The Forecast Gets Clearer: A Big, but Uneven, GOP Wave

by Jim Geraghty

You look at a poll result like this one from this morning from the Washington Post . . . 

When asked whether they will vote for the Democrat or the Republican for the House in their districts, 50 percent of likely voters say Republican and 44 percent say Democrat . . . 

In many respects the potential 2014 electorate looks much like that of 2010, based on a comparison with the exit polls from four years ago. More than 9 in 10 Democrats and Republicans again say they plan to vote for the House candidate of their party next week. Among independents, Republicans hold a sizable advantage, as they did four years ago. Men favor Republicans by double digits, while women favor Democrats by mid-single digits.

. . . and you begin to suspect that on Election Night, we’re going to see some surprises.

It may be down-ticket; back in 2010, 22 state legislative chambers changed majority control — all in the direction of the GOP.

Governing magazine says there are fewer state legislatures that could flip than in past cycles — but the ones that could flip are mostly currently controlled by Democrats.

Of the 11 chambers at risk for the Democrats, seven are rated either tossup or lean Republican. The Democratic-held chamber that leans Republican is the New Hampshire House, thanks to a GOP-friendly redistricting map. The seven Democratic-held tossup chambers are: the Colorado Senate, the Iowa Senate, the Nevada Senate, the New Mexico House, the West Virginia House and two new additions, the Kentucky House and the Minnesota House. The remaining at-risk chambers are currently rated lean Democratic: the Colorado House, the Maine Senate, and the Oregon Senate.

Meanwhile, among GOP-held chambers, there’s currently only one that’s a tossup, the New York Senate. Another six Republican-held chambers are leaning Republican: the Arkansas House, the Iowa House, the New Hampshire Senate, the Washington state Senate, the Wisconsin Senate, and one newly classified lean Republican chamber, the Michigan House.

Looking at that list above, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, and maybe Oregon have a competitive U.S. Senate or governor’s race. The top-of-the-ticket races in the other states are lopsided snoozers, or, in the cases of Nevada and Washington state, there is no U.S. Senate or governor’s race.

The state attorneys-general races are another group of low-profile, high-consequence offices; our John Fund looked at them a few days ago. Fewer voters know about or pay attention to their state’s attorney-general race, and they are probably more inclined to vote the party in those races. If I were a Democratic state attorney-general candidate in, say, Nevada or New Mexico, I would be extremely worried about Democrats’ lack of interest in this year’s elections.

The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.