S2E5: Where do things stand

This is our last 2018 midterm election special before the election on November 6!! Go vote!

So where do things stand?

Denise reports on an interesting 538 podcast, while I give the break down from Center For Politics.

From Larry Sabato’s crystal ball – The U.S. House

— Our final picks are coming Monday. In the meantime, our longstanding overall assessment — Democrats favored in House, Republicans bigger favorites in Senate — remains in place.

From 538 – The governorships:

Democrats really could win the gubernatorial races in Alaska and Kansas next week. Victories in those traditionally red states would have major policy implications, but they would also provide a psychological boost to a Democratic Party

From Cook Political:  House and Senate and Governor 


Topline: The current House breakdown is 237 Republicans and 193 Democrats with five vacancies (three Republican and two Democratic). Democrats would need a net gain of 23 seats in November to retake the majority. President Trump’s low approval ratings and Democratic voters’ heightened enthusiasm are threatening Republicans’ structural advantages in the House, including incumbency and favorably drawn districts. A record number of Republican open seats and a new court-ordered congressional map in Pennsylvania have further weakened the GOP’s position. Republicans’ ability to keep their majority now depends on their ability to define individual Democrats as unacceptable alternatives on a race-by-race basis. At the moment, Democrats are substantial favorites for House control and could pick up anywhere from 20 to 40 seats.

Topline: Both parties have advantages this cycle. For Republicans, the numbers are on their side. There are 34 races, including the special election in Alabama, and Democrats must defend 25 of those seats, compared to nine for Republicans. They also benefit from a friendly map in that Democrats are defending 10 seats in states that President Trump won in 2016. By contrast, there is only one GOP seat – U.S. Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada – up in a state that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton carried. Democrats are banking on the mid-term election curse in which the party in power tends to lose seats in the Senate and/or the House in mid-term elections, as well as Trump’s unpopularity and an energized base to help keep their losses to a minimum. An early read of the cycle suggests that there might not be much change in the make up of the Senate after Election Day. At this point, the range is +/- one seat for Democrats, which would have to be considered a victory. A bad night for Democrats would be the loss of three or four seats. At this point, the one certainty is that the majority is not in play.

Topline: Republicans currently hold 33 of the 50 governorships, compared to 16 for Democrats and one independent Governor in Alaska. This is the most gubernatorial seats that Republicans have had in their column since 1928. There are 38 gubernatorial contests this cycle, including two – New Jersey and Virginia, which are both open – that are up in November of this year. Republicans will defend 27 seats to 10 seats for Democrats. Independent Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska is also up for re-election. At this point, there are 19 open seats, 14 currently held by Republicans and five by Democrats. While every election cycle is important in its own way, this is a critical cycle for both parties since, in most cases, this class of Governors will be in office and have some authority over the redistricting process that will take place in their respective states in 2021 after the 2020 Census is completed. As such, both parties have been focused on this cycle since early in 2015, and will commit a record amount of financial resources on competitive races. The correlation between presidential performance and which party wins a statewide race isn’t as prevalent in gubernatorial races as it is with U.S. Senate contests, but it is worth watching since Republicans will be defending nine seats that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. They include the open seats in Maine, Nevada, New Jersey and New Mexico, and incumbent Govs. Bruce Rauner (IL), Larry Hogan (MD), Charlie Baker (MA), Chris Sununu (NH) and Phil Scott (VT). The open seats and Rauner are the most vulnerable of this group. By contrast, Democrats have only one seat – Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf – in a state that President Trump carried. For now, it appears that both sides are going to stay out of primaries. While it’s a decision that keeps them on the right side of their respective bases and conserves resources, it also means that many of the 2018 races won’t take shape until the middle of the year. These primaries make it difficult to come up with a range of potential gains or losses for each party. Given the number of GOP-held seats up, it is not unreasonable to expect Democrats to pick up seats. The question now is how many.