The race for control of the U.S. Senate dominated news coverage of the midterm elections. This is not surprising. The polls are plentiful, with so many personalities, and we have a good idea of the race to decide which party wins the majority.
The race for the U.S. House of Representatives, however, could be the more interesting one. Last week, our CNN/SSRS poll showed Democrats leading the general congressional vote by 3 percentage points—within the margin of error, close to the most recent polling average, which suggests that the votes were roughly the same across parties. For reference, in the past two midterm elections (2010 and 2014), Republicans have led the general vote.
Control of the House would be a toss up if the current tie on the common ballot holds up in a House vote. In fact, many, myself included, have taken note of the possibility of House Democrats maintaining their majority.
But few nonpartisan analysts think it’s possible. Most admit that Republicans will be able to retake the House of Representatives in this election.
I would make the argument, though, that we underestimated the potential of Republican Night. The possibility of a Republican blowout is where we start to look at political week.
Six months ago, a big Republican victory in the House seemed most likely. Republicans are doing better on the average congressional vote than at any time in post-election history. Since then, a string of events, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade, appeared to tip the scales in favor of Democrats.
However, looking at some non-poll numbers and fundamentals, we shouldn’t ignore the possibility of a big Republican victory next month.
Let’s start with the House Race Rating. These are the races assigned to individual districts by places like the Cook Political Report and internal elections based on a range of factors, including past voting patterns in those districts and internal polling data.
I’ve collected all final House rating data from Cook since 2000 — specifically the number of races rated “toss” or “leaning” a party before the election. Overall, these ratings turned out to be accurate in telling the story of the House election.
When a side has more races in those two names, it tends to underperform. Currently, Democrats hold 23 more seats than Republicans in both the swing and tilt categories, according to Cook. In addition, four Democratic seats were rated “likely” to switch to Republicans.
Given the small but fairly consistent trend among Republicans since 2000 of slightly better than racial ratings, that would translate into a net gain of 26 Republican seats next month. That would give Republicans about 239 seats in total.
Even without factoring in past GOP stellar performances, the current racial rating would still translate into an eventual net gain of 17 Republican seats, for a total of 230 seats.
That fits with what Amy Walter, publisher of the Cook Political Report, noted in a recent analysis: One side tends to take most of the toss-up. And that side has been the party outside the White House, going back to the 2006 midterm elections.
While it’s fair to say that Republicans gaining 230 House seats won’t be a “wave” as they enter the election with a relatively high baseline, 230 seats would be on par with what Republicans ultimately won after the historic 1994 midterm elections. The same numbers when they ended 50 years of unbroken Democratic control of the House of Representatives.
When it comes to the 1994 election, President Joe Biden’s average approval rating going into this midterm (43 percent) is lower than Bill Clinton’s average going into the 1994 midterms (45 percent). In fact, Biden’s approval rating is roughly in line with that of recent presidents (43% average).
Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump all averaged between 43% and 45% in their first terms. Their parties both lost a net 40 to 63 seats in the House of Representatives. The opposition ended up winning between 230 and 242 seats.
That’s the range of House seats that racial ratings indicate Republicans are most likely to hold after this election. (Among recent presidents, only George W. Bush has a higher average approval rating of 62 percent. His party won a House seat in 2002.)
Yes, other factors, most prominently the common vote, suggest House Democrats will do better.
But as I pointed out last week, universal voting is far from a perfect predictor. If the general vote remains the same in the election and House Republicans do as much as they did in 2020, they will likely end up winning between 230 and 242 House seats.
FiveThirtyEight and Jack Kersting’s election model, based on a range of variables, gives Republicans about a one-third chance of ending up with at least 230 seats. That’s still better than either model giving Democrats or a chance to retain the House.
When it comes to Democrats in trouble, the last place you want them to be in trouble is Oregon. This is a state Biden has won by 16 points in 2020.
So why is the president in the state on Friday and Saturday? That’s because it’s a rare dark blue state where Republicans have a good chance of securing the governorship, as well as some U.S. House seats.
There are many reasons why Christine Drazan was the first Republican elected governor of Oregon in 40 years.
Most notably, Democrat-turned-independent Betsy Johnson appears to be draining votes from Democratic nominee Tina Kotke. While Johnson not only took over from Kotek, her voters were more likely to identify as Democrats than Republicans.
Johnson’s presence in the race means Derazan may need just 40 percent of the vote to win, not close to a majority.
But Oregon’s tight gubernatorial race isn’t just about Johnson. Kotek is seeking to replace the Democratic governor. Term-limited Kate Brown. Brown is one of the least popular governors in the country, hit by rising homelessness and the cost of living.
Kotek himself has also been portrayed as too liberal.
Drazan, on the other hand, managed to escape a larger charge levied this year against other Republicans running for governor of blue states. She is firmly in the camp that believes Biden can legitimately win the 2020 election.
This makes it harder to portray Drazan as too extreme.
Republicans are also seeking success on the ballot in Oregon. Election hurdles agree that the race for the 5th Congressional District is fierce. Biden could have won the seat by 9 percentage points under the redistricted line, but the GOP’s chances rose significantly after the House of Representatives. Kurt Schrader was defeated by a more liberal challenger in the Democratic primary.
Analysts are more divided on Oregon’s Fourth District and the newly formed Sixth District. But almost everyone agrees that the former is at least working, and the latter is easily won by Republicans.
If Republicans hold on to the rural 2nd district as expected and win one of three contested districts, it would mark their first two House seats in Oregon in nearly 30 years. If they win two of those seats and the second district, it will be the first time in nearly 50 years that they have won at least half of Oregon’s House of Representatives.
Bottom line: Republicans only need five seats nationwide to win back their House majority, and Oregon could get more than half of those seats.
Monday (the working day closest to October 16th) is Boss’s Day. I know the stereotype is that people hate their bosses. They even made a really funny movie about it.
However, the data showed something different. Gallup has polled people’s opinion of their bosses since 1999, and most people actually give their bosses an A-OK.
For example, in 2021, 63% of Americans say they are completely satisfied with their current boss. This is tied with the highest percentage since 1999 (with 2020). This is significantly higher than the 47% who expressed complete satisfaction in 1999.
Add in Americans who are somewhat satisfied with their bosses (25%), and nearly 90% of Americans are satisfied. Meanwhile, only 2 percent of Americans are completely dissatisfied with their bosses.
Solemnly declare, I like my boss. (Yes, I am a terrible person.)
Solar usage rises: The percentage of Americans who say they have installed solar panels in their home is as high as 8%. That percentage doubled from 4 percent in 2016 and 6 percent in 2019, according to the Pew Research Center.
Covid-19 vaccination rates steady in nursing homes: The percentage of nursing home residents and staff who have been vaccinated or received boosters has remained largely unchanged over several months, an analysis of government data by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows. About 87% of residents and 88% of staff received the primary series, while 74% of residents and 51% of staff received at least one booster immunization.
News of layoffs plummets: Only 11% of major newspapers will cut jobs in 2021. That’s down from 33 percent in 2020 and 24 percent in 2019, Pew found. In digital-native media, 3% of jobs will be cut in 2021. This is down from 18% in 2020 and 11% in 2019.