November 05, 2006

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas Crap

This Tuesday Americans will go to the polls for our regularly scheduled Congressional elections. Every two years, all 435 Congressional seats are up for grabs, as are roughly a third of the 100 Senate seats - 33 in 2006. Traditionally, midterm elections in a U.S. president's second term tend to be hard on the president's party. The average loss in such elections since World War II has been 29 House seats and six Senate seats. Democrats are jubilant going into Tuesday's elections, because 29 and six would move the House back to firm Democrat control and the Senate to nominal Democrat control.

The polls, however, do not support such a shift. If the election were held today, and if the polls are accurate, the numbers would be 27 and five - an outcome which would leave the Senate in nominal GOP control. However, I don't think the polls are accurate - like Dean Barnett, I think the polls are substantially understating GOP strength.

Of the 33 Senate races, nine are competitive. They are Maryland (MD), Missouri (MO), Montana (MT), New Jersey (NJ), Ohio (OH), Pennsylvania (PA), Rhode Island (RI), Tennessee (TN) and Virginia (VA). I believe the GOP will win MD, MO, MT, NJ, RI, TN and VA - with a net gain of one seat. At worst I think the GOP could (net) lose two seats in the Senate - that's if RI, MT and MO go the other way. I do not believe the races in NJ and VA are even terribly close at this point - I expect both Kean and Allen to win with at least 53% of the (two-party) vote.

The Democrats need to flip 14 House seats to gain control of the chamber. While polling suggests the party is poised to shift 27 seats, I do not think that will happen. I suspect the Democrats will shift just ten seats, an insufficient number to seize control of the House of Representatives. My anticipated worst case scenario would be a 16 seat loss, which would give the Democrats nominal control.

Posted by Sterling at 02:51 AM GMT
Comments
#1

Sterling (and others who might be interested or curious):

Perhaps a look at this website might give you pause: http://www.electoral-vote.com/

The Votemaster is admittedly liberal, but at least attempts to average a cross-section of popular polls to show "us" a rough estimation of how things might look in the US Senate and House of Representatives. At least worth a look.

Posted by: M. Hunter on November 5, 2006 08:18 AM
#2

Sorry, M. Hunter, maybe I didn't make it clear that the conventional wisdom is what the Votemaster is saying. That's what I'm seeing and hearing every day, and have been since early summer. I just don't think it's correct - I think telephone polling in America is irredeemably "broken" and meaningful results cannot be extracted from it.

Basically, large segments of the U.S. population have opted out of phone polling (and exit polling), and those segments strongly trend Republican.

Posted by: Sterling on November 5, 2006 02:21 PM
#3

M. Hunter, you are tangling with a renaissance man extraordinaire here, whose expertise in pre election polling is unrivalled, as it is in all other forms of endeavour, from secret agenting to armchair generalship. Luckily for us he feels the inexplicable need to strew his pearls before us swine, much as old people like to talk to dogs, even though he knows we cannot understand. Sterling knows all, he sees all, and conventional wisdom is his enemy, as is conventional humanity and common sense.

Posted by: eurof on November 5, 2006 05:57 PM
#4

M. Hunter, you are tangling with a renaissance man extraordinaire here, whose expertise in pre election polling is unrivalled...

How many times do the polls have to come back ridiculously favoring Democrats before they fall into disrepute? My talent is for calling bullshit.

Luckily for us he feels the inexplicable need to strew his pearls before us swine, much as old people like to talk to dogs, even though he knows we cannot understand.

It's called "blogging", you Swilsh ignoramus.

Sterling knows all, he sees all, and conventional wisdom is his enemy, as is conventional humanity and common sense.

Well, we'll see Tuesday night, won't we? I've staked out my position. If I turn out to be wrong I'm sure you'll be eager to point it out. If I turn out to be right you'll still insist that I'm wrong, or you'll disappear for a few weeks until everyone's forgotten about it.

Posted by: Sterling on November 5, 2006 06:46 PM
#5

No, this is not blogging, this is something else entirely.

Posted by: eurof on November 5, 2006 11:25 PM
#6

I know my job.

Posted by: Sterling on November 6, 2006 03:33 AM
#7

But Sterling, why do you give so little credit to pollsters? Wouldn't they have picked up on this same trend you've noticed by now, and re-weighed their polls accordingly?

Posted by: mike d on November 6, 2006 02:06 PM
#8

You can only slice a piece so thin before it crumbles, Mike. If GOP voters are less likely to respond to survey takers than Democrat voters, then there's only so much fiddling that's possible.

Posted by: Sterling on November 6, 2006 03:58 PM
#9

Yes, but Sterling, it's not the case that no GOPers respond. If, say, 50% of registered Dems respond, but only 40% of Repubs answer the phone, just rejigger your polling equation accordingly, and move on. If pollsters can't do that, what are we paying them for? At the very least Frank Lutz should be doing this, and he's not exactly calling for a Republican landslide.


(and I still haven't heard a good reason for why this is so- GOPers are more anti-social? also, while I'm addenduming here, the accuracy with which your talking points reflect those over at power line are astounding - are you stealing from them or do you both get Ken Mehlman's weekly report?)

Posted by: mike d on November 6, 2006 05:18 PM
#10

How do you know what percentage of Republicans are not answering the phone? You can only stretch information so thin before it loses its utility.

I read Powerline sometimes, not too often. I had not checked it in over a week, so I went just now but can't find them calling elections the way I have - which one strikes you as similar? My muse for this post was Dean Barnett, who I cited, but the opinions are mine. If I was just going to parrot someone else I would say "Go check this out" rather than retyping it.

I said in a 10/24 comment on another post that, "The Barron's analysis seem spurious to me, and I don't claim to know very much about more than handful of House districts, but I think the Senate is safe and if I were a betting man I'd say the House will stay GOP, too." So it's not as if I came to my impression last week after reading it somewhere else.

Posted by: Sterling on November 6, 2006 06:15 PM
#11

I just saw the headline to this post, and visions of a vast, right-wing conspiracy danced in my head.

How do you know what percentage of Republicans are not answering the phone? You can only stretch information so thin before it loses its utility.

This strikes me as a bit specious - how do you know the percentage of Republicans is less than that of Dems? For all that I know, in the past eighteen months, the John Birch Society has become the dominant political force in the United States, but they just refuse to answer the phone.

Posted by: mike d on November 7, 2006 12:12 AM
#12

I know it because I intuit it from past elections and from my own experience in fielding non-political consumer surveys. But I admit it's a guess.

Posted by: Sterling on November 7, 2006 02:18 AM
#13

Also, you realize I posted this a day and half before the Powerline post you identify, right?

Posted by: Sterling on November 7, 2006 02:19 AM
#14

Sterling

But I think you could have posted exactly similar sentiments anytime over the past month, am I right?

Your intuition may just be wishful thinking, but the result you predict would fall into place with what happened during the last presidential election. The phenomenon isn't new or that surprising - I seem to remember similar happened in the Uk when everyone thought Neil Kinnock's Labourites would win against Major in the eary 90's. In that case it wasn't so much conservative voetrs not participating in polls but actually pretending they'd vote Labour but then going out and voting Tory.

Something similar may be happening in the US today; the general consensus is that Dubya is simply too awful to support him publicly. But the "general consensus", rather like the "conventional opinion" to which Eurof is such a paid-up adherent, is almost always wrong in some crucial way.

Anyway, I hope and think you will be proved right on this one. If only because then your wretched rulers may finally get off their asses and proecute "Gorgeous" George Galloway (as if!) - and I will have the satisfaction of losing a bet which you are so oddly reluctant to admit you've lost.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 7, 2006 11:01 AM
#15

Looks like the rising stock market has allowed all of those silent Republicans to buy telephones after all.

Posted by: Jame on November 8, 2006 06:41 AM
#16

Eh. Win some, lose some.

Posted by: Sterling on November 8, 2006 12:33 PM
#17

Sterling predicted the Republicans would keep control.

Hah hah!

/end Simpsons Bully

Gherm

Posted by: Gherm on November 8, 2006 01:13 PM
#18

You mean this? This works, too.

Posted by: Sterling on November 8, 2006 01:16 PM
#19

27. That's quite a some.

Posted by: 99 on November 8, 2006 01:28 PM
#20

So it looks like "Gorgeous" is well and truly off the hook, what?

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 8, 2006 02:55 PM
#21

I think it's more than 30, actually. Plus the Senate. Sterling -- you're not holding out hope for Montana or Virginia, are you?

Posted by: Felix on November 8, 2006 03:23 PM
#22

I don't know enough about Montana - Virginia probably not.

In Virginia, of course, Webb is a "briar patch" win for the Republicans. He is probably more conservative than Allen. So the humor value of the Nutroots people frothing over him will be some comfort.

The thing that really surprised me is Jersey.

Posted by: Sterling on November 8, 2006 04:13 PM
#23

Tester just declared on CNN. Numbers keep trending in his favor (according to NY Times).

You are suprised by NJ? Why? Menendez should have resigned (as should have Hevesi), and should't have been appointed in the first place, but Jersey loves them some corrupt Dems in the Senate.

Then again, that the state produces people who live in a delusion state of political denial about their leaders should come to no surprise to your fans.

Posted by: 99 on November 8, 2006 05:40 PM
#24

I'm surprised that Menendez paid no price whatsoever for being obviously and transparently corrupt. I've written about this before, the "he may be a crook but he's OUR crook" mentality, but it's still pretty jarring to see it play out.

Of course, Jersey and other northeast states are trending leftward as the productive class moves south and west, but I really didn't think things had gone so far downhill. Especially given the precarious financial situation of the NJ state government, it's critical to nudge elected officialdom towards honesty and transparency. In the gubernatorial election last year both parties put forward honest candidates (Corzine and Forrester), but once elected Corzine promptly (and inexcusably) gifted his Senate seat to a crook. Now the crook has held on to it, by a margin far too large to be explained away by Camden and Hudson County shenanigans.

Posted by: Sterling on November 8, 2006 06:35 PM
#25

"he may be a crook but he's OUR crook" mentality, but it's still pretty jarring to see it play out.

why is this jarring? You voted for Bush didn't you? Same thing. Loser.

Posted by: Sam G on November 8, 2006 06:43 PM
#26

I don't think you understand the nature of political corruption, Sam G. I do not expect to collect largess from the presidency of George W. Bush. I don't expect a job, I don't expect a kickback. If he was a crook - which he is not - he would not be *my* crook because I would not be standing in line for swag.

Go read Helene Stapinski's Five Fingered Discount if you want to understand what ails Jersey.

Posted by: Sterling on November 8, 2006 09:13 PM
#27

Sterling, have you met the new Ways and Means Chair? Let me introduce you to Rep. (D-NY) Rangel. Considering the disproportionate amount of tax receipts we generate, it seems apropos, does it not?

That's the extent of my gloating, but I think some of us are due at least that.

Posted by: 99 on November 9, 2006 05:17 AM
#28

I think we're also going to introducing GWB to something called a "veto". Porkbusters is poised to do some damage, too.

Posted by: Sterling on November 9, 2006 05:55 AM
#29

You better start early; I hear he's not real familiar with the concept.

Posted by: 99 on November 9, 2006 07:00 AM
#30

Can we officially put to rest Sterling's prognosticians skill claims? And open his paranoid polling theory.

Posted by: 99 on November 9, 2006 08:34 PM
#31

You've never paid attention to what I say regardless, 99, so do as you like.

Posted by: Sterling on November 9, 2006 11:39 PM