TheDC Election Outlook: Election analysts now debating what to call presumed Republican victory

Chris Moody Contributor
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In a stunning turn of events, the analysts who study election results have changed their predictions: Republicans could win more than ever expected, they say.

The expert election handicappers, statisticians and election analysts aren’t even using the word “if” anymore to describe the possibility of the GOP winning back control of the House, which the party lost in two fiercely anti-GOP cycles in 2006 and 2008. The better question on everyone’s mind, instead, is whether Tuesday night will be a “landslide,” a “tsunami” or a host of other catastrophic metaphors. Take your pick.

Regardless of what you call it, any optimism shown by Democratic leaders in television interviews is pure show in these final hours before the polls close on Tuesday night. President Obama is warning Republicans not to get “cocky,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine still sports a poker face when he says Democrats will stay in control, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has never once wavered in her confidence that she will keep her gavel.

“The midterm maelstrom pulling House Democrats under shows no signs of abating,” writes veteran election handicapper Charlie Cook. “[I]f anything it has intensified.”

New York Times election statistician Nate Silver said Sunday that it should not be surprising if Republicans net as many as 78 seats. With nearly 100 Democrat-held seats well in play, the idea that 2011 could see the largest freshman class in nearly 20 years is not too far fetched. In his final prediction, election expert Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia has upped the Republican wave to 55 seats.

Of the few Republicans who were once looking threatened, only one, Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao, still appears to be in some trouble. So instead of focusing on any hope of picking up any Republican incumbent seats, Democrats by this point are pouring resources into seats they merely hope can be salvaged.

In fact, more money has been spent this election cycle to keep Democrats in office than Republicans have spent in their effort to turn Congress a deeper shade of red.

Of course, there is always that slim chance that everyone’s wrong.

If that happens?

“There’s always a chance, we’re talking about human nature,” Cook said last week. “But I’ll be sacking groceries if that’s happening.”

It’s more than probable that Mr. Cook is not losing sleep over losing his day job on Nov. 3.

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