Cook: Dems Pick Up Senate, House Seats; Favored to Win WH

The latest from the Cook Political Report:

Presidential Race: Charlie Cook today gives Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney each a 45 percent chance of winning the GOP nomination, Hillary Clinton an 85 percent chance of winning the Democratic nomination, and Democrats a 60 percent chance of capturing the White House.

The U.S. Senate: Senior Editor Jennifer Duffy believes that Democrats will score a net gain of between three and six Senate seats next November.

The U.S. House: House Editor David Wasserman estimates today that Democrats will pick up between two and eight House seats next year.

The Governors: Senior Editor Jennifer Duffy sees the potential for no net change to a Democratic gain of one seat among next year's 11 Gubernatorial races.

My views don't diverge particularly far from these folks in terms of the race for the White House, the Senate or the Governorships. Perhaps I'd move around something here or there -- I don't think, for instance, that Clinton is quite as prohibitive a favorite (though I think the's indeed likeliest  to be the Democratic nominee at this point), and I might put the Democrats' chances in a general closer to two-thirds than three-fifths -- but overall I'd tend to agree with these sentiments.

But it seems to me that Wasserman is well underestimating the Democrats' chances in the House. To begin, Democrats continue to hold wide leads on the generic congressional ballot question -- close to as large of leads, if not larger, than the ones they held last fall, when they made serious gains. These numbers may in fact tighten, but they have not yet begun to, indicating that for as unpopular as the Congress is as a whole, the public continues to favor the Democrats to the Republicans. What's more, in terms of recruitment and retirements in the House, the map has come to clearly favor the Democrats. Specifically, Republicans have left open seats in some of the most competitive corners of the country and have largely failed to recruit strong candidates, while the Democrats haven't really suffered troublesome retirements but have been able to woo some truly terrific challengers.

Perhaps even more importantly (or at least as important as the other factors mentioned above), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee holds an insane monetary advantage over its rival, the National Republican Congressional Committee. I'll have a post up hopefully tomorrow on the latest numbers, but the DCCC's cash-on-hand advantage at this juncture is more than $28.1 million over the NRCC, which is still in the red. With numbers like these, the Democrats will be able to be on the offensive all around the country and the Republicans won't be able to manage to do much effective defense, let alone go on offense.

Taking all of these factors into account, I'd venture to say that the Democrats are closer on track to netting a gain of 10-15 seats next fall -- with a greater likelihood that the number of pickups will be over 15 than under 10.

Tags: charlie cook, General 2008, House 2008, Senate 2008 (all tags)



Re: Cook: Dems Pick Up

The thing is if Democrats win the White House, they are going to need to pick up at least 10-15 House seats if they want to have some insurance against the 2010 midterms when they are almost certain to lose seats in the House.  My advice for Democrats would be to try to win around 15 more House seats in 2008 and then start working heavily the minute Hillary Clinton is inaugurated to protect those seats for 2010.  This is what Carter did for 1978 and Democrats lost a minimum number of seats.  Bill Clinton failed to do this in 1994 and he lost 54 seats for it.  

by Toddwell 2007-11-20 06:56PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010

Gee williker! The Democratic Party in Oregon is unpopular? What does that make the state GOP, dead? Remember, Dems have won EVERY statewide election in the Beaver state, with the exception of the last two featuring Gordon Smith, in the last decade plus. What's more, the Democrats just retook the state House last fall and retook the state Senate earlier this decade. If that's unpopular, I'd love to be popular.

by Jonathan Singer 2007-11-20 07:18PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010

Truth is, if Hillary is barely ahead in Oregon now, I don't want to see what her numbers there would look like once Republicans actually unite behind a nominee.  Once this happens we are likely to see her leads in Ohio, Missouri, and New Mexico evaporate as well.  

This is how it always works.  The Democrat needs to lead by at least 20 points going into the Republican convention to win.  

by Toddwell 2007-11-20 07:56PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010

Dems need to lead by 20 points?  

Okay, with the SAG writers out on strike, I'm going to feed you your line:

"Yankees, Miss Scarlett, Yankees!!! And I don't know nuffin' 'bout birfin' no babies!"

by InigoMontoya 2007-11-20 08:37PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010

Look at the last three times a Democrat won the White House.  

1976:  Jimmy Carter leads Gerald Ford by about 30 points until Republican convention.  In the end he wins by just two.  Keep in mind that this was all during a deep recession.

1992:  Bill Clinton leads George Bush by 24 points before Republican convention.  He wins by seven.  

1996:  Bill Clinton leads Bob Dole by 20 points.  He wins by just nine.  

This shows that Democrats typically lose about 19 points throughout the Presidential campaign.  

by Toddwell 2007-11-20 08:57PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010

I think it just means that presidential races almost always tighten once they're actually engaged.  Besides, Ford ran a pretty brilliant campaign to get within striking distance of Carter.  GHWB was the incumbent, so the fact that he closed the gap on Clinton really isn't particularly instructive here.  Finally, Clinton still steamrolled over Dole, so again I'm not sure how instructive those numbers are.  

Also, take a look at both 2000 and 2004.  Neither Gore nor Kerry ever held a huge lead, yet both -- despite running terrible campaigns -- closed the gap and either won (Gore) or came very close to winning (Kerry).    

by HSTruman 2007-11-21 04:47AM | 0 recs

Governorships:  Democrats should be able to hold New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Oregon.  They are all basically Democratic states.  Most of our incumbents should be in solid shape.  We will probably lose Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, but don't see how on earth we don't pick up all of the open blue seats you mentioned save Minnesota.  Arizona and Tennessee both depend on who is in the White House and how popular they are.  My guess is that Democrats hold about even in governorships in 2010.

The good thing about the Senate races in 2010 is that Republicans already picked off pretty much every seat they had a chance at in 2004.  The only one that we could be in trouble in is North Dakota.  

We need to prepare long and hard in the House.  We need to pick up at least 10 seats in 2008 to have protection against 2010.  

by Toddwell 2007-11-20 07:18PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010

north dakota has not had a repub senator or rep in probably 25 years

by jjgtrs 2007-11-20 11:04PM | 0 recs
We are also going to need to work hard

to protect state legislative gains.  This is what killed us for the 2002 redistricting.  Democrats lost about 500 state legislative seats in 1994 and failed to win any back until 2004.  This allowed Republicans to kill Democrats in redistricting.  

by Toddwell 2007-11-20 07:22PM | 0 recs
I give Huckabee more than a 10 percent shot

at the GOP nomination.

I'd even give McCain a 10 percent shot at the nomination. Giving Rudy a 45 percent chance at winning is crazy.

by desmoinesdem 2007-11-20 07:41PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010

That assumes there isn't a continued generational change-based Democratic trend.  (It's about 1% per year.)  In 2010 Arizona will lean Democratic and the present leaners will be safely so.  And if there's a thing not to be, it's a crapulent establishment Republican in a state that has just recently tipped Blue.

A couple of the states you mention have no redistricting problems.  The small ones don't matter, it's the large ones where redistricting changes numbers significantly.

For '08 I want Democrats to get to 250 seats so that the Blue Dogs can all go their merry way into oblivion.  The way I read the map and vote percentages, there are 30-35 Republican-held seats that are or will tip Blue in national vote a year from now, or hit 49% Democratic and become tossups.  I can live with winning 20-25 of them.

The Senate picture is pretty good for '10, actually.  Specter is on his way out, McCain will (for his own sake) hopefully hang it up, Judd Gregg is supposedly retiring, and so is Chuckie Grassley.  Olympia Snowe may or may not care to hang in there.  George Voinovich, Kit Bond, Richard Burr, Jim Bunning look to get targetted- in states that will by then be flushing out their problem Republicans.   Joe Lieberman is also, obviously, on his way out- and I'm not sure Jodi Rell even wants the seat.  

by killjoy 2007-11-20 07:54PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010

Snowe and Lieberman were just elected this past cycle, '06, so they're not up until '12 unless they retire.

by frankies 2007-11-21 01:13AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010

You're right.  I got carried away there.
by killjoy 2007-11-21 10:10PM | 0 recs
Some of those predictions are just crazy, but one

that I can rebut right off the bat is the preposterous idea that Oregon will elect a Republican as Governor in 2010.

Dr. John Kitzhaber, former two-term Governor who left with an approval rating in the 70s, will run again and clean up, like he did in both of his previous runs.

by verasoie 2007-11-20 08:16PM | 0 recs
Predicting just 2 Democratic pick-ups in the House

is nonsense, don't the Republicans already have 17 open seats? That will probably be at least 25 by election time, maybe even 30.

And the political climate has not improved for them, it has continued to get worse. I see the Dems picking up a minimum of 10, probably closer to 20.

by verasoie 2007-11-20 08:18PM | 0 recs
I agree with the author, but ...

Yes, it feels like Dems will pick up about 15 House seats.  

But here is my question:  Isn't it reasonable, all other things being equal, to expect a steady generic ballot ("Would you vote for a D or an R for Congress next election?") advantage to result in the same make up of the House rather than the same change in the House?  Thus, if the generic ballot advantage, currently about 10%, is holding steady from 2006 one would expect a small change in the make-up of the House.

And here is an attempt at an answer: all other things are not equal.  The Presidential election is likely to ring out millions of new voters; young voters and occasional voters, and that will favor Dems.  (In Illinois, there is a likely pick up of 1-3 seats on that basis alone.  then when we add the Republican retirements and the small legislative victories in the Democratic controlled House, pick-ups north of 15 seems correct.

by lawyerDan 2007-11-21 02:20AM | 0 recs
Senate odds

How are we doing on our way to 60 seats?

Senate seats which I'd offer better than 60-40 chance of picking up: New Hampshire, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico.  Seats which now rate more or less 50-50 pickup are Minnesota, Oregon.  Seats which are in play, with good Dem challengers against a weak Repug incumbents: Alaska, Kentucky.  We've got a good challenger in Maine but lag well behind now.  So, how do we get to 60?  I feel that will depend on the advantage of our national ticket.

by dogenman 2007-11-21 03:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Cook: Dems Pick Up Senate, House Seats; Favore

We will likely win 3-8 Senate seats and 10-20 House seats.

by Socks The Cat 2007-11-21 03:39AM | 0 recs
I'm Hoping for 30 House Seats

I'm hoping we can pick up 30 House seats, including 5 here in Ohio. With a continuing quagmire in Iraq, gas prices high, a recession on the horizon, and blatant Republican corruption and cronyism, the environment for Republicans is miserable. All the Republican Presidential candidates are promising 4 more years of this crap. Healthcare should be a big issue in 2008 and the Republicans have nothing useful to offer. And Republicans are having a hard time raising funds. Lots of Republicans have already announced their retirements and I expect many more.

If Democrats win the two special elections on December 11, it should encourage even more Republican retirements. Democrats running in these seats: liberal Robin Weirauch in OH-5 (ActBlue site) and centrist Philip Forgit in VA-01 (ActBlue page).

by RandomNonviolence 2007-11-21 04:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Cook: Dems Pick Up Senate, House Seats; Favore

I would put both a Hillary nomination and a Democratic victory at about 60% probability.

I have no idea who the GOP are going to nominate. Maybe Romney has a tiny edge but he is screwed if Huckabee continues to surge in Iowa.

Dems should win 10-15 seats in the House while losing 3-5 (Lampson, Mahoney, Carney, Boyda and Marshall most at risk).

Dems to take 5-7 in the Senate (in order of probability - VA, NM, NH, CO, MN, OR, KY, AK, ME, NC, TX, OK, TN, GA, KS, SC) with no loses.

by conspiracy 2007-11-21 04:56AM | 0 recs
Dems will win more seats than this...

Jonathan - I think you are underestimating the Dems chances in 2008.  I think you are about right on the Dems chances of winning the presidency, but way low on the number of House and Senate seats that the Dems are going to win.  My guess is that the Dems are going to win 7-8 Senate seats.  They are going to win VA, NH, NM, and CO fairly easily, The Repubs are in serious trouble in KY and AK (Bush approval around 40, senator approval ratings below 50), and the Dems are going to at least split OR and MN (Bush approval below 40 and senator approval ratings just below 50).  That doesn't even include NC (Bush approval around 40, senator approval rating below 50), or longer shots like ME, TX, ID, NE, or OK.  If the seats fall like they did in 2006, or even 2002 to Republicans, then the Dems are going to win many more seats than are currently predicted.

The House is the same way.  The RCCC is a complete mess and worse than broke.  RCCC candidate recruitment is nonexistent, and the Dems are riding a wave, with lots of money and good candidates.  Lots of Repubs are retiring, and the Dems maintain a big advantage in the generic ballot.  Plan on the Dems winning 22-27 seats.

The key here is that the rating services are always lagging indicators.  They do well in relatively neutral years, but very poorly in wave years, like we saw in 2006.  They did poorly in 2006 - why should we believe them now?

by econlibVA 2007-11-21 05:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Dems will win more seats than this...

I agree. Quite a few of the Republican retirements were unexpected.  If we expect 25 retirements, the number will likely be 30.

Also, part of the reason NRCC is so broke is that they spent money early in the cycle on offense, attacking newly elected Dems.  Now they'll be forced to play defense and many of the Democratic seats deemed vulnerable will no longer be.

by stuckinsf 2007-11-21 07:48AM | 0 recs


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