A friend says: First the disclaimer. It is very difficult to make predictions about races in states and districts outside my local ones. I have to rely on polls and trends from polls and articles written. The polls are only as accurate as the persons polled actually mimic the electorate that shows up to vote on election day. Many polls have built in biases based on the samples they take. Articles are very difficult to use to provide information. The authors all have their biases and you have to be very careful in selecting the drops of accuracy from the sea of opinion.
That being said, there are a few things to watch for early.
Trump has staked a lot on campaigning in Florida. It is his second home and Mar A Lago is the retreat from the White House he goes to most frequently. The polls there show the race as extremely tight both for Senate and Governor. The Republican candidate for Governor has embraced Trumpism but has consistently polled behind Gillum. Whether this is due to the changing demographics of Florida (it had a large influx of Puerto Ricans after the hurricane although it is not clear how many claim residency and have registered to vote) or hostility to Trump or dislike of DeSantis is not clear. Gillum, is facing corruption charges which would ordinarily be enough to sink him so to me it looks like a good portion of the Florida electorate wants to stick it to Trump. There is also the possible Bradley effect in which an African American candidate polls somewhat higher because the persons asked the questions don’t want to appear to be racist, yet when in the privacy of the voting booth will not vote for a black governor. This race will be extremely close, closer than the polls as of today show. I would not be surprised to see whichever candidate win defeat the loser by less than half a percentage point. I think that Gillum will defeat DeSantis Also on the Florida ballot is the Senate race in which the incumbent Governor, Rick Scott, who is relatively popular, trails the incumbent Senator Bill Nelson. This could go either way but, if I had to bet, my money is on Nelson. Florida also has a ballot proposition which looks like it will pass restoring voting rights to convicted felons once their sentence and probation is completed. The conventional wisdom is this effects something close a million and a half persons in Florida and that once the voting rights are restored they will vote mostly for Democrats. If this happens it changes the way the 2020 campaign will be run because Florida has so many electoral votes. Florida is tied with New York for the third richest electoral haul, 29, which will go up after the 2020 census.
Georgia is the other state to watch the governor’s race in. Stacy Abrams the black democrat slightly trails Kemp the republican. Both Oprah Winfrey and Obama either have campaigned for her or will campaign for her before election day. Although she may have had a shot, by stating she would ban the AR-15 and refusing to answer whether she would confiscate them, she has just done more to excite anti Abrams vote than any Republican has ever done. Regardless of whether most Americans support gun control, in almost every election where gun control becomes an issue on the ballot either by initiative or the position of someone running for office, the persons who oppose gun control usually win the day. The dream of democrats of a social justice oriented African American democrat as governor in Georgia will not be realized this year. Also if Abrams pulls it out, this will embolden congressional democrats to seek to pass gun control legislation. If she loses, don’t expect it to come up in the next two years.
In terms of surprises, I don’t think that Beto O’Rourke will knock off Ted Cruz, but even though the polling shows Cruz with a seven point lead I would expect his margin of victory to be substantially smaller, more in the 2 to 3 percentage point range.
I do expect Braun to upset Donnelly in Indiana (although the attempts by the Republicans to paint Donnelly as a racist because of the way he praised his minority staff members not only is stupid but appears to have backfired) but wouldn’t be surprised if Donnelly does get reelected. Same with Debbie Stabenow in Michigan who the Republicans like to claim is in trouble against John James. They are blowing smoke. Stabenow will win by more than 10 points. In Missouri look for Claire McCaskill to be defeated. The Republicans learned their lesson and have not selected a right wing nut to run against her, although he is plenty conservative. McCaskill may make it close but I think Josh Hawley will win and if I had to put money on it, win easily.
The Arizona Senate race is the most interesting. It is hard for me to shake the idea that Arizona is actually an ultra conservative state. It turns out that Phoenix is now the fifth largest city in the United States and in general urban populations are more liberal than rural ones. In 2016 Trump won the state by less than 100,000 votes although no doubt his margin was cut because Gary Johnson the libertarian candidate who had been governor of neighboring New Mexico garnered 106,000 votes. Sinema has a history before entering congress of radical leftist politics although as a congresswoman has been a liberal but not extremely liberal vote. McSally is a combat veteran, but is having problems because she ran in the primary against Kelly Ward and Joe Arpaio. The scars from the primary still linger and have led a not insubstantial number of Republicans to indicate in polls they support Sinema. Of interest is that Sinema was married, but is now the only openly bisexual member of congress. I think that when push comes to shove, the Republicans who do hold a numerical registration advantage over the Democrats will come back to McSally and she will win in a very close race.
Overall I think the Republicans will hold the Senate I don’t think they will pick up seats. I think they will end up with 51 seats, with a slight possibility of gaining up to two more, but I would bet against that. They may even end up with 50 seats and have to rely on Pence for his tie breaking votes when it comes to confirmation of appointed officials and judges.
I can’t even begin to give opinions about house races. I know the generic polls favor the democrats and historically the party out of power gets significant gains in the mid term elections. Those bode well for the Democrats. Of course, Trump does not hold the undivided loyalty of Republicans. He still faces never Trumpers, recalcitrant elected officials etc. One thing pointed out by Republicans is that the opposition to Trump, the resistance is very strong, in fact overwhelmingly strong, but only in districts that are already Democratic. What does it matter if a Democrat wins with 51% or 99% of the vote. What matters is how the numbers play in swing districts. Typically the Democratic advantage overall in polling on a generic basis has to be in the range of 6 to 10% in order to wrest majority control in the house. The Democrats appear to be on the cusp. My prediction is that the Democrats will gain a majority of seats in the house of representatives. I don’t think it will be a wipeout of Republicans, but I think it will be more than a one or two member advantage. When the dust settles, I would expect the Democrats to have something in the nature of a five to ten vote majority. As everyone knows, its not like a Democratic House will actually enact anything. It can only enact legislation if the Republican Senate joins in and President Trump doesn’t veto it.