Larry Sabato predicts huge wins for Republicans in November

Republicans are undoubtedly going to have a good November, but University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato makes a pretty bold claim:

Given what we can see at this momentRepublicans have a good chance to win the House by picking up as many as 47 seats, net. This is a “net” number since the GOP will probably lose several of its own congressional districts in Delaware, Hawaii, and Louisiana. This estimate, which may be raised or lowered by Election Day, is based on a careful district-by-district analysis, plus electoral modeling based on trends in President Obama’s Gallup job approval rating and the Democratic-versus-Republican congressional generic ballot (discussed later in this essay). If anything, we have been conservative in estimating the probable GOP House gains, if the election were being held today.

In the Senate, we now believe the GOP will do a bit better than our long-time prediction of +7 seats. Republicans have an outside shot at winning full control (+10), but are more likely to end up with +8 (or maybe +9, at which point it will be interesting to see how senators such as Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and others react). GOP leaders themselves did not believe such a result was truly possible just a few months ago. If the Republican wave on November 2 is as large as some polls are suggesting it may be, then the surprise on election night could be a full GOP takeover. Since World War II, the House of Representatives has flipped parties on six occasions (1946, 1948, 1952, 1954, 1994, and 2006). Every time, the Senate flipped too, even when it had not been predicted to do so. These few examples do not create an iron law of politics, but they do suggest an electoral tendency.

Of course, that’s if the election were held today. It’s two months away, and the trend could either reverse or get deeper. Also unnoticed is that it’s “as many as 47 seats,” which, you know, could just as easily mean 16.Also, the campaign season is really just starting now that primaries are coming in. Keep in mind that most of the primaries have involved Republican candidates, with the mostly-Democratic incumbents waiting in the wings to launch, so many of the Republicans have been on-air and on-the-ground for months now. So, depending on how effective you think campaigns really are, things could change as the pace heats up.

We’re still waiting on Nate Silver (FiveThirtyEight now @ NYTimes) to begin making House predictions, but on the Senate side, he’s currently got Republicans picking up around six seats, which is in the same territory as Sabato, although Brother Larry is getting significantly more optimistic for Republicans in that chamber than Silver is yet.

I personally suspect that the Republicans will pick up most, if not all, of the seats that are leaning their way, but not quite enough to take the House. So, let’s say the final will be 220-215, a net gain of +37.  Even if they manage pick up all 35 toss-ups, that’ll bring them to 217—one seat away from Speaker Boehner. Can they do it? Sure, but I’ll give the first person who wants the bet (one person please!) five dollars if they do.

Oh, and I’ll eat my hat if they manage to take the Senate.


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