October 25, 2006


Why the GOP may not see electoral defeat in two weeks, after all:
JUBILANT DEMOCRATS SHOULD RECONSIDER their order for confetti and noisemakers. The Democrats, as widely reported, are expecting GOP-weary voters to flock to the polls in two weeks and hand them control of the House for the first time in 12 years -- and perhaps the Senate, as well. Even some Republicans privately confess that they are anticipating the election-day equivalent of Little Big Horn. Pardon our hubris, but we just don't see it.

Our analysis -- based on a race-by-race examination of campaign-finance data -- suggests that the GOP will hang on to both chambers, at least nominally. We expect the Republican majority in the House to fall by eight seats, to 224 of the chamber's 435. At the very worst, our analysis suggests, the party's loss could be as large as 14 seats, leaving a one-seat majority. But that is still a far cry from the 20-seat loss some are predicting. In the Senate, with 100 seats, we see the GOP winding up with 52, down three

We studied every single race -- all 435 House seats and 33 in the Senate -- and based our predictions about the outcome in almost every race on which candidate had the largest campaign war chest, a sign of superior grass-roots support. We ignore the polls. Thus, our conclusions about individual races often differ from the conventional wisdom.
Last spring, a group project in the required stats course for the MBA concluded that apart from incumbency, money and fundraising edge most closely predicted the chance of reelection for sitting members of Congress, regardless of party for at least the last 40 years. Barron's comprehensive race-by-race survey seems to confirm the simple statistical analysis, and likewise predicts very little change for 2006. As it notes, there have been individual elections where this predictor did not turn out to be true in the majority of cases, but will 2006 be another exception or simply conform to the rule that he who has the gold rules--and gets elected?


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