Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Can the Democrats Take Back the House?


Can the Democrats take back the House in 2018? Sure they can, though it's of course far from a sure thing. But here are a few things they've got going for them:

  • Democrats are running an 8 point advantage in the generic Congressional ballot. By Alan Abramowitz' Congressional seat change model, that advantage predicts a Democratic seat gain of more than the 24 seats Democrats need to take control. Of course, there's a long way to go to the election and that generic advantage could narrow. But it's still a very positive sign for the Democrats. 
  • Another key variable is the popularity of the incumbent President. The more unpopular the incumbent, the more gains the challenger party--the Democrats--can expect to make in a midterm election. And of course Trump is massively unpopular and appears to be getting more so over time. Right now, the 538 site has his popularity at a stunning -20 points underwater (37 percent approval/57 percent disapproval). That's a big thumb on the scales for the Democrats (and without a corresponding unpopular figure like Hillary Clinton for Republicans to beat up on). 
  • Finally,  a key to Democratic success will be running viable, credible challengers in as many districts as they can so as to widen the playing field and maximize their chances to picking off those 24 seats. As the chart above shows, the Democrats are having amazing success compared to previous cycles in getting credible challengers--as measured by the ability to raise money--to come forward. That's huge.
So the early signs are good. In the end, will Democratic challengers be successful enough to overcome the gerrymandering penalty Democrats are saddled with and grab those 24 seats or more? Stay tuned but there are grounds for reasonable optimism.

1 comment:

  1. The candidates may be worthy but if they are getting horrible advice from DCCC and media "consultants" than it will not matter. For example, Hillary's Denver operation had a rule that you had to buy a yard sign. Nobody is going to buy a yard sign. Since no one bought a yard sign there was no neighborhood presence that people could see at the conscious and subconscious levels; i.e., if there is no visual presence then people will think there is no ground swell of support for the candidate. This has come up recently about why Democratic candidates are not winning in the last four special elections. Why are both new social media and traditional methodologies not being fully utilized?

    Why are negative mass media buys turning off the base? Party activists at the precinct level are not on board with negative television buys by the candidate or, especially, third party organizations. For example during Colorado Senator Udall's reelection campaign there was media buys that only played upon the fears of people. The main thrust of the media buys were only to portray his opponent as being anti abortion. Whereas Corey Gardner's campaign was multi dimensional in that the opening weeks introduced candidate Gardner's family and presented a well rounded portrait of "family values" to the average Colorado voter. Even though Senator Udall has many interests, including outdoor activities like fishing and hiking, this was not highlighted by media promotion. Talking to regular Democratic party members at the Colorado Democratic party election night there was a sense of disbelief that his opponent won. When Udall gave his concession speech there were all the elements in that speech which accented the positive traits of him that would have translated into making his television media presence multi dimensional rather than Mr. Fear the other candidate.

    I believe that candidates have to listen to their instincts about how best to present themselves to the voters. What people want is to know their candidate in a positive portrayal. While negative television campaigns will work to suppression turnout there is the feeling that it hurts just as much the candidate who is allowing those ads to run against their opponent.

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