It’s looking more and more likely that Obama will win reelection and that the Democrats will retain control of the Senate by a narrow margin, but almost no one has given the Democrats any chance at all of retaking control of the House. Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium thinks there’s a good chance of that happening now.
Conditions through August showed a 2% lead on the generic Congressional ballot for Democrats. As of September 20th, in the wake of the Democratic convention, the lead has widened to 4.0 +/- 2.0%. Although it has yet to be appreciated by pundits, this could well translate to a November loss of the House of Representatives by Republicans. Based on the generic Congressional ballot, the probability of a Democratic takeover is 74% with a median 16-seat majority. Whichever party is in control, the seat margin is headed for being narrower than the current Congress. Like any probability in the 20-80% range, this is a knife-edge situation, and the picture may well change over the coming six weeks as more information, especially district-level polls, becomes available.
That last sentence is an important one, of course. There just isn’t much polling yet on the actual House races, and those races tend to be surveyed by smaller, state-level polling companies that just aren’t as good at it as the big national polling firms. But if current trends continue, and especially if big money starts to flow from Romney to Obama as it looks more and more certain that he’s going to win, the effect on the downticket races becomes greater.
Any such predictions now are dicey, especially without good district-level polling to rely on. But if the Democrats took control of the House, the situation in Washington changes a lot. How much? Well, the Senate’s arcane rules will still be a major impediment to Obama getting his agenda pushed through, and it will be even harder if they only control the Senate by a single vote (which seems likely). With the 60% rule to end debate, they’ll have to convince even more Republicans to break ranks than they’ve needed to do for the last 2 years. And I would expect the Republican leadership in the Senate to become even more intransigent than they’ve been in the past — and that’s saying a lot.