Don’t bet on a Democratic wave

Don’t bet on a Democratic wave
Image: YouTube screen grab (via Hillary Clinton)

Polit­ic­al pros are watch­ing for, and some­times pre­dict­ing, a wave elec­tion. When Don­ald Trump’s numbers col­lapsed in Oc­to­ber as a slew of sexu­al-mis­con­duct al­leg­a­tions emerged, Re­pub­lic­an strategists had a col­lect­ive pan­ic at­tack. Even though polls showed GOP con­gres­sion­al can­did­ates main­tain­ing their dis­tance from the top of the tick­et, Re­pub­lic­an strategists ex­pec­ted the bot­tom to fall out. Demo­crats, mean­while, are op­tim­ist­ic that their su­per­i­or ground game will make the dif­fer­ence in nu­mer­ous close races. The Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port upped its Sen­ate out­look to a Demo­crat­ic gain of five to sev­en Sen­ate seats—with the up­per end of that pro­jec­tion mean­ing Demo­crats would win every toss-up race.

But the ex­pect­a­tions of a wave that would sweep out every en­dangered Re­pub­lic­an and put the GOP’s hold on the House at risk look a bit pre­ma­ture. Right now, the pre­pon­der­ance of evid­ence points to a good Demo­crat­ic year, not a great one. Na­tion­al and state polls show Trump nar­row­ing Clin­ton’s ad­vant­age, with Re­pub­lic­an par­tis­ans re­turn­ing to the GOP fold. The latest gen­er­ic bal­lot polling gives Demo­crats a stat­ist­ic­ally in­sig­ni­fic­ant ad­vant­age—up 1 in a re­cent ABC/Wash­ing­ton Postpoll, up 2 in the Fox News poll. These aren’t the num­bers that fore­shad­ow a par­tis­an sweep. The Demo­crats’ biggest Sen­ate su­per PAC is even pour­ing a late in­vest­ment of $3 mil­lion in­to the Wis­con­sin Sen­ate race, which looked like a sure­fire Demo­crat­ic pickup for months.

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