Midweek midterm elections update for June 13th
Bottom Line: We're up to our 19th midterm election update. Here's what history tells us about midterm elections:
Since the advent of the current two-party system (39 midterm elections) we've averaged the President's party losing 4 Senate seats and 30 seats in the House. If that happens this year Democrats would retake control of both chambers of Congress. Democrats only need to flip two Senate seats to retake control and they need 24 seats in the House. History is on the side of the Democrats reclaiming control going into this cycle.
There are only three times that the incumbent President's party has gained seats (1934 during FDR's first term, 1998 during Bill Clinton's second term and 2002 during George W. Bush's first term) thus only 3 out of 39 midterm elections have resulted in the President's party gaining seats. Here's another way of looking at it... History suggests there's a 92% chance Democrats will gain Congressional seats this year. The question becomes how many. That's where it's helpful to look at the history of generic ballot polls and outcomes. These are the past four cycles:
The first number is the average generic ballot polling on Election Day and the second is the actual result:
2014: GOP +2.4 - GOP +5.7 = GOP +3.3%
2010: GOP +9.4 - GOP +6.8 = GOP -2.6%
2006: DEM +11.5 - DEM +7.9 = DEM -3.6%
2002: GOP +1.7 - GOP +4.6 = GOP +2.9%
Polls average being off by about 3% - however history has shown that the party with a generic ballot advantage has always performed the best in the midterm elections. This is analogous to a "home field advantage" and represents about a third of the picture when attempting to determine the likely outcome of elections. As of today, the generic ballot says (average of accredited polling over the past week)...
Current: DEM: +8%
This is a huge swing back in favor of Democrats this week. In fact, by gaining 5 points on the generic ballot over the past week, Democrats just posted the most significant one week move yet in this cycle and hold their largest advantage in right at two months. On Friday I mentioned that as we've crossed the halfway mark in the primary season we were starting to see the political landscape become a bit more typically partisan – rather than being driven by news of the day – which had generally been the case previously. That would seem to hold true with the movement this week on the generic ballot. This lead is a meaningful one for Democrats were they able to hold it by November.
Democrats have led on the generic ballot by an average of 3% to 12% thus far in 2018. Anything in the 8%+ range would likely produce a "wave" type of election. Anything in the 4% or under range would likely result in Republicans retaining complete control. At 8%, based on current data from this cycle, Democrats would be positioned to pick up 28+ seats in the US House and two seats in the Senate. A big change from the prospect of Republicans holding both chambers last week. One week doesn't make a trend so will the economic positivity and the historic North Korean accord help Republicans generally? Until next week...