Predicting the Outcome of the 2018 Mid-Term Election

Election Day, November 7th, 2018, will not only decide whether President Donald J. Trump has a chance to continue trying to implement his America First Conservative Agenda and whether the GOP retains control of Congress, it will also decide which of two widely-divergent polling models is proven to be the most accurate. The first and most widely-respected of these is the RealClearPolitics generic congressional polling average which currently has the Democrats with a 7.3% advantage with President Trump at a 43.6% approval rating which would suggest a mostly traditional ‘blue wave’ Democrat electoral victory.  This model is supported by other polls which indicate that the Democrats appear to have succeeded in nationalizing this election and making it a referendum on President Trump much as Republicans were able to do against Obama in the 2010 and 2014 elections, while benefiting from the historical trend of the party out of power picking up an average of 2-3 dozen House seats in the mid-term elections.

The other polling model, which is cited most frequently by hard-core Trump supporters, not to mention the President himself who has called it his favorite polling company for obvious reasons, is Rasmussen Reports. Their latest poll actually shows the Republican Party with a 1% advantage in the generic congressional polls with a 50% approval rating for President Trump which would suggest a ‘red wave’ Republican electoral victory, which is exactly what they have been predicting from day one. Incidentally, Rasmussen is the only polling company which shows the Democrats with a less than five point advantage over Republicans in the generic congressional polls in the past seven weeks so their latest poll is decidedly an outlier.

Hard-core Trump supporters argue that, with the exception of Rasmussen Reports, the polls represent ‘fake news’ and cannot be trusted since the polls were proven wrong in the 2016 election but their assertion is only half right. While the state polls proved inaccurate in the 2016 presidential election, failing to predict President Trump’s victory in three key mid-Western states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the national polls predicted Hillary Clinton would win by a margin of 2.9% on Election Day whereas she ended up winning by 2.1% a difference of only 0.8%. Furthermore, their frequent public assertions that a ‘red wave’ is inevitable runs the risk of depressing Republican turnout as potential Republican voters may decide on Election Day that their vote is not needed to win the victory.

In order to determine what to expect from each polling model in this election, we can go back to recent past elections where the end result was within the general range of each one. For example, In the 2006 election, which was widely considered to be a Democrat wave election, the Democrats received 8% more votes than the Republicans for Congress and had a net gain of 6 US Senate seats and 31 US House seats. This is the closest electoral outcome to what we might expect if the RealClearPolitics electoral model showing Democrats with a 7.3% lead in congressional preference nationwide is proven accurate on Election Day. The closest recent election which would demonstrate what we might expect if the Rassmussen polling model showing Republicans with a 1% lead is proven to be the most accurate is the 2016 congressional election in which Republican received 1.1% more votes than Democrats resulting in GOP losses of only 2 US Senate seats and 6 US House seats.

However, there is one factor likely to generate a different result from these two models than we had in past elections which is the fact that in this election we have an unprecedented 26 Senate Democrat held seats up for election this year but only 9 Senate Republican seats up for grabs. According to RealClearPolitics polling averages, the Senate GOP majority is not at risk and the GOP is likely to pick up 0-2 Senate seats but the Democrats are likely to pick up an average of 26.5 House seats on Election Day. However, a closer analysis at the polling in each of the tossup House races makes a 30 or more House seat Democrat gain seem more likely. President Trump himself seemed to acknowledge the likelihood of a looming Democrat takeover of the US House of Representatives when he stated at a rally last Friday that “it could happen.”

Meanwhile, employing the latest Rasmussen poll results that show Republicans are actually leading nationally in the congressional polls and by decreasing the race-by-race Democrat polling leads which have been reported in the RealClearPolitics polls by the difference between the two polling models of 8.3%, we could anticipate GOP losses of six or less House seats, if not actual GOP House gains, with the GOP winning all seven of the toss up US Senate seats plus Democrat leaning races in Ohio and Minnesota resulting in an eight seat US Senate seat gain on election night.

Having analyzed polls and predicted election results for the past 22 years or so, I believe it is more likely to find that the RealClearPolitics polling averages are proven correct and the Democrats pick up 26-36 House seats, 6-8 Governorships and 300-400 state legislative seats while the GOP picks up 1-3 US Senate seats, which President Trump is reportedly planning to claim as a victory. However, as a lifelong conservative Republican, I am hoping I will be proven wrong and that we will have a ‘red wave’ Trump-supporting partisans have been predicting.

© David T. Pyne 2018

David T. Pyne, Esq. is a former State Senate Candidate and former Regional Vice President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. He can be reached at [email protected]

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