Saturday, August 11, 2018

Dems and GOP Jittery as Countdown to Midterm Election Begins.

Bottom line? Don't panic!

Trump's Secret Weapon: Dems stuck on crazy!
Just before the 2016 presidential election I did a series of appearances on a local radio station offering analysis of polling in the run up to the election.  I was on air the day before the election and offered this sobering thought: "unless something unknown happens and Trump brings out a hidden groundswell of voters then Hillary will be elected President."

But that hidden Trump groundswell did appear. No one predicted it.  There wasn't a single poll which suggested there would be a massive outpouring of hidden support for Trump.  All the polls were wrong.  So what about this time around?

Blue wave and big Dem win or fizzle?

While Democrats continue to lose nearly all of the special congressional elections held since Trump took office we can't ignore how they have improved their voter turnout in these races by a significant margin. Here's a graphic from election statistic web site 538:

Democrats keep losing, but by less than expected.  But if Dems manage to pull off the same higher turnout in November in races where the GOP incumbent has a narrow advantage it is possible for them to retake the U.S. House of Representatives though not the U.S. Senate.

But a surge is special elections is not the only predictor that analysts look to. What's called the "generic ballot" on polling asks poll recipients which party they favor in congressional elections. It is also a reliable indicator and keeps jumping up and down.

At 538 Nathaniel Raketch reminds us:
Generic-ballot polling has been telling us almost all cycle long to expect a less dramatic Democratic wave than the one hinted at by special election results.
Analysts at 538 are left to argue over whether special elections or generic ballot indicators are  the better predictor.  Nate Silver offers Democrats hope by pondering whether the generic index may change later to reflect the greater difference suggested by the Dems over performance in special elections.  Of course even as the ballots were being counted in 2016 Nate still predicted Hillary would win.

GOP down but not out!

If you want a more positive view of the race from the GOP perspective, try this article by Michael Graham at CBS News. He doesn't sugar coat it and cites the uphill climb required by this sobering thought from the Cook Political Report:

When it comes to the generic ballot Graham cites Stanford University political scientist Doug Rivers:
"On the generic ballot question, we think +6 for Democrats makes control of the House a toss-up," Rivers said, "while a Democrats +4 means the GOP could probably keep control the House."
The generic ballot index as of Saturday, August 11 gives Democrats only a four point advantage!

How to bring out the hidden Trump voter?

I've been warning for years that the GOP has to do better at getting it's voters to the polls. They've made progress with voter turnout but the Dems still have a much better and well funded turnout machine.

The Republican ace in the hole is President Trump. His rallies are packed to the rafters with enthusiastic supporters. If he can deliver that energy to enough key districts it would create a rampart against whatever wave the Dems can muster. Can he build that wall? So far many of the hidden Trump voters from 2016 are still hiding.

Another way to motivate Trump's base is to remind them what it will be like if Nancy Pelosi takes back the Speaker's gavel. Everyone knows the Dem candidates claiming they won't vote for Pelosi as Speaker are lying. Trump has reminded supporters in tweets and at rallies what is at stake. Campaign ads in key districts will amplify that message.

Democrat's hysteria helps GOP!

Democrats are helping Trump in two ways. Their wild hysteric attacks on Trump have alienated many moderate voters. Every week there's a new story, like this one, showing their disgust. Embracing crazy doesn't win and Democrats haven't offered any specific alternative to Trump's policies other than to take away the tax cuts that are fueling job growth and higher incomes for workers. Nancy Pelosi calls tax cuts for workers "crumbs" and she wants to take them away. That ain't going to fly!

The odds are somewhat against the GOP holding the House. As it was in 2016 it all comes down to turnout and the question is whether the hidden Trump voter from 2016 will come out again.  Stay tuned!

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