It’s been a while since I wrote on IOTW Report, but I’m happy to say that I will be doing a liveblog Tuesday of the Mid-Terms and have authored a (very) lengthy write-up of the House and Senate races. I’ll be publishing the predictions in five parts, with my predictions for the Senate coming out Monday night (or possibly Tuesday morning). Before you continue, though, I’d like to point out that these predictions are not necessarily what I hope will happen, but more of what I expect to happen.
I will be predicting about 30 different House races, state by state, district by district. To understand the logic behind my predictions, please read this paragraph and the two that follow. Otherwise, feel free to jump straight to my predictions! When it comes to my specific predictions for final vote percentages, I’ll not only be using polls complied by FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics, but I’ll be looking at voting data from 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 in order to compare generic ballots, but also the actual results compared to polls, fundraising numbers, favorability numbers, and more.
There are two major diverging theories that I’m applying to the predictions herein. The first I call the “Blue Wave” theory, which posits that Democrats and Never Trumpers, still upset over the election of Donald Trump, will turn out in droves, pushing their party toward victory. The second theory is what I call the “Red Wall” theory, which argues that Republicans and some independents are thoroughly disgusted by Democrats’ handling of the Kavanaugh nomination, as well as other issues, to the point that they meet (or come near) the enthusiasm gap Democrats have had in the run-up to the election, causing the GOP to stave off defeat in multiple races across the country.
Both the Blue Wave and Red Wall theories are possible on Tuesday and, until the vote actually takes place, it’s difficult to say which will have more effect on the electorate. Because of that, each race that I detail below will have two results: one for each of the different theories. As the night continues election night, you will likely be able to predict later races based on the bell weather races that report early, and prove one theory or the other. I do expect Democrats to make gains in the House, however, but how many is a little tougher to nail down.
I’ll be both predicting the total House and Senate totals based on the two theories, but I’m going to do a deep-dive on 31 different House races and predict them individually, specifically the following: CA10, CA25, CA39, CA45, CA48, FL15, FL26, FL27, IA3, IL6, KS2, KY6, ME2, MI8, MI11, MN1, MN7, NC9, NC13, NJ3, NM2, NV3, NY19, NY22, PA1, TX7, TX32, UT4, VA5, VA7, and WA8. I’ll also be looking at the Senate races in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.
Here are my predictions:
The House of Representatives:
If Blue Wave theory holds: Democrats take the House, 234-201
If Red Wall theory holds: Republicans retain control of House, 225-210
District by District Predictions:
California 10, Jeff Denham, incumbent (R) vs Josh Harder (D):
Back in 2014, Jeff Denham won this race handily, defeating Michael Eggman by nearly 13 points. In 2016, in which Donald Trump won the Presidency, Denham’s win margin was drastically reduced, with him beating Eggman again, but this time by less than 5 points. Headwinds seem to point to a better year for Democrats, particularly compared to 2014, but also compared to 2016. If Denham wins, that would be a complete disaster for Democrats, with this race being one of the most “winnable” toss-ups.
Republicans are also working with lower fundraising totals than Democrats in the district. Harder has raised nearly three million dollars more than Denham. That’s problematic from a name recognition standpoint for an incumbent, who normally has a drastic advantage in that category. Massive ad buys from Harder is likely going to force Denham on his heels. I would be shocked if Democrats lose CA10 in a “Blue Wave,” but only marginally surprised should they lose in a “Red Wall” scenario. That said, with Harder’s cash advantage, I think he has the edge either way.
Red Wall vote: Harder (D) wins, 50.2 to 49.8
Blue Wave vote: Harder (D) wins, 54 to 46
California 25, Stephen Knight (R), incumbent, vs. Katie Hill (D):
In 2014, Steve Knight defeated another Republican (Tony Strickland) to win CA25. Two years later, Knight defeated Bryan Caforio by over seven points. Polls, as with most of these toss-up districts have been mixed. But as with most close Congressional races, Democrats are drastically out-fundraising their Republican opponent. In this case, Katie Hill has raised over seven million dollars, with over a million still on hand, while Knight has raised almost 2.5 million, with less than $400,000 on hand. This drastically cuts into Knight’s advantage in name recognition, but likely his get-out-the-vote ground game. Still, with a sizeable win in 2016, Knight has an advantage, should Republican turnout stay relatively high.
Red Wall vote: Knight (R) wins, 52-48
Blue Wave vote: Hill (D) wins, 53-47
California 39, Young Kim (R) vs. Gil Cisneros (D):
In 2016, Edward Royce (R) crushed his Democrat opponent Brett Murdock by 14 points. In 2014, Royce won by 37 points. Suffice it to say that California 39 should be an easy win for Republicans. And yet, now that Royce has decided to retire, the seat is considered in-play for either party. Cisneros is obliterating Kim in fundraising, having raised over four times as much cash and still having over $200,000 on hand more in the closing days of the campaign. This gives Cisneros a fighting chance if there is indeed a Blue Wave. Otherwise, it’s Kim’s race to lose.
Red Wall vote: Kim (R) wins, 55-45
Blue Wave vote: Cisneros (D) wins, 52-48
California 45, Mimi Walters (R), incumbent, vs. Katie Porter (D):
In 2016, Mimi Walters cruised to victory over Ron Varasteh, crushing him by over 17 points. In 2014, it was even worse for Democrats, with Walters getting nearly double the votes of Drew Leavens. A poll released last month by the New York Times showed, that likely voters in CA45 were split almost evenly between their feelings (favorable vs. unfavorable) toward Walters. Porter, on the other hand, had a large advantage in her favorability, with 41% of respondents liking her and only 24% with an unfavorable attitude.
Porter is a staunch liberal who is also a professor of law. With a slight fundraising advantage over Walters, Porter has been able to frame herself as a reasonable liberal; ironically, that voters of the district didn’t really know Porter before this election is to her advantage, as she has been able to portray herself as favorably as possible to an electorate who didn’t really know who she was a year ago.
Red Wall vote: Walters (R) wins, 53-47
Blue Wave vote: Porter (D) wins, 53-47
California 48, Dana Rohrabacher (R), incumbent, vs. Harley Rouda (D):
Rohrabacher has represented California’s 48th Congressional District since 2013, but has been a member of the House since 1989. In 2016, he crushed Suzanne Savary by nearly 17 points; that was down from 2014, when he beat Savary by 28 points. In 2012, he defeated Ron Varasteh (who lost to Mimi Walters in 2016) by 22 points. Rohrabacher, clearly, has dominated his opponents, blowing them out in every election he’s had in the 48th. And yet, Rouda has not only a chance, but a good one. Rouda has almost tripled Rohrabacher’s fundraising, and has had more PAC ad-buys in his favor than against (though both sides have spent millions in the district). If there is a Blue Wave, Rohrabacher is not looking good. If there is a Red Wall, Rohrabacher will likely live to fight another day.
Red Wall vote: Rohrabacher (R) wins, 52-48
Blue Wave vote: Porter (D) wins, 54-46
Florida 15, Ross Spano (R) vs. Kristen Carlson (D):
In 2016, Dennis Ross cruised to reelection by defeating Jim Lange by 15 points. In 2014, Ross crushed Alan Cohn by over 20 points. However, in April Rep. Ross announced that he would not seek reelection, handing Democrats a major opportunity. It’s a fairly heavy Republican-leaning district, but as with other Congressional races, the Democrat has massively out-raised the Republican in the race. Published polls in the race have also resulted in a statistical tie. On election night, this is, without a doubt, a bell weather race to watch. If either of the candidates is up big on election night, it will be a long night for the other party. If the vote is very close, it might still be a long night for Republicans; Democrats should not be very competitive in districts that are this red.
Red Wall vote: Spano (R) wins, 55-45
Blue Wave vote: Carlson (D) wins, 52-48
Florida 26, Carlos Curbelo (R), incumbent, vs. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D):
In 2016, in the newly redistricted FL26, Curbelo defeated Joe Garcia by nearly 12 points. In 2014, Curbelo defeated Garcia as well in FL26, but that was before it was redrawn and, in that election, Garcia was the incumbent. In 2016, Curbelo took a tough stance against then-candidate Trump, implying he was similar to Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
In this year’s race, Curbelo is one of the rare Republicans with a fundraising advantage. Curbelo has out-raised Mucarsel-Powell by almost precisely one million dollars. However, both Republican and Democrat PACs have dumped millions into the race. The Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee has spent over three million dollars on the race, while the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has spent nearly 2.5 million. The race is awash in cash. Curbelo is seen favorably by a margin of eight in his electorate, but Mucarsel-Powell is seen favorably by a margin of 15. It’s a question of turnout and whether Mucarsel-Powell has the name recognition to garner enough votes and whether Curbelo’s occasional tough stances against Trump come back to hurt him.
Red Wall vote: Curbelo (R) wins, 51.7-48.3
Blue Wave vote: Mucarsel-Powell (D) wins, 51.5-48.5
Florida 27, Maria Salazar (R) vs. Donna Shalala (D) vs. Mayra Joli (I):
This race made waves a month ago when Maria Salazar polled ahead of then-favorite Donna Shalala. In 2016, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen defeated Scott Fuhrman by nearly 10 points (after FL27 was redistricted, like FL26), won unopposed in 2014, and won by over 24 points in 2012. This year, however, Ros-Lehtinen announced she would not run for reelection.
While Salazar has a fighting chance, a third-party candidate may play spoiler in the race, regardless of a Red Wall or Blue Wave vote. Mayra Joli is likely to siphon thousands of votes from Salazar, who is already contending with being out-raised by Shalala over 2-1. Both Salazar and Shalala have high-favorability ratings, but Salazar is facing an uphill battle no matter what.
Red Wall vote: Shalala (D) wins, 49.4-48.3-2.3
Blue Wave vote: Shalala (D) wins, 57-41-2
Please check back tomorrow for parts 2, 3, and 4!