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Will the 2014 midterms be a wave election?

December 17, 2013, at 1:10 PM

As Republicans shut down the federal government in early October and took a pummeling in the opinion polls, many Democrats started to talk about the possibility — even the likelihood — that they would take back control of the House of Representatives.

But that narrative crashed as quickly as Healthcare.gov. Republicans said they were vindicated that the Affordable Care Act didn't work and that the federal government had no business running a health care exchange. They started counting the Senate seats they would win by hanging the issue around the necks of Democratic incumbents.

Who's right?

Political Wire recently talked to political scientist John Sides about his new forecasting model for the 2014 midterm elections. It’s based on historical data going back to 1952 and uses both national indicators and district-level data.

Sides sees no big wave coming and only a small shift of seats in the House, most likely to the Republican side of the aisle. One reason for that: There just aren’t enough toss up seats that Republicans have a chance to win. They won most of those seats during the 2010 wave that brought them control of the House.

Sides acknowledges that it’s early and the result may change in the coming months. But he points out that this type of electoral forecasting doesn’t overreact to news stories like the government shutdown or the bungled ObamaCare rollout. It's an important lesson for anyone reading political news.

Listen to the whole interview. It’s fascinating.

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