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Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Coming Tidal Wave

I admit to being almost overwhelmed as I try to predict just what will happen on November 2nd.  In a recent essay in the Baltimore Sun I wrote that the 2010 midterms would likely be a wave election that would return House Democrats to where they were prior to the 2006 election.  That would mean a loss of 55 seats in the House. In my official prediction - as a member of the St. Mary's College faculty - I predicted a net Republican gain of 55 seats in the House and 9 in the Senate. Since making that prediction 1 week ago I now believe that I understated Republican gains in the House and overstated gains in the Senate.

Pictured below is the final collection of generic ballot results as compiled by Real Clear Politics. Look at the most recent polls from Fox, Pew, CNN, and Gallup - all show that Democrats have filed to close the gap with Republicans. President Obama and former President Clinton have been crisscrossing the country to motivate Democrats and yet they have made no impact - in fact, the CNN and Gallup numbers suggest that Republicans have gained strength in the closing days of the campaign. The momentum is with Republicans, and in close races that will likely translate into final victory by the GOP.

As Gallup notes in the write-up on its final poll, the current lead enjoyed by Republicans is unprecedented, it far surpasses their lead in 1994 or 2002. Gallup suggests that a 60 seat gain is likely the floor for gains. Several of the polls show the GOP leading even among registered voters - an almost unheard of occurrence.

Given the current state of the polls, just 48 hours before the polls close in most states, I am now revising my predictions. I believe that Republicans will gain 65 seats in the House, I also think that they'll gain 6 seats in the Senate an fall short of the number needed to claim a majority in the Senate. The gains will likely be in AK, IL, IN, ND, PA, WI - totaling 6 seats. It's possible that the GOP could pick up Harry Reid's seat in NV, but I suspect he is stronger than polls suggest and I know he has a better ground game.

Such gains in the House would be unrivaled since the age of sophisticated partisan gerrymandering, but if Republican turnout and enthusiasm, coupled with the overwhelming support of political Independents, is as predicted in current surveys - then the coming wave will be too large for gerrymandered districts and Blue state Senate candidates to withstand. Though some have tried to discount the accuracy of the polls by suggesting that the great multitude of cellphone users are not being surveyed, this is simply wrong. I stand by my argument that no matter the size of the Republican victory, it will not represent a mandate for party's agenda. Rather it will be a victory driven by Independents, many of whom voted for Democrats in 2006 and 2008 but are now unhappy with the agenda that Democrats pursued.
Generic Congressional Vote