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.