Larry Sabato Predicts A Blue Wave, But A Look At The Toss Up Races Says Otherwise


University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato predicts a blue wave in the House on Election Day. He’s not sure if it will be a tsunami, a medium wave or a small one. But he said a “red wave ain’t going to happen, it’s just a question about how big the blue wave is.”

Let’s go back to Sabato’s final predictions for the 2016 election. He anticipated that Clinton would defeat Trump, winning 322 Electoral Votes to Trump’s 216. He said the Senate would be a tie. He correctly predicted the Republicans would win the house, however he underestimated the margin of victory. So, let’s hope he’s as wrong now as he was then.

A look at the House races ranked as toss ups tells a different story. According to Real Clear Politics polling data, 32 races currently fall into the toss up category. The following table shows the most recent poll results for each race and based on that information, an estimation of whether they lean Republican, Democratic or in one case, a tie.

I must preface this by saying that I am not, nor have I ever been, a pollster or a political analyst. The point of this exercise was simply to take a deeper look at how the individual toss up races might affect the outcome. When we see a headline stating that 204 seats lean Democratic, 199 lean Republican and 32 are toss ups, it is reasonable to conclude that the Democrats will win the house. By estimating the direction of each race separately, we gain more clarity.

Of the 32 races, 18 lean currently Republican, 13 lean Democratic and one is impossible to determine.

As mentioned above, Real Clear Politics currently ranks 204 seats as likely or leans Democratic and 199 as likely or leans Republican. Adding the expected toss ups would leave the Democrats with 217 and the Republicans with 217. CA48, being so difficult to call would determine the final number.

Although several of the polls were conducted in October, most of these results are from September. And polls tend to tighten the closer we get to November.

A glance at the recent ranking changes provides another indication that prospects are brightening for Republicans. Since October 4th, eleven house races have moved from “toss up” to “leans GOP,” four from “leans DEM” to “toss up,” and only one has changed from “leans GOP” to “toss up.”

The stats from September 1-18th tell the opposite story. Seven races changed from “toss ups” to “leans DEM,” six from “leans GOP” to “toss up,” one “likely GOP” to “leans GOP,” only one “toss up” to “leans GOP,” and one “likely DEM” to “leans DEM.”

So, the Republicans have gained some momentum in October. Part of the reason for that might be voter disgust over the Democrats’ performance throughout the Kavanaugh confirmation process, and their uncivilized behavior in general. Other reasons may be Trump’s impressive string of successes and his tireless campaigning for Republican candidates nationwide.


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