Democrats Beating Expectations In Congressional Races

The fundamentals are certainly against the Democrats this year. Democrats are expected to do poorly in the sixth year of an unpopular presidency, in a midterm election where young and minority voters are less likely to turn out. The conventional wisdom has the Republicans picking up seats in the House and many are predicting that the Republicans will take over the Senate. Both could still happen, but so far the Republicans are not doing as well as expected.

Politico looked at House races today and found that it is likely that the Republicans will pick up only about half of their goal of eleven seats. It is probably overly optimistic to hope for the Democrats to actually retake control of the House, as some are predicting, but beating expectations this year might make this more feasible in 2016.

The Senate race remains more interesting as control is up for grabs. Sam Wang pointed out last week that, looking at the polls, the Democrats are outperforming expectations. Many web sites which include factors such as history of a state are predicting that the Republicans will take over the Senate. As polling is limited in some states, it is certainly possible that their historical-based predictions might be right. Still, it is a positive for the Democrats to see them doing better than would be expected in the polls. Today, which is based purely on polls, has both Democrats and Republicans winning fifty seats. This would leave the Democrats in control, with Vice President Biden casting the deciding vote. Many states are very close, but each party has seats which can easily go either way.

As I’ve said many times before, the Democrats have a chance to hold on to the Senate due to benefits of incumbency. The vulnerable Democrats in red states have won before, although it might have only been in 2008, which was a much more favorable year for Democrats. PBS looked at this topic:

Why Democrats can still win: Republicans are only favored, though, to win between four and eight seats. And Democrats still have a chance of retaining the Senate. But how can that be with the fundamentals described above and a president with among his lowest approval ratings, and even lower in these 12 states on average? Because candidates matter. Incumbents traditionally have an advantage because voters in those states have already elected them statewide, giving them natural bases — and fundraising networks and turnout operations — to get 50 percent. What’s more, the candidates Democrats have in some of these red states are legacy candidates. In other words, not only are they personally well known, their families are too. The Landrieus, Pryors, Begiches, and Udalls are near political royalty in their respective states. But will their personal dynasties pay the dividends needed this fall and be enough to overcome the national environment? It could be for some but not for others. How many survive could be the difference between a Democratic and Republican Senate for the last two years of Obama’s presidency.

Despite many predictions for the Republicans to take control of the Senate, between the overall unpopularity of the GOP and the advantages of incumbency, I still think this is a toss up.

David Weigel Leaving Slate To Join Bloomberg


Bloomberg is attempting a major increase in their political coverage. I first discounted this when I heard it is being run by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. They have frequently fallen into covering trivia over substance in politics. Halperin has done some good in describing the political freak show, but instead of dismissing it will frequently report on it as news, repeating the talking points of the right wing freak show as fact. Back in 2011 he was suspended from a job at MSNBC for calling Obama a dick. Often Matt Drudge has seemed to be the type of political reporting he encourages.

There might be hope for Bloomberg as a serious source for political journalism after all. They have hired David Weigel away from his current job at Slate. A memo about his hiring might not be expected to be totally objective in describing Weigel, but I do agree with this:

“Driven by his own curiosity, he eschews the pack to write and report some of the smartest pieces about how real people perceive their politicians,” Tyrangiel said.

“He loves the far right and the far left–in part for their commitment to their beliefs and in part because there are such great stories there,” Tyrangiel continued. “Dave also radiates a passion for writing that manifests itself in more than just a freakishly intimidating number of bylines. The man knows how to twirl a word and turn a phrase. (Oh, he podcasts, too. His WeigelCast at Slate is a must-listen and we’ll be exploring ways he may pick that up for Bloomberg Politics.)”

David Weigel also has a post at Slate with his reasons on why he is leaving to work at Bloomberg:

Fun beyond description. This is still my favorite magazine, and I’m only leaving it because Bloomberg’s putting together—I will try to avoid corporate-speak—an ambitious political magazine run by the sort of geniuses who made Bloomberg Businessweek into a great print mag, and New York‘s political coverage a daily must-read.