Is The House of Representatives in play for the Democrats in 2016?

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Is The House of Representatives in play for the Democrats in 2016?



The Odds of a Democratic Sweep Next Month Are Small But Rising

Aside from the strong possibility that Trump’s odds of becoming president have dropped to near zero (barring additional crazy developments), the evolving shape of the presidential race could obviously affect down-ballot contests. It is no accident that the “exodus” of Republicans disclaiming or rescinding support for Trump after the video came out included the Republican candidates in two of the nation’s closest Senate races: Joe Heck in Nevada and Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire. Given the prevailing high levels of straight-ticket voting, both these and other GOP Senate candidates in close races (e.g., Richard Burr in North Carolina, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, and Todd Young in Indiana) could be in serious trouble if Trump falls far behind nationally. A presidential landslide could put GOP-held seats in Florida and Missouri at risk as well.

With Democrats only needing a net gain of four seats (plus the tie-breaking vice-presidency, of course) to take control of the upper chamber, the odds of that happening have gone up significantly, and with it the likelihood that Clinton as president would be able to have her executive-branch and judicial appointments confirmed (including those to the Supreme Court, assuming, as one should, that Democrats will be willing to abolish the right to filibuster those nominations).

But if Trump’s loss of support is toward the high end of the likely range of developments, and if he does not rebound, then for the first time in months the possibility of Democrats winning the net 31 House seats they need for control of that chamber will become a serious topic of discussion.

What kind of advantage would Democrats need to pull off that coup? It’s not entirely clear. One useful benchmark is the 2006 election where Democrats won the national popular vote for the House by 8 percent and made a net gain of 31 seats, 15 more than they needed for control. But that was prior to the last decennial redistricting round, in which Republicans entrenched so many House seats that they held onto a 16-seat majority despite losing the national popular vote by 1.2 percent.

During an extensive discussion at Vox on the math of House Democratic prospects, Jeff Stein quotes congressional election specialist Geoffrey Skelley suggesting a six-point Clinton win would put the House “in play.” By that he means Clinton would carry about 50 House districts currently controlled by Republicans, which should give the Democratic candidates in those districts a crucial advantage. It might not be enough to flip the House, however, in part because some districts have relatively weak Democratic challengers running against well-financed and even popular GOP incumbents, and in part because it’s unclear what Gary Johnson voters will do in down-ballot races. If Clinton gets an actual majority of the popular vote, the odds of a Democratic House will go up significantly.


Author explains why Democrats have zero chance of winning the House until 2030

"It's the most audacious political heist of modern times": David Daley on the GOP's 2010 gerrymandering strategy.


A Trump collapse could give Democrats back the House. Here’s the math.

Sean in Ottawa

This thinking is contradicted by those who say Trump's implosion might help the GOP downticket advantage -- money that would have been spent on the presidential race is now being diverted to key races for the Senate and House. The revulsion many feel about the presidential candidate may well not rub off on others -- in fact there may be some who will vote for Clinton and really want to balance that with a GOP downticket option as she is not popular either.

I think all this presumption that the House and Senate move with the Presidency in this case are fantasy. I think it would be great but there is no indication that this is real.

Anyone have data other than presumptions on the effect on candidates other than the President?


There is data everywhere: realclearpolitics, 538, sam wang, sabato, 270towin cook report nytimes, huffingtonpost, politico.


Pelosi says Dems would win back House if election were today


Things are starting to move in the Democrat's direction to win back the House, and with Trump the Chump with his increasing sexual assault issues at the head of the GOP ticket, anything is now possible.

Here’s how good a shot Democrats have of actually winning the House

The Fix has just updated its 2016 House race ratings, and while some races have moved in Democrats' favor, several others have moved in Republicans' favor. It's just too early to know the full effect of Trump's terrible two weeks and how much it filters downballot; it takes time to conduct polling, and polling of House races is scattershot as it is.

What we do know: To take over the House, Democrats need to pretty well run the table. We currently rate 52 seats as at least somewhat competitive, and Democrats would need to win 38 — 71 percent — of them to get to 218 seats and a House majority.

To do that, they would need to hold all 12 seats we currently rate as “lean Democratic,” all 17 we currently rate as “toss-up,” and nine of the 23 seats we currently rate as “lean Republican.” In other words, they probably need to see those “lean Republican” seats shift into the “toss-up” category in the coming weeks. As of now, not even Democrats are saying that has happened.

And the odds are long. As we've written before, Democrats didn't recruit top-tier candidates in many of these districts, and the pivotal ones have clear Republican leans, making it difficult to win them even if Trump loses those areas.

As I noted back in August, in the big GOP wave of 2014, Republicans only took over four districts that leaned toward Democrats, according to the Cook Political Voting Index (PVI). Were Democrats to win back the House this year, they would likely have to win a dozen or more seats that clearly lean toward Republicans, just by virtue of how friendly the map is to Republicans (both because of natural partisan sorting and gerrymandering). Republicans have an inherent advantage in holding the House that serves as essentially a sand dune beating back whatever wave Democrats can produce.

What we also know: There is some evidence of polling moving in Democrats' direction, but it's very limited for now. An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll this week showed Democrats leading on the “generic ballot" -- i.e. “Would you vote for a generic Republican or a generic Democrat for Congress" -- by 6 points.


The real New York Times scandal: Ignoring why Democrats can’t win the House


Sam Wang knows how to win and win big!

Politics And Polls #15: All About The Downticket


Senate Update: Clinton Is Surging, But Down-Ballot Democrats Are Losing Ground

Mr. Magoo

Is it just me, or is "down-ticket" and "down-ballot" a new term that we all suddenly know all about, like "dangling chads"?

It feels like it started maybe a week ago.  And now everyone's like "well of course it's all about the down-ballots and such!"


i was reading all about the gerry mandering of the electoral boundaries by some dude in the last GOP government and how they made it so no democratic HoR could happen until the next census year and the gerry mandering from then.

i guess they don't want to talk about the Republicans rigging the elections for the near future maybe?


well said quizzical


Mixed Signals in the Race for the House

Could Trump ruin what has otherwise been a decent Republican cycle?


Democrats aren't netting the 30 seats they need to win back the House. 


Is Trump the Chump bringing down the House?   

Republicans rush to build firewall to save the House

A top conservative super PAC is dropping millions in districts once thought invincible for the GOP.

But with signs of a potential wave building for Democrats, GOP fears have grown about the map expanding well beyond those seats. 

Inside the GOP leadership there's also been a shift in thinking. Lawmakers and aides at the NRCC and atop the party's leadership structure predicted single-digit losses before they left for their election-season recess. Now, these aides and lawmakers say losses could be 10 to 20 seats, leaving the GOP with a slimmed-down majority. However, many of them concede that a 20-seat loss could easily become 30, and thus the majority.



wage zombie

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Is it just me, or is "down-ticket" and "down-ballot" a new term that we all suddenly know all about, like "dangling chads"?

It feels like it started maybe a week ago.  And now everyone's like "well of course it's all about the down-ballots and such!"

It's been a pretty common part of analysis of presidential elections in the US blogosphere for quite a while.

I guess for the mass media, it's not an analysis that has had a big effect on other elections--ie. no real turmoil within either party.


I can remember related terms like 'ticket-splitting', 'voting the ticket', and 'coat-tails'  all being used when one presidential campaign threatened to completely overwhelm another. Like Nixon-McGovern in 1972, - and I am told by my elders Johnson-Goldwater in '64. 


On the question posed by this thread, - no, I do not expect the Dems to retake the House.  The gerrymandering is such this will be very difficult to achieve until the Dems win more of the state assemblies and governorships in census (map-drawing) years.

The more interesting question about the House moving forward IMO will be how the Republican caucus deals with the Trump defeat and related recriminations.  And whether it fractures beyond repair, - or finds the prospect of President Hillary a sufficiently unifying force....    


Dems use loophole to pump millions into fight for the House

By invoking Donald Trump and Republicans, the party is stretching its cash to compete in a slew of unexpectedly competitive races.


What percentage of the voters can be influenced about their vote from viewing election ads?

House Republicans scramble for cash to stop Democratic takeover


The Tough Road to a Democratic House

While the fight for control of the U.S. Senate has long hung fire, what’s new in the election stretch-run reckoning is the possibility that a generally bad year for Republicans is eroding the previously very high odds the GOP would maintain its majority in the House. Republicans are probably going to lose seats in any event, and that could cause some problems for Speaker Paul Ryan, whose margin of error to survive a backbench conservative revolt could be wiped out. But now it’s no longer out of the realm of possibility that Democrats could gain the 30 net seats they need to flip the lower chamber. That would be a development of enormous significance, particularly if it is in conjunction with a Democratic takeover of the Senate, which would likely happen in the kind of “wave” election that placed the House in play. A Democratic Congress could enable a President Hillary Clinton to enact major elements of her domestic agenda, from a minimum-wage increase to an Obamacare “fix” to an upper-end tax increase to pay for it all.

Clinton is now leading Trump in the presidential race by the kind of margin (6 points in the RealClearPolitics polling averages, 7 points in HuffPost Pollster’s averages) normally associated with a big margin down-ballot. But a combination of incumbency, gerrymandering, superior GOP voter distribution, and inferior Democratic-candidate recruitment means that one cannot assume a Democratic win in the popular vote will translate into Democratic seats. In 2012, in fact, Democrats won the national House popular vote by 1.3 million votes, yet won only 201 seats.

Trump’s travails have raised some possibility that the Democratic popular-vote advantage could go much higher into the kind of “wave” election that can produce big gains. Polling of the congressional generic ballot, in contrast to presidential polling, currently gives Democrats a 5-point margin, according to the RealClearPolitics averages. If it moves up into the neighborhood of the high single or low double digits, House Democrats could have the oxygen they need to capture the chamber. In 2006, for example, an 8-point national-popular-vote lead for Democrats produced a gain of 31 net seats — one more than this year’s target.

But House victories have to be won district by district. And at the moment, most prognosticators don’t see the sheer number of vulnerable Republican seats that would normally yield big Democratic gains. Both Daily Kos Elections and Cook Political Report currently show 30 Republican-held House districts as competitive (toss-ups or leaning in one direction or the other). But Democrats have some vulnerable districts as well (ten according to DKE, seven according to Cook), so even a lucky sweep will not do the trick unless Democrats become competitive in races that now tilt pretty heavily to Republicans. And there are a number of factors that could increase ticket-splitting among voters abandoning Donald Trump at the top of the ticket while sticking with Republicans down-ballot — including paid ads for GOP candidates recommending them as a curb on a President Hillary Clinton


 Close Race for Darrell Issa, the House’s Mini-Trump


Wow, the knives are out already, eh!

Who could replace Paul Ryan?

Republicans are already buzzing about who might step up if the speaker steps aside.


2016 House

To read recent stories on the race for the House, click here.

Last updated Oct. 26, 2016. Current outlook: Democratic gain of 10-15 seats, short of the 30 net seats they need to gain to win the House.