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Morning Jay: Special “Bruce Banner Versus The Incredible Hulk” Edition!

6:30 AM, Oct 26, 2010 • By JAY COST
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I have to admit, I’m of two minds about this midterm election.  There’s Bruce Banner and there is the Incredible Hulk.

Bruce Banner.  Cautious and conservative, Bruce Banner is a firm believer that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  As such, he derives an estimate in this fashion.

Taking the RealClearPolitics average of the generic ballot polls, and dropping the highest (Gallup “traditional”) and lowest (Newsweek) numbers, he gets this:

Allocating the undecided voters proportionally, Bruce Banner gets a two-party vote of 54.5 to 45.5.  That’s a nine-point GOP win, in line with a prediction of a historically high Republican caucus, say 240 seats (which is what I actually did predict last week).

Incredible HulkThe Hulk has problems with this analysis.  It tosses out what has historically been the best estimator of midterm congressional results, the Gallup generic ballot likely model.  This year Gallup is calling it the “traditional” model, but in every midterm before this, it was the only likely voter model.

Just how accurate is it?  This accurate:

Only once in 60 years has the Gallup generic ballot underestimated Democratic strength by a significant amount – by 2% in 2006.  On average, it slightly overestimates the Democrats, by 0.7%. 

Right now, the Gallup traditional model is showing the Democrats at 41% of the vote, and gives the Republicans an advantage of 14 points. That would point to a final result along the lines of 57-43. It’s hard for Hulk to say how many seats that would yield, but it would be way more than 60.  Hulk notes that the Democrats have not sustained a share of the generic vote in the RealClearPolitics average higher than 43% since the early spring.  With the amazingly unpopular Nancy Pelosi as the face of the party, congressional job approval now limited to legislative aides, and more voters than ever suggesting that their own member doesn’t deserve reelection, just how much higher than 43% should we really expect that final number to go?

The circumstantial evidence in favor of this? As Jim Geraghty’s Obi Wan noted yesterday, it’s all around us.  We simply have gotten used to it. Ohio is all but gone for the Democrats, including the swingiest of swing districts in Columbus.  Michigan is a lost cause. So is liberal icon Russ Feingold in Wisconsin.  Pennsylvania looks like it will go maybe +4-6 for Toomey and Corbett. All of these places voted for Obama, and all of them are basically gone. Weak Republican candidates in Colorado and Nevada keep those races tight, but otherwise the toss-ups are: California, Illinois, West Virginia, and Washington. The last Republican presidential candidate to win all four of these? Ronald Reagan in 1984.  

So what are the arguments against this tsunami-to-end-all-tsunami’s? Hulk can think of two.

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