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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.

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26 Comments To "Reckless Predictions, 2016 Edition"

#1 Comment By Viriato On November 2, 2016 @ 7:48 pm

Sounds about right to me. I do think it is a very good sign that Trump is on track to win Ohio and Maine’s second congressional district. It shows that a message of economic nationalism resonates. Now if only economic nationalists can find a better candidate next time (for starters, they should rally around someone who’s actually a decent human being)…

#2 Comment By Marcus On November 2, 2016 @ 7:48 pm

Hope you are wrong on the Senate prediction.

#3 Comment By SF Bay On November 2, 2016 @ 8:15 pm

I generally agree with your predictions. Except the House. I think there’s a reasonable chance that the Democrats pick up closer to 15 seats.

#4 Comment By Steve McQueen On November 2, 2016 @ 10:07 pm

Response to Viriato:

If Trump loses, the GOPe will reassert control of the party and attempt to purge those whom you call “economic nationalists.”

In Congress, they will continue their policy making a lot of noise about opposing the Democrats while funding the president’s agenda and refusing to confront her unconstitutional exercise of executive power.

As a result, the party will continue to suffer rebellions from Tea Party and Trump types. This will make the party even less effective and, eventually, destroy it.

Long before the party disappears, its fate will be irrelevant because, owing to demographic changes and the growth of federal authority and executive power, the Democrats will have an iron grip on power.

Maybe, in forty or fifty years, after a long and failed experiment with socialism, something resembling conservatism will reemerge on the political scene. Alternatively, at some point, more conservative parts of the country may break away, although the history of such efforts is not encouraging.

#5 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On November 2, 2016 @ 11:05 pm

I think Trump may eke it out. Clinton’s numbers are dropping. If so, GOP may hold the Senate, barely.

#6 Comment By SF Bay On November 3, 2016 @ 12:42 am

Reuters/Ipsos poll (10/28-11/01) has Clinton up by 6 points, 45% – 39%. Unchanged from last week. This poll is taken mostly after the Comey fiasco. The polls will likely rebound. Clinton wins by 5-6 points.

#7 Comment By MavisJarvis On November 3, 2016 @ 12:54 am

On the whole I agree with your predictions, except I think the Missouri and North Carolina Senate seats will go blue, but Indiana will stay red. This is not a great year for an insider like Bayh and momentum seems to be running against him.

#8 Comment By William Dalton On November 3, 2016 @ 3:07 am

If Burr wins reelection in North Carolina it is obvious Trump will carry the state too. There is more enthusiasm here for Trump than for Burr, and all the Clinton voters will vote for Deborah Ross as well.

#9 Comment By PB On November 3, 2016 @ 5:05 am

President Clinton
50-50 Senate
Republican House

#10 Comment By D K On November 3, 2016 @ 9:34 am

Clinton 272EV and 48%
Trump 266EV and 47%
Johnson 3%
Others 2%

Senate 51 Republicans:
GOP win NV, MO, IN, FL, NC.
DEM win WI, IL, NH and PA.

House DEM pick up 11 net seats.

#11 Comment By ADC Wonk On November 3, 2016 @ 10:07 am

“after a long and failed experiment with socialism”

For the most part, Social Security and Medicare work. So does free public education for K-through-12.

#12 Comment By Publius On November 3, 2016 @ 10:27 am

Trump in a landslide. GOP controls both houses.

Social Security is insolvent.
Medicare is underfunded.
Free K-12 public education is spotty at best and demonstrably inferior to other systems, such as Germany’s.

The USA needs a reboot.

#13 Comment By balconesfault On November 3, 2016 @ 11:08 am

Princeton Election Consortium currently predicts:
Clinton 318, Trump 220 EV

Their confidence level in a Clinton victory is 98%.

Meanwhile, they currently project a 50-50 split in the Senate.

Here in Texas, thanks to the extreme gerrymandering, there is all of *1* House race considered competitive. If you want to look at a way the “vote is rigged” … there you have it. It is a true travesty for democracy that such a huge percentage of Americans live in Congressional districts that are decided in the Republican or Democratic primary.

And that’s not because of the urban/suburban/rural thing. We here in Austin, a metro area with a population greater than 15 of our 50 states, has been split up so that depending on where you live in the city you might be voting with people 160 miles to the east, 200 miles to the west, 200 miles to the north, or 120 miles to the south.

And I will acknowledge that similar, if not as aggregious maps can be found favoring Democrats in other states. It is absolutely wrong wherever it occurs. Voters need to be able to vote for representatives who reflect their community, and the extreme gerrymandering drives up the cost of campaigning by making candidates buy advertising in multiple major markets – all of which just reinforces the power of big money to influence elections.

@ADC Wonk For the most part, Social Security and Medicare work. So does free public education for K-through-12.

I’m looking forward to our water utilities being sold off to private corporations, with no oversight from public rate commissions, and the power to raise rates to whatever the marketplace will bear (which becomes pretty significant when the alternative is someone building out a whole new system of pipes underground … or private cisterns filled by delivery trucks).

#14 Comment By rayray On November 3, 2016 @ 12:21 pm

Apparently, many will disagree, but that a man like Trump will still get as many votes as he’s getting is breathtaking.

#15 Comment By Steve McQueen On November 3, 2016 @ 1:01 pm

“For the most part, Social Security and Medicare work. So does free public education for K-through-12.”

The reason they “work” is because, year after year, Congress approves budgets that add an additional half a trillion dollars or so to the national debt. This cannot go on forever and, when it ends, there will hell to pay.

#16 Comment By Steve McQueen On November 3, 2016 @ 1:04 pm

“Apparently, many will disagree, but that a man like Trump will still get as many votes as he’s getting is breathtaking.”

What’s breathtaking is that it’s taken this long to get a man like Trump.

#17 Comment By JonF On November 3, 2016 @ 1:56 pm

I disagree that the GOP will purge the “economic nationalists”. This election has shown that there’s a huge pool of votes that can be won with that platform even if Trump falls short. The GOP is in serious need of votes since they now seem unable to expand beyond their core demographic. Future GOP candidates will pick up both the economic nationalism and anti-immigration stance from Trump’s campaign and run with them. Although they will massage both into more nuanced positions– a “kinder, gentler Trumpism”. On the Democratic side no one will pick up Trump’s anti-Immigrant stance- it’s anathema over there. But a certain skepticism about free trade will definitely assert itself– and already has as we see Hillary Clinton backing off from the TPP. In short, free trade will no longer be the orthodoxy of either major party.

On Senate races I expect the Democrats to win narrow control, but it’s possible the GOP will eke out a narrow win in PA or maybe IN, and likewise possible that the Democrats will capture the MO seat since their candidate is a good match for the state (he’s a Missouri version of Jim Webb, about as far right as any Democrat can get). If the Democrats do gain Senate control (and Hillary wins the White House) the filibuster, at least for Supreme Court judges, is toast given the current noise being made by the GOP over the possibility of not replacing Scalia at all. (Burr has been running a couple points ahead of Trump in NC, so a GOP victory for the Senate seat doesn’t mean Hillary won’t take the state’s electors)

#18 Comment By rayray On November 3, 2016 @ 3:29 pm

@Steve McQueen
Fair enough. the GOP has been playing around in this arena for a long long time…it was inevitable.

#19 Comment By National Hemlock Day On November 3, 2016 @ 6:13 pm

My only fairly certain prediction is “major economic, social, and political crises ahead”. In that respect the White House is a poisoned chalice. The popular assault on the elites got started too late, belched up Trump instead of some worthier candidate, and failed to dislodge Clinton, the embodiment of what’s destroying us.

#20 Comment By Mark F. On November 3, 2016 @ 6:42 pm

Trump 270 EV and 46%
Clinton 268 EV and 48%
Johnson 4%, Others 2%.

GOP holds the Senate 51-49

Dems pick up 12 House seats.

#21 Comment By medium kahuna On November 3, 2016 @ 9:53 pm

It looks like the 2020 campaign has started. Senator Mark Kirk, (R-IL) who is probably the RINOest of RINOs, will likely be out of a job come January. He is seeking to grab the Alt-Right BO vote and claim Trump’s base. During a debate with his opponent last Friday, he went out of his way to proclaim the Republican Party as the party of, by, and for White men.

#22 Comment By E pluribus Tejas On November 4, 2016 @ 1:31 am

You’re all nuts. The only reason Trump is taking any EV at is is the fact he’s running against the one and only HRC. When the democrats produce another flawless, bright-eyed academic they’ll take all the cake. Too many old white men pandering to too many old white men in the GOP for it to have any real chance of survival.

#23 Comment By medium kahuna On November 4, 2016 @ 1:31 pm

Pluribus- just for grins, toss out an EV count for a hypothetical Trump vs Obama.

#24 Comment By connecticut farmer On November 4, 2016 @ 1:32 pm

I think that the popular vote will be a lot closer, though Clinton will eke it out. Trump has been gaining ground lately. The electoral vote looks about right.

#25 Comment By cka2nd On November 4, 2016 @ 1:57 pm

Clinton by 4-7 points and over 100 Electoral College votes. I hope Mavis is right about MO, NC and IN (Evan Byah, Blegh!). Americans still like the idea of divided government even though they hate the recent results, so the Dems only pick up 10-15 seats in the House.

It’s a pity the Greens couldn’t offer a Bernie Sanders/Walter Jones ticket, where part of the deal was for Jones to be able to vote his conscience on Senate ties. It might not have won, but the Greens would have ballot status in all 50 states.

#26 Comment By SF Bay On November 4, 2016 @ 6:56 pm

Take a look at the betting sites. Hillary will win this election. Money always follows the winner. The same goes for the Senate. Money says the Democrats take control.