Fun with numbers

The latest “generic” polls contain some of the worst news yet for the beleaguered Democratic Party. Rasmussen has the Republicans up by 8 percentage points among likely voters, while Gallup has them up by 12 points (even more if one defines “likely voter” stringently).
How would these numbers translate into Republican pick-ups? Let’s start by taking a very crude view of things. Crudely speaking, a dead even generic poll would imply an evenly divided House. This, in turn, implies a net Republican gain of 38 or 39 seats.
What would an 8 percentage point Republican edge imply? In 2004, Republicans won the “popular vote” in House races nationwide by 7 percentage points. In the process, they ended up with 232 seats. To match that number seats, the Republicans would need to pick up 55 seats. Thus, the Rasmussen numbers can be thought of as implying a pick up of slightly more than 55 seats, which is about how I’ve been viewing things lately.
What about Gallup’s 12 points? That would slightly exceed the Democrats’ edge in 2008 (just under 11 points). The Dems won 257 seats that year. To reach that number, the Republicans would need to gain 80 seats.
I’m not expecting the Republicans to gain that many, but I don’t think it is out of the question. And a 54 seat gain looks almost like a floor, as things stand now, three weeks before election.

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