Four years ago tomorrow I sat in a cramp conference room next to a grey poodle named Spike as my honors Political Science professor asked me and my classmates for our predictions about the 2006 Midterm election. I was the only person in my class to state that I believed that the Democrats were going to win the House of Representatives, which was a bold prediction at the time since the consensus felt that the Republicans would be able to maintain a small majority over the Democrats.
My prediction was solely based on my gut feeling and listening to the discontent expressed on television news and radio talk shows. Even though my prediction proved correct, relying on my gut feeling is not something that I like to do a lot because basing one’s decision on their gut feeling can make them prone to being influenced by emotion. When emotion is involved a person can often make the wrong decision by placing more value on their feelings than on the facts. The best way to come up with a prediction is to use data and facts to make an educated guess. This is what I hope to rely on when attempting to forecast the outcome of the 2010 Midterm election. At the end I’ll share with you my gut feeling about what will happen if you’re curious about that…
Before I begin I want to state that I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible when presenting this analysis. I am a registered Republican, but I am more of an independent than a Republican. I do not have much regard for the Republican Party or the Democrat Party because both parties are comprised of politicians who will behave similarly under similar conditions. I am not going to be celebrating if the Republicans win or if the Democrats win because if you strip the party label away from the winner the result is that Americans will have elected politicians.
History and the data suggest that the Democrats are in huge trouble in the 2010 Midterm election. Here are nine major reasons why it is safe to say that Republicans are going to make major strides on Tuesday:
1. Historically, the political party that controls the presidency will lose seats in Congress during a Midterm election regardless of how well or how poorly the country is doing. Therefore, the Democrats would most likely still lose some seats even if the economy was good and voters were happy with Barack Obama. This historical occurrence alone suggests that the Democrats will lose some seats in Congress.
2. The American electorate leans in favor towards the Republicans more now than back in 1994 when voters gave Republicans control of the House of Representatives and the Senate for the first time since the 1950s. Conversely, voters dissociate themselves with the Democrat Party more now than back in 1994. This is a big advantage for the Republicans because the Republicans have more potential voters that it can draw upon to support their candidates than the Democrats.
3. Similarly, a recent poll shows that likely voters prefer a generic Republican candidate over a Democrat candidate by a very wide margin (55% to 40%). Thus, the voters who are likely going to turnout are more likely going to vote Republican than Democrat.
4. Potential Republican voters are far more motivated about the election than potential Democrat voters. Although Republican voters’ interest is near levels seen in other elections, the gap in interest between Republicans and Democrats is unprecedented and extreme. Voter interest is an indicator of voter turnout since people who are uninterested in an election tend to not turnout and people who are interested in an election tend to turnout. Given the Democrats’ lack of enthusiasm, perhaps it is unsurprising that Barack Obama spoke to a half-empty arena when attempting to motivate Democrats to vote this Tuesday.
5. The Democrats will not receive nearly the same level of support they received in 2008 from young voters. A recent Bloomberg story described how young voters are not nearly as motivated to vote in this election like they were in 2008. The reduced voter turnout from young people is somewhat important because although they tend not to vote anyway, young people are a source of support for the Democrats (for instance, Barack Obama’s popularity is disproportionately higher with young voters than older voters).
6. One poll has found that 3 out of 4 Americans believe the country is doing poorly right now. Americans have never been this unhappy during the 30 + years that this polling organization has asked Americans how the country is fairing . Like in the 2008, unhappiness with the direction the country is going in can be a catalyst for change.
7. The U.S. Congress is the most despised institution in the entire country. In fact, polling data shows that people have a higher regard for big business (that includes bankers), unions, and HMOs than Congress. This data suggests that the incumbent party in power is in big trouble since Americans despise the current set of leaders in power. Amazingly, a recent poll revealed that 65% of Americans would replace the entire Congress if they were given the option to do so. Voters are likely going to look to replace those in power when they have the opportunity to do so this Tuesday.
8. Republicans are trusted on a far more number of key issues to voters than the Democrats are. A recent Rasmussen poll showed that Republicans are trusted more than Democrats on eight out of ten key issues including, the economy (the top issue of 2010), taxes, national security, and health care. If voters want to replace Congress so badly it makes more sense for them to empower the party they trust more on the key issues.
9. Finally, the polling data of individual Congressional races suggests that the Republicans will gain a lot of seats in this upcoming election. For instance, polling data compiled by RealClearPolitics suggests that the Republicans will safely win a majority in the House of Representatives and are safely going to gain at least eight seats in the Senate.
All of these factors and more suggest that the Republicans are going to make gigantic gains in the 2010 Midterm Election. The Republicans are very likely going to win control of the House of Representatives and have a reasonable chance to win control of the Senate.
One note of caution: Congressional politics is local in nature. Although the country as a whole leans a certain way, the composition of the House of Representatives is determined by the voters of each of the 435 Congressional districts in the U.S. Similarly, the composition of the Senate is determined by each state (two seats per state). This means that major U.S. political figures like Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank can win reelection with their district’s vote even though they are despised nationally. If the Republicans’ gains fall short of expectations this local nature of Congressional races may be the main reason why.
My gut feeling is that the Republicans will win control of the House of Representatives and win control of the Senate for the following reason:
- In 2006 Americans gave the Democrats control of the House and Senate after they were unhappy with the way the country was going under Republican control of the presidency and the Congress. In 2008 Americans gave the Democrats the presidency and much greater control of the House and Senate after two years of becoming even more discontent with the direction of the country. The dissatisfaction with the direction that the country is heading and the dissatisfaction with the government is even higher now than in 2008. Therefore, it is likely that Americans will repeat what they did in 2006 and 2008, but at an even greater extent. Americans are likely going to punish those in positions of power because they have made the situation worse rather than move the country in the right direction. The Democrats are the party who controls the presidency and both houses of Congress, so they are the scapegoats.
In sum, I expect the American people to give the Republicans another chance to turn the country around. However, this next chance for the Republicans may be their last chance…I’ll fully explain why later the coming days…