tv Campaign 2018 Charlie Cook Discusses the Midterm Election CSPAN November 2, 2018 9:04pm-10:14pm EDT
cook spoke as a meeting at the american academy of actuaries and make predictions of tuesday's midterm elections. he discussed how political trends are affecting the battle over the house and senate. this is over an hour. >> thank you very much steve for that nice introduction. i'm very honored to be here with you. i'm going to use -- i'm a little apprehensive about this i'm going to use a lot of numbers and here i am in front of a group of people that's what you do is numbers. but i was actually the other thing i was thinking is i've lost over 100 pounds in the last 17 months and i was wondering if you guys could figure out -- [applause] -- i had told my wife you know i hope you like me i'm going to be a lot longer than she had barpgened for. some of you could probably tell me what i'm more likely to be around. but anyway, thank you very much
for having me here. here we go, we're about 25 million people have already voted in this election, voted early. it's a 61 -- the experts say it's a 61% increase since this point back in 2014. the last midterm election, and you know we don't know necessarily how to vault that because how much of this is intensity and enthusiasm from specific people, or how much of it is just sort of normal behavior, but people that normally vote on election day just voting earlier, you know we don't really know that. we've had to adapt to a number of different realities over the last you know six months or so. if you think about leading into the summer we had one reality that things were looking tougher and tougher for republicans, and then we had the kavanaugh night, and that seemed to jumble
everything up, and seemed to slide things. i'll get into more detail in a few minutes. that sent things strongly in favor of republicans. and the house pulled back and helped republicans a little bit in the house of representatives, and that sort of seemed to be the post-kavanaugh set. and then now we're trying to sorted through do the events of the last two weeks and the pipe bomber, and the tragic shooting in philadelphia, does this do anything to change things and is there another shift of movement m and that's what we're trying to shift through right now. and we're seeing all kinds of numbers this morning, you may have picked up on your hotel room doorstep "the washington post" had a survey that was taken in 69 competitive congressional districts where the most competitive races are e or at least the ones they had
identified back in august. they used our numbers and other numbers, and have tracked them three times. it showed democrats ahead by 3%age points in these most competitive districts. that's not a whole lot. it doesn't sounded like a lot but when you consider that of the 69 most competitive congressional races, all but 3 of them are up in republican-eld districts. so that changes things, and then we worked with the lsu manship school of mass communications on another survey that was taken in 27 competitive districts that was released a week ago that had the margin at 12. so whether it's 3 or 12, but given -- it makes a big difference but we're going to see a lot of really, really, close races, and keep in mind that whether someone wins by a half a point or 20 points, the seat is a seat.
so there's a lot of really explosive thing there. i started my newsletter back in 1984 and so i've done covered nine midterm elections. nine presidential elections and i have to tell you and i've been involved in politics for a dozen years before that. every election i ever saw, somebody said this is the most important election since moby dick was a guppy. well, heck. i mean every even-numbered year the entire u.s. house of representatives is up. but how often do you see a teetering right on the edge? and how often do you have the house a majority in the house teetering right on the edge, a party holding on by a thread at the same time that the u.s. senate is split 51/49? that's really, really unusual.
and then fold in the stakes. and i think a lot of people tend to be washington-focused but this is something i think is important. a lot of people don't reveals that three-quarters of all of our nations governorships are up in this midterm cycle. not the presidential cycle. four-fifth of the state's legislative seats are up in the midterm election cycle. and think about the last ten years. and you think about back in 2010, midterm election president obama's term, midterm election, republican scored as oftentimes happens in these midterm elections the party or the party in power suffered devastating losses and down on the state level democrats had a net loss, republicans a net gain of 6 governorships nationwide, and over 700 state legislative seats nationwide. four years later the next midterm election republicans picked up two more governorships
on top of the six they had picked up in 2010, and over 300 more state legislative seats. the point of this is to say right now, we are at a point where republicans hold more offices than they've held at any time since the 1920s, but here's where this is awfully important. when you consider that washington over the last 20-35 years under both democrats and republicans washington has had an increasingly unwilling -- they've been unwilling or unable to deal with so many problems, it's created a vacuum, and states have filled that vacuum to a certain extent, or on some issues with governors and legislators being more assertive, and with the republicans winning the majority of governships the majority of state legislative seats nationwide, many of those legislators and governors embarked on an aggressive conservative agenda, well right
now all of that is up. you have a lot of open governorships and state legislative seats up i and term limited and there are 12 republican open governorships with no incumbent there, incumbents usually have an advantage versus only 4. so the state stakes are really high as well. so whether you're looking at the u.s. house, the u.s. senate, governor, state legislators top to bottom this is a hugely important midterm election. so, what is this election going to be about? and i try to think in terms of metaphors. and i've got two. one is boring from charles dickens the tale of two cities, but this is the tale of two elections. and we have one election this year that's for the u.s. senate. and it is being fought in a very red america, where of the 17 most -- excuse me, of the 13
most competitive u.s. senate rices this year, 13, ten out of 13 are in states that president trump a carried. of the 17 senate race where there's the slightest bit of doubt about the outcome, 14 out of 17 are in states that president trump carried. so, this is the most one-sided advantage to one party u.s. senate map we've seen in modern history, and it's largely being fought in states where president trump's approval ratings are higher than his disapproval ratings. it's being fought in one america. then you have the house and everything else. and in the house is disproportionately being fought in suburban congressional districts. purple, not red. and where these are places where president trump's numbers are very, very different from over in red america, and you've got
all the governors and state legislative seats and a lot of this is urban suburban, where it's just a very different venue. so, two different elections, one for the u.s. senate, and one for everything else. the other metaphor is that we have what appears to be a blue democratic title wave crashing up against a red republican seawall. where there are structural barriers that help protect republicans that will mitigate a wave to a certain extent, so, which is going to be more powerful. which is going to be stronger? the wave or the wall? and i'll talk about each of those elements. first let's go back to the wave. and what i'm going to do is talk about the context of this election, what we're expecting to see happen, a few pointers on election night and maybe some policy implications. first, we know that midterm elections they are refunda on
incumbent presidents. it's uncane how much this is true. since the end of the civil war we've had 38 midterm elections. 38. in 35 out of 38 whichever party had the white house, had a net loss of u.s. house seats. you've already compute it up at 92%. starting at the beginning of the last century. so starting 1902, we've had 29 midterm elections. and 26 out of 29, whichever party in the white house had a net loss of governorships, and you wouldn't think, what is a governor in lincoln, nebraska, you know but at 26 out of 29. 90%. but even down on the state legislative level, starting at 190 2, of the 29 midterm elections, 27 out of 29. the party in the white house had a net loss of state legislative seats. 93%, an average of 375 state
legislative seats nationwide. so, 92%, 90%, 93%. now notice i left out the u.s. senate. because in the senate it's a very strong pattern but it's not as strong. since we started the direct election of u.s. senators back in 1913, after the 17th amendment was passed we've had 26 midterm elections. and whichever party was in power had a net loss of u.s. senate seats in 29 -- excuse me in 19 out of 26. so that's 73%. wait a minute, why is this 73 so much lower than the 92, 93%? because with the senate with six-year terms and only a third of the accept up every two years, it matters which third of the u.s. senate seats are up. so that's a very important variable, and that makes a big difference and you always want to look at what happened 12 years ago when this specific group of senate seats were op.
what happened six years ago, that can make a big difference. these midterm elections they really are refunda on the incumbent party. now why is that? or the party in the white house? why is that? and political scientists have all kinds of reasons but to me the most compelling reason is that in pres little election years lots of people vote. in mid terms a third fewer vote. so you ask yourself disproportionately who tends to vote more in midterm elections than not? or midterm elections? and to me, and i'm going to use a phrase that my mother used to use when i was a kid, though not in a political setting. people with their noses out of joint. people that are upset, angry or afraid. they are disproportionately motivated in midterm elections. and if you think about it it's a certain amount of logic there. let's say your party just won
the white house two years earlier. what are your emotions? maybe happy, satisfied, complacent, maybe disappointed, but that's the range of emotions. but if the other side won, you either angry or you're afraid of what's going to happen. you have greater motivation. now there are other things at play, there's some demographics that come into play because the drop off between presidential election years and midterms the drop off or let me put it differently, the people that drop off the least are white voters, and older voters. so it's disproportionately younger and minority voters that tend to drop down some in midterm elections. so in 2010, and 2014, the two obama midterm elections and that and the fact that democrats were holding the white house. all those factors worked against democrats and they had
devastating elections. but the demographics work in favor of republicans, demgraphically speaking in 2006, when president george w bush was up, the war in iraq was not going well, extremely unpopular. the approval rating had dropped down to 38% for the president, and the republicans had a horrible midterm election where the demographics wasn't enough to save them from losing majorities within the house and senate. so it's attitudeinal and demographic. both of those are important. what are the most famous things said about american politics was the late democrat speaker of the house tip o'neill. he was speaker through the 70s and 80s. he's famous for saying all politics is local. now to me what tip o'neill meant by that was that if you want to figure out what's likely to happen in a state or a district, you look first at the people that live there, you look at their demographics, you look at
their past voting patterns in that state or district, then you overlaw, you look at the candidates, the campaigns, the circumstances, local issues and you usually figure out what's likely to happen there. but even when o'neal used to say that, it was a little bit of an exaggeration because once a decade something weird would happen. and you would have an election where all politics wasn't local. and to borrow a term from economics where it would be like an invisible hand that was pushing the candidates of one party forward or up and the other down and back. and it would be an election where if a state or district normally votes democratic and suddenly democrats lose it or they almost lose it or the state or district normally votes for republicans and they lose it or almost lose it weird things happen but it was only once a decade so it was no big deal. all of that changed in 1994. president bill clinton's first
midterm election. now let me set the back drop. for 40 years democrats had held majorities in the u.s. house. they had won majorities in 20 consecutive elections. over in the senate, democrats had had majorities for 34 out of 40 years. all but the first six years of president reagan's term democrats had had a majority. so you'd had -- now you know each party their support could come up or down and cycles, but democrats were basically always in charge until 1994. and in that 1994 election, democrats lost 54 seats and controlled the house, first time in 40 years, and they lost 8 u.s. senate seats and controlled the senate. wow, that's a real change. then, skip 8 years later, to the next -- 2006 midterm election under george w. bush that i talked about. republicans had a net loss of 30
seats and lost control of the house. they lost six u.s. senate seats and controlled the senate. wow look at that. then the next midterm election, 2010, obama's first midterm election, democrats lost f3 seats in the house, lost the house. they managed to hold on to control and in the next election 2014, democrats lost 9 more u.s. senate seats and lost their senate majority along with another 13 seats in the house. all of that is a very long way of saying that after 40 years of stability and democratic control, of the last six midterm elections in 4 out of 6 control of either the u.s. house or the u.s. senate or in two of them, both. switched. that's really, really really different. and where these midterm elections have gotten a lot more explosive, people are voting in a more parliamentary way. the old saying, well i vote the
person not the party. it's still happens a little. but not a whole lot. i mean people now there's a much greater -- much less what they call ticket splitting where you vote for a democrat and a republican for another and go back and forth. very little of that and now, people are either voting red republican or they're voting blue democrat or they're just opting to stay home. where voting with their seats as i say is an option. so, going into any midterm election we look for diagnosis indicators, cunares in the coal mine to tell us is the election going to fit into the pattern or be more of an exception to the rule. so what are the diagnostic indicators we look at and i'm going to talk about polls, and election results other elections that we've seen since november of 2016 for some kind of signs about what may be happening this
time. but what i found is that since 2016, i've had to go off on a little bit of a tang scwnt talk about polling because i have people say wow all the polls were wrong when i should we listen to the polls? first of all, if we were here five years ago, and if you had asked me about polling, what i would have said is look, the most rigorous, the best pollsters in the business, both each party, independent, the best pollsters in the business they are not as accurate as they were ten, twenty, thirty, forty years ago. and the reason is that telemarketters messed it up for everybody. and now with caller id and voicemail there are a lot of people that if they don't recognize a phone number as coming from a friend or relative or something, or actually i should modify that, a friend or relative they do want to talk
to. [laughter] they don't pick it up. so it's very hard to get a good sample. so even the best most diligentgent of pollsters are having problems. but when people say but the polls were all wrong in 2016, and when i say is wait a minute, which polls are you talking about? and when you think about the national polls, what do national polls measure in a presidential election? they measure the national popular vote. national polls don't try to tell you what's going to go on in any individual state. that's what they're supposed to do. what did the national polls show in 2016? well if you got up on the morning of the election and looked at real clear politics that they're average of all the major national polls what you would have found is that hillary clinton had a lead of 3 percentage points and when all the votes were counted she won the popular vote, which is what national polls measure, by 2.1 percentage points.
they were off by 9 tenths of a point. here's the dirty secret. that's about as close as national polls get. that's closer than they had been in 2012, when the national polling shows a closer race between president obama and governor mitt romney than the 3 point margin than it ended up being. so they were off a little bit, not that much. but, hey, i know that a national popular vote sithry and $5 will get you a cup of coffee at starbucks because that's now how you decide you wen the presidential elections. you win it by the loarlt college. professor, this is when most of the states went exactly how we thought. most of the states went exactly as the polls showed but there were three epic poll failures in wisconsin, pennsylvania, and michigan. and because you're all data
people, you might appreciate this. or maybe you won't. wisconsin, if you had looked at the real clear politics where they list all the polls in each state, if you looked on election day morning, there were 32 public polls taken and released in wisconsin between august 1st and election day. 32. and in 32 out of 32, hillary clinton was ahead. by an average at the end of in this case six and a half percentage points. but donald trump won wisconsin by .7 of a percentage point. what's that all about? pennsylvania there were 38 state ' wide polls between august 1 and election day. clinton was ahead in 37 out of 38. an average of 1.9 percentage points, and donald trump won pennsylvania by .7 of a percentage point, the same margin. then in michigan, there were 26,
trump was ahead in -- clinton was ahead in 25 out of 26. it was a 3.6 percent clinton average clinton lead going into election day. and donald trump won by .2 of a percentage point. so it was three states that were really, really wrong, but guess what? and i asked you frvetion you're me, if you're somebody that does what i do for a living, and 32 out of 32, say that wisconsin is going to do one thing, what the heck are we supposed to think? and now, we obviously knew that the popular vote could go one way and loarlt college could go another way. in 2000 algor won the vote but georgia bush 1 the electoral college vote. this was a half a point.
this was 2.1 percentage points, 2.9 million votes and this is for you data nuts. i didn't say nuts. [laughter] offic nodoes. you know when the last time there was this big a v of a divergence between the popular vote and the electoral college? 140 years. 1876. we all remember fondly, when samuel tilden won the popular vote by 3 percentage points, and rutherford b haze won the electoral vote by a point. 20 of those votes were contested but anyway laugh the thing about it is wow you knew they could be different but this far? the point is you need to be very careful when you look at polling but don't dismiss them all, and when you see a national poll, and when you see the nbc "wall street journal" poll for example that's done jointly by a top
republican and a top democratic polling firm, or when you see the abc washington post or cnn or fox news these are six-figure very sophisticated national polls. and they're pretty good. they're not perfect but they're really, really pretty good. but, out in the states, some of them are good polls, and some of it is schlock, that's a technical political science term. a lot of them aren't very good so you have to be very discriminalinating consumer of those, and that's why we're boog a whole lot more careful. that's off on my tangent about polling. so we look at the polls to see what kind of midterm election will be. think about the last eight midterm elections so 19al 6-2014. of those last eight in the last gallup poll before election day, in four of them, the president
of the united states had a job approval rating over 50%. in each case it was 58% or higher in four. and you know what the average net change in those were? no net change in the house, and a net loss of 2 seats in the u.s. senate. but in the other four, the president had a job approval rating of below 50%, and i should say in each case it was 46% or lower. and the average was a net loss of 40 seats in the house. and 7 seats in the u.s. senate. so, this is about a referendum on incumbent presidents and there is a point but sadly, we don't have any of the data points in recent history between 46 and 58, so there's a limit to what you could do here, but they are a referendum on incumbent presidents. so where are we right now? this is interesting where president trump, and i'm going to use for a couple minutes, i'm
going to use the gallup poll because it's the only live telephone people calling people poll that's done every week and has since he first took office, and they've done it since end of world war ii, so it's good to compare. now, back in september 10, to the 16th, a week after labor day, the president had a job approval rating of 38% and a disapproval of 36. but the next week it was 40, the next week 42, then 43, then 44, the next week 44 again, so we saw this imfrom the, and very steady, and then we saw it dip from 44 down to 40 that's interviewing through sunday night. and we've seen others where the president's approval rating and we don't know is this a still anomaly, or is this something real. but if you're accuracy in the
i'll tell you what, in the 40% this most recent week, 89% of republicans nationwide approve the job president trump was doing. 37% of independents and 6% of democrats. the week before, just to go with the larger numbers for president trump 9 is% of republicans approve, 39 percent of independents and 8% of democrats approve. now, let's pull it back and look at some others just to be absolutely fair, in the real clear politics the average approval is 44%,inate silver is 538 is 42%. fox had it as 47%, the nbc "wall street journal" depends on whether you're looking at registered voters it was 47 approve, mayoress for npr41, washington post 43, but the president's numbers had been improving this fall, but they
were still down in the place where bad things usually happen to incumbent presidents. and using the nbc "wall street journal" poll he was within a point of where president clinton was before that disaster for democrats, and within a point of where president obama was before that disaster for democrats, and you look at that and go wow, this is really something. and one other thing just to get into the numbers a second. of all the weeks i think it was close to 90 weeks president trump's administration his highest week in the gallup pole was 45%. and it was the first week in office and one week back in june. his lowest was 35%, and he hit 35 four different times but the most recent time it got -- went down to 35 was last december. so it's been a long time. his average has been 39, but president trump had had if he were a stalk you would say he
has a fairly narrow trading range. but he had been moving up to the upper end of that range at least up until and a week ago. now a lot of this and you remember the famous james carvel line from 19129, when he was working on the bill clinton campaign, and they had on a blackboard on the headquarters in little rock, it's the economy stupid. focus on the economy. but the thing about it is what's interesting is that when an economy is bad, people are there's a good chance they're going to punish the president. but if an economy is good, they vote on something else. there are fewer people some people will reward a president when the economy is doing well, but not nearly as many that will punish when it's doing badly. so here we are, we have a gdp is growing, it's 3 and a half percentage points.
the second quarter is 4.2. unemployment what it was at 3.7 this morning. that's fabulous. i mean that's like the best in almost 40 years. that's a terrific, but his job approval rate registration down in a not good place. not as bad as they were but not a good place, and why is it? and i probably shouldn't do this, but i'll just use a family example. mewe could have an unemployment rate of zero, we could have the gdp at twice the rate it is, and you know what? my wife and daughter are still going to really, really, dislike president trump, and hold that against anybody wearing his color jersey. so, it's you know it's not always the economy. but anyway, so what we look at the last couple things on polling and then we'll get to
elections and then we'll get into the wall and what works in favor for republicans. we look at intensity, and we can look at intensity a couple different ways. one we is because these things are referendum incumbent presidents you want to know how strongly do they feel this? and most pollsters will ask approve, disapprove. and some of them will go a step further and if you said you approve they will say would you say you strongly approve or only somewhat approve. or do you only strongly disapprove or only somewhat disapprove. on average for every one person that strongly approves, they're 1.4 that strongly disapprove. and that 1.4 to one ratio was true both in the most recent fox news poll and in the nbc "wall street journal." at one point it was going two to one so this is better, but 1.4
strongly disapproving to one strongly approving, that's pretty ugly. when you're looking at strong disapproves, fox news 43% strong disapprove. nbc "wall street journal" 45, washington post, 46. these are big numbers for people to strongly disapprove. now another thing we look at is who is expressing interest in the election? and in different pollsters do it in different ways and in nbc and the "wall street journal" what their duee of pollsters from each side they ask voters on a scale of 1 to 10 how interested are you in the upcoming election. when they merged all their data from january through august, 63% of democrats said they were 9's or 10's, 63%. but only 51% of republicans from
january through august said they were 9's and 10's, a 12-point democratic advantage on intensity, and that is enough if you're a republican that would scare the heck out of you. and what was interesting is the republican national committee had done a national poll and they actually liked it out they leaked it for a very good reason. what they found was that most republicans, most conservatives most trump voters didn't think that their majority in the house was in danger. after all, the president says there's a red wave, and we don't believe polls anyways. they were hitting the panic button. then you had the kavanaugh fight in september. now, a certain amount one phenomena we have in politics is there's a tendency as you get in the last month or two before the election for partisans to come home. in other words, for a democrats for who may have strayed or not
focused on the election they return to the fold and republicans that may have strayed they return back to the republican fold. so some of this would have happened anyway. but, this kavanaugh fight had an incredibly galvanizing affect but it was an affect in a very interesting way. it was the kavanaugh fight was to me what i call a color enhancement event. it made the red's redder and the blue's bluer. and there weren't a lot of people switching sides on this, but it made red's redder, and blue's bluer. and over in the senate largely being fought in red america, that had really, really, really bad consequences for democratic candidates, and for democrats that needed republican votes. but over in say the house, which is more in suburban america, purple america, and a place where president trump doesn't do so well, it had an affect but
not as much. because the thing about it is democrats here's the dirty little secret. about partisans coming home. the thing about it is this time democrats never left home. a lot of them had been really, really energized since november of 2016. a lot of them never got over it. they were ready but reps were lethargic about it or complacent, not paying attention. when nbc and the "wall street journal" did their mid-september poll, the 9's and 10's for democrats went up by 2 points from 63 to 65. but the republican number, 9's and 10's went from 51, from january through august. from 51, to 61. a ten-point jump. so suddenly that 12-point democratic advantage becomes a 4-pointdemic advantage. and when they did their poll in mid-october and i think they have one coming out on sunday.
when they did one in mid-october it was still 4 points where intensity went up for both sides, democrats went up to 72 but republicans went a up to 68, so there's still a democratic intensity advantage but it's not what it was prekavanaugh, at least post kavanaugh or prekavanaugh, but now we're trying to figure out what does pittsburgh, what is the tragedy in pittsburgh, what -- does this have any disproportionate effect? we're waiting to see. the final other poll thing i want to talk about mentioning is the generic ballot test, and you ask two different questions if the election were held today would you vote for the democrat candidate for congress or republican candidate for congress, or the other way is to say which party would you like to see in control. right now democrats are in ahead
8 and a half points in theinate silver's 530a. there's a general feeling the democrats need to be ahead for 6 or 7 to translate into a majority. that's a rough rule of thumb. so they're over the point. there were points last year when it was double digits. so it's not quite as bad for republicans as it was but it's at a very concerning rate. now one last poll thing. this blue wave you hear about, it's actually kind of a pink wave. because it's empowered to a very large extent by women. that's what is changed. we've had a gender gap going back to the reagan years, and in that last nbc "wall street journal" polls it was 47 approved, 49 disapproved. but amongmen, president trump had a net approval rating of plus 16 so noarpdz 56% of men
approved, 40% disapproved. but among women, 58% disapproved, and only 38% approved. and that translates down into the congressional vote. where in that last nbc "wall street journal" poll republicans were ahead by 14 points, democrats were ahead by -- republicans were ahead by men by 14, democrats were ahead in women by 25 points. wow. and if you break it out, it's basically -- it's non-college graduate women, women that with less than a four-year college degree there's a gender gap but they don't vote that different that much differently than men that are less than a four-year. but when you're looking at white women with a four-year college degree, or if you look at
suburban -- that's like that's very very real. last thing real quick, and then we'll move on, is election results. now, we look at what's happened since november of 2016 because these are like super size polls. there are election results. we had had five statewide republicans went 0 for 5 but a couple of these i don't think ought to count for making this point. the alabama senate race was a last december was a recommend m on roy moor. and the new hampshire governor's race chris christy's numbers had dropped to the point where i'm not sure his poor lieutenant governor had much of a chance in that one so let's puttings that aside. you did see democrats win but beat the point spread in virginia, a very purple state. good bell weather state. on governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, we had democrats over performing. democrat congressional
candidates overperforming hillary clinton in those respentive districts by 8 percentage points. and democrats only picked up one of them but a lot of them were really republican districts. a lot of them that left the house to be to president trump's cabinet. 8 point increase in democrat performance. state legislative we had had 44 previously republican seats that went to democrats. only 6 democratic seats went republican, and then finally we look at who voted in all the 50 state primaries this year? and last midterm election, which again was a bad one for -- a good one for republicans, and a bad one for democrats. 1.2 million more republicans voted in primaries in 2014 than democrats. this time, it was 2.9 million more democrats voted than republicans. so, the number of republicans
voting in 2018 primaries went up by 27%, hey that's pretty healthy. democrats, 91% increase. so you kind of look at all this and you remember the old tv show lost in space, and remember that robot that was like danger will robinson. these are danger things. so we're finish would the wave. let's talk about the wall. there are things that help protect republican majorities and in the house specifically, democrats need a 23-seat net gain to get a majority in the house of representatives. but there are two things that help protect republicans. and one is where congressional district boundaries are drawn. keep in mind it's done once every decade, and democrats had that devastating republican great year in 2010, gooives lieutenant governor, and state legislators republicans were suddenly able to draw the maps in most of the states, and
republicans had the opportunity to do to democrats what democrats had done to republicans in so many decades on redistricting, and they did. and modern technology you could actually do it even better than you used to be able to do it. so we've got -- now not every state i live in the state of nairld where there's a democrat jerry mander. if you live in illinois there's a republican gerrymander, many states very friendly republican boundaries. the other thing is where people live. keep in mind when a party wins a district by one vote every vote they get above that point is wasted. now ask yourself this question. where do democratic voters usually live? they live in cities in college towns. urban areas. and where do republican voters live? everywhere else. republican voters are more efficiently allocated around the country and democratic voters are highly concentrated. so democrats waste a lot more
votes. so between where the lines are drawn, and just natural population patterns, that is enough to protect a republican majority in the house unless the wave is repeatedly, really, really bad. well, guess what? it looks like it probably is. and so when we go through if you let me get away with a ridiculously wide range of -- in terms of forecast, and this is ridiculously wide. democrats need 23, and don't worry i'll get more specific. democrats very, very likely are going to pick up between 20-50, and if republicans decay if democrats pick up 21, 22 or less republicans hold on to the majority but okay, now, less go with a more saner range. 30-40, you know if you're going
to construct a bell curve of probabilities 35 would be at the very top. and so now, prior to the kavanaugh fight what i would have said is, oh, it looks like it's probably between 25 and 45, but then i would have said but, if we're wrong and it's not between 25 and 45, what i would have told you is the odds would be higher that it would be north of 45 than south of 25. so it wasn't a bell curve. it was asymmetric. thenarve the kavanaugh night lowered it a little bit. went back to a bell curve and where the probability probably only went from 75% chance of democrats getting the majority down to like 70% but the ceiling came down and kind of hardened so the chance of democrats blowing it wide open came down. but, we're seeing some signs and
a lot of campaigns have stopped polling, and so we're looking at very sketchy data, but there is some signs that post pittsburgh, and whether it's the actual incident or the president's handling of it where president trump has lots of fine qualities but the empathizing gene is not one of his stronger sues. and sometimes he doesn't project that real well. with hurricanes or whatever. so, there looks like there may have been a little retrenchment but we're not sure. anyway i think it's back to 75-80, 85% of democrats getting the majority but keep in mind, with democrats neath a 23 seat majority to get a gain to get a majority, 23 seats, democrats would need a 46-seat gain to get a majority that's just as big as the republican majority is right now. well wait a minute, republicans
they've had 55% of the seats in the house but that's not that big of a majority, and guess what? they've had problems getting a lot of things through. so, the probabilities are that democrats democrats when win a majority but that's it's a narrower majority than republicans get, or republicans have now. so they get the power to schedule the house floor, they get the gavels, the ability to call oversight hearings, the ability to it issue subpoenas, things like that. but from a policy standpoint not so much particularly within spoiler alert, republicans are very, very likely to get have a majority in the u.s. senate and president trump is still going to be in the white house with a veto pen. now that's the house. there's a wall, the wall mitigates the democratic wave to a point but probably not enough. democrats probably feel it. in the senate that republican seawall i was talking about, it
is a lot taller, and we talked about this. it is a lot taller than it is in the house, and the wall looks taller than the wave. and so that's why if you allowed me a ridiculously wide range of outcomes, it's anywhere from democrats picking up two which is what they need to get a majority all the way to republicans picking up four, but the most likely bell curve would be republicans pick up a seat or no net change. that seems to be the most likely thing to happen in this. and again it goes back to the states that where the senate's being fought. and so the thing is if you're -- think about some of these democrats. democrats have ten senate seats up that are in states that president trump won. there's only one republican seat up dean heller in nevada is up in a state that hillary clinton carried.
now does that sound challenging for democrats? it does. but wait a minute it's worse than that because of the ten democratic u.s. senate seats that are up in states that president trump won, five of them are up in states that president trump won by 19 point margins or more. so, if you're heidi heitkamp in north dakota, a state that mitt romney won by a 20 point margin, president trump by 36 point margin. if you're joe manchin in west virginia, romney by 27, trump by 42, if you're claire mccasical in missouri, jon tester in montana, romney by 14, trump by 21, and i am not predicting that all five of these democrats lose because i don't think all five will lose. all five of these are democrats up in really tough places, and i haven't mentioned two others,
one is bill nelson, incumbent democrat in florida. florida is a state that president obama last won by one point then president trump carried by one point. classic swing state, but his opponent is the governor rick scott, who is has written checks last thing i heard was for $48 million. that's personal. after-tax. that race is really, really close. and we also left out senator bob menendez in new jersey. normally you would say okay, a state that president obama won by 18 points that hillary clinton won by 14 points, u.s. senate race, hey it almost always goes democratic. however, if you've been indicted and tried on bribery charges, even if it ended up in a hung jury, you know all that means is
the prosecutor couldn't get a unanimous jury verdict against you. and they've decided to add -- so but i think new jersey is probably the one senate race where president trump is of no ininfluence whatsoever. that it's basically a question. new jersey how do you feel about this? and so, this is where menendez has had a lead of 5-6, 7 points but it's a very tenuous one and we're being cautious with and we move that over to toss f-up. 7 democratic senate seats in danger. meanwhile there are five republican seats that we're watching and one is dean heller nevada, where hillary clinton won by a point. two are open seats in arizona and tennessee. now these are states that are pretty red republican, arizona is trending less, it's still red
but it's moving more towards purple competitive, it's where jeff flake is retiring. tennessee is red, red republican. but where democrats have been doing unusually well, both of them close races, brett has seemed to have an edge prekavanaugh, and then post kavanaugh seemed to slid a bit looks back it came back to pretty close but those are two republican seats that are awfully close. then there's ted cruz in texas, and i'll tell you he's one of the smartest people i've met in my life, my guess is that from nursery school through harvard law school he got straight a's in every single subject except one. plays well with other kids. [laughter] and he has in the words of one republican pollster in the state, an image problem. and he's a polarizing guy with sharp elgoes and he has a history of throwing around, so his lead is not real big, and
beta o'rourke the democrat a guy who raised a lot of money, has been out spending. i think every liberal in america has sent him $20, it's gotten to be a pretty close race but cruz has the advantage i would be surprised if he lost. i would be surprised if we got past noon on wednesday without people mentional beta o'rourke running for president. because he has a good fund raising race right now. you look at that and there's also this weird special election in mississippi, where for the walk republic senate seat and it's because it's a special election everybody runs on one ballot together and there's no party designation. they don't tell you who's a democrat or republican but you all run together and there are two republicans running, and one democrat, so the republican vote gets split and you got the
appointed incumbent, who is cindy hyde-smith who is an old-fashioned republican, and the other is chris mcdaniel the state senator tea party guy who almost knocked off senator walk republic in 2014. so the republican vote split and it goes to a november 27th run-off with mike esbye, african american, former secretary of agriculture. so he'll be in a run off with one of the two republicans. the republican will probably hold it but if some freak of nature the democrats pick up eighty one seat on november 6, and the senate is 50/a 350 and we have an overtime election in mississippi, then the republican would have an advantage. so you scrunch all this together chances are pretty good we're going to have a republican senate, it just may or may not be a little bit wider or about the same it is now. democrats likely to get the house but not a majority they can do a lot with, but to me is
and this is the last thing i'll say before we open it up for questions or comments or accusations. i think from a policy standpoint it's going to be what happens in the states that's a much bigger deal. i think we'll see between a 5-10 governorship net increase for democrats, and some of these are pretty substantial states. like illinois, is a republican governorship. gone. michigan, republican governorship, probably gone. ohio, teetering right on the edge, florida, right on the edge, georgia, right on the edge. these are all republican governorships. we've got -- where democrats are going to pick up between 5-10 governorships and maybe 400-600 legislative seats or 5-10 chambers by the majorities and state senate. and given the aggressive policy agenda we've seen in the states
over the last ten years, that's where there's a real policy implications there, plus redistricting, takes place with the governors and state legislators that take place in 2021 when they draw the map for the next decade. this is a huge election, why don't i stop and open it up for questions or comments. . . . >> well, let me just do 2018, and we can do, reserve 2020 for another conversation, which i'm happy, happy to do. but 20 18, each side has a messaging that they're trying to do. and for republicans, there's
sort of two different messages for who parts of the party. for the really strong, pro-trump people it's, if chem the accurates get -- democrats get a majority in the house, they're going to impeach our president, and they're going to try to remove him over in the senate. it's protect our guy. but then there's another part of the republican party that they like a lot of what's happening, but they not necessarily, they don't necessarily approve of president trump's table manners. and with this group, the messaging is a little more subtle. it's do you like how the economy is performing? do you like your tax cuts? do to you like a -- do you like a more flexible, reasonable regulatory regime? do you like your judicial the nominations, the new supreme court justices? if you do, democrats are going to the try to reverse all of that. so you need to protect what's going well.
and where they're not really, it's not really about trump. i mean, it's about an agenda. so that's what republicans are doing. democrats, you know, i hear people on tv say, well, democrats have no message. this is what i tell my democratic friends: no offense, but this election's not about you. it's about him. and you really kind of, i don't think you really want to get in the way of that. i mean, you know? [laughter] but to the extent that issues are involved, health care, saving pre-existing conditions, maybe arguing that, you know, we've had this environment with the affordable care act where one party argues that the affordable care act was the most horrific piece of legislation ever passed by any legislative body in the world. the other party seems to pretend that it was the product of an immaculate conception and should not be tampered with in any way. that's an exaggeration but not
so much. so for what democrats, they're trying to say we need to protect pre-existing conditions and not sabotage, not try to repeal the aboard if bl care act -- the affordable care act, but fix its shortcomings, fine tune it. so that's their -- but the thing is democrats don't really, they shouldn't -- and where democrats ought to, if i was a democratic consultant, i'd say for gods sake, do not use the phrase single payer. because it's really popular in the democratic base, but it freaks out suburban swing voters which is sort of where the house is going to be determined. so you don't want to say that. it would be best if you didn't say medicare for all, although it's hard to say what in the hell that that actually means, but -- that's preferable to single payer, but you're much better off if you say preserving pre-existing conditions and making obamacare work, you know?
so the thing is to the extent democrats are pushing issues, it just gets in the way of this being an up or down and -- referendum. and at least in the house, governors, legislatures. and, again, the governors and legislatures, that's just driven by turnout, you know? if democrats are coming out of the woodwork and if college-educated women are coming out of woodwork against -- to send a message against president trump, that's going to benefit a lot of democrats in a lot of different places but just not so much in these red republican senate states. yes, sir, right here. our canadian friend. >> i didn't hear you mention the word "immigration" as an issue in that campaign -- >> well, i had to leave one -- the something for you to ask. [laughter] >> and knowing that it is generating fear, anger and hatred, it seems to me that this is a cardinal issue of the election and that under people trail that is current happening
is probably going to be -- >> no, the immigration issue is a huge issue, but it's not an issue that's turning voters one way or other. president trump is using it as a hot button the issue. it motivates his base. he's trying to get -- i mean, right now, president trump, if you look at his schedule, it is -- we've got an exception where he's going to georgia for the governor's race, but almost exclusively in red republican senate states. and he's -- it's the as if he's, is pretending that there's not an election for the house. because that's not going well. he wants to be focused on senate, and that to be the verdict of his success or failure. he is trying to do everything he can to stoke up his 46% that voted for him and to get 'em jacked up. and immigration is one of strongest issues to motivate that base. for democrats, here's funny --
in 2016, i'm trying to decide whether i should say this or not since our friends from c-span are here. by way, thank you for allowing c-span in because it provides a real service for the american people to see stuff. most of it's higher quality than i am, but anyway -- [laughter] democrats, it's hard to imagine what president trump could have -- no, what candidate donald trump could have said prior to the 20 the -- 2016 election that would have offended latinos more than he did. but you know what? you practically need a microscope to see the increase in latino turnout in 2016. and you ask yourself what could have -- and there's not a lot of evidence that latinos are particularly engaged in most states right now. and so it's not, for whatever reason, it's not motivating.
and in 2016 that what was kind f interesting, democrats, the clinton campaign, they knew that hillary clinton was not going to be able to replicate the kind of african-american if turnout that our first african-american -- i mean, they knew that. but their assumption was, number one, that the first woman nominee and given some of patterns in terms of things donald trump would say that tended to offend if certain kinds of women, that that would make up that decline on the african-american side, it would get made up on the female side. and they thought that latinos would react in a way that you would -- and it just sort of didn't happen. and you had this huge influx of small town rural voters, and that's what really -- small town, rural, working class whites, that's sort of what turbo-charged and got trump to
within range and where you had 78,000 votes in three states out of 137 million effectively make the difference. so immigration is not, is not an issue that seems to be working well for democrats even though more americans agree with them. but it doesn't seem to be pulling votes their way, and so they're kind of steering away. and they're hoping, just like what i said a minute ago about democrats wanting -- would you shut up about single payer -- abolish i.c.e.? now, that may be really popular in some segments of democratic base. it's horrifying to suburban -- i mean, we are -- they may not like, they may think the wall, some of them may think the wall's a dumb idea and they may not approve of what president trump -- but abolishing the immigration, they're not exactly onboard with that. so immigration, it's one that is
really, really, really important for republicans, and democrats would rather people be thinking about health care and pre-existing, specifically pre-existing conditions. i think one more question before i get hook. yes, sir, right there. >> hi. thank you. medicaid expansion ballot initiatives, my thought on what's going to drive -- any thought on what's going to the strive the turnout there or the results there? thank you. >> you know, i've learned never answer -- never take the last question. [laughter] because it's always one you don't want. you know, god only gives us a certain number of brain cells, and i don't have enough extra to spend on ballot initiatives. you know, i mean, and, look, i mean, it's hugely, hugely important. and, but, you know, it's a reasonable assumption to make that medicaid is on ballot it's
going to, you know, it's going to create -- it's going to help. and a lot of times you have one side or the other will put initiatives on the ballot that may be worthy and legitimate and need to be voted on, but also was it helps get people out. for example, republicans got on the ballot in california a gas tax because they wanted the try to jazz up conservative turnout. hasn't worked so well, but anyway. i'm going to take the fifth on that one -- [laughter] because i suspect that you know more about that than i do -- [laughter] and i would show my ignorance. but i kind of know what you folks do for a living, but i don't know exactly. but you could explain it to me, and i still wouldn't know. [laughter] but i know for all of us that have insurance and things like that, this is really, really important. i'm glad you do it, because i'm sure not as a matter of smart ee to do it. anyway, thank you very much for having me here, and thank you for allowing the folks from c-span in. thank you so much.
[applause] i'm sorry, never got to the what to watch for on election night. oh, well. [applause] >> which party will control the house and senate? watch c-span's live election night coverage starting tuesday at 8 p.m. eastern as results come many from house, senate and governor races around country. hear victory and concession speeches from the candidates. then wednesday morning at 7 a.m. eastern, we'll get your reaction to the election, taking four phone calls live -- your phone calls live during "washington journal." c-span, your primary campaign source for 2018. >> sunday on "q&a" --
>> seven years ago people of the united states set out upon what they thought was a great liberal campaign. somewhere along the line we lost objective. >> two-time pulitzer prize-winning author david levering lewis on his biography of presidential candidate wendell wilkie. >> here was an internationalist, here was a great civil libertarian, here was a man with civil rights convictions that would have matched, say, an obama perhaps. here was a man who was a liberal and at the same time accessible to the role of government in the economy but at only to a great degree. i thought all the things about him were appealing and his honesty. there is a part in the book where we have roosevelt asking willkie to consider being his
vice president when he's going to overthrow henry wallace and he wants somebody new. typical fdr. and willkie says no. >> sunday night at eight eastern on "q&a" on c-span. >> at a memorial for washington post journal jamal khashoggi, friends and colleagues discussed his work covering saudi arabia and called for bringing his killers to justice. he died a month ago in the saudi consulate in istanbul. turkey has said high ranking saudi officials ordered killing. this memorial in washington, d.c. was organized by the justice for jamal khashoggi campaign. [inaudible conversations]