Sam Wang on the 2014 Congressional elections

You may recall that during the run up to the 2012 election I referred to Sam Wang’s Princeton Election Consortium website a lot because I liked (even more than I did Nate Silver’s work) his statistical approach to dealing with all the polls and the way he translated all that data into easily understandable likelihoods for outcomes.

Since the election, I have not been there so frequently but today he comes out with an analysis that should give the Republican party the heebie-jeebies.

If the election were held today, Democrats would pick up around 30 seats, giving them control of the chamber. I do not expect this to happen. Many things will happen in the coming 12 months, and the current crisis might be a distant memory. But at this point I do expect Democrats to pick up seats next year, an exception to the midterm rule.

Note that in these calculations I did not even include the worst of the news for Republicans. In a followup series of questions, PPP then told respondents that their representative voted for the shutdown. At that point, the average swing moved a further 3.1% toward Democrats, and 22 out of 24 points were in the gray zone. That would be more like a 50-seat gain for Democrats – equivalent to a wave election.

As he is careful to point out, much can happen between now and election day next year, so this should not be taken as a prediction but only as a snapshot of where things stand now.

In mid-term elections, the party that does not have the presidency almost always gains seats. Back in 1998, when Bill Clinton was president, the Republicans lost 5 seats in the House and even though they still retained the majority, this was considered enough of a setback that it cost Newt Gingrich the speakership. Note that this was after the government shutdown of 1995-1996 that was engineered by Gingrich.

This should be particularly disturbing for John Boehner.


  1. colnago80 says

    The problem is that the Dems got 1.5 million more votes then the Rethugs in 2012 Congressional elections and only picked up a few seats. Congressional seats in places like Texas are so gerrymandered that it would be a very tall order indeed for the Dems to regain control of the House.

  2. Linda Santopietro says

    Tonight I heard that Mr Wang predicts that Democrats have a 70% chance of taking (keeping) the Senate.
    I agree with you and your methods with statistics, and keep up the good job!
    Others predicting are just following like sheep based on the paradigm that the party with the Presidency always losses seats in an off year election.

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