Despite normal midterm tendency, Democrats will pick up seats in the House
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball Report is already predicting Democrats will gain seats in the House of Representatives in 2014 despite the normal midterm tendency for the President’s party to lose seats. Senior Columnist Alan Abramowitz writes,
Given the historical pattern of midterm losses by the president’s party, is there any reason for Democrats to be hopeful about the outlook for 2014? The answer, surprisingly, is yes. First of all, there have been two exceptions to the rule of midterm losses by the president’s party since World War II, and they were both fairly recent. In 1998, Democrats gained four seats in Bill Clinton’s second midterm election and in 2002 Republicans gained eight seats in George W. Bush’s first midterm election. So it is possible for the president’s party to overcome the midterm jinx. More importantly, the circumstances of the 2014 midterm election indicate that this could very well happen again: A statistical forecasting model based on three factors that accurately predict the outcomes of midterm elections indicates that Democrats have a chance to gain seats in the House.
The midterm forecasting model predicts the change in Republican House seats based on three factors — the number of seats held by Republicans in the current House, the margin by which the Republican candidate won or lost the previous presidential election and the Republican margin in the generic ballot in early September.
The number of Republican seats in the current House is a measure of exposure to risk — therefore, the more seats Republicans hold going into a midterm election, the more seats they should lose or the fewer seats they should gain. The margin by which the Republican candidate won or lost the previous presidential election is a measure of the coattail advantage or disadvantage that Republican House candidates had in that election — therefore, the larger the Republican presidential margin, the more seats Republicans should lose or the fewer seats they should gain in the subsequent midterm election. Finally, the generic ballot is a measure of the mood of the electorate going into the midterm election — therefore, the larger the Republican margin on the generic ballot, the more seats Republicans should gain or the fewer seats they should lose in the midterm election.*
If you add in recent Republican boneheadedness (that’s a political science term) in picking bad candidates in primaries, the Crystal Ball report is probably correct. Republicans can take some good news from the report that their majority is likely to hold. However, that’s small comfort given the economy, higher taxes, and the new push for gun control.That’s normally a formula for Republican gains, not losses.