The fog over the Congressional races

It’s become difficult to get a sense for the state of play in Congressional races. Polling tends to be fuzzy at that level under the best of circumstances. Trump is making that task even more challenging by scrambling the normal assumptions about the relationship between top/down-ballot voter behavior.

How many traditional Republican voters will split their votes between a Trump alternative and the Republicans farther down the ballot? How many of them will just stay home? It looks like we are seeing an unprecedented surge in turnout among Democratic constituencies. Are we going to get an outcome more like ’06 and ’08? Will this surge be large enough to threaten Republicans who hold strong leads in the polls, like McCain and Rubio?

Democrats are certain to take the Senate, but they would need an enormous wave to gain the 30 seats they need to take the majority in Congress. The Cook Political Report is the best comprehensive look at those races. They are a consistently cautious source and they still rate that possibility as unlikely. However, when you look at some of the races they are hedging on, you can see how a wave election might potentially produce the swing Democrats are hoping for.

Cook rates IL-10, Bob Dold’s district, as a Republican-leaning tossup. That’s pretty absurd. Races there tend to be close, but that seat goes pretty strongly Democratic in Presidential years and Republican (by a few hundred votes) in strong Republican off-years. Dold has no shot and he’s pretty much known it since he (re)won the seat in 2014.

In California, Cook rated Darrell Issa as a likely win for months despite evidence to the contrary. They finally downgraded him recently. Every California Republican in Cook’s “lean” category should probably be sweating right now.

In the last few Presidential elections voters’ preferences for President correlated pretty closely with their down-ballot voting. However, a few decades ago ticket-splitting was common. As the GOP disintegrates at the national level we may see a return to that pattern. My guess, however, is that we will only see this in off-year elections. People turning out in droves over their disgust with Donald Trump are not likely to spare Republican Congressional candidates from their anger.

It is impossible to tell whether Democrats will gain enough seats to retake Congress, but you can bet that Republican Senate and Congressional candidates who failed to aggressively distance themselves from Trump are going to underperform their current poll numbers by several points on Election Day. Trump has transformed what was otherwise going to be a modest Republican loss this year into an historic rout. This is exactly the kind of wave election Democrats were hoping for.


  1. I watched an interesting interview today…I believe it was MSNBC, and someone was on from the Texas Tribune to talk about the relatively close polling…sorry to be so short on specifics, I walked in as the interview was under way. After the yadda yadda about the numbers he suggested that while Texas is not in play anything can happen because turn out is so miserable…

    Now, I am getting to my point. He explained that of the 36 congressional races, only one is competitive because the state is so gerrymandered…cities sliced and diced into pieces so turn out is miserable. Many feel it a waste of time as only republicans can win…oddly enough making even Republicans lax about voting. So basically she could win 42% of the state vote and not one congressional seat CAN change hands. How is this healthy? I think we need to explore some parliamentary distribution of representations based on proportional voting. How can 42% of any citizenry be expected to go along without any representation over a lifetime.

    And yeah it would be funny if turn out was so bad she accidentally won the state and again without a seat changing hands.

  2. It appears that the Republicans are getting worried about down ballot races – at the “state” level, reports Reuters:

    “Republicans, who have dominated control of legislatures since the mid-term election in 2010, currently hold the majority in 67 of the country’s 98 partisan legislative chambers, while Democrats have 31. Nebraska’s single chamber is nonpartisan.

    More than 80 percent of the nation’s 7,383 state legislative seats are up for grabs on Nov. 8 and the race between Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is expected to influence races further down the ballot papers. (See related graphic

    The bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) estimates 18 legislative chambers in 12 states could switch party control, including in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Washington and Wisconsin.”

  3. I was watching a news clip this morning of the Iraq troops driving out the Islamic State from Mosul. They were happy . They do not want to live under that kind of extreme authoritarianism. Willing to risk their lives to make sure they, their families and communities do not.

    It seems to me that a large minority of our country want a strongman to knock heads together and make everyone live under their extreme ideas and prejudices. We have been spoiled over the last 40 years. I lived my early childhood at the close of state sponsor terrorism in the United States. The old Jim Crow Klan sponsor terrorism that was not only directed at African Americans. Central Florida was a hot bed at one time for this type of terrorism. And it was as brutal as anything that the Islamic State has done. Those Iraq troops are much smarter than the hard core Trump supporter. It looks like the majority of us are going to reject this madness. But I am worry that such a large hot bed will remain of people who wanted to take us back to such a evil time.

  4. We only thought Clinton and Trump had shared the last stage of their campaign. We were wrong. Tonight marks an annual event of great prestige – the Al Smith Charity Dinner benefiting Catholic charities. Both candidates will be in attendance and participating. The “roast” format should prove interesting given the proximity to last night’s acid debate.

    1. In my experience, that was the most uncomfortable Al Smith Dinner I have ever watched. He was awful, and Hillary while better still couldn’t overcome the pervasive heavy fatigue of this campaign. No healing happened. This is going to be ugly every step of the way.

      I don’t care if he concedes anymore, I just want this to be over.

      1. I agree. I thought both candidates went too far with some of their “jokes”…Trump more so, but both were guilty.
        Rachel Maddow made a point about this event being very awkward…especially given the rancor of our politics for the last 20 years or so.

        I believe we are all weary. See the post I made where therapists are seeing record numbers of people who are experiencing anxiety over this campaign….My husband had a solution for situations like this. He was a backyard gardener – when he became perturbed or anxious about business, he’d go out back and pull weeds….not lay on a couch (-; Worked for him.

      2. Nietzsche’s words ring true. Stare too long into the abyss and soon and the abyss stares into you.

        Keep you life filled with as much as you can so you have a retreat from the endless fighting of politics. Once you’ve caught your breath, then you jump right back in.

    2. As was expected by most everyone Trump could not refrain from his nasty attacks for more than 15 minutes. He was soundly booed by an audience made up of a majority of Republicans and conservative leaning elites. For the first time ever folks were not happy with this kind of vitriol in a social setting that was intended to raise money for Catholic Charities.

      1. So glad to always find familiar faces! Nope, I tried but failed but I did get at least 14 people to the polls for Hillary…baby steps. Most importantly now that the election is over the most of the folks in this small oasis are looking at me and saying “what the hell just happened”. Most of them are either on SS with Medicare or Medicaid as their primary insurer and now they are facing the very real probability that they are going to lose. One of them is actually angry at me because we Democrats were supposed to save them from themselves. I just can’t stop shaking my head in wonder that we are where we are.

      2. Some of us have a few more lines in our foreheads….sad times, Way2. Hope you’re health is stable…Think of you and glad you’re still out there “walkin’ the walk”. It’s gonna be a hard four + years but as you know from experience, you can’t quit just because the going gets harder.

    1. I found the article interesting. The movement of these races to toss-up may be an indication of an approaching major wave. I certainly hope so.

      Another note, imagine Issa being threatened under the previous system of redistricting. With the new independent redistricting commission drawing up the boundaries, his district was drawn according to strict guidelines, not gerrymandered so that he would be protected. Almost any other system of redistricting would have protected him. That includes bipartisan and legislative systems. Even in the very conservative San Diego area (the new Orange County of CA), the diversity of CA may ultimately get him. Along with Mary and others, I would be very happy if Issa was retired!

      1. Gerrymandering cannot die soon enough for me. I would, however, prefer that there be a national standard for election district determination rather than a piecemeal state by state plan. Voting is so intrinsic to our democracy that it seems to me that it should be uniform nationally.

      2. I wouldn’t say “jumping” exactly. We’ll do it the American way and let California take the first leap. They say what happens in the Golden State happens nationally ten years later after all.

        Here’s what I’d recommend. Have a trial run in select cities and potential suburbs all across Cali, gauging voter turnout, comparative levels of enthusiasm across all voter groups and demographics relative to our current model and then, depending on the results, take that run state-wide.

        From there, with a favorable response from the people, other states and cities should want to try experimenting with it too.

      3. I’ll make a brief comment here regarding redistricting, although I’ll be posting a longer comment in the Off-Topic section in a few days.

        1. I too would like to see a national redistricting standard. I believe that the US Constitution gives the Congress the power to do so. But, given the political situation in the US at the present time, I think that is impossible in the foreseeable future. With that in mind, the best bet is for the various states to individually through citizen initiated legislation adopt independent redistricting commissions. For better or worse, the CA model is one that could be followed. AZ and FL have both done so. WA has a bipartisan commission. Though that is better than legislative redistricting, it still has problems.

        2. I have problems with multi-representative districts. They can easily be used to deny representation to minorities. In the State of Washington several city councils had historically elected council members at large. Despite some of those cities having large hispanic populations, no hispanic council members had ever been elected until recently. The change occurred because the ACLU sued in one moderate sized city of 100K or so. The settlement resulted in districts being created. In the city that was sued, there were three hispanic council members elected in the last election. Other cities that have the same difficulty are following suit. These are primarily though not exclusively in the area known as the Tri-Cities in the heart of our major agricultural region.

        I, however, do not care for gerrymandering district boundaries specifically to create minority districts. Rather I would rather see, district boundaries created by independent redistricting commissions following strict guidelines included in the enabling legislation.

      1. Mary, I’ve heard that Arpaio was in trouble. I will shed many crocodile tears, if he loses.

        Actually, I am somewhat surprised he has last as long as he has. Phoenix has become a large city and has become subject to the political changes resulting from urbanization. I have some familiarity with Phoenix as my family came from the Phoenix area. I was born in Phoenix. However, we left in 1955. My only recent knowledge of Phoenix comes indirectly. Nevertheless, many high tech industries have located in that area. The educational level is fairly high so one would expect significant political changes.

    2. It’s being reported that there are high levels of stress among both Republicans and Democrats because of the presidential election. Therapists note that all of their patients are experiencing some anxiety and the reasons vary. The professional recommendation? Watch more comedies on Netflix (-;

      Or, they could participate in a healthy discussion blog like No pitchforks or torches allowed!

  5. For me the turning point in the third presidential debate occurred approximately 30 minutes into the debate. Trump was launching a well prepared attack on Clinton regarding the speech in Brazil about the open borders. Clinton realized the tactic Trump was using, interrupted to point out that she was talking about energy and then pivoted to point out that Russia had hacked the emails. Trump was left grasping for an answer and responded that Clinton had made a good pivot. He then launched into a tirade regarding Putin. Though Wallace later came back and explored the Brazil speech by a direct question to Clinton, the damage was done. Trump was completely thrown off the plan that had been drilled into him by his handlers and reverted to being his typical undisciplined self. Up until that point Trump had been relatively disciplined and his performance was reasonable for him. Following that exchange, his debate performance plummeted. Clinton was obviously prepared for that question and took advantage of her preparation.

    I did not pick that up at that time but read about it in a post debate analysis this morning. Unfortunately I can not quickly find a linkage.

    1. The Guardian reports the organization of a formal poll monitoring effort in key districts with large minority populations by Trump adviser, Roger Stone. And, so it begins before it ends.

  6. The last time the losers of a fair and free election refused to accept the results was 1860; that’s a horrifying precedent. I don’t think we’ll get Civil War II, but all it takes is a few disgruntled deplorables to cause a lot of harm. This may be the final chance for the rest of the GOP to show some spine and repudiate this irresponsible, treasonous nonsense RIGHT NOW.

    1. Charlie Rose had several political pundits from across the spectrum on his program to critique the 3rd debate. There wasn’t much new for me as I watched the post-debate commentary last night, but there were errant observations which I found interesting. They are: whatever Trump is planning post-election in terms of his new gig, he plans to continue to stoke his millions of supporters to needle the establishment (including HRC) and encourage his base to continue to support him. This will keep the ‘deplorables’ in a constant state of flux. A second point dealt with the difficult position Clinton is going to occupy. She has two factions in each party – the Freedom Caucus (which will be stronger following the loss of an anticipated 20 Repub seats in the House) vs the Ryan establishment wing, and in the Dem Party, the progressive Warren/Sanders wing vs the Pelosi/Shumer establishment wing. She’ll be forced to walk a very narrow path to try to accomplish anything.

      A BBC commentator, Katty someone or other, made this observation: Clinton is poised to exceed Obama’s electoral college win yet go into office with favorabilities possibly not reaching into the 50s. Republicans are going to be faced with a real decision: obstruct totally in the House and Senate or piecemeal deals as necessary. Many of them anticipate even greater gridlock than Obama faced. Most feel Dems have a good chance of taking the Senate but not a majority.

      Makes the first two years even more important, doesn’t it?

  7. None of it, not one damn bit, comes across as even the tiniest bit surprising, but it’s nevertheless stunning to hear a presidential nominee take full aim at the foundations of our democracy and at the Republic.

    Of course Donald doesn’t realize what he said isn’t about him, but rather the legitimacy of any person seeking any kind of public service, whatever it may be, from POTUS to a local mayor or county commissioner. You haven’t just suffered on the aspirations of an individual, you’ve undermined the will of the people itself, and once you do that, you’ve got nothing left. What are we as a country, and more importantly as individuals, if we don’t recognize the consensus of others’ decisions?

    It’s just one of those moments where words honestly fail me, however I try to phrase it. Donald Trump isn’t just an affront to the American idea, he’s an affront to the very concept of recognition between people.

      1. Yep, he even declared that he “won” the debate…I thought he participated more thoughtfully (for him) – for a short while – before disintegrating into his narcissism. The view of him standing at his podium at the end of the debate with a sullen, petulant, angry scowl while Clinton shook hands with Wallace -said it all. Hillary was confident, poised, presidential.

        His statement about possibly not accepting the results of the election didn’t surprise me at all. This has always been all about him – never about country. Why would anyone be surprised, even at the political stupidity of this remark? Conway was already spinning post-debate (I am reeely beginning to dislike her) his adjusted response…while Trump is tweeting that he won the election.

        It was interesting to me to hear Nicole Wallace (who I like tremendously) say she thought he performed well early on and got the critical points over he needed for his base (SCOTUS appointee, abortion, foreign policy failures before imploding. All of the pundits I watched (except T’s team) acknowledged the man is simply intellectually and temperamentally incapable of sustaining a rational, civil conversation. Nasty woman? Bad Hombres (in NV?!) He lives in the moment and is a bitter, selfish, lying, shallow person.

      1. Talk throughout the year among establishment Republicans about possibly seizing the nomination from Mr. Trump and emails about the DNC actively favoring Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Sanders just helped to create doubt about the integrity of the voting process among Trump supporters.

      2. If Trump’s supporters “didn’t” think the election was rigged, it wouldn’t be through any fault of the Trump machine!

        First, there have been 35 cases of proven voter fraud out of almost one billion cast votes. That’s incredible. Second, when the Republican Party (under federal consent decree for voter intimidation) STOPS voter suppression, intimidation, harassment of minority voters, I “May” have more sympathy, but don’t count on it. These problems have been carefully, consistently perpetrated throughout our country and “this” is the real crime.

        Nope. If you support Trump you’ve likely bought the whole enchilada of deception. We’ll just have to deal with it after the election as it presents.

      3. I don’t think this is so much about the usual complaints among Republicans about voter fraud as it is about Trump supporters distrusting the establishment, whether it be the Democrat or Republican establishment.

  8. I learned something new tonight from Ben Ginsberg, Legal counsel for the GOP. There was discussion about comments by Trump team members regarding sending poll watchers to monitor the voting process in Philadelphia, NC. Concern was expressed about the potential for voter intimidation and violence given open carry laws in NC.

    Ginsberg stated this would be unwise as the RNC has been under a federal consent decree since 1986 for transgressions that were committed by the Republican Party which are due to roll off soon. If the Trump team pursues aggressive, intimidating poll watching, Ginsberg noted Dems would go back to court and the consent decree would likely be extended. He did not describe exactly what the problems were but the fact that this consent decree has been in effect for 30 years is pretty amazing.

    Chris, can you tell us more?

      1. You got it. Thanks, Koctya! 1982….The GOP has learned a lot over the years from being under this consent decree, right? Wrong! Every polling place should be required to post this decree in large print. I noticed it didn’t say anything about “carrying” a weapon within “x” feet of a polling station…and, there was plenty of discussion last night about that happening.

  9. As much of a political nightmare as 2016 is, there’s still some good stuff happening. For the first time in American history, over 200,000,000 of our citizens are officially registered voters, 33% of which have come just in the past eight years since President Obama first took office, when less than 150,000,000 were registered. Pretty damn good, amirite? 🙂

    And yes, there’s a lot for Democrats to be happy about here. According to a Democratic political data firm, TargetSmart, roughly 43% of all the new registrations are those who lean Democratic, as opposed to to less than 30% who lean Republican.

    Virginia’s numbers alone are of particular note. Scarcely more than 11% of registrations are those who lean Republican while an eye-popping near 50% are those who lean Democratic.

  10. Fair, ran across this article in the NYT that talks about the difficulty of correction of highly gerrymandered election districts. It turns out it is much easier to draw the lines than it is for the plaintiff to change the lines. NC is a superb test case for that premise but hardly alone among states. Once again, a foreign journal adroitly hones in on a distinctly American political problem which many observers call “political apartheid”.

  11. I can see the Senate being D+3, but I don’t think the House flips over.

    This makes 2018 a tough year as the Senate can and probably will flip right back over to the Republican party.

    Of course, all of that assumes that post-election, Strongman Trump doesn’t go out of his way to effectively destroy the Republican party. Which I think there is a good chance that he will do.

    Strongman Trump is clearly insecure, and motivated by revenge. What would make me smile is if Strongman Trump is able to destroy the Republican party in time for the 2020 Census and redistricting. It’s at that point that the remaining sane and non-seditionist Republicans will be forced to join the centrist political party – the Democratic party – giving progressives the chance to go back to wielding a left-wing party to drag society, culture, and ultimately politics, to the left.

    Leaving the sane, centrist, conservative Democratic party to do what sane centrist conservatives parties do best: moderate changes that the left wants to make to ensure that the left doesn’t go too far, too quickly.

    Right now, the Democratic party is stuck playing two roles: that of progressive change, and moderation, as the Republican party is riddled with right-wing authoritarians, bigots, imbeciles, and reactionaries who are more concerned with maintaining special status than they are with the functioning of a government of 300+ million people.

    The Republican party has to go. At least in this iteration. And Strongman Trump can do it.

    Then, of course, my worry is that he brings about Trump 2.0, which is just Trump using a dogwhistle.

    In other words, we live in interesting times.

    At least November 8th is less than 3 weeks away!

  12. Minor editing mistake:

    “My guess, however, is that we will only this in off-year elections…”

    “we will only SEE this…”

    Hopefully the Democrats will take back the House but even if they do they will have the almost as difficult task of getting the Congressmen within the party to actually vote with each other. If Republicans hold the line in their votes in the House the Dems votes will have to be near-unanimous in their voting to get a majority. That or that’s when the quasi-parliamentary system comes into play if Dems can’t do that.

  13. The last time a sitting Speaker of the House was turfed out was Democrat Tom Foley in the Republican wave of ’94. Amid the shock of Republicans retaking the House for the first time in 40 years, that the Speaker himself was defeated was a particularly stinging defeat.

    Could a Democratic wave this year actually turf Paul Ryan out of power?

    Via the Cook Political Report, Ryan’s district is +3 R; modestly safe Republican seat, though not overwhelmingly so. That said, he has won every election since he was first elected in ’98 and he won his district in the last presidential year with just under 55% of the vote.

    Also, here’s a question for you. If Trump goes down in flames, as he most assuredly will, is he trying to take Paul Ryan down with him?

    Here’s what I mean when I ask that. Among Trump voters, Ryan had a net +8 approval rating last week via YouGov. After Trump’s spent the better part of this past week beating the Speaker over the head? He’s dropped to a net -36. That’s a swing of more than FORTY points.

    What happens if a big chunk of Trump supporters in Ryan’s district turn out to vote for Trump and not him? Also worth keeping in mind is that Trump is doing resolutely pathetic in the southern part of Wisconsin where Ryan’s district is. This is where any Republican needs to seriously clean up if they’re going to have any chance at carrying the state. Last time I checked, Trump was barely breaking even with Clinton there.

    Could a combination of all these factors be enough to oust the sitting Republican Speaker of the House? It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.

    1. That’s pretty good sleuthing, Ryan! I hadn’t put all those ducks in a row…and it is possible. Lord knows Trump is vindictive enough to lampoon P. Ryan if he chooses to, and his base is just rabid enough to do what he asks.

      I am just hoping Hillary Clinton does well tonight. I’m playing checkers today, not chess like you are (-;

    2. Steve Schmidt was on Morning Joe this morning and after about 8 minutes lays out the internal numbers he is seeing with Joe Scarborough at the top of the ticket down to House races. Pretty devastating for Republicans.

      I find it interesting that there isn’t more panic (or maybe there is and I am too dense to spot it) on behalf of the Republican party.
      8 minutes 36 seconds into the segment when the run down of internal numbers begins.

      1. In all fairness to the Republican Party, no operation would openly show their panic, no matter how much was going on behind the scenes. It could only do them harm; demoralizing their voters, potentially weakening fundraising, etc, etc.

        There have been signs for a while now, but as we get closer to Election Day, you’re starting to see Republicans openly going for the proverbial fire ax on the wall. Paul Ryan’s talked about a potential Democratic Congress and now we’re getting fresh reporting on Republicans scrambling for cash to push into races to try and save vulnerable incumbents.

        As Chris said, this is precisely the kind of coming wave Democrats were hoping for all along and it may well expose the fatal flaw in gerrymandering as Bruce Bartlett has described it. Gerrymandering protects incumbents in normal elections, but during waves, it backfires, keeping otherwise safe Democratic seats while sweeping out those Republicans in marginal districts.

        In a truly worst case scenario, Republican incumbents with +4 or less ratings across the country losing could bring House Republicans close to the level of today’s Democrats, marginalized and legislatively insignificant.

      2. It depends upon which “sector” of the Republican Party you’re talking about. The GOPe knows but has locked themselves in to Trump and have no where to go. The GOP base is so irrational in their support of Trump and Hillary hate that there is no way for them to face reality in this point of the campaign. Also, few people are as interested and informed as those who follow this blog. They may have seen the debates, talked around the water cooler, but just aren’t into politics as a blood sport like we are (-;

      3. No, the gerrymanders won’t backfire. Even in the worst case scenarios the Republicans will have more seats than they would with honest districting. You’d have to have the Republicans down more than 10, meaning the Democrats winning by more than 20, to start making the gerrymanders backfire.

      4. Wow! Schmidt is predicting Clinton gains over 400 electoral votes! Everyone agreed Trump needs a perfect performance tonight but it seemed the unspoken feeling was, it’s too late for him to move the needle. We’ll see.

  14. Several house seats in Florida are likely to flip as some of the gerrymandering has been undone. In my district I have seen no advertising from either the Republican incumbent or his Democratic challenger. Very weird. What I would like is Hillary to win, the Senate to go Democratic but no super majority and a very narrow majority in the house for the Republicans. Then the freedom caucus to split the vote enough that a coalition of both Democrats and Republicans are needed to choose a Speaker. I do not want any group to be effectively left without a voice and grownups to finally do the deal making and compromise that even a family unit needs to run much less a huge and diverse country like ours. A dream maybe but we can dream it anyway.

    1. Stephen, must be our ages, that we can still “believe” in government working (-;

      I agree with all you said except that if it is possible (since we’re dreaming here), I would like a Dem Senate majority, if only for two years to get some things done – SCOTUS, treaties, etc. Senate Republicans have already warned that they will not confirm any Clinton nominee and without a majority, Dems will not be able to do so without invoking the nuclear option for SCOTUS, which would set a dangerous parliamentary precedent for the future. It may require that but it would be preferable to not need it.

      1. As far as executing the nuclear option for SCOTUS nominees, I think Majority Leader Schumer is already laying the groundwork. John McCain made a really stupid blunder when he said that Republicans would be united in blocking ANY nominee, so much so that you had other Republican Senators like Grassley having to come out to openly rebuke that.

        Republicans have boxed themselves into a corner and Clinton knows it. It’ll be child’s play to portray any GOP obstruction as political extremism of the worst kind and putting the nation’s interest first. She’ll get her nominee through, one way or another.

  15. Viking

    What concerns me is that, owing to Hillary’s commanding lead in the polls, many Democrats will fail to vote, thinking their participation is not so urgent. As a result, even if Hillary wins, the reduced Democrat participation will blunt the down ticket effect.

    Conversely, many Republicans may be so disgusted with Trump that they also fail to show up at the polls, thereby hurting their down ballot candidates.

    Maybe both effects will cancel each other out. We’ll see….

    1. This idea that Democrats aren’t going to turn around because Clinton’s going to walk away with this is essentially another ’96 comparison. Gallup polling at the time had Bill Clinton up double-digits over Bob Dole the entire home stretch (from October heading into Election Day), and so Democrats weren’t terribly motivated to turn out. And although Clinton won decisively, he ended up underperforming by less than nine points and Democrats lost two seats in the Senate.

      So, some argue, another Clinton looks like she’s going to walk away with this one, so maybe Democrats don’t turn out.

      Pardon my French, but this comparison is absolute crap.

      Americans weren’t worried about a potential nuclear holocaust with Bob Dole. They actually liked him. He had a favorable approval rating at the time. Dole didn’t offend virtually every conceivable demographic there was to offend across the country and drive them in droves away from the Republican Party.

      Americans despise Donald Trump. We all despise Donald Trump. Anger and fear, whatever you think of them as political tools, are amazing motivators. Republicans know that better than anyone.

      Democrats are going to turn out, and you can already see the results in my own home state of Florida. Democratic mail-in ballots are running on par with Republican mail-ins, an area that they usually dominate, and since Dems are widely expected to dominate actual in-person voting, the gulf between the two is just going to be that much larger on Election Day. Florida’s already gone on the presidential level and the only question is whether FL Dems can manage to retake the state State; not a stretch given the new maps that have roughly equal numbers of Republican-leaning and Democratic-leaning districts.

      1. Speaking of Dem turnout– Ryan apparently told Republicans the other day that if they don’t vote GOP for downticket races, it will flip the Senate and allow Bernie Sanders to end up chair of the Budget Committee. My Dem friends are suddenly even more excited to cast their ballots. 😉

  16. This may be wishful thinking on my part, but I really think both Sabato and Cook are off on everything by an entire category. My evidence in the generic Congressional polls, by which almost all the supposed “tossups” should be beneath the Democratic wave. If you apply that to the linked ratings from Cook, you get 20 Republican seats lean-D or more and 13 tossups, with 1 Democratic seat lean-R and 10 lean-D or more. That’s probably still lean-R for control but a Democratic win isn’t particularly unlikely.

    Another way to look at it is that 2014 was an R+6 election and the polling indicates 2016 is going to be about D+6. That’s a huge swing, and even with all the gerrymandering it’s not very plausible that only 10-15 seats will flip.

    1. Barring an absolute tsunami for Democrats, even if things look well elsewhere, we’ll probably have to wait for California’s returns to see if they get the last few seats they need to push them into the majority.

      California was always going to be a wave for Clinton, and while HuffPollster average has Trump underperforming even Romney’s dismal performance in ’12 (a little over 37%) by an additional seven points, I think it’s going to be even worse than that.

      New voter registrations among Hispanics and particularly among young people in Cali have just been exploding. It’s been consistent and I think the margin on Election Day is going to be abysmal and drag down a lot of Republicans with it.

  17. Down ballot races are of great interest to me because of the dysfunctional situation a Pres. Clinton would face if Congress stays in Republican hands. I have read: Reuters, TPM, 538, Politico and other sources that continue to show the US Senate a toss up and that Clinton’s surge is not being reflected in down ballot races. I guess we’ll simply have to let the process work its magic on 11/8.

    I do find it interesting that the Miami Herald has endorsed Patrick Murphy over Marco Rubio. That is a major embarassment for Rubio but not so sure it will help Murphy enough to give him an edge. Frankly, I don’t think Rubio deserves to be re-elected. He clearly and frequently (and now hypocritically has retracted) announced he would resign his Senate seat if not chosen as the GOP POTUS nominee. He also stated he didn’t enjoy being in the Senate. Guess reality is a pretty hard pill to swallow when you’ve mostly always been in politics and suddenly find yourself out of a job…..

    I’m one of these strange ducks that actually believes in divided government although I think it is critical that the president and Senate be aligned – if not in party, in principle – which is problematic given the current GOPe. I am concerned about statements Ryan has made about ramming his Better Way Plan through Congress and I am also deeply worried about the Freedom Caucus, whose silence is ominous in terms of what they are plotting.

    Most important to me is that there be a clear and massive enough win (hopefully Democrat) to demonstrate the overwhelming sentiment of the majority of American voters. Whether that will occur – I don’t know – but that is what is needed. There has to be “some” mandate that will settle things so that at the very least, our government can begin to function. People seem to have forgotten what that is like. That is not to say that we shouldn’t make changes to improve all levels of government operation, but that we give our nation a break – a pause to let things settle so that we can focus our nation’s priorities and attempt to address the needs that this divisive election have revealed.

    1. Back when the parties would compromise divided government had a lot of benefits. But now that the Republicans don’t compromise on anything unless facing a major disaster like debt default, it just doesn’t work. McCain wouldn’t even support his own climate change proposals in 2009-2010 – that’s how committed the Republicans are to obstructionism. Down the line, unless the lines fade, we’re going to get a disaster when something requires government action but it’s paralyzed by divided government. That’s the history for presidential systems and the reason most stable longer-term democracies have parliamentary systems.

      1. Yes, at present, with “this” GOP, divided government is not working and would have a very difficult time even if Clinton wins and Dems take the Senate.

        Here’s the thing: divided government “CAN” work as it was designed by the Constitution, through the system of checks and balances. The process isn’t wrong, it’s the players who are. There may well be a need to change our form of government to the Democratic Parliamentary form, but for now, we have to make what we have work!

        Governing through consensus is the best way to represent a diverse nation. Let’s get the people right, re-vitalize the process so that Americans can see how democracy can work, and then we can make other changes in the institutional process. To feel that only through Democratic majority control of Congress, POTUS and SCOTUS will ensure that government will work, is to fall into the trap that Republicans set up with their REDMAP.

        I clearly understand that even if Clinton is elected and Dems take the Senate that the House, as the appropriations arm of Congress, will be a real problem if it continues to function as an irresolute, unbending, obstructive body. Given the fact that may be what we are looking at when the smoke clears Nov. 8th, we better be ready to work with what we’ve got. If by some miracle Dems were to sweep it all, my hope for democracy is that they would use their power wisely and earn the trust of the American people in their government, once more.

      2. But the problem is you can’t just change the players. It’s not an option; even trying to change your spouse is a bad idea. You can change the system to change who the players are, but that’s not easy, and even here in CA where most of the good government proposals have actually been adopted the Republicans are still mostly crazy obstructionist. It’s helped some, but far from enough to fix our national-level problems.

        In addition there’s the media problem, where we have a traditional media that serves the interests of a small wealthy class; and social media which delivers clickbait, sensationalism, and ideological sorting. None of it is delivering meaningful discussion of issues, even though the issue positions are out there. Clinton put a lot of effort into her issues page. You know future politician will take note of the fact that nobody noticed.

      3. I wish I had a solution. I really don’t. Sorry to be a pill. But at least for starters I’d like to see redistricting reform a la CA/AZ/FL, and a jungle primary system for Congress (CA style with the final election as part of the general, not LA style which is disguised voter suppression). For the media issues I have no ideas other than restoring public funding to NPR and PBS, which have both been almost stripped, forcing them to rely on corporate donations.

      4. The problem is that the work of our nation on so many critical fronts has been blocked by Republicans for 8 years. We need to move as critical legislation and appointments as possible during (hopefully) Clinton’s first two years in office before 2018 when Repubs will be defending fewer red seats. Those first two years have to focus on high priority/time sensitive items – infrastructure, critical judicial vacancies, student debt, ACA modifications, budget negotiations, jobs program for re-training unemployed. Then efforts can begin to launch immigration reform, repeal/replace gerrymandering, expand/improve voting process, repeal/modify Citizens United, reform the justice system- courts/process/prisons, and other needs…and somehow, somewhere, maintain the defense of the people of our nation and our troops serving abroad.

        Can you envision a DJT having the attention span much less the judgement to organize and guide an agenda that is this broad and important without total chaos? This is where HRC’s abilities will serve our country well….if the people of America are wise enough to not only elect her but enough members of Congress to support her efforts.

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