Three of five political scientists project Repub takeover of U.S. House

Just before I unblogged myself for a week (if you’re curious, we installed our dear daughter at college; be still my heart) I summarized the Senate race rankings of the usual Washington-based suspects, which continue to show that Republicans will make big gains but have a hard time winning control of the Senate in November.

On the House side, Repubs chances of gaining a majority are generally rated much better (in part because all 435 are up). Specifically, three out of five political scientists who try to forecast such things predict that Nancy Pelosi’s days as speaker are numbered.

The American Political Science Association convened in Washington last week and, as usual in election years, put on a panel featuring political scientists who have developed statistical models that try to predict House elections – not on a race by race basis as Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg do, but on a statistical indicators designed to pick up the general direction of the electorate.

Mark Blumenthal covered the panel for the Huffington Post. Five individual or teams of professors revealed the results of their models, which rely on factors including economic data and national poll results . All of the models show the Repubs making very significant gains in November. Three predict that the gains will be enough to give Repubs control of the House and the other two say no, Dems will lose ground by retain control of the House next year.

  • Alan Abramowitz of Emory University uses a model that relies mostly on the “generic ballot” poll question. (The ones that ask a national sample of voters “if the election was held today would you vote for a Democrat or a Republican). Current generic ballot polls show Repubs with roughly a five-percentage-point lead. Abromowitz’ model says this will translate into a 49-seat pickup. Repubs need 39 to take control.
  • Dartmouth College professor Joe Bafumi forecast a 50-seat Republican gain, which would lead to a new House comprised of 229 Repubs and 206 Dems. Bafumi works with two other professors and will continue re-running their analysis until two weeks before the election. Based on the possibility of change between now and election day, Bafumi’s group says their model is about 79 percent reliable. They spell out the model and its past successes here.
  • The third forecaster who thinks the Repubs will win a House majority is James Campbell of SUNY Buffalo. His model, which is based on the number of seats currently rated as “in peril” by Charlie Cook, plus Pres. Obama’s recent approval ratings, predicts a gain of 50 to 52 seats for the Repubs.
  • Alfred Cuzan of the University of South Florida, whose model, Blumenthal writes, “relies mostly on measures of economic growth and inflation rather than voter preference polling”  forecast a Republican gain of 27 to 30 seats, which would leave the Dems still in control.
  • The most optimistic outlook for Dems came from Michael Lewis Beck of the University of Iowa, whose model is based on the assumption that the election is a referendum on the economy.  Beck and his colleague, Charles Tien, project a Republican net pickup of 22 seats, which would leave the Dems still in fairly solild control.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/07/2010 - 10:21 am.

    It’s no mystery why Democratic voters are unenthusiastic. The Democrats from Obama on down have been gutless. They have let Republican deficit hypocrisy go unchallenged. They have let the GOP define the terms of debate. Only one side has been fighting; it’s bizarre.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/07/2010 - 12:49 pm.

    I agree with Mr. Schulze. Republican hypocrisy has gone unchallenged, as have innuendoes and outright lies. The best speech I’ve seen from Obama since the ’08 campaign was in Wisconsin over the weekend. Too little, and too late, I’m afraid.

    Obama’s analogy was an apt one – having driven the car into the ditch, then standing around carping about how the Democrats are trying to get it out of that ditch, Republicans now complain about the scrapes and dents as if the Democrats were responsible for putting the car into the ditch in the first place, and most horrifying/laughable, they want the keys back so they can drive the car again.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see Obama, or other Democratic candidates, exhibiting the necessary combination of fire and facts to persuade voters who are, understandably, often more concerned about day-to-day survival. One of the few who comes close to what I’d like to see is Al Franken.

  3. Submitted by Steven Smith on 09/07/2010 - 01:27 pm.

    Actually, the Abramowitz estimates are heavily influenced by the number of Democratic seats. The number of seats currently held by Democrats includes well over 40 that are in districts won by both Bush in 2004 and McCain in 2008. Without a strongly anti-Republican current, many would fall back into Republican hands. That is a strong base from which to run. The sour economy and Obama’s ratings figure into the generic ballot results and all have a significant effect in estimates.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/07/2010 - 06:49 pm.

    Incumbent Republican congresscritters that have a track record of spending, and voting like leftists have lost to conservative Tea Party candidates in six states….I wonder what constitutes “unchallenged” in the scary smart, reality based community?

  5. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/07/2010 - 08:19 pm.

    If Republicans and Tea Partiers were as full of constructive ideas as they are of rhetoric, all our problems would be solved. If you’re going to rant against “socialism”, you should first probably learn what the word means, and then advocate shutting down our social services rather than maintain and even extend them.

    The rhetoric of “limited government,” when deployed by people on the right, usually corresponds to their desires to lower tax rates and lighten business regulations. Yet outside of these particular areas, we very often find Republicans advocating for a more expansive, expensive, and activist state. This makes a mockery of their self-description as apostles of “small government.” It’s also indicative of lazy and inchoate thinking and it deserves to be called out.

  6. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/08/2010 - 12:51 am.

    Regarding “gutless democrats.”

    There surely are many, but they (and the Blue Dogs) seem to be favored by the media for attention while real fighters in the 83-member Democratic Progressive Caucus find it hard to be heard.

    A few, like Keith Ellison, Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi, are featured in the media often, while other strong voices for fiscal sanity and corporate responsibility, the end to Empire and endless war, for social justice, human and civil rights go unheard.

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