The Democrats are gonna get hammered

by Andrew Gelman on February 22, 2010 · 3 comments

in Campaigns and elections

A few months ago, I wrote that, based on the so-called generic ballot (surveys that as, “If the elections for Congress were being held today, which party’s candidate would you vote for in your Congressional district?”) and some research by Bafumi, Erikson, and Wlezien, the Republican Party looked to be in good shape in 2010.


Recently, Harry Joe (who took a statistics course from Joe Bafumi at Dartmouth!) crunched the early poll numbers, does the adjustment based on the Bafumi/Erikson/Wlezien regression, and comes up with a forecast that the Republicans will win by 8 percentage points (that’s 54%-46%); that is, 1994 all over again, but this time without the benefit (yet) of any Newt Gingrich-like figure (although I’m sure there will be many proto-Gingriches around to claim the credit if this all happens). Here’s Harry Joe’s plot:


As John, Jamie, and I have discussed (see also here), the translation from votes to seats is not trivial. Still, if the Republicans really get 54% of the two-party vote or anything close to that, they’re in excellent shape.

Which would not mean that Obama is a lame duck by any means. Recall Reagan in 1982 and 1984.


arbitrista February 23, 2010 at 9:53 am

Those really are startling numbers. I wonder though how much of that depressed Democratic performance is being driven by Democratic demoralization – which in theory is fixable.

KenS February 23, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Has anyone seen a regional breakdown of the generic ballot question? It would be interesting to see how sentiment varies across regions along with number of incumbents from each party.

Delta February 25, 2010 at 12:19 am

Like KenS, I am wondering about the regional breakdown of these numbers. I believe that many people are underestimating the regional variation in favorables for the president and Congress. If those regional variations extend to the generic ballot, the outcome could be less disastrous for Democrats than the numbers currently indicate. Southerners will, no doubt, vote heavily Republican. But if the numbers in the rest of the country are better for Democrats, it won’t matter that the Southern Republican candidates won by 40 points.

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