The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


Pro-choice demonstrators at the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Youtube Screenshot

The New York Times' Nate Cohn finally wrote a column this week admitting that people shouldn't flatly dismiss Democrats' chances of keeping the House.

It wasn't a ringing endorsement by any means. Republicans are still favored to pick up the five seats they need to reclaim control of the lower chamber. But Democrats prevailing, Cohn added, "is a real possibility — not some abstraction in the sense that anything can happen."

Perhaps the most notable nugget from the piece was the admission that analysts are somewhat flying blind where the House is concerned, because so little polling is available.

I asked my friend Dave Wasserman, House editor of the Cook Political Report, whether he thought Democrats would appear to lead in the race for the House today if there were robust polling averages in every district, as there are in the Senate. He said they would, with Democrats leading the polls “in maybe 220 to 225 seats,” more than the 218 needed for a majority.

So while the House ratings aren't exactly a crapshoot, they're also the product of a lot of well-informed guesswork. As the election draws nearer, forecasters continue to revise their predictions based on how the cycle is evolving.

For Democrats, that forecast continues to improve. On Wednesday, Cook Political moved seven of 10 ratings changes in the direction of Democrats.

The latest change was just one of several adjustments over the past several months in the direction of Democrats. In July, Cook was predicting a GOP pickup of 20 to 35 seats. Now, the outlet is framing the "likeliest outcome" as a 5- to 20-seat gain for Republicans.

That's the good news. Unfortunately, Cook rates 211 seats lean/likely/solid Republican and only 194 seats as lean/likely/solid Democratic. That means of the 30 seats rated as "toss ups," Republicans only need to win 7 of them to take the majority, whereas Democrats need to win 24 to maintain House control.

But again, those ratings aren't rooted in an abundance of polling.

Another way to look at it is that, while favors Democrats to keep the Senate and Republicans to take the House, there's about a six-in-10 chance that one party will end up controlling both chambers.

By and large, Democrats are hanging in there in a cycle where, historically speaking, they wouldn't have a chance. And although some key races are tightening in the Senate (most of which are in GOP-held seats), the overall environment is still generally improving for Democrats.

President Joe Biden's job approval has hit its highest point in over a year in both Civiqs tracking and FiveThirtyEight's likely/registered voter aggregate.

In the generic ballot, Democrats have gained in four of the last five weekly tracking polls at FiveThirtyEight, as New Democrat Network president Simon Rosenberg noted.

Reuters/Ipsos, polling all adults (rather than likely voters or registered voters) showed Democrats backsliding by four points to a 33 percent -- 32 percent advantage.

However, the other four weekly tracking polls saw a net shift toward Democrats over the past week.

  • Economist/YouGov (LV): 46Ds-47Rs —>> 47Ds-46Rs; Net change: Dems +2
  • Politico/Morning Consult (RV): 45Ds-43Rs —>> 46Ds-43Rs; Net change: Dems +1
  • Morning Consult (LV): 48Ds-44Rs —>> 49Ds-44Rs, Dems +1
  • Rasmussen/Pulse Opinion (LV): 42Ds-44Rs —>> 44Ds-45Rs; Net change: Dems +1

For several weeks, Democrats have also been expressing more enthusiasm than Republicans about voting.

At this point, the most anyone can really say with any certainty is that Democrats are outperforming expectations, defying historic trends, and this midterm contest remains extremely competitive. That has proven true in both the polling and the four special elections since the Supreme Court overturned abortion rights, plus the Kansas ballot measure banning abortion.

Regardless of whether Democrats sweep, split, or lose both chambers, the results will leave them in much better shape after Election Day than anyone originally thought possible.

The only question we should be asking ourselves at this point is: What can we do to help deliver a historic blow to Republicans?

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Youtube Screenshot

Seven or eight months ago, many Democratic strategists feared that the 2022 midterms would bring a massive red wave like the red waves that plagued President Bill Clinton in 1994 and President Barack Obama in 2010. But that was before the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical-right majority handed down its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and overturned Roe v. Wade after 49 years. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell still believes that Republicans are likely to “flip” the U.S. House of Representatives, but he considers the U.S. Senate a toss-up.

In an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark , Rich Thau (president of the research firm Engagious and a moderator for the Swing Voter Project) and Susie Pieper (an Engagious intern and student at Haverford College in the Philadelphia suburbs) examine the effect that the abortion issue could have with swing voters in the 2022 midterms. The Dobbs decision, according to Thau and Pieper, definitely helps Democrats among swing voters. But the burning question is: How much?

“An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, which overturned Roe v. Wade,” Thau and Pieper explain. “Concurrently, an overwhelming majority of Americans think abortion should be legal in at least some cases. But how will these views translate to voting behavior among swing voters? This month, as part of our Swing Voter Project, we asked focus groups of Trump-to-Biden voters across North Carolina what’s changed for them when it comes to their likely voting behavior in the wake of the Dobbs decision.”

Abortion rights, according to Thau and Pieper, are a high priority for the swing voters that the Swing Voter Project spoke to in North Carolina. But they have other priorities as well.

“Among eleven North Carolinian swing voters, nine said that Dobbs would be a top-three issue for them in the midterms, which seems significant,” Thau and Pieper report. “Except that issue matrixes are often complicated: Earlier in the same focus groups, we asked which one issue in the news concerns them the most — and only one said abortion. We have seen similar results in recent months, where abortion is a leading issue, but it competes with various others — such as inflation and gun violence — for the top concern.”

Alana, a 26-year-old swing voter from Dover, North Carolina, told researchers, “I was registered as a Republican. I still am right now, but I’ll be switching completely to Democrat. As I say, most Republicans are the reason why this happened, and I just can’t stand by and agree with something that has affected myself, my family, and friends so much. It’s just something that has upset me greatly.”

Abortion is clearly a major issue for Kayla, a 34-year-old swing voter from Mocksville, North Carolina who told researchers, “I was registered unaffiliated. I didn’t see myself as a Republican or a Democrat, but I would vote for a Republican if I thought that candidate had my views for the economy. But nah, I’m leaning left completely. And this is personal for me. So, I’m probably going to end up registering as a Democrat from here on out.”

The Swing Voter Project found that some of the swing voters were leaning towards pro-choice Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley in North Carolina’s 2022 U.S. Senate race. A Civitas/Cygnal poll released in late September found Beasley and Ted Budd, the Donald Trump-backed Republican nominee, in a virtual dead heat. However, Beasley trailed Budd by 3 percent in an Emerson College/The Hill poll released on September 20.

“We won’t know the electoral impact of Dobbs until the votes are counted,” Pieper and Pieper observe. “But this month’s focus group suggests that with swing voters, the issue salience is high and helpful to Democrats.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.