I have no idea what will happen tomorrow for the mid-term elections. My wisdom is far less than the actual experts, and they're not fully certain. Though do have a sense of it all, with shadings to degrees. And so do I, though mine have much less meaning than theirs. But at least I can add my reasoning and we'll see how close to the results it turns out to be.
There were several polls on Sunday that showed among Likely Voters the public favored Democrats generically by seven points, and it was noted that that's too close for comfort. And I agree -- though I agree in large part because I don't think any Democrat or independent or person who doesn't want to support today's Republican Party should take anything for granted, and should act out of determination and wariness. That said, I also don't think such people should be distraught and fearful. After all, my second reaction was -- if I saw those numbers, and I was a Republican I'd be horrified. (To put that in perspective, if you are a Democrat imagine if the numbers were reversed, and you read that the public favored Republicans by seven points. Okay, it was just a word game, you can stop shuddering now.)
It's also important to keep in mind two things. First, Democrats don't have to win 435 House seats on Tuesday. They only have to increase their total by 23. And second, this was a generic, national poll, and we elect the House in 435 individual districts.
Gerrymandered districts skews this poll. Profoundly safe red and blue districts will affect the numbers significantly. A totally red district in Mississippi may prefer Republicans by 98%. And the same can be said for a fully blue one in California, and all of those get averaged in. But here's the thing -- the number of those districts aren't equal. There are significantly more gerrymandered pure red districts than blue. And we know that because in 2016 nationally, Democrats got more votes than Republicans -- yet Republicans hold 40 more seats.
The point being that a generic national poll is imbalanced for how the election actually works. Democrats may be favored generically by seven points (which while not a massive number is pretty big -- as I said, consider the alternative), but that includes all those 40 extra districts Republicans don't have a chance of losing more than Democrats have. So, those are virtually "wasted" votes in a poll. Further, winning a race by one vote gets the exact same result as winning it unanimously.
The pure red and blue districts don't matter for our purposes here. All that matters are those 100 or so in the middle currently held by Republicans. The ones that are close, within 5-10 points. The ones that are Republican, yet Hillary Clinton won in 2016. The ones in Philadelphia that were SO heavily gerrymandered that the courts ordered them redrawn, and they now favor Democrats. And Democrats just have to win 23.
Keep in mind, too, that we've actually seen the results of special elections the past year. So, while this is guessing, it isn't pure guessing, it's based on actual results. And we've seen consistently that Democrats have improved their numbers by 10-15 points in each race. In some races even more. Now, it's certainly possible that those numbers could tighten as the mid-term elections near -- but, again, those are still real numbers of when people actually went to the polls and actually voted.
And that's the other factor. "Likely Voters" still have to vote. That's where enthusiasm and get-out-the-vote kick in.
I have no doubt that Republican enthusiasm has grown over the past month. But Democrats' enthusiasm -- which I suspect isn't just mere "enthusiasm" but borders closer to fury -- has been building for two years. And it started at high outrage two years ago. Republicans may have grown their enthusiasm after the Kavanaugh confirmation out of apparent anger at supposed unfair Democratic tactics and concern over the next time a Supreme Court seat opens up -- but -- they got their nominee, Republicans won, Kavanaugh was seated. Democrats, on the other hand, tend to be sickeningly galled, bordering on apoplectic that a suspected partisan sexual abuser drunk perjurer got a Supreme Court seat for life, and got it through Republican tactics. And have the same concerns about the next opening. So, an enthusiasm gap is one thing (and it favors Democrats), but the level of enthusiasm isn't remotely as strong or as entrenched.
Now add to that how Democrats have spent the past two years organizing marches and protest rallies, building up the machinery to get people out so that they will attend. And millions attended, just to protest. There is nothing equivalent on the Republican side.
In the end, all of this is speculation. But it's speculation based on observation and details. I could be totally wrong. But I think that there will indeed be a "blue wave" and Democrats will take back the House. It might only be by a few seats, but that's all they need. Having said that, I think it will be more. I think Democrats will do very well in the House.
The Senate is another matter. The way races are set up this year, with only one-third of Senate seats up and most of those being Democratic, and many of those in conservative states -- I think it will be difficult for Democrats to take over a majority of the Senate. In fact, they may even lose some seats. But that's not problematic if they lose only perhaps two or three, since in 2020 Republicans face the same challenged Democrats do this year. If Democrats lose five seats (which is possible, but not likely) then that's a bigger hurdle to get over in 2020. All this said, much as I think Democrats won't win the Senate, I don't dismiss the possibility. I don't know how big (or small) the younger vote will be. I don't know if Democratic enthusiasm will be high -- or tsunami-like. But if both are on the high end, Democrats could win the Senate. I just don't expect it.
If I have one concern, it's the voter suppression we've seen in Republican states, most notably Georgia, Indiana, and North Dakota. That's very real, and could have an impact. Having said that, it's also focused attention on the matter, and can serve to increase efforts to combat it. Additionally, though voter suppression may have an impact, it appears to be mostly in red states, where the odds of winning are long. But moderate toss-up states appear to have less of an issue.
In the end...we'll see. I can understand people being nervous, on both sides. A massive amount is at stake. But if I was a Republican, I'd not only be more nervous, I'd be a quivering mess.
On the other hand, if I was a Democrat...well, forget nerves and wariness and even optimism for a moment, mainly I'd be thrilled that my soul was intact and that I wasn't supporting a fascist administration. Because, in the end, as I've said, this isn't about Trump -- we know who he is. This is about the elected officials of the Republican Party who have enabled him.
And I think the results on Tuesday will show that the public overall wants protection from it.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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