Readers Eric Solum and HNAV alert us to the hilarously contrarian electoral forecast in the cover story of the new issue of Barron’s. The story is “Survivor! The GOP Victory.” Barron’s bases its electoral forecast on analysis of the candidates’ warchests and notes that its method is less accurate in Senate races (where it ascribes 89 percent accuracy to the method) than in House races (where it ascribes 93 percent accuracy to the method as a predictor in races going back to 1972, 98 percent more recently). Reporter Jim McTague writes:
JUBILANT DEMOCRATS SHOULD RECONSIDER their order for confetti and noisemakers. The Democrats, as widely reported, are expecting GOP-weary voters to flock to the polls in two weeks and hand them control of the House for the first time in 12 years — and perhaps the Senate, as well. Even some Republicans privately confess that they are anticipating the election-day equivalent of Little Big Horn. Pardon our hubris, but we just don’t see it.
Our analysis — based on a race-by-race examination of campaign-finance data — suggests that the GOP will hang on to both chambers, at least nominally. We expect the Republican majority in the House to fall by eight seats, to 224 of the chamber’s 435. At the very worst, our analysis suggests, the party’s loss could be as large as 14 seats, leaving a one-seat majority. But that is still a far cry from the 20-seat loss some are predicting. In the Senate, with 100 seats, we see the GOP winding up with 52, down three
We studied every single race — all 435 House seats and 33 in the Senate — and based our predictions about the outcome in almost every race on which candidate had the largest campaign war chest, a sign of superior grass-roots support. We ignore the polls. Thus, our conclusions about individual races often differ from the conventional wisdom. Pollsters, for instance, have upstate New York Republican Rep. Tom Reynolds trailing Democratic challenger Jack Davis, who owns a manufacturing plant. But Reynolds raised $3.3 million in campaign contributions versus $1.6 million for Davis, so we score him the winner.
In the Senate races, Barron’s picks Menendez over Kean in New Jersey, Talent over McCaskill in Missouri, Burns over Tester in Montana (!), Santorum over Casey in Pennsylvania (!!), and Kennedy over Klobuchar in Minnesota (!!!). McTague concludes:
With only two weeks to go, a barrage of contradictory poll findings is apt to confuse the oddsmakers, not to mention voters. But we’re sticking with our numbers, and they say one thing: The Democrats don’t have quite enough heft to push aside the elephant.
But what about George Soros? I wonder if Barron’s methodology needs to be adjusted in light of the current regime of campaign finance law.
UPDATE: Notre Dame poli sci student Alex Forshaw asks whether Barron’s realizes that its model underperforms in light of incumbency reelection rates: “Incumbents (who almost always have more cash) have been re-elected by higher rates than” Barron’s achieves with its methodology.