Are the latest polls biased or just plain wrong?

Since the RNC and DNC ended a plethora of new polls have come out, nationally and in many swing states, showing Obama well ahead of Mitt Romney.  A few recent examples come to mind.  A new WashPo poll out of VA found Obama up eight points over Romney.  In Iowa and Nevada PPP (D) has found Obama leading by 5-10 points.  The latest batch of polls from CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac find Obama ahead by 10 in Ohio, 8 in Florida and 14 in Pennsylvania.  So is Obama really ahead by this much or does it have more to do with the polls themselves?

First off, before I address this question it does bear mentioning that I state that polling is an inexact science.  Especially when we consider we are still a month in a half from the election.  Most pollsters are largely guessing about what turnout will be.  Still……

As Weekly Standard analyst Jay Cost notes there is a distinct different in poll results depending on the sample.  In his article he creates some nice simple charts for us to use.  To paraphrase those charts and no big shocker to the informed, the polls that have larger Democratic samples, whether through weighting or random chance, show larger Obama leads.

Using data from the 2004 and 2008 election exit polls and comparing it to the partisan composition of certain polls provides some enlightenment.  In Florida, recent polls from PPP (D), Gravis and Fox all show a partisan composition greater than or equal to 2008 partisan composition turnout.  By contrast, Rasmussen, WashPo and Purple Poll all have samples closer to 2004 (less Democrats).  Now consider Ohio.  Partisan turnout in Ohio vastly favored Democrats (39D-31R) so only Gravis has a poll showing greater partisan turnout for Democrats than indicated by 2008 exit polls.  But WashPo and Fox expect turnout to be almost equal to 2008.  Only Purple Poll and Rasmussen expect it to be closer to 2004.

There is also something else to consider.  In the last few months both Gallup and Rasmussen have been criticized for their samples.  More specifically, on the racial composition of their samples.  Both Gallup and Rasmussen show a tight race nationally in their tracking polls but also in their swing state polls.  These results conflict with other pollsters results.

So in short we are left with a bimodal distribution of poll results.  One mode has Obama well ahead of Romney and the other shows a tight race.  Which one is right I cannot say but I would say the odds are better this election resembles 2004, or even 2000 turnout than 2008.

Keep in this mind it is now easy to see why Obama seems to have a such a strong lead.  His lead is essentially built on the fact that his base is expected to turnout out at 2008 or even greater levels while the GOP base drops from 2008.  Contradicting this view however are polls that show Republicans are more enthusiastic to vote, whether against Obama or for Romney.

Two other thoughts and to be fair Cost gave me the idea for them.  No incumbent president (at least in my lifetime), has ever won an election with less than 45% of the independent vote.  According to Gallup tracking and some national surveys Obama does not get this number.  Gallup daily tracking has his approval numbers among this group right at 45%.  So if Obama is not winning independents his lead must be built on pollsters expectations for partisan turnout favoring Democrats.

Lastly, this is something I have noticed before but did not pay much attention to.  President Obama is holding his coalition together better than Mitt Romney.  Considering all the hype the media has made about the Tea party and its far right conservatism it is revealing polls show Obama doing better among his base.

Historically it has been Republicans who do better among their base.   Consider Cost’s chart that shows Republicans doing better n the past.  If the historical average occurs this election that effectively gives Romney a leg up of about a 1-1.5% advantage.  But currently polls show Obama doing better and that is just extremely hard to believe.

Last point, the sampling models are also swinging Senate races in the Democrats direction.  Senate Republicans or candidates once thought to be competitive or favored are now either tied or trailing their Democratic counterparts.  For GOP campaigns this spells trouble in motivating their base and raising money.

So I cannot say one way or the other if the polls are skewed but they seem to reflect turnout models that are even better for Democrats than 2008.  Call me a betting man, but this election I don’t see that occurring.

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Losing to Win

I want to build off an idea I made in a prior post.  More specifically, that the GOP could afford to lose the WH and Senate this year but come 2014 and 16 it may pay to not control a branch of government fully.  Sean Trende at RCP deserves credit for his excellent analysis on this line of reasoning.  I would like to delve a little deeper into this line of thinking as well.

Republicans deeply want the WH this year.  More so than in other years.  But the old saying of “Be careful what you wish for,” may be apt here.  In the next several years America is set to face several crises.  The first few could be immediate and have deep and lasting impacts on this country domestically.  Others will be longer term and hurt just as badly.

Trende explored several of them in his piece.  He first mentioned Europe and China’s economies stagnating, which would eventually hit us.  Also, economic studies have shown it usually takes about a century for a country to come out of a financial collapse.  By my count that makes us only halfway there.  Another recession hitting US shores could trigger calls from the White House for more deficit spending to alleviate the crisis.  But really, would Republicans go along with it, especially if they control the House and thus render the verdict of the 2012 election as a split decision?

Foreign Policy wise America faces the danger of a nuclear and hostile Iran.  Combine that with deep military cuts neither party has the guts to stop and America may not have the military capability to respond if need be.  Military brass has warned what the cost of the cuts could be and Congress and the WH seem to not have listened.

There is a counter argument here that Trende does not mention in more than passing.  Congress and the President could put aside their bickering ways for a period of time and adopt a deficit reduction plan similar to Simpson-Bowles, compromise on the Bush tax cuts and keep the economy from going off the cliff at the end of 2012 and somehow stop the defense cuts.  Course if you have watched Congress lately you think this is as likely to happen as your NFL team is to win the Super Bowl if you live in Cleveland (sorry Browns fans).

But putting possible issues aside that could devastate the party in power, just consider what Democrats would be fighting against in 2014 and 2016 if the economy went back into a recession, or perhaps less damaging electorally, Iran getting the nuke.  Democrats will be fighting  to hold 11 Senate seats in states George Bush carried in 2004.  If the economy turns south they can say good-bye to making any headway in the House.  And even though the GOP will largely be on the defense in many of the state legislative and gubernatorial races in the country come 2014 that could be alleviated by a terrible political climate for Democrats.

Come 2016 the GOP’s Presidential bench is deep, as is the future of their Senate crop (if 2014 goes their way).  There is no heir apparent to Barack Obama among liberal democrats, heck moderate Democrats, while the GOP has people like Chris Christie and most notably Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio waiting in the wings.

It does need to be said that this is of course all conjecture.  But preliminary economic reports indicate that the European recession is starting to hit US shores.  Manufacturing orders were down, long and short-term for August and unemployment rates rose in 26 states.  Instability in the Middle East is picking up as a new and even more dangerous, decentralized Al Qaeda creates chaos in the region.  To top it off, Moody’s threatened they could downgrade the US’s credit rating in the near future (as in next year).

Mitt Romney may not be the best candidate for the GOP but he is facing stiff headwinds this election.  Demographics and voter pessimism hurt him more than help him.  If Republicans lose this election they will inevitably blame the nominee and say, among other things, they lost their shot to repeal Obamacare.  Maybe so, maybe not. They might not be able to repeal it immediately but they could change it over time and issue waivers to states struggling with its more onerous provisions.

Needless to say the future is uncertain.  But for America it has never been more so.  Many of this country’s prized institutions and government programs are bankrupting the nation, debt is skyrocketing, partisanship is at an all time high, the Middle East is unstable and the economy appears as precarious as it was in late 2007.  Republicans might be kicking themselves for their lost chance in 2012 but it may pay them dividends in 2014 and 2016 (especially if the GOP can find a candidate who can bridge at least some of the party’s divide with minorities).  Course after 2016, it is anybody’s guess.  And of course, there is far more at stake in this country’s future than just electoral considerations.

Regardless of 2012 results, Republicans have 2014 to look forward to

Republicans are wringing their hands about the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election.  They also worry about failing to wrest control of the Senate from Democratic control.  However, far more likely than not the GOP will maintain a healthy majority in the House.

Regardless of the 2012 election results though the GOP can find hope in looking forward to 2014.  Several factors are and likely will be working in their favor in about two years.

Assuming Republicans cannot take the Senate this cycle 2014 will offer them another golden opportunity to do so.  Democrats in 2014 will be defending 20 seats compared to 14 for the GOP.  But more importantly, it is the seats each party is defending that matters.  The GOP will be defending seats in WY, TX, TN, OK, NB, MISS, ME, KY, KS, ID and GA.  Democrats will be defending seats in AK, AR, CO, DE, IL, IA, LA, MA, MI, MN, MT, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, RI, SD, VA and WV.  Quite a list I know but stay with me a moment.

A quick look at these states past electoral results shows that short of a major scandal the only seat the GOP might have to worry about in 2014 is ME.  Likely that worry is contingent on whether or not Senator Susan Collins (ME) runs for reelection or not.

Democrats on the other hand have a number of likely competitive and possibly competitive seats to defend.  Most competitive will be seats in traditionally conservative states.  These include AR, AK, MT, NC, LA and maybe VA if the GOP finds a formidable challenger.  Second tier opportunities for the GOP could include MN, MI, CO, NH and NM.  Even entrenched Democratic incumbents like Mark Pryor in AR, Kent Conrad in MT and Mary Landreiu in LA will find the cycle difficult.

These Democrats may find the cycle difficult ironically because of President Obama’s possible reelection in 2012.  In American politics there is something known as the “six-year itch” where voters tire of the President.  This phenomenon could be compounded if the debt continues to grow and the economy remains sluggish (which the Fed has suggested).

The 2014 cycle will also see the entire US House, 36 governorships and over 1,000 legislative seats across the nation up for grabs.  Also, 14 major mayoral races will be held in the cycle.  If Senate Democratic candidates are hurt in the election the odds are good Democratic gubernatorial candidates will be hurt as well.  Even if some candidates try to make the races local and focus on state issues the statewide electorate might vote on national concerns (as was the case in 2010).

As for the US House, if the GOP survives with its majority intact in 2012 it is likely to keep it or even expand it in 2014.  By the time 2014 rolls around many freshman lawmakers will have more than one term under their belt and have made inroads with their new constituents.  Also, they may have a bigger fundraising advantage over their challengers.  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, all GOP lawmakers and candidates in the House will be of the “out” party.

Yet another factor that favors the GOP in 2014 will be turnout.  In 2008 the electorate was 74% white.  In 2010 it jumped to 78% white.  In 2012 turnout is expected to be anywhere between 70%-76% white.  If the turnout ratio racially holds true in 2014 to 2008-2010 the GOP is likely to benefit greatly.  Minorities substantially support Democratic candidates while white voters are increasingly turning to the GOP on a bevy of issues.  Also, more conservative minorities turnout out in off-year elections than presidential elections some exit poll analysis has found.

Looking even further ahead to 2016 perhaps the GOP needs to lose this cycle.  Partisan Republicans and conservatives vow up and down this election is critical (they are right) but the rising stars of the party in Chris Christie (NJ), Marco Rubio (FL), Susana Martinez (NM), Brian Sandoval (NV) all point to the GOP having some seasoned all-stars ready to run for president in 2016.  While Democrats have their own stars rising many remain simple mayors or Governors of partisan blue Northeastern states which limits their ability to reach out to swing voters.

In short, Republicans may be worried about 2012 but come 2014 and 2016 it could be Democrats who could be singing the same tune.

The sprint to the end begins for the Presidential campaigns

With the Republican and Democratic Conventions now over we can take stock of where the race stands about 50 days out from election day.

Essentially the race remains a tie.  In the Rasmussen daily tracking poll (9/17) Romney leads by two points nationwide and two in the battleground states.  In Gallup’s tracking poll Obama is still benefitting from his post-Convention bounce and had a three-point edge coming out of the weekend.  Gallup uses a RV model and Rasmussen a LV model so it is likely the race is tied considering historically that RV voter models tend to underestimate GOP support by about 3% in presidential elections.

The President continues to boast decent leads in many swing states (minus North Carolina) but again most of these leads are based on RV samples.  These samples skew left.  Even some state pollsters like PPP (D), which are now using LV models, have samples that lean closer to 2008 turnout levels than 2004 or 2000.

The basic fundamentals of the race have not changed.  At the end of the Democratic Convention new jobs numbers from August showed tepid new hiring and over 360,000 people quit looking for work.  The labor participation rate also dropped to its lowest rate since the Great Depression.  Basically, the economy remains a noose around the President’s neck.  All Romney has to do is find a way to squeeze it tight.

Recent events have also intruded on the presidential race.  The Middle East is in an uproar over an US made video that mocked Islam and Mohammad.  The ongoing turbulence in the Middle East has caused the death of the US ambassador to Libya and several marines.  Embassies across the region remain on high alert.

Romney’s response to the crisis has largely been panned by foreign policy analysts and the oh so unbiased media.  But the President’s response has been meek as well.  It is unclear how these events have shaped or could shape the presidential contest.  The Obama campaign has hammered Romney for his knee-jerk response to the attack while the Romney camp has hit back saying the President’s response has been one of “doing nothing.”

Both campaigns are buying up airtime in key battleground states and focusing even more heavily on voter turnout efforts.  As the Romney camp prepares to unleash a barrage of new attack ads on Obama they worry that voter fatigue could mitigate their cash advantage in the closing days of the campaign.  Beyond just attack ads the Romney campaign is trying to settle on a decisive theme for their campaign. In the last few weeks it has oscillated.  The Romney camp is also unveiling a new set of ads which would explain that Romney does have a plan if elected to office.  The ads reportedly will focus on job creation, energy independence, repealing Obamacare and eliminating burdensome regulations on small business.

The Obama campaign seems to have settled on a campaign strategy of defining Romney as unacceptable to be in the White House.  But in turn it seems that Obama may get dragged down in the mud with Romney and that seriously damages the likeability advantage he enjoys.  Before the Conventions a flurry of new polls echoed this trend.

In short, with 50 days to go until the election it could go either way. Both Romney and Obama are finalizing campaign strategy and the race remains close.  On November 6th, we could be in for a late night.

Chicago showing a rift between the “old and “new Democratic Party

This Monday Chicago school district teachers walked off the job because of contract disputes between the union and the city.  According to reports the city and union had agreed on a 16% pay increase over four years but the larger dispute was over teacher accountability.  In other words, making teachers responsible for how well their students do on standardized tests.

When the union went on strike the city went into panic-control mode.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel condemned the strike and called on police to keep law and order, charities to help feed needy children, and churches to provide activities for affected children.  Meanwhile negotiations between the union and city continue.  Emanuel is not one to give in but he may have to if the union digs its heels in and the strike continues to last.  Let’s keep in mind Chicago is also facing a sky-high murder rate.

This strike however could showcase something larger however.  The gradual morphing of the Democratic Party from the party of protecting all sorts of unions to a select few.  In most cases Dermocrats would protect newer more down scale unions such as the growing SEIU.  The shifting constituencies of America and the Democratic Party made it all but inevitable that this would happen.

It is notable that the President has yet to make a statement on the strike despite the fact the NEA and AFT have heartily endorsed the President.  Obama is not the first Democratic President to rankle teachers unions.  During Bill Clinton’s tenure, along with a GOP Congress, he instituted a series of small national reforms in education that aimed to eliminate waste, promote accountability and provide states more flexibility.  When George Bush came into office his No Child Left Behind Act largely centered on making schools across the nation accountable to one set of standards.

The battle going on in Chicago is also not the first time a Democratic executive has rankled union (teacher or otherwise) feathers.  During the dog days of the recession, 2009-2011, Democratic Governors had no choice but to take on the unions to balance their state budgets.  In New York, Governor Mario Cuomo, instituted a series of reforms making union members contribute more to their pensions.  In Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy, also largely echoed Cuomo’s actions.  To a lesser degree Democratic Governors in OR, CO and CA have also had to confront teacher unions.

By and large the biggest public battles for the unions, especially teachers unions, has been between them and the GOP.  In Indiana teachers revolted and fought tooth and nail against education reform and Indiana becoming a right to work state.  In Louisiana they opposed the expansion of Charter Schools under GOP Governor Bobby Jindal.  In Michigan the unions successfully pushed a state legislator out of office for his work on a budget bill that cut school funding, particularly in the area of compensation.  Even here in Idaho the IEA (Idaho Education Association) and teachers are fighting education reform.

Than there is Wisconsin.  Since mid 2010 the state has been involved in a series of brutal recalls and hard-fought judicial elections.  The turmoil in Wisconsin just recently culminated in June with the failure of unions and Democrats to oust Governor Scott Walker in a recall (they did take control of the state senate).  This means that at least until 2015 Walker’s efforts to reform collective bargaining agreements, create more charter schools in Milwaukee and eliminate tenure and enforce more accountability standards will stand.

As the nation has changed, by and large unions have not.  The NEA and AFT have appeared tone-deaf to the cries of millions of Americans, not to mention hundreds of politicians, about the shoddy state of public education in the country.  Ironically, despite their solid support for the Democratic Party it seems to be turning against them.

The “old” Democratic Party needed unions to survive and win elections.  In big cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, New York City and Chicago, union get out the vote efforts were crucial.  In fact, JFK may owe his election in 1960 to some shady union actions in Chicago on election day.  The “new” Democratic Party does not need unions as much as they once did.  They now connect to a new class of professionals, call them technocrats if you will, that they did not prior to the 1990’s.  It could be argued Bill Clinton started to create the inroads Democrats have made with this new group of professionals.

The political environment has also changed.  In order for Democrats to keep claiming they represent the interests of minorities, particularly the growing Hispanic population, they can no longer let unions completely run education.  Instead, the Democratic Party must be seen as fighting for minorities educational rights and also appealing to upper to middle income technocratic whites who care very deeply about their children’s education.

The battle going on in Chicago between the teachers and Emanuel is a microcosm of the struggle going on in the Democratic Party where the “old” is fighting the “new.”  It seems likely the “new” will win out as many up and coming Democratic stars still at the local level, mayors Antonio Villaraigosa (LA), Julian Castro (SA), Kasim Reed (Atlanta) to name a few, are behind reforming education and adopting accountability standards for schools.  The “old” union dominated wing of the party has no such up and comers and had none to display prominently at the DNC last week (unless you count Trumpka as young).

Inevitably political parties go through shifts and face internal schisms.  The GOP did in 2009 with the Tea Party movement and is still dealing with it today.  The Democratic Party is going through the same kind of internal struggle with the teachers unions and Democratic officials and leaders.  Chicago simply shows the rift that has been growing in the Democratic Party. A rift driven by the changing political environment, the party’s new constituencies and current fiscal issues facing Democratic elected officials.

Update: Romney to no big surprise came out and strongly condemned the strike.

Democrats hope for a Southern resurgence

Democrats recently concluded their National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. To the uninitiated it may seem unusual for the party to hold its Convention in a state they barely won in the landslide 2008 election.  Yet Democrats are contesting the state this cycle.  And even if they do not succeed in winning the state again this year in the future they expect demographics to shift the state in their favor.  Virginia is another state that has seen this demographic shift with growth in minority populations and the state becoming increasingly less rural.

In Georgia Democrats are not contesting the state this cycle.  But just as in VA and North Carolina, growth in minority populations and a substantial increase in the urban vote (Atlanta) makes Democrats feel optimistic about their chances in the state in the future. According to the 2010 Census the Hispanic population tripled in Georgia and in North Carolina it is estimated that the number of eligible Hispanics in North Carolina who can vote this election has doubled from 2008.

Specifically, in Georgia Democrats feel like they have the perfect candidate waiting in the wings, first term Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed.  According to a Roll Call article Reed is well liked by both Democrats and Republicans.  It could also be inferred he is laying the groundwork for a future statewide office campaign as he has been involved in dealings with both sides of the aisle.  For now Reed seems content to sit in Atlanta and gain more experience and name ID but in several years or a decade he could be a formidable challenger to any GOP opponent he faces on a statewide ballot.

While demographics may favor Democrats in VA, NC and GA they do not favor the party in other Southern states, specifically FL, AL, MISS, LA, MS, AR, TN.  In each state the minority population held steady while the white population increased.  Of course in most presidential elections recently (minus 92 and 96) only Florida has been competitive out of the group of states listed above but Democrats still have hopes they can build on their minority African-American base in the Deep South.  The odds appear against it however.

As the Democratic Party has incorporated more minorities and women into its fold the party has been shedding white voters like crazy.  Many of these white voters were former Southern, conservative Democrats.  They have since turned away from the party as its message has been tailored to urban and suburban single women and minorities.  Unless Democrats can find a way to win these white voters back it is unlikely the South will become fully Democratic anytime soon.

However, it would not be fair for me to say the Democrats even need the entire South.  If Democrats could turn VA. NC and GA to their side in the next few presidential elections that would be a swing of almost 50 electoral votes.  The GOP would have to make that up somewhere else.  While the GOP may have a good shot at winning Midwestern states in the future it does not look like Wisconsin or Michigan will turn right before any sooner than, say, Georgia turns left.

In the short-term Democrats face an increasingly hostile Southern white population that votes in greater proportion than the African-American or Hispanic population.  Long-term however Democrats hope to compete statewide and build a new House majority on winning newly competitive Southern states.  To build a House majority running through the South will at least take a decade however as the current GOP administrations in each state have consolidated minority populations in Congressional districts where they can do less damage than they otherwise could.

For Democrats winning new House seats in the South would be a major coup.  The current GOP majority, and that the party had from 1994 to 2006 rests largely on control of the majority of Southern districts.  To simplify things I classify any Southern district as being as far north as VA and as far west as Missouri.  Currently, the GOP controls 83 of the 117 Congressional districts that fall under this geographical area.  Add in Oklahoma and Texas and the margin grows.  By 2014 the GOP could be even more a Southern party as both GA and SC gained a new seats that are expected to go Republican.  Missouri lost a a Democratic seat, redistricting in both GA and NC threaten Democratic incumbents and an open seat in Oklahoma leans to the right.  In short, if Democrats cut into GOP margins in this region they could begin to establish a permanent majority in the House, much like they had from 1954-1994.

So far the GOP is showing little worry about how demographic shifts in the country could change future elections.  If 2012 is any indication than the party seriously is lagging behind Democrats in reaching out and appealing to new minority voters.  For a GOP majority to endure, especially it runs through the South, the party will have to find a way to appeal to both majority white conservatives and minority voters.  Democrats believe this puts the party at a serious disadvantage and perhaps it does.  But if the GOP establishment has not quite woken up to changing demographics, individual GOP groups and leaders have.  This helps explain in 2010 how new GOP leaders such as Governor Susana Martinez (NM) and Brian Sandoval (NV) along with Senator Marco Rubio (FL) and Representative Allen West (FL) were elected.

Democrats remain bullish on the South (or at least parts of it) becoming competitive in the future.  If current political trends hold true they likely will be right.  But in politics nothing is certain.  Nothing is certainly consistent and that means banking ones future on predictions can be a dangerous game.

Democrat’s uphill climb in the House remains steep

On the eve of the DNC, House Democrats publicly remain bullish that they can gain the 24 seats they need to retake the House next year.  Practically however, Democratic leadership remains aware of the substantial hurdles they have yet to clear in their quest.

Democrats in the South alone are likely to lose a House seat in Oklahoma and Georgia this year.  In North Carolina the butcher’s bill could be anywhere between 2-4 House seats.  Democrats are set to gain two new seats in TX and likely win 2-4 seats in Florida.  But Republicans will counter with better than even odds of stealing a Democratic district in Arkansas, and gaining a new seat in SC and two in Texas.  Republicans also eliminated a metro St. Louis based Democratic district.

Elsewhere across the country Democrats lost a House seat in Michigan redistricting, might lose a seat in Ohio, lost a seat in New Jersey, have slightly better than 50-50 odds of winning a new WA state district, are set to gain 1-3 seat in Arizona and might win 1-3 seats in California.  However the GOP is likely to win one to two new seats in California, off-setting losses in the state, and will likely fight to a draw in redistricting the Northeast.

Of course there are at least two dozen more competitive races across the country that could swing either way.  Both of New Hampshire’s GOP controlled Congressional Districts could swing this cycle.  In Minnesota and Michigan the GOP will have to fight hard to hold seats gained in 2010, even after redistricting made them safer.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Take somebody else’s.  Somebody who is far more accomplished and experienced in predicting such things.

Writing for Roll Call, political analyst Stuart Rothenburg wrote on July 19th, “Right now, the outlook for the House is anywhere from a small GOP gain to a modest Democratic gain in the single digits — not close to what Democrats hoped for as the cycle began.”  Using what Roll Call has as of today, Republicans have 194 safe seats, 15 that are likely Republican and 20 that lean Republican.  Democrats have 156 safe seats, 11 seats Likely Democratic and 12 leans Democrat.  The last 27 seats are rated as toss-ups with 17 being controlled by the GOP and 10 by Democrats.

Let’s do some simple math here.  If we give the GOP only safe seats and likely seats they still retain a narrow majority of 219 seats.  In other words if Democrats win every toss-up, Democratic and Republican leaning district they still cannot regain the majority.  And the odds of them pulling off such a feat are no good.

Not only is the math against the Democrats but so is the political wind.  Democrats regained the House in 06 and built on their majority in 08 with strong headwinds at their backs.  In 2010 they lost the House due to the tidal wave force of anti-Democratic sentiment that crested in November.  This year, with a Presidential election and the battle for Senate control being heavily watched the battle for the House is being overshadowed.  The closeness of the Presidential race seems all but to ensure that Democrats will get few if any coat-tails from Obama’s campaign.  In fact, House and Senate candidates have received little help from the White House, whether financial or strategic.

The political environment remains neutral for Congressional candidates running across the country.  They must be the ones to swing their races and in many cases even their candidacy or personal attributes are unlikely to swing certain races.  For most Democrats, the best they can say is they are on the “offense” in the House.  It seems however the GOP is fine to play defense and let Democrats nibble at the edges of their substantial majority.

Democrats face yet another challenge in their bid for the House.  Not only is the math tough for Democrats but so is the route they must take to regain the majority.  To win the majority Democrats would have to hold all their marginal seats in the South (OK, GA, and FL) and gain close to 5-10 seats in the region, which has increasingly become inhospitable to their kind. To put this in perspective before 1994 Democrats dominated the South.  After the GOP Revolution that year they lost well over a dozen seats.  In 2006 and 2008, when Democrats routed the GOP they failed to gain more than 5 new seats in the South (including VA and NC) in each election.  In 2010 they lost 19 seats in the region.

Democrats will continue to claim up to election day that they still have a chance to retake the House.  But mathematically, politically and route-wise the path to the majority for  Democrats face significant hurdles.  I is unlikely they will even come close to crossing them by the time November remains.

House Predictions 2012: Democratic Gain 5-8 seats