigration as an issue.

Tom Jensen sees potential gains for Democrats in Senate races with still unresolved primaries.

Mark Mellman discusses the economy's impact in 2010.

John Sides finds that most Tea Party respondents to the Politico/TargetPoint poll favor Republicans.

John McLaughlin finds no change in perceptions of Tea Party groups since January.

Humphrey Taylor answers questions about the UK elections.

Henry Copeland endorses the Hix/Vivyan UK poll tracking and projections.

Nathan Empsall argues Crist as an independent is still on life support.

Gallup finds that education is a better predictor of abortion attitudes than gender.

David Hill argues that abortion has declined in prominence as an issue for Republicans.

Sean Trende thinks Obama's coalition is weak, even for 2012.

Edison Research will exit poll in the Republic of Georgia.

The Dartmouth News interviews Harry Enten.

AP asks the burning question: which is a better listener, a dog or a husband?


Westwoodnc Westwoodnc:

"Jennifer Agiesta notes that current generic House "reelect" numbers match those from the early '90s."

Which of course means that the GOP will lose 54 seats. Right liberals?



So you've essentially replaced Stillow in just brandishing Liberal like a punching bag eh?



I actually like Stillow a little better. There's some empathy in him.



Republican pundits like Ruffini are setting themselves up for huge disappointment if they don't gain 70 seats. I wonder how long it'll take before they start talking 100 or 150? At this point anything less than decimation of the democrats is going to be a victory for them.

I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and predict as of tonight that the GOP will gain 52 house seats and 8 senate seats. Of course this is purely intuition and is pretty much what EVERYONE is going off of at this point. Ruffini says as much in his opening paragraph.

However, previous wave elections have been accompanied by scandals. A HUGE element that most people are ignoring at this point. In 2006 it was Abramoff, Delay, and more importantly, Mark Foley. For the most part, the democrats have been playing politics as usual and there have been no white house scandals like whitewater in 1994.

I'd like to see more house polls. Ie: Larry Sabato shows SD-AL as "toss-up." This would be one the R's would definitely want to gain. However, Rasmussen showed Herseth-Sandlin ahead by 4 points, an increase of 2 points over their last poll that was taken during the height of the HCR debate. NH-1, a "lean R" district according to Sabato, however PPP showed Shea-Porter within one point. ND-AL, another toss-up, Rasmussen shows the D within 4 points, when it was 7 in their previous poll. We are at the height of GOP enthusiasm right now, but polls show PA-12 to be within the MoE, an R+1 district that McCain and Obama split the vote 49/49 (McCain won).

It seems to me the stars have yet to align, but people's intuition is telling them that it will. CW is often wrong. At this point in 2008, McCain was up by 3 in a Fox News poll and tied in a CBS/NYT poll with Obama. At this point in 2007, Hillary was going to dominate the primaries, and at this point in 2006, the discussion was whether or not the Dems could gain 15 seats for control, many felt it was doubtful.

The senate picture looks much clearer, so I'm more confident about my 8 senate seat prediction than I am about my 52 house seat prediction.




2006 was more than just a scandal year. It was a punishment year. Unfortunately the punishment came from republicans punishing the republicans for straying too far to the left and spending as much money as democrats. Had the turnout of republican voters been typical, the democrats wouldn't have taken the house.

This is another punishment year. To determine who is going to get punished the most will depend on a couple of factors. Which group of people is the most angry and motivated? And, who is in charge? People are disgusted with congress - yes both democrats and republicans, but the bigger point is that they are disgusted. What is more likely to make a drastic change, voting to continue business as usual or voting to throw the old management out?

The republicans have almost no power in the senate or congress - as evidenced by so many controversial bills being passed on straight partisan votes. You don't punish the powerless - you punish the ones in charge.


"John Sides finds that most Tea Party respondents to the Politico/TargetPoint poll favor Republicans."

I'm still not sure why so many on the left find that surprising or even very meaningful. Again, as evidenced in 2006, republicans are not as partisan and party loyal as democrats are. Most democrats are willing to look the other way at whatever stupid things their party is doing and still vote to reelect them.

The tea party represents a group of more independent thinkers would would vote for a republican before they would vote for a democrat but they would also vote for someone more conservative over a republican in the more conservative candidate had a real chance of winning.

Of course the tea party leans right. They are for lower taxes and smaller government. Who in their right minds think that there would be many democrats in that group who believe just the opposite - higher taxes and the biggest government imaginable.




RCP mirrors your 8 seat pickup in the senate and I think that's a pretty safe bet. That also means that all it will take is two more seats and the democrats lose the senate. Illinois doesn't look as safe anymore with the Giannoulias bank scandal and the revelation of his ties to mobster Tony Rezko. This could even pull Obama into the scandal because of the foru-way relationship between Giannoulias, Rezko, Blagojevich, and Obama - a corrupt inept banker, a convicted fraud artist, a corrupt impeached and federally indicted governor, and Obama - who has received favors from all of them.

California is far from a done deal for Boxer. She still can't get her number above 44% - even after Obama coming there to stump for her.

The teeter-totter of the senate could tip to a 10 seat gain and a republican takeover.

If you look at: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2010/house/2010_elections_house_map.html

I don't see where all this democrat optimism comes from for a loss of only 20 seats.

There are only 2 republican seats that now lean dem and 1 that is rated as a tossup. There are 11 that are are likely gop but not considered safe.

That leaves only 14 gop seats in jeapordy out of 435. Not much chance for big democrat pickups this year.

Then you see that there 22 dem seats that are likely GOP pickups. There are 34 dem seats still in the toss-up category, and 50 dem seats that lean dem but are still shaky.

Looks like 161 gop seats are safe but only 147 dem seats that can be considered safe. That means that there are 137 seats that are considered in play.

Based on the generic ballot, the gop is likely to pick up 73 of those 137 seats (53%) and the dems would take 64 of them. Final count? 234 gop and 211 dem. That would give the GOP a 234 to 211 margin - a 98 seat pickup.

So, a 100 seat pickup for the GOP is not insane - it is the number that the dems should be trying to minimize. They don't only need 10 or 15 seats to greatly minimize their loss - they need to bring back 60 seats beteween now and the election to just prevent a GOP takeover.

My prediction is a 59 seat pickup for the GOP. I think things will get slightly better for the democrats unless there is a major scandal before then. I think worse-case for the dems is a 98 seat loss and best-case is a 38 seat loss. I think they have an incredible struggle ahead to just keep the house.



"So, a 100 seat pickup for the GOP is not insane"

Gary, I would say any prediction over 54 is somewhat outlandish, and approaching 100 is indeed insane. The republicans have not won more than 250 house seats since 1928. The last time there was a 100 seat pickup for any party was 1894. The next closest was when democrats picked up 97 in 1932.

There are no contextual comparisons with those years and 2010. Jay cost explains well why midterms are difficult to predict (it's important to note that his 2008 predictions were not the best either, he consistently under-estimated Obama).


What I notice is his chart shows that changes of more than 20% in the house have occurred at increasingly longer intervals since 1946.

I also recall a lot of democratic pundits thinking that 2008 would be another monster year in the house - pickups of 30-45. Instead, the dems gained 21, at the lower end of almost all estimates. Remember the Gallup "expanded" sample that showed Obama winning the election by 11? Turned out not to be very predictive. Republicans are also counting on some massive turnout. I feel that the people that are "angry" are mostly the same people who voted for Bush in 04 and McCain in 08.

The electorate has not changed that much. The question is whether EVERY republican in the world will turn out and how few democrats who voted last time will turn out.

The main thing driving people's outlandish claims is the generic ballot. They assume a tied generic ballot = republicans +4, so when republicans are +4, they are really +8.

I think that is an unfounded assumption based on trends from 10-20 years ago, very similar to the Bradley effect assumptions. There is little to no Bradley effect anymore, and I tend to think the generic polling has less of a hidden R vote because the "Reagan democrats" who drove that phenomenon are a dying breed.

As for RCP's ratings, I still believe all politics is local when it comes to house districts. I'd like to see them individually analyzed.

Let's take one I'm familiar with: TX-17. RCP has this as "likely R." Chet Edwards has $1.7 million already on hand. There was a 6-way primary on the republican side and one of the weaker ones was chosen. They guy that got 46% against Edwards in 2008 but was beaten by 18 points in this year's primary runoff. Bill Flores, the new guy, only bought property in the district relatively recently and has never even voted in it. He only has $80,000 cash on hand, although he is an oil businessman with the ability to self finance, I presume.

This is a district that went 67% for McCain and the R's have offered a carpetbaggar. This should be an easy pick-up but it's not going to be now because they chose the weaker guy.



There are a tremendous number of factors and I'm not basing my worst-case scenario specifically on the generic ballot.

We have heard a lot that turnout is typically lower in off-year elections. What I have also heard - but not yet during this cycle is that the areas of turnout are also different in off-years. There is a much bigger drop in turnout in urban areas than in rural and small-town areas. Over the past 20 years, the democrat vote has become concentrated more and more into the large urban areas. If the lower turnout in an off-year is greater there than in the rural areas, there will be a disproportionate drop in democrat voters.

My working example is here in Indiana. We have 9 districts. In 2008 we elected 5 democrats and 4 republican congressman.

Ellsworth, one of those democrats is going to run for Bayh's senate seat and has no chance of winning that. His district has a margin of 9% registered republicans over democrats. He also had no chance of reelection, so it was 80% certain that his seat would be lost.

Baron Hill has another seat. He voted for the healthcare bill in a district that supports repealing by 65% - breaking his promise to vote against it. His district has a margin of 7% registered republicans over democrats. He's toast.

Donnelly has 3 things going for him. South Bend - which has a 3 to 1 margin of democrats over republicans, Notre Dame (yes its a catholic university but all universities vote very liberal), Kokomo (multiple auto manufacturing plants with a very heavy union population, and western LaPorte county (20 minutes from Gary and East Chicago).

But, Donnelly is vulnerable this year. I'm not quite sure where he is but the fact that he has spent $50,000 for two different polls and refuses to release the results must say something. I think he was polling at about 55% before he voted for healthcare - breaking his promise to vote against it.

Donnelly lost this district in 2004 by 54% to 45%.

He came back and won it in 2006 by only 15,000 votes. And that was the year that democrats swept back into control of the white house.

Unfortunately the GOP put a doofus up against him in 2008 and with the big Obama surge in the college areas and urban areas, he took the election at 67% to 30%. I couldn't even bring myself to vote for the GOP putz.

But even so, Donnelly's district has a margin of 4% registered republicans over democrats.

So, when people look at the other 2 democrats (Carson, Visclosky) and say they are safe because of their huge margin of victory, you have to look at the fact that in 2002, the democrat only took 52% in Carson's district. I'd be surprised if he is polling much above that now.

Visclosky has consistently gotten 60 - 70% of the vote. But he has a big problem at the state election level. In fact it is a problem Donnelly has as well.

Indiana capped property taxes at 1% of property value last year. It saved a lot of people a lot of money and was wildly popular.

Except in Lake and St. Joseph counties. The speaker of the democratically controlled house, Pat Bauer - a South Bend and Saint Joseph county resident shoved a last minute amendment through just before the bill was signed into law that exempted St. Joseph and Lake counties from that cap. Those two counties are allowed to go up to 2% cap on property taxes.

He doesn't show himself much in St. Joseph or Lake counties right now because he might be tarred and feathered. So there is a huge incentive for republicans in those two counties to come out and vote him, and the other democrats out of power in the state house.

It is more proof that all elections are local. A state issue could very well cause democrats to lose congressional seats.

How many other states voters are fed up with the democrats running their states? I've heard it is just about as high as the anti-democrat sentiment at the national level.

So, Indiana will most likely lose 3 democrat seats out of the 5 they have now, 1 is in striking distance, and 1 depends on how bad the anti-Bauer vote is.


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