Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Final oddsmaking on the election

Last time I prognosticated, right after the Torture Bill debacle, I insisted the Democrats would win no more than 8-14 seats in the House. Of course I didn't know that immediately afterwards the Republican Party would be caught in cyberbed with a live boy.

Senate first, because it's easier. Democrats are currently leading in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Montana, and Ohio. To win the narrowest possible control of the chamber, then, they need to win two out of the following three states currently tied or close to it: Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia. So call it 2:1 against, maybe a little worse because those are all Republican-leaning states.

Now the House. Looking at the big picture, everything seems to be going the Democrats' way. The problem, though, is that Democrats didn't start even, they started behind. After all this great movement in their direction, looking at it race by race they've now gotten all the way to even. For example, CQ Politics is now projecting Democrats ahead 209 to 207, with 19 seats rated No Clear Favorite, all Republican-held. So Democrats have to win at least 50% of those Republican-held seats. In 12 the incumbent is running for reelection; the open seats are in Republican-leaning districts. Even if incumbency doesn't provide nearly the usual overwhelming advantage once a race gets competitive (and I'm told it isn't), incumbents still do have important long-term relationships in their districts, in particular with organizations capable of mobilizing people. And keep in mind that Republican Party already has a clear edge in identifying and turning out voters.

In addition, as I complained a few days ago, the DCCC continues to target races very narrowly, as confirmed in yesterday's Times:

“On the House side, it makes sense to be focusing on 25 seats to win 14, not 50,” said Steve Rosenthal, a political and labor consultant with close ties to the party, who described many Democrats as “overenthused.”

“If we had unlimited resources it would be different,” Mr. Rosenthal said. “But we have to be careful.”

Mr. Emanuel said he was polling to see where the party might move next. But he said that barring some last-minute infusion of money, he was considering a relatively limited increase in the number of seats where Democrats would spend. In the past week, Democrats have expanded their field to just over 40 races from about 35, running advertisements against Republicans they consider newly vulnerable in Florida, Minnesota, Nevada, upstate New York and Washington State.


See the link to a few days ago for why this logic is bunk. For now what's important is that the fewer races the DCCC targets, the higher the percentage Democrats must win to retake the House. Targeting fewer races basically puts a ceiling on Democrats' gains.

In other words, looking at everything I'd put the odds of Democrats barely retaking the House at just a hair better than 50-50.

Now for the fun. We have enough readers here to start a pool, I think. Everyone put in a number for the House. Current House breakdown is 230 R, 201 D, 3 vacancies (2 R, 1 D), and Bernie Sanders (I, caucuses D). I'm going to put in the first claim: Democrats net 15 seats for a final result of 218 D, 217 R. Make your bids in comments. Closest wins a date with Solomon, a t-shirt, or something else awesome.

UPDATE:

Senate revision. I was asking the wrong question. It isn't "Will the Democrats take the Senate?" but "Will the Democrats have the Senate when Congress comes into session?" First, Joe Lieberman is going to win his race. He's up by 12, and no one makes up 12 points in 2 weeks. I don't believe Lieberman will become a Republican Senator--he'll have all the chairmanships he wants as a Democrat--but I'm sure you all already know that if Rumsfeld finally does resign, Lieberman is considered the leading candidate to replace him, meaning Jodi Rell would appoint a Republican to fill his seat. The pressure on Bush to do so would be acute if Democrats take the Senate and not the House: simply by firing Rumsfeld he could forestall all those terrible hearings on the war.

So to guarantee control of the Senate next year Democrats either have to take all three races listed above or Lamont has to beat Lieberman. It helps if they win the House. New odds of Democratic Senate control, at least 5:1 against.

3 Comments:

  • At 7:49 PM, Anonymous Michael said…

    I'll say 225 D and 210 R. I'm in North Carolina,and we have a couple of competitive seats here that the Republicans don't usually have to worry about.

    Michael

     
  • At 3:33 PM, Blogger Coco Seven Mile said…

    I'm going to Price-Is-Right your ass, AO: I say 219 D and 216 R.

     
  • At 4:34 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    219 D, 216 R, followed by Rell's Republican switcheroo, so 218 D, 217 R.

    Ladies and gentlemen, that's called building a bridge (between AO and CSM).

     

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