If you’ve seen the polls and heard all the hype about the Democrats retaking the House of Representatives this November, bear in mind that there are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies, and statistics. While “generic” (i.e. unnamed) Democrats are polling above “generic” Republicans, actual Republicans, particularly those in the toss-up districts where it counts, are actually beating their Democrat opponents by a slight margin.
Republicans are behind overall – but ahead where it matters
The “generic” polling shows that, nationwide, nameless, faceless Republicans trail their nameless, faceless Democrat opponents. If generic polling is to be believed, Democrats will have no trouble retaking the House, as they boast a sizeable nine-point lead in that area, 53-42.
But so what? How do we know that those highly approving of a “generic Democrat” candidate over a “generic Republican” don’t live in a left-leaning district that wouldn’t have elected a Republican regardless? As it turns out, Democrat enthusiasm really is being wasted in areas that already lean Democrat.
According to ABC News, “inside the 66 districts that are tossups, or only leaning toward one party or the other — the majority makers, or breakers — that lead evaporates into a 46-47 Democrats v. Republicans race.” Democrats need to flip at least 24 seats to take back control of the House. The general consensus that Republicans will have no trouble holding the Senate.
One statistic Republicans need to worry about is how independents vote. According to the same ABC article, When Republicans took back the House in 2010 (with a 61 seat gain), independents favored the Republican Party by a 14 point margin above Democrats. Heading into these midterms, Democrats have that identical 14 point lead against Republicans. Then again, that may not be as scary as it seems for two reasons. One, voter turnout rates are variable. Nearly 37% of independents turned out to vote in the 2010 midterms, and that could change. Second, we don’t know the districts in which those independents reside (meaning, they could live in Democrat districts).
Regardless, as you’ve already seen, even with independents favoring Democrats by a 14 point margin, Republicans are still a point ahead overall in the actual contested races.
The national GOP is far outperforming Democrats financially. Every month this year the RNC has doubled the DNC’s fundraising. As of July, the RNC brought in over $227.2 million and has no debt, while the DNC has $6 million in debt.
However, Democrats have raised $252 million towards the most competitive House races as of October 15th, while Republicans raised $172 million.
Still, spending isn’t necessarily a predictor of success. Generally speaking, the candidate that raises more money doesn’t win the election because of the money they raised – it’s that they were more popular from the outset, leading to them raising more money (but would’ve won regardless). So with that in mind, it is worth noting that money isn’t a sign of popularity in these midterms. Consider the case of Beto O’Rourke running against Ted Cruz in the Senate. While O’Rourke is dominating Cruz in fundraising, having brought in $38 million to Cruz’s $12 million, most of O’Rourke’s donations are from out of State (i.e. by people who can’t even vote for him). So despite doubling Cruz in the fundraising tally, Cruz is leading O’Rourke by seven points in the polls.
But enough speculating….
We all remember Hillary Clinton dominating Donald Trump in the polls up until Election Day. She was the “inevitable next President” – until she wasn’t. Regardless of what the polls say, get out and vote!