Sunday, November 16, 2014

If it looks like it's a Republican year, it is

The biggest lesson is if you know something to be true, then it is. We knew what the climate would be. None of us predicted a Republican wave this big, but we knew that you based on electorate a mid-term race will improve by 2-3 points from a Presidential year. A Republican who loses by 1 in a Presidential year will win by 1-2 in a mid-term. We knew that the second fundamental, a Democratic President with a low approval rating, would also push the races further right. A President with a high approval rating might be able to overcome it, but even then it's tough. Presidents do poorly in mid-terms except in extraordinary circumstances.

If you've been reading this blog for a while then you know that I've been yelling the pollsters were using too high a turnout and doing so was skewing the electorate Democratic. All evidence suggested low turnout, but the problem was that pollsters screwed up in 2012 and underestimated Democratic turn out. So they overcompensated. That wasn't smart. Those lessons are better for the next Presidential election, not a mid-term.

Democrats told us that the polls were skewed against them in 2012. Their turnout machine would change the electorate to Presidential year demographics. Some people were swayed instead of realizing that pollsters change their model each cycle, especially after a bad year. The Democrats' Bannock Street project wasn't really going to change things. I'm sure they got some people to vote that might not have and they may have made some races closer. As anyone who has ever done GOTV knows, you can get people who want to vote to go to the polls, but there's nothing you can say or do to get people who don't want to vote to go. GOTV works a lot better in high turnout Presidential elections, as people want to vote. GOTV can make sure they don't forget.

Since we knew that this was going to be a GOP year, we shouldn't have been fooled by Georgia and Kentucky senate polls showing those races close. As Nate Cohn told us over a year ago and six months ago, a sitting Republican senator in a red state isn't going to lose in a Republican year. The GOP wasn't going to lose an open seat in a red state either. So Michelle Nunn in Georgia may have been a frog who could turn into a princess but this was a Republican year. There was going to be no prince.

I predicted the three House seats Republicans would lose. The GOP lost CA-31 because it was too Democratic and Sutherland (Fl-2) and Terry (NE-2) ran terrible campaigns. Right now Republicans have won 10 districts by 6% or less. Nine of those were held by Democrats. The 10th was WV-2, an open seat. The smallest margin by a Republican incumbent who didn't screw up his campaign was Dan Benishek's 6.9% win in MI-1. Democrats weren't going to win AR-2 no matter what the polls said.

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