House Race Summary Nov. 6:
So, where does the race for the U.S. House stand on the eve of the election? While we have a huge collection of House race polls, and while Democrats certainly seem on the verge of regaining control of the House, we see two reasons why these poll results still add up to considerable uncertainty. First, the outcome remains in doubt in 25 to 40 districts (depending on which polls you trust), virtually all of which are currently held by Republicans. Second, polls are always a snapshot of opinion, but in this case, the recent poll averages we use to classify races represent something of a “time lapse” snapshot, capturing a slow-motion picture of the races over the course of October. If Republicans have made significant gains in the last week, the picture may be distorted.
Let’s review where things stand, using the same formula as in last week’s update. Once again, the math is easier given one important finding: Not a single candidate in a district now held by a Democrat is currently trailing, regardless of the combination of polls examined. So, the text and the table that follow focus on potential Democratic pickups.
- Nine seats currently held by Republicans show a Democrat leading by a statistically meaningful margin regardless of what combination of polls we look at: Arizona-8, Colorado-7, Indiana-2, Indiana-8, North Carolina-11, New Mexico-1, Ohio-18, and Pennsylvania-10. Today we add one more: Iowa-1, where a new Des Moines Register poll shows Democrat Bruce Braley leading Republican Mike Whelen by 21 points (56 percent to 35 percent).
- One seat deserves its own category: The one and only poll in the Texas-22 district formerly represented by Rep. Tom Delay shows Democrat Nick Lampson leading. However, a complicated ballot (Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs is a write-in candidate) makes this result tenuous.
- Eight more Republican seats look to be in statistically meaningful jeopardy, but only when we count the automated Majority Watch surveys (either because those are the only surveys available or because they tip the balance, making the Democrat’s lead statistically meaningful): Florida-16, New Hampshire-2, New York-24, New York-25, New York-29, Ohio-15, Pennsylvania-6, and Pennsylvania-7.
- Three more Democrats show significant leads if we include the internal surveys released by partisan pollsters: Florida-13, Nebraska-3, and Ohio-1.
To sum up: If you trust the automated Majority Watch surveys and assume a pickup in Texas-22, then Democrats are leading in 18 races, enough to win a majority. If you trust all polls (including those released by partisans on both sides), then they currently lead in enough districts to pick up 21 seats. And they are not currently trailing in any.
But even more important: Polls have been conducted in October in another 29 seats where the averages indicate a statistical tossup. Only two of these seats are currently represented by Democrats. How well the Democrats ultimately do depends on how many of these still-too-close-to-call races they ultimately win. If they split evenly, then Democrats are looking at a gain of between 29 and 34 seats, depending on which polls you trust.