Monday, November 03, 2014

Tuesday is Election Day. Here are some House Races to Watch

Over the last 20 years, I’ve observed that the economy seems to be best when there’s a Democrat president and a Republican congress. It happened with Clinton in the late 1990’s – he could demagogue, but “he couldn’t get anything done”. And the late 1990’s saw the only federal budget surplus since about the 1950’s. These next two years promise to deliver good economic times. The same dynamic is in effect. Plus lower-cost energy is rippling through economy like the Kennedy and Reagan-era tax cuts.

With that said, it seems as if Republicans are poised to make gains in both the House and Senate.

During last year’s contentious government shutdown, Democratic Party-aligned Public Policy Polling released a batch of surveys suggesting Democrats could win control the House in 2014, thanks to GOP-directed backlash over the 16-day debacle. They needed a net gain of 17 seats to establish a majority, and “such a pickup would be well within reach,” according to the PPP’s Jim Williams.

Several analysts were bearish on that scenario early on, however, and Princeton professor Sam Wang cautioned that a lot could happen over the next year to change the state of play.

Indeed, the landscape has changed. Rather than bracing for losses, Republicans are set to pick up House seats tomorrow. The Rothenberg Political report, updated on Oct. 29, projects a Republican gain of between five and 12 seats. The next day, Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” estimated Republicans will pick up nine seats. Earlier this month, the Cook Political report suggested four to 10 seats.

Should the GOP win 13 seats -- a plausible, though unlikely, scenario -- Republicans would have their biggest majority in the lower chamber since 1932. Picking up nine seats would give them their biggest majority since 1946.

RCP’s Battle for the House map shows Republicans projected to win 228 seats to Democrats’ 181 seats, with 26 races too close to call. Even if Democrats won every tossup race, they still couldn’t take the gavel from Speaker John Boehner’s hand.

There are several explanations for the stability of Republican dominance in the House, which election analyst Nate Cohn called “the biggest paradox in American electoral politics.” ...


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