As to the Midterms
Sing along with Dr. D and enter your prediction below


Hey, man, guess what.  Dr. D feels like hitting the I/O button on the Mainframe and hearing that sweet, sweet hum as baseball's best blog revs back to life.  And don'tcha know it's a great feeling.  (Not that it wouldn't have lived with Bat571 in charge!  No disrespect brother.)

The Dr. D of two months ago used to always write what he enjoyed writing about.  I don't know if that's what they teach in college, but the Dr. D of today is gambling that it will work as well now as it did then...

Midterms tomorrow.  Here's a comments stub.  As we get back up and running, maybe we could use sort of an electrical check on the Mainframe's and the community's ability to run the way it always has?  :- )

One reason I think the Democrats could do well tomorrow and one for the Republicans:



James, and many others, thought it would help to let up on the rac-ist, sex-ist, this-ist and that-ist rhetoric for awhile.  Seems to me that the party has done so to an extent, and this allows "air" for the populace to see Trump as less of a victim, or at least less of a counter-puncher, and to soak in his bellicosity.

We're all told you can't trust polls.  BUT!  How far can you mistrust them?  1 point?  3 points?  4?  I think the process is basically sound and forecasts like these can only be off so much.  These charts show the Democrats with a 202-194 lead in "settled" seat with 39 swing seats.  Republicans would do very well indeed to hang onto the house given the math.



This guy correctly predicted the 2016 election and makes a train-stoppingly convincing argument on the other side.  The gist of it is:

Back in 2016, I predicted a Donald Trump victory when no one else dared. Every poll showed Trump would lose the presidency to Hillary Clinton by a wide margin. So how did I know?

First: Size matters. You could see it in the rallies. Trump would attract eight-hour lines and overflow attendance at wild, intense rallies all over America.

Meanwhile, the attendees at Hillary’s rallies could have fit in my living room. The same held true across America. That was my first clue that Trump was going to pull a huge upset that few saw coming.

... I see Andrew Gillum, Florida’s Democratic candidate for governor, holding a rally with Bernie Sanders, and the place is empty. Barack Obama could not fill a high school gym in Milwaukee. I saw Joe Biden and Obama at separate events here in Las Vegas playing to small crowds. Meanwhile, I was opening speaker for President Trump’s event in September at the Las Vegas Convention Center — with thousands waiting in line for hours.


But don't miss the entire column.

In the meantime:  if you want to talk midterms, even a single-line potato in the pot, you know what to do!

Dr. D's single* line would be:  50-50 coin flip on Democrats winning enough of those 39 swing seats to take the House back; honestly have no idea which way to go.  The oddsmaker-dude's thinking has traction, but the Repubs need a lot of those swing seats.  Somebody help me out here?





tjm's picture

Once more into the abysss.

The problem with your Vegas guy is that it is almost a truism in politics that crowd sizes don't mean diddly. This goes back to Goldwater who had a rabid fan base but that intensity turned off many others. And even if the enthusiam gap were a good thing, Trump handily lost the popular vote, which is where enthusiasm would presumably appear.

There's the further problem that Trump isn't on the ballot this year and in its place are a bunch of folks who line up with him on the issues but by and large don't come with the intense following. Of course, Trump's position on various issues - health care, taxes, civil rights, voting rights - are deeply unpopular. To address this, the candidates saddled with these unpopular positions try to ignore then, or in the case of health care, turned the facts upside down. I don't think I've ever seen so many candidates lie so brazenly than the GOP folks have done of pre-existing condition protections. Even partisans must have a hard time believing their ears.

In any event, I think the House flips, the Senate stays the same and the Democrats pick up a bunch of governors.


Having to go back to Goldwater gives me pause, though.  That was almost pre-TV politics, much less pre-social media.  The counter to the 1964 election would be ... the 2016 election :- )  I don't think there's any other reasonable way to read the 2016 misfiring of the polls OTHER than through the crowd sizes.  So whether journos consider it a "truism" or not that crowds don't matter, I would disagree.

I think if you read the article you notice that he combined the crowd size idea with the "Whisper" idea.  I trust that you wouldn't blow off the idea that many Trump voters refuse to speak to pollsters on principle; that not only has traction on both sides of the aisle but is almost universally accepted.  Some think it's 2% of voters and some think 10%, but few think the whisper voters are 0%.  IMHO it's because there has been so much raci-st, sex-ist, this-ist that-ist shaming for such a long time.

Whether Trump's positions are deeply unpopular... that's a good one to argue.  I'll leave it here for now, other than to say if there's a Blue Wave than I'll cheerfully concede you're right about that.  Thanks for jumping into the abyss :- )

Whichever of us was right, we have only about 24 hours to wait to find out.  LOL.  I personally will take it as a chance to learn what's wrong with my thinking if Dems win big.

If Dems win narrowly, I'll merely take it as that argument (1) above was correct.

tjm's picture

It wasn't journalists who came up with the idea that enthusiasm equals extremism; it was poltical pros. That's where I first heard it - when I worked in politics 76-80.

Also, the pollsters weren't wrong. Clinton won the popular vote at pretty close to the predicteed rate. Trump won because of some 80.000 votes in five states.

But, of course, you're right. Arguing about this now is silly. We'll know in a day. 


So good to see you again. :)

I'll just throw a quick potato in regarding the election...The early voting numbers in critical swing states are U-G-L-Y for democrats. Everywhere except Nevada, the immediate west coast, and New England that reports early voting numbers by party affiliation is slanting much further right than it did in 2016.

That said, early voting isn't a tell all for fact the correlation is very soft. But still...important for estimates of voter enthusiasm (or, in this case, rage).

tjm's picture

. . . and echoing Obama, Matt, what is the right so mad about? They control all three branches, have had unimpeded abiity to do whatever they wanted for two full years. They won! Why not smile.


The thing motivating most conservatives I know is the dishonesty of the press in covering trump, the left's bully tactics in the public sphere (hounding conservatives out of restaurants and such) or the rush to judgment on Kavanaugh.


I predict a large Dem victory tomorrow in the House, but with the GOP likely holding onto the Senate and perhaps gaining seats. Dems will also do extremely well at the state level, via Governor's offices and State Leg. Which is key heading into the next census and redistricting.

I've been closely involved with dozens of democratic house and state leg races over the past two years, and I have to be honest that most of them simply aren't adhering to the national Trump-driven narrative. They really aren't. They are focusing on issues that matter to their local constituencies: access to health care, civility in our politics, transportation, job security, etc. MANY of them are regular people, veterans, doctors, nurses, teachers. The democrats have so many authentically great people running this cycle, building the bench for the future. Which we've ignored for a generation, largely masked by the success of Obama personally.

As to that article you linked, a couple points I'd make in response:

  • Obviously Trump defied all expectations in '16, but in fact Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes... So I'm not quite sure what the "rally crowd size" argument has to do with anything. Hillary was more popular.
  • He's right that polling is missing out on an audience of voters. But it's young people, not a Trump silent majority. The shape and dynamics of the electorate itself will be dramatically different this cycle with young people shattering all previous records for turnout. I'm not saying it will be nearly what it should be, but perhaps 50%+ greater than the previous midterm.
  • Early vote returns are showing a giant unaffiliated turnout, which are predominantly young people. This is what you'll see in Texas for Beto, for example.

Even with the Dems putting up a 5-7% popular vote margin in the House, gerrymandering and voter suppression across the U.S. will mitigate the gains that should be made in a neutral environment. The Senate map is just brutal for Dems, which is a shame, but what are you gonna do :)


Keep in mind, 538 is right there with Wayne Root as people who argued that Trump had a legit shot in 2016 despite the broader media narrative. They're good at what they do over there, probably because they sharpened their analytical teeth on the real issues like baseball for so long.

In 2016 Trump bucked the math because of two things: the vagaries of the electoral college, and a ~3% systemic polling error against him. This 3% figure is just about the highest you can get in a well-conducted political poll, based on past elections.

So let's say that polls are off again in 2018, in the same way, by the same amount. This would be odd, given that pollsters were burned badly in 2016 and have surely taken corrective steps in their likely-voter models to prevent it from happening again. But still, let's say they miss badly again. That only makes the house a tossup. Democrats are currently at +8.7 on the generic ballot, meaning voters prefer them to republicans, in the abstract, by a 8.7% gap (50.7% to 42.0%). Now, the country is so heavily red-gerrymandered that the Dems need to be at +6 to break even (this is a whole Konspiracy Korner unto itself: regardless of party affiliation, we can all probably agree that it's incredibly weird that politicians are now choosing their voters, instead of the reverse. Republicans would be livid if the Democrats had a static +6 advantage before anyone cast a vote!) So the Democrats have a +3 advantage, prior to polling error. If this is accurate, they take the house easily.

Now, say the Republicans get three points from a systemic polling error as massive as that in 2016. This puts them at dead even by dropping the Dems from +9 to +6. So in the Republican HI scenario, they are still 50-55% likely to take the house. That's the HI outcome! In the MID, no polling error, they lose the house by a handful of seats. In the LO, which is just as likely as the HI, the polling error helps the Democrats by 1-3 points and they hit true "Blue Wave" territory and take the house by 40+ seats. So yeah, they house looks bad for the Republicans.

(Of course, the Senate is a near-mirror image of the house. Dems need a +3 polling error just to make it a toss-up, due to the obscenely bad math against them: 35 seats up, 26 held by Democrats)


So that's the math argument. The anecdotal argument against leaning on rally size is pretty large as well. First, Trump has spent his entire time in the public eye playing exclusively to his base. This leads to rabid fandom amongst the believers, but creates a broader swath of disaffected moderates to quietly lean democrat. Second, the democrats are also incredibly excited. They are polling at higher excitement that Republican voters. Their candidates are raising unheard-of sums, largely from galvanized small donors. The same phenomena that Republicans see as liberal "mobs" can also be construed as rampant excitement among the Democratic base. Keep in mind, the Trump rallies look like mobs to Democrats. And finally, the Democrats don't need to be popular to beat the party of Trump: they just need to be less unpopular than he is. His approvals are ugly, and by aligning themselves with him Republican candidates across the country are opening themselves to the same vitriolic response Democrats have to the big kahuna. So no, maybe they aren't packing gyms in Milwaukie, but do they need to? When the highest midterm turnout in recent memory find themselves in voting booths, they don't need to be rabidly excited about the Democratic candidate. They just need to be appalled by the Republican. People vote on fear more than anything else, or so the truism goes.


Of course we'll know tonight, or in the event of a close race, in the coming days. It will be fascinating to watch. We live in interesting times, gentlemen. It's a curse, and maybe a gift.


It's very regional. In three consecutive two-year election cycles, the polls have been way...way...way off in WV, OH, IN, MO, IA, and KY...Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania were also way off in 2014 and 2016, but look to have been more normal this time.

Something is very wrong with the polling methods they're using in the Midwest and Appalachia.


But Trump’s red sea wall held, if McSally and Rick Scott’s apparent victories hold up. Trump is in a good position make some deals with the largely pragmatic new Representatives, who have two years to demonstrate to suburban voters they can deliver results. It’s Bill Clinton triangulation time, except that unlike Clinton 1994, the Senate is controlled by Trump, a wheeler dealer who is a centrist at heart and who studies politics and especially what does and does not work. 


On the other hand, we do live in a new age of hyper-partisanship. Are there actually incentives for either side to work across the aisle? Doesn't making deals with Democrats hinder Trump's ability to demonize them and use Pelosi as a foil in 2020? Doesn't trading border wall funding for a progressive wishlist item just piss off the Democratic base who view the wall about as favorably as the Mongols viewed that one wall in China?

Not saying it can't/won't happen, just that much like a Mariners playoff team... I'll believe it when I see it.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.