Reckless Predictions, 2016 Edition
Political predictions are mostly useless, but they do tell readers something about how we’re seeing the political landscape and how accurate our observations are. My prediction record is mixed. I have made a lot of missed calls in Congressional and gubernatorial races, especially in midterm years, and I have generally done better when it comes to presidential elections. I have been pretty confident since spring that Clinton was going to win the presidential race by a wide margin, and I haven’t changed my mind about that over the last six or seven months. I wrote about some of the important Senate races over the summer, and just followed up on some of them earlier today. Here I will outline what I think is going to happen in the presidential race and the competitive Senate races next week, and I’ll speculate about what we can expect in the House elections.
I expect Clinton to beat Trump in the popular vote by five points, 49-44. Johnson will hang on to 3% of the national vote, and Stein will scrape by with 1%. That is a narrower win for Clinton than I would have anticipated earlier in the year. Trump will manage to carry Ohio and Iowa, and I assume he’ll win in Arizona, but he’ll fall short in all of the other toss-up states. He’ll take the one electoral vote from ME-02. Trump-Pence will win 216 electoral votes. That will be a better result in the Electoral College than Romney had in 2012, but not by much. Clinton-Kaine will end up with 322 electoral votes.
In the Senate races, Republican incumbents will lose in Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. These are all blue or purple states, and I assume Clinton carries all of them and gives the Democratic candidates there an extra boost. Democrats will hold the Nevada seat vacated by Harry Reid, and Bennet will win re-election in Colorado. On the Republican side, Portman will coast to an easy re-election in Ohio, Rubio will eke out a narrow win in Florida, and Burr and Blunt will hang on in North Carolina and Missouri respectively. Bayh will take the open seat in Indiana. Taken together with the other results, that will be enough to flip the Senate to Democratic control. That will leave the Democrats in very tenuous control of the upper chamber for the next two years, which should make it fairly easy for the GOP to regain control in the next midterms. Even if one of those races goes the other way, Democrats will have the numbers to control the Senate with Kaine as the tie-breaker.
The GOP will lose ground in the House, but not enough to cost it control of the chamber. Democrats will gain ten seats, but that will leave them twenty short of a majority.