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Final 2016 Predictions: Clinton Wins, GOP Keeps House, Senate Barely Flips to Dems

I’m getting in under the wire before the polls close. My final predictions are as follows:

Hillary Clinton will become the first woman president, taking the Electoral College vote 322-215, with one elector in Washington state pledging not to vote for her. I ultimately called Ohio and Arizona for Donald Trump, but if I am wrong, I suspect it will be in one or both of these states. I predict Clinton will win the remaining swing states except for Iowa, where Trump has a clear lead.

I see the Democrats picking up a net of 14 seats in the House of Representatives, but Republicans will still hold a commanding 233-202 advantage.

And I see the Democrats picking up a net of four Senate seats to tie the chamber 50-50. Vice President-Elect Tim Kaine will have the tiebreaking vote once he is sworn in on January 20, 2017. Kaine’s vacant Senate seat will be filled by a Democrat, as Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, has the authority to appoint his replacement until the 2017 off-year elections in Virginia. Watch for that seat to flip to the GOP, giving Republicans a 51-49 advantage heading into the 2018 midterms.

In elections dating back to 2006, I have come within 3.8 seats in the House and 1.4 in the Senate, and in 2014, I missed the House by two seats and the Senate by one. We’ll see how it goes this year. I could see the Senate going 51-49 in either direction, but it is very difficult to see either party getting to 52 seats. At any rate, a 50-50 or 51-49 Senate is going to be essentially paralyzed due to the filibuster rules, so the final tally is of little significance except as to which party’s leaders get the better titles. Congress’s accomplishments for the next two years will be limited largely to naming post offices.

The Silliest Criticism Ever

Over the last quarter of a century, there have been countless allegations and criticisms hurled at Hillary Clinton. Some of them have had merit. Others have been silly. Not a small number have been outlandish. (“She murdered Vince Foster,” for example.)

But by far the most ridiculous criticism ever leveled at Clinton is that she may, on occasion, have said some nasty things about the women who went to bed with her husband. This bit of foolishness is rearing its head again today, as Donald Trump apologists attempt to draw a parallel between his outrageously sexist and porcine statements, revealed this weekend, and how Bill Clinton has behaved with women over the years. Inevitably, Clinton supporters counter that Bill Clinton, unlike Trump, is not running for office, and that Hillary Clinton is not to blame for his behavior. And Trump’s remaining apologists counter, “Yes, but she degraded the women her husband preyed on.”

First, Bill Clinton didn’t prey on anybody, despite Republicans’ repeated insistence over the years that he somehow tricked or pressured impressionable young women into bed. He committed adultery with consenting adults who, like him, should have known better.

Second, and this is an important point, wouldn’t anybody whose spouse cheated have some negative things to say about the person or people he/she cheated with?

Seriously, if you find yourself criticizing Hillary Clinton for voicing a poor opinion of her husband’s mistresses, do yourself and everyone else a favor and just stop talking. You’re being ridiculous.

Congressional Race Ratings (October 2, 2016)

This week’s Congressional Race Ratings have five changes, four of which favor the Republican Party. It is becoming clear that no Democratic wave is developing and that the party’s gains are likely to be modest at best.

In the House, I am making three changes, all of which move “Lean Democratic” seats to “Lean Republican.” In two Iowa districts (1 and 3), recent polling, and the surprising strength of Donald Trump in the Hawkeye State, have moved those races in the direction of incumbent GOP Congressmen Rod Blum and David Young, respectively. And in New York 19, centered on suburban Westchester County, Republican John Faso recently took a very slim lead over Democrat Zephyr Teachout in an open-seat race. In this district, currently held by a Republican, Trump is +5, so he is clearly not creating a drag on Faso.

The latest round of projections leaves expected net gains for the Democrats at +9, which would leave the GOP with a comfortable 238-197 advantage. A nine-seat gain would not even erase the Democrats’ net losses from 2014, which totaled 13 seats.

In the Senate, I am making two changes. Most recent polling in New Hampshire now shows incumbent GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte moving narrowly ahead of Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, despite Trump’s poor numbers in the Granite State. This race now moves from “Leans Democratic” to “Leans Republican.”

In the one change favoring the Democrats this week, I am taking a bit of a gamble and moving the North Carolina Senate race from “Leans Republican” to “Leans Democratic.” Recent polling gives Democrat Deborah Ross a slight lead over incumbent GOP Senator Richard Burr. North Carolina Democrats are extremely motivated this year after some high-profile controversies by the state’s Republican governor and legislature, especially the “bathroom bill” that has caused numerous bodies (including the NBA and the collegiate Athletic Coast Conference) to pull their events from the state. This one is a gamble, but it does seem that Democrats are highly motivated in the Tar Heel State this year.

These two changes leave my current Senate projection at Democrats +4, gaining seats in Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and losing a seat in Nevada. This would mean an even 50-50 split, with Democrats poised to gain procedural control of the chamber on the tiebreaking vote of the vice president. As I continue to expect that Hillary Clinton will win the presidency, this tiebreaker vote would fall to her running mate Tim Kaine.

For my full, updated listings in competitive House and Senate races, please click here.

Statement on Today’s Observer Headline

My new Observer column which appears today has a headline that I did not write and never would have written. I have asked for the headline to be changed or for the column to be pulled in its entirety. This request has been denied.

To be clear, my editor is completely within his rights to deny my request, just as he was to write the headline or to make any other edits he saw fit to the article. I do not dispute his prerogatives. But it is my name on the article, and the headline is so at odds with anything I would ever say that I thought an explanation was required.

I apologize to my many friends who I know will be offended by the headline, and I want you to know that I had no part in it.

I will not be posting a link to this column on any of my social media vehicles or on my website.

Congressional Race Ratings Mostly Move Toward GOP (Sept. 25, 2016)

I am making changes to five race ratings this week, two in the House and three in the Senate. Four of these changes benefit the Republican Party.

In the House, the race in Maine 2 moves from Lean D, favoring Emily Cain, to Likely R, favoring incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin. Polling by the Portland Press-Herald not only shows Poliquin with a healthy lead in this rural district, but also shows Donald Trump leading big there. It doesn’t look like this is shaping up as a good year for Democrats in northern Maine.

Also in the House, the race in New Hampshire 1 moves from Lean D to Likely D, as former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter has a big polling lead on embattled GOP Rep. Frank Guinta in their fourth race against each other.

The change in Maine 2 now adjusts Democrats’ expected House gains to +12.

On the Senate side, the Nevada Senate race moves from Lean D, favoring Catherine Cortez-Masto, to lean R, favoring Rep. Joe Heck. Heck has opened up a bit of a lead, and with Trump doing well in Nevada, it doesn’t look like the top of the ticket is going to be the kind of liability originally expected here.

Also, the race in Arizona moves from Lean R to Likely R as Sen. John McCain has opened up a sizable lead on Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. The same is true in Florida, as Sen. Marco Rubio now has a clear lead on Rep. Patrick Murphy.

The change in the Nevada Senate race now adjusts the current projection to 50-50 in the U.S. Senate, reflecting a Democratic net gain of four seats.

For the full chart, click here.

The Debates Won’t Make A Nickel’s Worth Of Difference

Don’t be expecting too much from tomorrow’s presidential debate, or any of the debates. We live in a time in which most people already have their minds made up and can’t be swayed by anything. If Donald Trump climbs up on the moderator table, drops his pants and defecates right there, his supporters will cheer.

The country is locked into two ideological camps. People are going to tune in tomorrow night largely to cheer for their side, much like a sports contest. They’ll boo if their candidate gets a tough question, in the same way sports fans boo every call against their own team. Most of the few who don’t tune in to cheer or boo will just be watching to see if a train wreck occurs.

Rah-rahs and gawkers. That’s the American electorate. We have met the enemy, and it is us.

Congressional Race Ratings (Aug. 31, 2016)

Tonight, I am publishing my initial forecast in what I consider to be the competitive U.S. House of Representatives and Senate races for 2016. Starting September 11, I will publish updated ratings every Sunday between now and the election.

There are few real surprises. At this time, I am forecasting a net Democratic gain of five seats in the Senate, which would flip the chamber to Democratic control, 51-49. I also forecast a Democratic gain of 13 seats in the House, which would recover the ground the party lost in 2014 and narrow the Republican advantage to 234-201.

Two ratings that stand out include the Senate race in Nevada and a House race in the 49th District of California. At this point in time, I am rating Catherine Cortez-Masto a slight favorite to hold outgoing Democratic leader Harry Reid‘s Senate seat in Nevada. Republican Joe Heck appears to have a slight polling lead, on average, but I continue to expect we will see high Latino turnout, and that the vaunted Reid political machine will pull out a close victory for the longtime Senator’s preferred successor.

I also am rating Democrat Douglas Applegate as a slight favorite to upset Congressman Darrell Issa in what has long been a Republican district in Southern California, centered in south Orange County, the epicenter of GOP politics in the state. Applegate has been polling very well in this race against the controversial Issa, and also performed well in the open primary pitting all candidates against each other in June. With higher turnout to be expected in November, the signs at this time point to an upset. Stay tuned.

For the full chart of competitive races and their ratings, click here.

Bernie Comes Through

I have been very critical of Bernie Sanders throughout this election season, but I’ll give it to him. He did everything I could have hoped for tonight. His full-throated endorsement of Hillary Clinton and his point-by-point recitation of how she will come through on issues dear to progressives were pitch perfect. Anybody on Team Sanders who doesn’t come around after this speech is simply unreachable.

Sanders was smart to acknowledge briefly his differences with Clinton; his supporters wouldn’t have bought it if he didn’t, and clearly, some didn’t buy it anyway, judging by some of the reactions from his supporters. But he spent far more time detailing the similarities. He did a very good job tonight. Now it will be up to him to follow through and keep making the case to the supporters he did so much to alienate from the party in the first place.