With about one month left before the mid-term elections, a lot of people are just now beginning to pay attention to the candidates, and the prognosticators are finalizing their predictions for which party will gain or retain control of which House of Congress. I’m not necessarily going to make predictions about which faction of the ruling coalition will control which House, though I will point out some polling trends.
Let’s begin with the House of Representatives. A fundraising pitch from the National Republican Congressional Committee quotes Ted Cruz as saying, “It’s crunch time in the midterm elections and control of Congress is hanging in the balance… Nancy Pelosi has declared all-out war on us conservatives, and if we don’t fight back, they will be in a strong position to win the 17 seats needed to send Pelosi back to the Speaker’s Chair.”
Whether or not Nancy Pelosi has “declared war” on conservatives, Ted Cruz isn’t telling the truth. Tom Knapp points out on his blog, “It’s a mid-term election. In mid-term elections the president’s party doesn’t win seats, it loses seats — even in non-“wave” years…”
Republicans are expected to pick-up 16 of the top 25 “mostly likely to change parties” House seats, as ranked by RealClearPolitics. Further, Knapp points out, “[i]f Republicans lose every one of the House races ranked as “tossups” by RealClearPolitics, they’ll still come out of the election with 230 seats (12 more than they need to retain their majority), so long as they win all the ‘leans/likely GOP’ contests.” Based on these numbers, expect the GOP to retain control of the House of Representatives.
The Senate is a different story, mainly because only one third of the seats are up for election, plus three special elections to fill the remainder of a term. Of the 36 Senate seats up for election, 21 are currently held by Democrats and 15 are held by Republicans. The consensus of pollsters is that only 11 of these seats are competitive, and either party will need to win 6 to have control of the Senate. Winning 6 of these seats would give the GOP a 51 seat majority, and doing the same would give the Democrats 50 seats, plus the tie-breaking President of the Senate.
Most of the polls show the Republicans being expected to win 19 seats, the Democrats expected to win 13 seats, and three seats being labeled toss-ups, this is in addition to Kansas which may very likely be won by an independent candidate. The three toss-up seats are Alaska, Arkansas & Louisiana, and all three have Democratic incumbents. Since incumbents are generally tougher to beat, I think the Democrats will hold all three. That means, I expect the Republicans to only gain three seats, leaving the Democratic faction of the ruling coalition in control of the Senate.
Over the next two years, expect more of the same: more bickering between the red faction and the blue faction on certain issues (i.e. issues that rally the base, but won’t actually become law), and cooperation between the two factions on other issues (i.e. the things of actual importance: taxation and regulations, increased spending, drug war, foreign policy, domestic spying, etc.). This mid-term election will not change much over the next two years. However, it will set the stage for the 2016 Presidential election.