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midterm mania
November 5, 2018

Democrats' chances of making major gains in the House are looking better than ever.

On Monday, the Cook Political Report moved nine House races towards the Democrats. This includes Pennsylvania's 10th District, where the race between incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Perry and Democratic challenger George Scott has moved from "lean Republican" to "toss-up." Polls in this race have shown Perry with a very slight edge over Scott.

Meanwhile, the race in Georgia's 6th District has also become a toss-up after previously being listed as "lean Republican." This is the race between Republican Rep. Karen Handel and Democrat Lucy McBath — a recent New York Times survey gave McBath a two-point advantage.

In two other races, the Cook Political Report still favors the Republicans but now predicts that Democrats have a better shot: both Florida's 25th District and Michigan's 6th District have moved from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican." Those two districts are currently represented by Republicans. Washington's 8th District, where an incumbent Republican is vacating his seat, has also moved from toss-up to "lean Democratic."

On the eve of the election, the Report has listed 28 seats as likely or leaning Democratic, and 30 as toss-ups. Democrats, who now have a 13-point lead on the generic congressional ballot, need only end Tuesday night with a net gain of 23 seats in order to take control of the House. Still, some forecasters are warning that the so-called blue wave is far from certain, with FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver noting that Republicans keeping control of the House is still "extremely possible." Brendan Morrow

November 2, 2018

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) does not look to be in great shape four days ahead of the midterm elections.

A poll released Friday by Emerson College shows Walker's Democratic opponent, Tony Evers, in the lead by five points among likely voters, with Evers capturing 51 percent support and Walker earning 46 percent. Although this is quite close, some slight good news for Walker is that this is down from a seven-point lead Evers maintained in an Emerson poll from July, and a 10-point lead in an NBC News/Marist poll from last month.

Still, the results demonstrate that Walker is dangerously close to being voted out of office — his unfavorable rating in the survey is 50 percent. The best poll Walker has seen in the past few months has still only shown him up by one point, while Evers has maintained a lead of between two and 13 points in others. The Cook Political Report classifies this race as a tossup, while FiveThirtyEight gives Evers a 60.2 percent chance of defeating the two-term governor.

The Emerson College poll was conducted by speaking to 604 likely voters from Oct. 29 to Oct. 31. The margin of error is +/- 4.1 percentage points. Brendan Morrow

October 23, 2018

Two weeks ahead of a likely tight election, Democrats' lead over Republicans in battleground districts has narrowed slightly, but there's at least one area where they've retained a decisive advantage.

A new Washington Post-Schar School poll of likely voters in 69 battleground districts found that of the 10 percent who have an unfavorable view of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, about 6 in 10 prefer the Democratic candidates in their area. This 15-point advantage for the Democrats is a shift from 2014, when the Republicans had a 17-point advantage among battleground district voters who dislike both parties. Republicans that year ended up with their largest House majority since 1928.

These voters could be key, as all signs are pointing to a close election. Democrats overall have a slim three-point advantage over Republicans in this poll of battleground districts, which falls within the margin of error. That lead is down slightly from a Washington Post poll conducted earlier this month, in which Democrats had a four-point advantage.

The Democratic Party is looking to gain 23 seats in order to take the majority in the House. At the moment, they are favored to do so, while Republicans are expected to maintain control of the Senate.

This poll was conducted by speaking to 1,545 registered voters, including 1,269 likely voters, in battleground districts online or over the phone from Oct. 15 through Oct. 21. The margin of error is 3 percentage points. See more results at The Washington Post. Brendan Morrow

October 12, 2018

Republicans all over the country are uniting around two common enemies: Hillary Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Pelosi may only be up for re-election in her northern California congressional district, but that hasn't stopped Republican campaigns and political groups from airing her face thousands of times in political ads over the past 30 days, reports Politico. Perennial GOP boogey-woman Hillary Clinton has joined Pelosi as a co-star in many of these ads, despite not running for any public office.

All told, Pelosi and Clinton have been featured in close to 100 ads that have aired more than 34,000 times in the past month, Politico's analysis found. Republican campaigns and organizations have thrown $28.4 million into the anti-Pelosi and anti-Clinton political messaging in the last 30 days. The ads deride Democratic candidates as "Hillary-supporting" and in favor of Pelosi's radical "San Francisco values," and tie Clinton's "liberal Hollywood elitist" pals to candidates everywhere from Nevada to West Virginia.

The practice is nothing new — GOP operatives return to the strategy year after year because it's effective. Republicans "are genetically predisposed to detest Nancy Pelosi, and Hillary is not far behind," GOP strategist Ana Navarro said. But others worry that the attack ads may not strike the right tone in a year with a record number of female candidates and an unprecedented gender gap that forecasts a strong shift left among women. Democrats like Sue Dvorsky, former Iowa Democratic Party chair, thinks it will backfire. "We've got 30,000 women running nationwide and they're still running against Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton," she said. "Is that the best they've got?" Read more at Politico. Summer Meza

October 9, 2018

Democrats are polling well with just under one month until the midterm elections.

On a generic congressional ballot, 54 percent of likely voters say they'd support the Democrat in their district, while 41 percent would vote for a Republican, a CNN/SSRS poll published Tuesday found.

The same poll found that last month, 52 percent supported Democrats, and 42 percent supported Republicans. Though the shift is small, it could help quell Democratic fears that recent opposition to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh will hurt the party's odds.

It's the widest margin of support for Democrats in the midterms since 2006, CNN notes, which is when Democrats last took control of the House. Enthusiasm is also sky high — 62 percent of Democrats say they are extremely or very enthusiastic to vote, compared to 55 percent last month. Republicans, meanwhile, are more tempered: 52 percent feel extremely or very enthusiastic, while 50 percent felt the same way last month.

There are major differences between genders, however. Women are not only more enthusiastic about voting this year, unlike in 2010 when men were, but they are notably more likely to vote for Democrats. Sixty-three percent of women said they would vote blue; just 34 percent said they'd vote for a Republican. Meanwhile, 50 percent of men say they'd vote for a Republican; and 45 percent would support a Democrat.

The poll was conducted Oct. 4-7, reaching 1,009 adults reached by phone. The margin of error is 3.8 percentage points. See more results at CNN. Summer Meza

October 9, 2018

Democrats' odds of winning the Senate are down to one in five, a FiveThirtyEight forecast found on Tuesday.

Republicans have a 79 percent chance of retaining their majority in the Senate, the analysis concluded, up from 67 percent just a few weeks ago.

Pundits largely predict that the midterm elections will flip the House over to Democratic control, but the Senate is less likely to change come November. That's partly because lawmakers in red states are losing ground; for example, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) has seen her numbers decline for months. Democrats in Indiana and Missouri are also losing popularity, making it more likely that Republicans could unseat the incumbents.

In states that aren't so deeply Republican, like Florida and Arizona, Democrats have better odds. But because November's Senate map favors the GOP, there's simply insufficient blue or purple state races for Democrats to make up for losses in red states.

FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver says it's hard to find any one reason for the Democrats' slump: It could be the recent battle over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, or it could be President Trump's endorsement of Republicans. Instead of merely winning some toss-up races, Democrats would now need to win several long-shot seats to have a chance at flipping the Senate.

See more predictions about the midterms at FiveThirtyEight, and read more about the fairly certain Republican majority here at The Week. Summer Meza

October 8, 2018

President Trump may want to start tempering expectations for a so-called "red wave" in the November midterms.

A new poll released Monday shows that among likely voters, Democrats have the advantage in 69 battleground districts that will determine who controls the House of Representatives for the next two years, per The Washington Post. Voters in these districts were asked whether they favor the specific Republican or Democratic candidate running for the House, and 50 percent chose the Democrat while 46 percent chose the Republican.

Although this is only a four-point lead, it's concerning for the GOP considering in 2016, Republicans held a 15-point advantage in these districts; voters back then favored the Republican candidate 56 percent compared to just 41 percent for the Democratic candidate. It's also a concern for them because only six of the districts included in this poll are held by Democrats right now, while 63 are currently held by Republicans, and President Trump won 48 of them in the 2016 election. Even just specifically looking at the districts that Trump won, Democrats there still have a one-point advantage over Republicans, 48 percent to 47 percent.

The GOP will lose its majority in the House of Representatives if Democrats can manage to gain 23 seats. FiveThirtyEight currently estimates that Democrats have a 73.9 percent chance of doing so just that.

The Washington Post's poll was conducted by reaching 2,672 likely voters over computers, mobile devices, tablets, and phones from Sept. 19 through Oct. 5. The margin of error is +/- 2 percentage points. Read the full results at The Washington Post. Brendan Morrow

October 1, 2018

Scandal might just be killing Sen. Bob Menendez's (D-N.J.) chances at re-election.

The Democrat is running for a third term representing a solidly blue state that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016. On paper, it's a slam dunk win. Yet he's still in a statistical tie with Republican challenger Bob Hugin, a Stockton University poll released Monday reveals.

Menendez claimed 42.6 percent of likely voters in the Stockton poll, while Hugin got 41.9 percent. That's well within the poll's 4.25 percent margin of error, and a far closer gap than the 6-point lead Menendez had in a Quinnipiac poll two months ago. It's also not a good sign that about 53 percent of surveyed voters found Menendez either "somewhat" or "very unfavorable." Just 21 percent of respondents found Hugin very unfavorable, though 41 percent said they weren't familiar with the Republican.

Here's the problem for Democrats: Menendez was slammed with corruption charges in 2015 for allegedly using his Senate seat for financial gain. Federal prosecutors said Menendez provided government favors to a wealthy friend in exchange for campaign donations and luxury vacations. The 11-week trial ended in a mistrial, but the Senate Ethic Committee "severely admonished" Menendez earlier this year, and he is set to be retried. Republicans have eagerly made it an issue in the New Jersey campaign.

Nearly 60 percent of surveyed voters say Menendez's corruption charges were an "extremely important" or "significant" factor in deciding who they'd vote for. Cook Political Report still has the New Jersey seat slated as a likely victory for Menendez, but these new poll numbers make Democrats' chances of flipping the Senate seem even slimmer.

Stockton interviewed 531 likely New Jersey voters via cell phone and landline from Sept. 19-27. Kathryn Krawczyk

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