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Morning Jay: Special “Ultimate Predictions” Edition!

6:30 AM, Nov 2, 2010 • By JAY COST
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Thus, my intuition is that the final result will be a Republican share of the two-party popular vote of about 55 percent, with 45 percent going to the Democrats. That may seem like a big margin, but it is not far from 1994 when the Republicans won 53.5 percent of the two-party vote and the Democrats won 46.5 percent. Also, it tracks very closely to Ronald Reagan’s share of the two-party vote in 1980 (55.3 percent).

How many seats will this produce? Again, it’s exceedingly difficult to say. My model suggests a pickup of about 75 seats, give or take. Again, this might seem high, but think of it this way: 1994 saw a GOP victory of 6.5 percent, while I’m hypothesizing a victory of 10 percent, for an increase of 3.5 percent. So if we take 3.5 percent off the Democratic margin in every House race in 1994, the Democrats would have lost 67 seats rather than 52. Factor in district lines that are friendlier to Republicans in this decade, and 75 seats is within the ballpark. Put another way, check out the RealClearPolitics take on the House races. Give the GOP every "Likely Republican" and "Lean Republican" seat, give the Democrats every "Likely Democratic" and "Lean Democratic" seat, and give the Republicans 2/3rds of the "Toss-Up" seats, and you come out with a net gain of 75.

Now, this puts me in a peculiar spot. There is so much uncertainty with the House races that I think it generates a kind of herd mentality. If you’re going to be wrong, it’s best to be among your peers, right? That way, you don’t get singled out and devoured! Well, I could very well be wrong, and I’m out here on the margins. So...yikes!  But ultimately I followed Gallup out here, and historically following Gallup is a safe bet in midterm elections. And while I surely have a rooting interest today, I'll say this: if Gallup had come in low on Sunday night, I would have followed it in low, too.  

As for the Senate, Republicans will pick up seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. They will win one of these three seats: California, West Virginia, and Washington (with Washington being the most promising). All in all, a total gain of 9 seats.

Let’s break the trends down by region. Here’s a reference map so you know exactly what states fall into what category.

3. Regional Breakdown: The EastThe East – once the bastion of conservative Republicanism – is now a Democratic firewall. Gallup currently has the president’s job approval among adults in the East at 50 percent, about where it has been for some time. Accordingly, Democratic losses will be relatively minimal here. 

The exception is Pennsylvania, which is the poster child for the damage that Barack Obama has done to the Democratic coalition. Historically Pennsylvania has a pro-Democratic tilt of 3-5 points, but signs strongly suggest that the state will be more Republican this cycle than in a very long time.

Region-wide, Republicans will win Senate races in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. They will lose in Connecticut, twice in New York, and in Vermont.

The governor races are harder to call. The GOP has the edge in Pennsylvania and Maine. The Democrats will win easily in New York. However, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont are all very close. I’ll predict the Republicans win Connecticut, the Democrats win Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and independent Lincoln Chaffee wins Rhode Island.

As for the House races, here is how I see things.

4. Regional Breakdown: The South. The South was once the strongest region for the Democrats, but now it is by far the weakest. Generally, the trend in the South today will be very straightforward: the more African Americans in a voting district, the more likely the Democrat is to win. The white vote in the South has moved decisively away from the Democrats. 

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