One Month out from the Election: Give Your Analysis and Make Your Predictions

2015 Time Capsule

Highlight text
to show it, or...

I know we had a prediction thread back at the beginning of June, but that was 4 or 5 years ago.

We are now down to 28 days before the November Election which means that we are somewhere between 30 and 50ish news cycles before votes are cast. I remember watching one of the Sunday Morning talking heads television shows back in the 90s and George Will said something to the effect of “people don’t care about the election until after the World Series”. According to my quick search on the Google, Game 7 is scheduled for October 31st. That’s a Wednesday. The following Tuesday is November 6th. Election Day.

I’ve made noises before about how the Democrats have lost 1000 seats over the last 4 elections. This is the election that will tell us whether that’s nothing more than the pendulum swinging back and forth.

Well, one of the things that we need to do is measure how big/important that 1000 seat swing actually was.

Brother Jesse points out that the party who wins big tends to lose big over the next few years:

One Month out from the Election: Give Your Analysis and Make Your Predictions

One Month out from the Election: Give Your Analysis and Make Your Predictions

Looking at those two charts, the main thing that I notice is that, yeah, a party does tend to lose power when in the White House.

I also notice that Obama’s numbers are the biggest out of everybody’s. Bigger than Bush’s. Bigger than Clinton’s. Bigger than Reagan’s. I don’t know how to read that. Maybe we should just assume that that’s because the gains made in both 2006 and 2008 were so very big. Okay. Let’s run with that. On top of that, there’s gerrymandering (and it’s gerrymandering that uses computer models which are, of course, better than any gerrymandering done to this point… predictive gerrymandering that not only gave wins immediately after in the 2012 election, but rewarded the forecasted people moving/dying right before the 2014 and 2016 elections as well).

So from that, I pull two numbers out of my butt. Both based on 20%. 20% of the gains made by Republicans after Obama’s historic win were due to little more than regression to the mean after such a huge pendulum swing. After that, another 20% is due to the tricky gerrymandering.

So the question for this election is whether the pendulum of Obama’s big win has stopped swinging.

I’m going to define “stopped swinging” as taking the number of seats the Democrats/Republicans have today, both state-wide and nationally, and say that the pendulum will have stopped swinging if the Democrats have the same number or more seats after the election than they do right now.

Looking at that 1000 number, I’d say that that number is so huge that the question isn’t whether the pendulum has stopped swinging but that we should assume that it has and we should, instead, try to measure the difference between “the democrats only doing well because of regression to the mean” and “the democrats actually doing better than regression to the mean” and “blue wave”.

So assuming regression to the mean and the razor-thin margin that Trump won a number of states by, just regression to the mean will give a number of state-level house and senate seats back to the Democrats, a couple of governorships, and enough house seats to make winning the House of Representatives back really feasible. The Senate has a weird election structure that gives the Republicans an advantage this election but, back in June, I thought that the Dems were likely to net +1 Senate seat and take the Senate back to 50/50.

But given the assumption that there will be regression to the mean? What does regression to the mean look like? I assumed that 10% was the baseline regression to the mean (number pulled from my nethers) and a 10% regression to the mean would look like this back in January 2017:

So, for me, the question is “how many of those numbers have to flop back by what point for us to say okay… Trump is doing to the Republican party what Obama did to his own party?”

I’d say that, at the end of 2018, those numbers would look like this:

3 governorships, 3 U.S. Senate seats, 10 House seats, and 100 state legislative seats and 4 or 5 state legislative chambers.

(At that point in time, I don’t believe I had yet looked at what the Senate election map would look like in 2018. I was just looking at the numbers and that was a mistake.)

And so here’s my new adjusted analysis. A simple regression to the mean will give Democrats 1 or 2 governorships, 1 U.S. Senate seat, 10 House seats, and 75ish state legislative seats and 3 or 4 state legislative chambers. If the democrats don’t even accomplish that much, then I’d say that the discussion shouldn’t be over whether the pendulum is swinging back, but whether Trump is successfully slowing the swing back (or worse, moving the anchor point).

Luckily, it seems like the Democrats are poised to do a *LOT* better than that in the House (where the debate is over whether they’ll flip it) but I don’t know about the rest of those numbers.

I do know that if gerrymandering is responsible for 20% of Republican wins since 2010 and regression to the mean is responsible for another 20%, then there are about 600 seats that are legitimately up for grabs.

And, so far, it looks like Democrats have won 39 seats away from Republicans in the various special elections since Trump got elected.

To win 25% of those 600 seats would take winning 150 seats and the Democrats have already won 39 of them so…

I’m saying that the line between “regression to the mean” and “democrats are right on track for doing well” is somewhere between a grand total of 120 pickups come November (and they’ve already got 39 of those, so 81 more pickups) and 150 pickups come November (111 more!) and the line for “right on track for doing well” and “holy crap, Trump is hollowing out the party the way Obama did!) is somewhere between 150 (111!) and 180 (141!).

So that’s my analysis for how to tell the difference between performing, underperforming, and over-delivering.

As for my guess… hell. I don’t know. I think that the Republicans will pick up at least one Senate seat and might pick up two. The Democrats might win the House but they might not and, six months ago, it was a dead certainty that they would win it and win it decisively. Which tells me that they’ll win the House… but precariously. The Democrats will pick up 4 or 5 governorships. But they won’t hit 150 when it comes to all of the State House/Senate seats and everything added up.

But, again, we’re somewhere between 30 and 50 news cycles before the election. And we don’t even know who will be in the World Series yet.

But *MY* thoughts aren’t half as interesting as *YOUR* thoughts.

Where do you draw the line between performing, underperforming, and over-delivering?
And which of those do you think the Democrats will do?

(Picture is The Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse. Picture is in the public domain.)


Contributor
Home Page Twitter 

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

45 thoughts on “One Month out from the Election: Give Your Analysis and Make Your Predictions

    • Well, with the Great, Good, Depressing and Apocalyptic settings.

      Great – Libertarian party sweeps!
      Good – Libertarian party takes the house!
      Depressing – Someone, somewhere starts impeachment proceeding against anyone, triggering Civil War, First Blood Part II.
      Apocalyptic – Enough people vote for the Greater Evil, opening the gates of R’lyeh…

        Quote  Link

      Report

  1. Dems take the House and do quite well on the state level. I’m dubious they can overcome the high obstacles that the current Senate map presents to actually seize the majority there but they’ll hold GOP gains to very little which will be very very bad news for the GOP in 2020.

    Which would put us in 2019 with Trump still in the Whitehouse but with no GOP house to cover for him. All the downsides the Republicans currently have minus a lot of their power. Not a good position to be in but they did get the court and a tax cut.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  2. House: whoever gets the majority has less than 10 seat advantage. GOP retaining control is undervalued.

    Senate: Plausible options go from GOP even to GOP +5, I think the most likely scenario is GOP +5, but they could easily fall one or two short. GOP has closed the book on North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. Indiana and Missouri are next. Montana, Nevada, and Florida will stay very tight until the end, when GOP gets across the finish line first.

    Underreported story of the entire election cycle: GOP is getting crushed in the Great Lakes/Big 10 when they shouldn’t be.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  3. House goes Democratic by between +10 and +15 – and several of the races aren’t called beforehand because their safety is “assumed” by the press and candidates.

    Senate – GOP is lucky to retain current numbers, but might end up +1 Democrats – which sets up an interesting series of showdowns where the remaining Blue Dogs could vote with the GOP and Mike Pence breaks ties in the GOP’s favor.

    Koz missed one under reported story – Mississippi might split its delegation or go full Democratic – Roger Wicker is not really campaigning for his seat against David Baria (Who is campaigning heavily), and Cindy Hyde-Smith and Chris McDaniel will split the GOP vote against a solidly Democratic Mike Espy in the three way open general election for Thad Cochran’s seat.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  4. Oh, and the reason that I think it’s important to say not only what you think will happen but the vague outline of what disappointing looks like, what decent looks like, and what good/great looks like is because there is a tendency to say “oh, well, I didn’t get a direct bullseye but nobody did. My predictions were well in line with everybody else’s and the outcomes confirmed my priors just as I knew they would.”

    I mean, if we all know that Democrats would be winning big come November no matter who was in office… even if it was someone that we totally respect and wish the Republicans would get back to running like Rand Paul or Mitt Romney… then it’s not really that surprising that Democrats would be winning big with Trump in office. Do we know how to compare Trump’s outcomes with what we know that Romney or Paul would be getting in the same situation? If Trump does better than Hyporomney, what does that mean? If he does worse than Hypopaul, what does *THAT* mean?

    Well, the only way to avoid the false but comforting “This is exactly in line with what I knew was going to happen” is to write down what you know is going to happen.

    Then, come November, you have reason to say “holy cow, I was looking at things the wrong way!” and can change how you look at things if you were wrong outside of, oh, 10-15%.

    Of course, in a worse case scenario, you can always fall back on “I made that prediction in October and I had no idea that the October Surprise would have been *THAT* and, if I did know that, I would have made the right prediction. So I was right to have gotten the wrong numbers.”

      Quote  Link

    Report

  5. I’m standing by my prediction from 4 or 5 years ago.

    On top of that, I will say my longshot bet is for Devin Nunes to lose his seat. I’d give it maybe a 20 percent chance. A true Blue Wave will topple him.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  6. I’ll stand with my previous game and predictions* for the national picture. If Koz is right about the Great Lakes, I’ll lose. As usual for local things, the referendums and initiatives are more interesting. The state blue book arrived yesterday — 13 state-wide items this time. From the legislature, some tidying up of constitutional language plus creation of a redistricting commission for Congressional districts. Two conflicting statutory initiatives for road projects — one that authorizes a small sales tax for 20 years to fund projects; and one that requires the legislature to issue road bonds and cut $260M per year from other spending to pay for them. Rural interests are funding an amendment that would require the state and local governments to immediately reimburse property owners for any actions that reduced the value of the property in any way whatsoever. Good times.

    Under-anticipated story: the Latinx vote finally shows up in Arizona and Nevada.

    * Split the country in three: (a) the Census Bureau 13-state West; (b) the 12-state northeast urban corridor; and (c) the other 25 states. Score +1 for the party gaining a Congressional seat, governor’s office, or state legislative chamber (-1 for losing one of those). Prediction: Dems gain in (a) and (b), enough to win the House but not the Senate; the two sides break even in (c).

      Quote  Link

    Report

  7. Apocalypse: Democrats win but Trump arrests them all and fills the seats with cronies. Martial law declared.

    Depressing: Democrats gain seats but not enough for a majority.

    Acceptable: Democrats gain the House but not the Senate.

    Great: Democrats win both the House and Senate. Trump reduced to ranting on Twitter for two years, everyone calls McConnel pathetic. Stephen Miller is forced to sit in detention by Congress.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  8. Saul Degraw: Mississippi is a little too red for that to happen

    You’d think, but in the Cochran race Sen. Hyde Smith is a switched Democrat, which means most establishment Republicans don’t trust her. Her Republican opponent is Chris McDaniel who is a Tea Party Republican state senator who lost to Cochran last time after he sneaked photos of Cochran’s bedridden wife out of a nursing home. Since Mike Espy is the Democrat, and he was previously endorsed by Haley Barbour, he has more then a fair chance.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  9. I’ll stand by my earlier prediction of status quo ante.

    Trump has a full month to hold his little Nuremberg rallies, and from what I’ve seen the heartland is eating it up. He’s milking the Kavanaugh thing for all it’s worth, and voter enthusiasm polls seem to be indicating it’s having an effect.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  10. The revision I need to make to my prior prediction is that I don’t think Heitkamp will be able to hold on anymore in North Dakota, and the Senate will be 50-50 (which of course keeps control for the Republicans)

    I still think enough Clinton district Republicans will get flushed out this time around to give the Dems a narrow lead in the House. Narrow enough that it will be between 220-225 seats.

    I think things are going to get economically ugly next year (job losses are always much faster than job recovery)

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • I’m almost coming around to the sine qua non of hot takes that its better for the Dems to *not* gain majorities in each chamber of Congress so that they catch no flak for a downturned economy in 2020. Otherwise timing could bite them in the butt *again* going into a census cycle.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • Remember Dan Scotto’s Value Over Replacement-Level Republican President essay?

        It seemed to me that one of the conclusions was that, in that sliver of time, it’d be better for the Republicans to have lost the election.

        Which strikes me as non-obvious. I mean, was it good for the Republicans that Obama got elected?

        I mean… kinda? I guess? But it’s non-obvious. So, too, the democrats stalling out in 2018. Maybe it’d be good for the dems to lose because of the coming downturn?

        But I’m pretty sure that the market can stay irrational longer than the dems can stay solvent.

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • The counter to my hot take is that it probably doesn’t matter who has control of Congress during a recession, just who is President. And both 1992 and 2008 show that it’s a much easier sales job to say “we have a Congress, now give us the Presidency to Get Things Done” than it is to say “Hey, guys, can give our President a Congress pretty please?”

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • Counter-counter any half decent Politician/President can blame a downturn on a congress… “Congress is the reason all this economic legislation I’d totally pass is not passing.” Whom the electorate believes/blames? That’s dependent on… stuff.

            I don’t really think there’s a “tanking” strategy in politics… unless/until the losing party gets some sort of perq for losing. Like picking which Senate Seats are up for re-election in the next cycle… or drawing the congressional districts… or maybe playing in the Jr. League for a cycle and promoting the best Third Party into the Majors (oh, wait, that last one isn’t a perq).

              Quote  Link

            Report

  11. Apocalypse: Democrats fail to take either the House and lose ground in the Senate and lose the only two Governor’s races I’m paying any attention to: Kansas and Colorado
    Depressing: Same as the “Apocalypse” setting, only Democrats win the House and then waste the next two years trying desperately to ram Articles of Impeachment against Trump through the House
    Good: Democrats take the House, gain ground in the Senate, Polis wins Colorado but Kobach wins Kansas
    Great: Democrats take the House (including Spaulding unseating Lamborn in Colorado’s 5th) and the Senate, Polis wins Colorado, Kelly wins Kansas, I win the lottery and can immediately engage in a life of leisure, and an unknown benefactor gifts me a unicorn.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  12. I’ve been one of the “bears” on Trump for a while, and I’ll stick by my guns. Thanks to Jaybird for bringing up my piece from earlier this year. The basic argument is something like the following:

    1. Trump’s electoral strategy in 2016 traded certain high-propensity voters for lower-propensity voters. Those high-propensity voters are deeply frustrated with Trump’s style, even if many agree with him on policy. Some of them will vote for Democrats; others will stay home. The lower-propensity voters are less likely to vote by definition.
    2. Democrats are as enthusiastic as ever and are going to vote in droves, as they did in Virginia’s gubernatorial election.

    I’ve *started* to waver on this a bit in the aftermath of the Kavanaugh stuff, which did seem to consolidate the Republican base (nothing unifies Republicans like judges). But I’ve gone too far to turn back now. So, with that said:

    – I think the Democrats win 55-60 seats in the House, including a couple of stunners not on anyone’s radar.
    – I think Republicans thread the needle and hang onto the Senate, which stays status quo. (North Dakota and Nevada switch places, everything else holds.)

      Quote  Link

    Report

  13. I’ll stick with my original estimate… mostly.

    It looks like I’m going to miss on ND and IN… but they cancel each other out. Senate still looks clean for Republicans, maybe even 0 or +1 to my original estimate of -1. So I’ll waffle and say -1 to +1, but no change in ownership.

    I still think the House will be a bloodbath for R’s… not really a deep analysis, more of a gut feel based on 2017 VA (as Dan notes above). The basic premise that districts are mostly designed to support the incumbent is true based on likely voters… the D’s will see likely plus unlikely voters. I’m not feeling the same fervor out here in Redville – not for congressional seats… if VA hadn’t nominated Corey Stewart I’d be curious to see what that might have looked like… but they did and even out here no one’s motivated by Stewart… so Kaine (Senate) in a cakewalk.

    The unanswerable question is what I would call “good” results. Since I’d like to speed-up realignment and the breaking down of the current political parties its hard to say what outcome would help that along. I suspect the current trajectory will just see more trench warfare… so, booo. A surprise Red Tide? That might do the trick… so then that would have to be my qualified “good” option.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  14. I guess I’m sticking with my June prediction:

    Democrats gain 9 seat majority in the House;
    Republicans net 2 additional seats in the Senate

    I guess my starting point on the House seems different than others; I see House Republicans having gotten more total votes than Trump in 2016, so I don’t see Trump as having much in terms of coattails, plain or reverse.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  15. My bet: Democrats win the “popular vote” overwhelmingly – let’s say by 5,000,000 total votes – but gain no new power, owing to the catastrophic clusterf-ck that is American democracy.

      Quote  Link

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *