Why the Senate might well be in play

In August, during the last program we did for our VIP subscribers, the four of us ventured predictions for the 2018 elections. All four of agreed that the Democrats probably will win the House. John, Scott, and Steve agreed that the Republicans will retain control of the Senate. I said there is a substantial chance, approaching 50 percent, that the Democrats will capture the Senate too.

Given my recent record of political predictions, the GOP should probably take comfort from my pessimism. However, Dan Balz, a respected political reporter for the Washington Post, shares the view that Republicans might lose control of the Senate. He explains why in this analysis.

As Balz says, the math certainly favors the GOP. They are defending only nine of the 35 seats being contested. In addition, the Democrats must defend five seats in states (West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, Missouri, and Indiana) that Trump carried by at least 19 points two years ago.

The polls also favor the Republicans. They suggest that as many as nine races (Florida, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee, Indiana, and maybe Montana, West Virginia and Arizona) are too close to class.

This means the Democrats will have to come close to running the table in the 50-50 races if they are to overcome the math. The law of averages says this very likely won’t happen.

But, in “wave elections” the law of averages doesn’t apply. This, I take it, is the definition of such an election.

In wave elections, nine toss-up races don’t break 5-4; they break more like 7=2 or 8-1. Moreover, in such elections at least one contest that polls and pundits don’t identify as among the toss-ups sometimes produces an upset. Some say Texas might be such a race this time.

The prospect that 2018 will be a wave election for Democrats is the source of my relative pessimism. Why might this be a wave election? For one thing, the first mid-term election after a new president from a different party takes office is often a wave election. Think of 1994 and 2010.

For another, Democrats seem to have a big edge over the GOP in energy and enthusiasm. The results of special elections are one indicator of that edge.

Working in the GOP’s favor is the energy and enthusiasm of President Trump. He’s appearing frequently in Red States with important races. The goal, of course, is to generate energy and enthusiasm in his base.

Will he succeed? I don’t know. Thus, I view the race for control the Senate as too close to call.

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