The political analysts at the University of Virginia’s “Crystal Ball” have rarely been wrong, and they just updated their predictions for what will happen to the US House of Representatives party balance come the general election in November. Their predictions lean towards a strong possibility of the Democratic Party taking back the House majority, and the prospects for the Democrats only continue to get better.
The official Crystal Ball updates do not even include the impact of the record discontent with both leading Republican candidates on Congressional seat possibilities, although this issue was discussed by the analysts. The strong tendency for voters to side with a slate of candidates by party is well known, and the respective presidential candidates are the image bearers for their party in the general election. If a candidate has bad favorability ratings and loses the election, he or she will likely take out with them a sizeable number of same party elected officials across the nation.
Businessman Donald Trump has record unfavorability ratings, and US Senator Ted Cruz barely fares better. According to the numbers, Donald Trump has the worst public image since David Duke, the perennial candidate who also happens to be involved with the KKK — and who even expressed his support for Trump back in February, an endorsement with Trump did not initially disavow. You can see the graphs of Trump’s and Cruz’s favorability ratings below.
On the national scale, in line with these issues within the Republican Party, the Democratic Party looks like it will win the White House handily, whichever candidate they end up putting forward. Party-allegiant voting — and just plain anti-GOP sentiment — means that not only does the situation look better and better for the Democrats, electoral prospects also look worse and worse for the Republicans.
But the analysts at the University of Virginia did not stop with the above observations. They also pointed to specific districts and numbers towards the end of creating a “substantial target list” for the Democrats in House races come November. Their calculations function on the districts won in recent elections by each of the two major candidates corresponding to their national vote share by percentage. In other words, they predict which districts can be won by Democrats in House races based upon the projected national vote shares by party in the presidential race.
In 2008, then-Senator Obama won the presidency with approximately 54% of the vote to John McCain’s 46%. He won, at that time, 242 congressional districts. The Crystal Ball analysts predict that, should Democratic vote numbers in the presidential election return to 2008 numbers, Democrats would be able to retake the House majority. With a Hillary Clinton-Trump matchup, current poll numbers suggest that such a scenario would be nearly set in stone, since Clinton leads Trump by 8 points to a literally record loss for the GOP. The last time a candidate in the GOP lost the presidency with as much of a thud as Trump may was when segregationist Barry Goldwater ran in 1964.
Clinton only leads Cruz in the national polls by about 4 points, but even that number could put the Democrats in a position to win the House majority. The underdog Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders does even better than Clinton against the GOP. These facts underscore that any way you look at the situation, it is increasingly likely that the GOP will not only lose the Presidency but also the majority in the House of Representatives as well.