Fingernail Biting Time
by Chris Bowers, Sun Nov 05, 2006 at 05:08:04 PM EST
For about eighteen months now, I have kept a private checklist of conditions and metrics that I believed were necessary for a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives. Since we are so close to election time, I see no point in keeping it private anymore. So, here they are:
- 1. Bush's job approval below 42.5%, either averaged across the last five polls or averaged across polls from the previous seven days (whichever one means more polls). Check
- 2. At least forty-five more Democratic challengers to Republican-held seats than Republican challenges to Democratic-held seats within the margin of error or better in independent polling. Check
- 3. Democratic lead in the generic ballot of at least 8.0%, either averaged across the last five polls or averaged across polls from the previous seven days (whichever one means more polls). Check
- 1. Democrats were actually ahead, even if by only 1%, according to independent polling, in thirty more Republican-held districts than Republicans were in Democratic-held districts. Check
- 2. None of the polls used in the Bush approval average showed him at 43% or higher. Check
- 3. None of the polls used in the generic ballot showed the Democratic margin lower than 8%. Requirement not fulfilled
All I can say is, since this is a personal post, at least we are still meeting all of the conditions on the primary checklist, and most of the conditions on the secondary checklist. That still means, in my mind, that the odds still heavily favor a Democratic takeover of the House. However, it also means that such a takeover is no longer a 99% chance.
While the Pew and ABC / WaPo polls are directly contradicted by the Time and Newsweek polls, the former two polls present the possibility of a political landscape where Republicans could keep extremely narrow control. Not a very good possibility, but a possibility never the less. And so our odds for taking the majority drop from, I don't know, 99%, to between 80% and 90%. If the polls released between now and Tuesday morning show more evidence backing up the Pew and ABC / WaPo polls than they show backing up the Time and Newsweek polls, the odds will drop further.
Still, as long as we meet all of the conditions on the primary checklist, the odds for control will never drop below 50%. As long as we meet most of the conditions on the second checklist, the odds will never drop below 75%. As prepared as I thought I was for Republicans to close the gap, a seed of doubt has been firmly planted in my mind, and won't go away unless every generic ballot poll released between now and Election Day, with a minimum of four new polls, shows a double-digit Democratic lead. Even though I still see the odds heavily in our favor, that is about all that could calm me down before the House is actually called for Democrats. The door has creeked open, and I will remain nervous until the end as a result.
One thing is for certain, however. Democrats will make noticeable gains in the House, the Senate, in Governorships, and basically everywhere else in this election. Even our worst case scenario yields progress, as well as the majority vote of the nation. Our fight has most definitely not been for nothing. And if this doesn't work well, then fine, we will try something new shortly. Even if our victory is narrow, a win is a win is a win. A change in power in the House of Representatives is the most difficult achievement in American politics, and not to be taken lightly, no matter how narrowly it is achieved.
Update: New Gallup poll shows Democrats ahead 51%-44%, exactly the same margin Republcians led by in 1994. I remain both nervous and clearly favoring Democrats.