The race for control of the United States Senate has dominated news coverage of the midterm elections. That is not surprising. The polls are plentiful, the personalities are numerous, and we have a pretty good idea of the races that will determine which party wins the most.
However, the race for the US House of Representatives may be the most interesting. Our CNN/SSRS poll last week had Democrats gaining 3 points on the generic congressional ticket, within the margin of error and close to the recent polling average, which has shown the parties nearly tied. For reference, Republicans were ahead on the generic ticket at this point in the last two midterms when there was a Democratic president (in 2010 and 2014).
If the current tie on the generic ballot holds for the House vote, control of the House would be a draw. In fact, several people, including myself, have pointed to the possibility of House Democrats keeping their majority.
But few nonpartisan analysts think that’s likely. Most acknowledge that Republicans are in a good position to win back the House in this election.
However, I would argue that we are underestimating the potential for a big Republican night. And the potential for a GOP explosion is where we begin our look at the week he was in politics.
Six months ago, a massive GOP victory in the House seemed like the most likely possibility. Republicans were doing better on the generic congressional ticket than at any time in history so far from the election. Since then, a combination of events, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court, seemed to tip the scales toward the Democrats.
However, a look at some non-election data and fundamentals suggests we shouldn’t lose sight of the possibility of the Republicans pulling off a big win next month.
Let’s start with House’s career ratings. These are designations that places like The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections give to individual district races based on a number of factors, including how those districts have voted in the past and internal polling data.
I pulled together all the final House rating data I could on Cook since 2000, specifically, the number of races rated “thrown” or “leaned” toward one party just before the election. It turns out that these ratings, taken together, have done an accurate job of telling the story of the House election.
When a party has more runs in these two designations, it tends to underperform. Right now, there are 23 more seats held by Democrats than by Republicans, in either the dump or lean category, according to Cook. In addition, there are four Democratic seats that are rated “likely” to switch to the Republican Party.
Considering what has been a small, but fairly consistent, trend of Republicans slightly outperforming race scores since 2000, this would translate to a GOP net gain of 26 seats next month. This would put the Republicans in about 239 seats in total.
Even without considering the superior performance of the Republicans in the past, the current electoral ratings would still translate to the Republicans ending with a net gain of 17 seats, for a total of 230.
This matches what Amy Walter, editor of The Cook Political Report, noted in a recent analysis: One side tends to pick up the bulk of the draw races. And that side has been the party that is not in the White House, in midterm elections going back to 2006.
While it could be argued that Republicans reaching 230 House seats would not be a “wave” given their relatively high baseline heading into the election, 230 seats would be the same number Republicans ended up with after the elections. historic midterm elections in 1994, when he ended 50 years of uninterrupted Democratic control of the House.
Speaking of the 1994 election, President Joe Biden’s average approval rating (43%) before this midterm is lower than Bill Clinton’s (45%) before the 1994 midterm. In fact, Biden’s approval is largely in line (by an average of 43%) with that of recent presidents.
Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump all had average approval ratings of between 43% and 45% at this point in their first terms. All of its parties suffered net losses of between 40 and 63 seats in the House. The opposition party finished with between 230 and 242 seats.
That’s what the race ratings suggest as the most likely range of House seats Republicans will hold after this election. (Of recent presidents, only George W. Bush had a higher average approval rating, at 62%. His party won House seats in 2002.)
Yes, other factors, primarily the generic ticket, indicate that House Democrats will fare better.
But as I pointed out last week, the generic ballot is far from a perfect predictor. If the results of the generic ballot hold up through the election and House Republicans outperform it as much as they did in 2020, they will most likely end up somewhere in the 230-242 House seat range.
FiveThirtyEight and Jack Kersting’s electoral models, which are based on a set of variables, give Republicans a one-third chance of ending up with at least 230 seats. That’s still better than the chance either model gives Democrats to hang on to the House.
Speaking of the Democrats being in trouble, one of the last places I’d expect them to be in trouble would be Oregon. It is a state that Biden won by 16 points in 2020.
So why was the president in the state on Friday and Saturday? It’s because it’s the rare deep blue state where Republicans have a good chance of winning the governorship, as well as a few seats in the US House of Representatives.
The reasons why Christine Drazan could become Oregon’s first elected Republican governor in 40 years are numerous.
In particular, Democrat-turned-independent Betsy Johnson appears to be siphoning votes away from Democratic candidate Tina Kotek. While Johnson isn’t just taking from Kotek, her voters are more likely to identify as Democrats than Republicans.
Johnson’s presence in the race means Drazan may need only 40% of the vote to win, let alone a majority.
But the tight race for governor of Oregon is not just about Johnson. Kotek is seeking to succeed Democratic Governor Kate Brown, whose term is limited. Brown is one of the least popular governors in the nation, hurt by rising homelessness and the cost of living.
Kotek herself has been painted as too liberal.
Drazan, on the other hand, has managed to escape one of the biggest charges levied against other Republicans running for governor of blue states this year. She is firmly in the camp that believes Biden legitimately won the 2020 election.
That makes it harder to paint Drazan as too extreme.
Republicans are also seeking success on the ballot in Oregon. Election forecasters agree that the race in the 5th Congressional District is quite competitive. Biden would have won the seat by 9 points under post-redistricting lines, but the GOP’s chances increased significantly after Rep. Kurt Schrader was defeated by a more liberal challenger in the Democratic primary.
Analysts are more divided in their views on Oregon’s 4th District and the newly created 6th District. But almost everyone agrees that the former is at least up for grabs and that the Republicans could easily win the latter.
If Republicans, as expected, hold on to the second rural district and win one of three competitive districts, it would be the first time they have held two House seats in Oregon in nearly 30 years. If they win two of these seats and the 2nd district, it would be the first time they have held at least half of the seats in the Oregon House of Representatives in nearly 50 years.
The bottom line: Republicans need to win just five seats nationally to regain a majority in the House, and more than half of those seats could come from Oregon.
Monday (the closest weekday to October 16) is Boss Day. I know the stereotype is that people hate their bosses. They even made a pretty funny movie about it.
However, the data shows something a little different. Gallup has been polling people’s opinion of their bosses since 1999, and most people actually give their bosses a thumbs up.
In 2021, for example, 63% of Americans said they were completely satisfied with their current boss. That was tied (with 2020) for the highest percentage since 1999. It was significantly higher than the 47% who said they were completely satisfied in 1999.
Add in the Americans who were somewhat satisfied with their boss (25%), and nearly 90% of Americans were satisfied. Meanwhile, only 2% of Americans were completely dissatisfied with their boss.
For the record, I like my bosses. (Yes, I’m such a fan).
Increase the use of solar energy: The percentage of Americans who say they have installed solar panels at home is as high as 8%. That has doubled from 4% in 2016 and 6% in 2019, according to the Pew Research Center.
Vaccination rates against Covid-19 stabilize in nursing homes: A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of government data shows that the percentage of nursing home residents and staff who have been vaccinated or given a booster has basically stayed the same for several months. About 87% of residents and 88% of staff received the primary series, while 74% of residents and 51% of staff received at least one booster.
layoffs in news: Only 11% of large newspapers saw layoffs in 2021. Pew finds that’s down from 33% in 2020 and 24% in 2019. Among digital-native outlets, 3% had layoffs in 2021. That’s less than 18% in 2020 and 11% in 2019.