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Lewyn Addresses America

A little politics, a little urbanism- I also blog 100 percent on urbanism at and


Big picture: the generic ballot average (that is the average poll asking voters to choose between a generic D and a generic R) shows a 7.5 pt Dem lead.  But in 3 of the last 4 midterms, the Democrats have underperformed the RCP average by between 2.5 and 3.5 points (2010 was an exception; the Dems were doing so poorly in the generic ballot than their slightly better real-world performance was a regression to the mean).   So if tradition follows precedent, which of course it might not, the Dems will lead nationally by between 4 and 5 points.

Given that Dems are more concentrated in a few urban districts, will this be enough for them to take the House? suggests that the Dems need almost a 6 point lead to retake the House, so if I am right about likely Democratic underperformance (which I might not be given the likely higher-than-usual turnout) the Democrats will fall short of taking the House, probably by just a few seats.  But they could gain a few more or a few less, and I don’t think we will know on election night because there are a lot of close races in California and some of them could take days to count because California counts its absentee ballots slowly.

My guess: Dems gain 20 seats, for a total of 215 to the Republicans’ 220.


Most races are not particularly close. There are only two strong opportunities for a Democratic pickup (Arizona, Nevada) and four for a Republican pickup (Indiana, North Dakota, Florida, Missouri).  There are also several races where one candidate is ahead in every poll but not by much- Tennessee, West Virginia, Montana, Texas, New Jersey.  I am going to assume that every election in the latter category follows the polls, and focus on the half a dozen real tossups.

ARIZONA- Democrat Sinema leads in the RCP poll average, but not by much.  However, the early voting favors Republicans to a much greater extent than in most other close states; 42 percent of early voters are registered Republicans and only 33 percent are Democrats, the biggest Republican lead in any swing state (see ).  Unless independents go Democrat by an overwhelming margin this may be an insurmountable Republican lead.  So I think Rep. Martha McSally holds the seat for the Republicans.

NEVADA- If I just looked at poll data Sen. Dean Heller would be reelected; he leads by 2 points in the RCP average.  But the only poll from the last week or so shows Democrat Jacky Rosen retaking the lead.  Also, registered Dems lead in early voting, and Democrats have a history of overperforming poll results in Nevada.  In 2012, Heller led by 4 pts in the RCP average and only 1 pt on election day. So I’m reluctantly calling this a DEM PICKUP

North Dakota- Dem incumbent Heidi Heitkamp is losing in every poll, so this is a REPUBLICAN PICKUP.

Florida- Dem incumbent Nelson has a paper-thin lead in most polls.  Republicans lead in early voting but by less than in 2014.  I am reluctantly calling this for the Democrat, but realistically there is a really good chance I could be wrong.

INDIANA- Two of the last three polls show Democrat Joe Donnelly ahead.  But in 2016, an Indiana Senate election broke heavily R at the end, as undecided voters in this Republican state came home to their party.  So I suspect the same will happen this year.  R PICKUP

MISSOURI- Claire McCaskill won in 2012 against very weak Republican opposition, but this year she has a solid establishment Republican opponent in a state that has become very Republican.  Of three October polls, one shows a tie and two show a paper-thin Republican lead. R PICKUP

TOTAL – 3 Republican pickups, 1 Democratic pickup.  Senate Total: 53 R 47 D


Lots of party changes. The following seats seem at least moderately safe for the incumbent party:

Dems- RI, Mass, Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon (actually kinda close but consistent D lead), California, Hawaii

Reps- NH, Vt, Mass,  Md, SC, Ala, Tn, Ark, Tx, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Idaho, Arizona

Some seats that might switch:

Maine- D PICKUP, Dems have lead.

Ct- This may be close, but most polls show a lead for Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont.  In both 2010 and 2014, Dems slightly overperformed the RCP polling average so I am calling this a D HOLD.

Ga- Most polls show either a tie vote or a Republican lead.  I think Republican Brian Kemp will pull it out without a runoff; Republicans slightly overperformed the RCP average in all three of the last three gubernatorial elections, as undecided voters came home to the majority party.  R HOLD

Fla- The polls show Democrat Andrew Gillum ahead, usually by 2 or 3 pts.  I find it hard to imagine a super-progressive black Democrat taking a Trump state after 20 years of GOP governors.  But Obama actually overperformed polls in Florida, and the Republican doesn’t seem all that impressive.  So I am reluctantly saying D PICKUP- hugely against my better judgment.

Ohio- Democrat Cordray has taken a small lead in most recent polls in this open seat state, and there doesn’t seem to be a strong pattern of one party outperforming polls in close elections (unlike in Georgia) .  D PICKUP

Illinois- Republican Gov. Rauner has never been popular.  D PICKUP

Michigan- Democrat Gretchen Whitmer has a small but stable lead in this open seat race. D PICKUP

Wisconsin- This is the one governors’ race (other than Florida) I am really uncertain about. Scott Walker is tied with the Democrat in the most recent poll, after trailing for most of the year. Walker came from behind in 2014 and I suspect he’ll do it again.  R HOLD

Iowa- RCP shows no October polls in this race, so your guess is as good as mine.  But early voting trends seem heavily Democratic, and the only polls out there show the Democrat taking the lead from incumbent Gov. Reynolds.  D PICKUP I guess.

Kansas- Virtually every poll in RCP shows a 1 pt lead for one of the candidates; this is a Republican state but Republican Kris Kobach won a narrow, bitterly contested primary and is too far right for the state.  A Dem-leaning independent has 9 percent or so in the vote in most polls; I suspect most of his support will distintegrate at the last minute, throwing the election to Democrat Laura Kelly.  D PICKUP

South Dakota- This open seat race is close, but the most recent poll shows a very slight lead for Republican Kristi Noem.  R HOLD

New Mexico – In this open seat, Democrat Michelle Grisham has a consistent lead D PICKUP

Nevada- This seems close but Democrat Steve Sisolak has a paper-thin lead in the most recent poll, and Nevada Democrats often outperform polls.  D PICKUP

Alaska- This seat is currently held by an independent who is not running again.  Republican Dunleavy has a narrow but consistent lead R PICKUP

Total + 8D 25 D 25 R (probably the only area where Dems exceed expectations!)







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