Wednesday, June 21, 2006

House of Representatives 2006

I did some looking around at DC’s Political Report, to do some research on the races for this fall. They have a nice color-coded map for each category of races, but what I found especially interesting is the choice of information options. In my case, I want to make up my own mind, and so I prefer raw data if at all possible. DCPR provides its own information, but also links to many other sources. One thing I keep finding despite this wealth of information, whether from DCPR, Cook Political Report, Real Clear Politics, or any of the other services out there, is the lack of definitive data on the House races. Yes, a lot of these services will sell you a subscription which opens the polling they have on those races, but ‘caveat emptor’ folks, the polling is a bit less than trustworthy as a barometer, for all the reasons any poll should be taken with a measure of salt. In the first place, the respondent pool is often not identified to any great degree, the size is too small for satisfactory accuracy, the methodology is not transparent, and the polls are not taken often enough to establish a realistic pattern.

So, without the polls, what is there to ride on? Well, there’s news and there’s news. The first news is History, which is both bad and good. Incumbents tend to get re-elected, unless they trip badly in the public view. This is both bad and good, because it means that the arrogance of your average elected official tends to only grow with time and re-election, but it also suggests that the present Republican majority in Congress (231 Republicans, 201 Democrats, 1 Independent, 2 Ghosts) is more likely to continue than the press contends. Since every House seat is to be decided this fall, the Conventional Wisdom suggests that unhappiness with the Republicans could lead to a change in leadership, but a closer look does not support this contention. While the possibility of a Democrat takeover is possible, the chances of it happening is a bit less than they claim.

You can figure this out by simply scanning headlines. Basically, two things make for change in the House; scandal and retirement. Retirements affect individual seats, so we’re really looking then on whether there is something to make the voters mad enough to make the switch to the other party. For that, you need at least two components – people have to be mad enough at the governing party to kick them out, and the other party has to offer some reason to believe they would be better. The 1994 ‘revolution’ in the House was built on both factors, and so was the 1930 change. Most of the changes, especially in the House, have otherwise been gradual, and for the Republicans to lose control, they need to lose 15 seats of the 231 they hold, and they must lose them to Democrats. That is, 15 out of 231 and assuming no incumbent Democrat loses. If, say, 3% of the Democrats lose their seats, that’s 6 seats so the Republicans would then need to lose 21 of their 231 for the Donks to gain control, or 9% of their position, three times the Democrats’ loss rate. While President Bush has recovered steadily in Approval since May, the same is not true for Congress, and Democrats do not enjoy a significant position of confidence, relative to Republicans.

5 comments:

Pawnking said...

It is rather hard for me to imagine the GOP losing the house or Senate, much less the two together. As you mentioned, 1994 was a combination of sentiment, and strategy! Gingrich, in a move which will no doubt go down as one of the most brilliant of his long career, foisted beneficial retirement on aging (mostly democrat) representatives by basically giving them an attractive pension, then unveiled his Contract, effectively nationalizing the election.

Whatever Bush's woes may or may not be, there isn't that level of retirement in 2006, nor is there outrage against the GOP as there was in 94 against the Democrats, nor is there a nationalized plan from the donkeys to galvanize the country.

Ah well. I'm sure the final tally will be a great moral victory for the Democrats!

Seriouslyunserious said...

D C Political report seems to be a strange site. They are calling for a total change of 5 seats in the House, all Republicans. Same with the Senate three seats change hands all R to D. Just hard for me to believe everything goes in one direction. To top that off, they have DeLay seat in Texas going D. I will bet a whole lot of jack on that not happening. Who wants some of this action?

megan said...

I do not trust the polls. I figure most of the time they weighted to reflect what the pollster wants it to. In fact, I will go as far to say they try to keep conservatives at home by touting these "polls." That said, we have the majority up. We have more to lose. That isn't a reflection on Bush, it will be a reflection on the candidate. Perhaps with a couple exceptions, Kos wants to take Lieberman out and they may well do it.

knighthawk said...

Yup while certainly possible, it's unlikely they will take the house or the senate. I too want some action on the Delay seat, what odd should we set? :)

HILLARYNEEDSAVACATION said...

* great to see a 'knighthawk' comment from the old days...

really enjoyed the post Mr. Drummond.

wouldn't the positives in this amazing economy, tend to suggest not much will change this fall as well?

do people tend to vote in frustration, when it is based on difficulties with regard to money?

the 1993 issue had a great deal to due with ugly Clinton-Democrat Taxation Increases, National Health Care folly, and of course Somalia...

i still wonder if Bush Sr. would have had a better chance to make it to a Second Term, if he simply did not foolishly raise taxes.

Democrats seem to be the Party of taxation, slander, negativity, and appeasement.

not very attractive...