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2018 Midterms

Republicans Surging in Key Metrics in House and Senate

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A number of anecdotes and a patchwork of early/absentee voting numbers is suggesting that even some of us who predicted a hold in the House and a big gain in the Senate may still be underestimating the extent of the Republican wave that may be coming.

In Arizona, deepest of blue Tucson, according to early voting data, is seeing many of its blue precincts eroded. (Tucson is Boston in the desert). This does not bode well for Kyrsten Sinema, and while the congressional seat probably won’t go red, the data suggests the races there may be closer than anyone expected. This is especially true since Governor Doug Ducey is walloping Democrat David Garcia by almost 20 points. Tides tend to carry all vessels the same way, and if Ducey is up that much (and Sinema is apparently collapsing that much), some otherwise “safe” Democrat seats may be in play.

This is supported by absentee requests (though not returns so far, of which there have been few) in Iowa. In 2016, Iowa was key to my analysis of Trump’s performance, and more important, to Hillary Clinton’s gigantic underperformance. The typical pattern in Iowa is that Democrats dominate absentee balloting, Republicans do better on election day. Except that in 2016, Democrat absentees were off massively (and pretty much ended that way).

Today? We are seeing the same thing: Democrats are underperforming their 2016 levels, but Republicans are slightly ahead of their 2016 pace. Combined, the Democrat shortfall and Republican gains suggest that Congressman Rod Blum, considered a goner and key to any Democrat takeover of the House, suddenly is in a tight race. Moreover, it suggests that IA1 is close, and that it may offer the Republicans a flip opportunity.

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How about Ohio—another absolute key to predicting the 2016 race? News out of Cuyahoga County yesterday was that Democrat requests for absentee ballots are only at 74% of their 2016 numbers, but Republicans already passed 100% of their number from two years ago. The unaffiliated voter requests for ballots are up 135%. But my associates “Ohio Wan” and “The Accountant” have determined that these unaffiliated split slightly in favor of the GOP—another bad sign for Democrats.

Cuyahoga is like Ohio’s Manhattan. A Democrat statewide needs about 150,000 votes over his republican opponent in Cuyahoga to have a shot at winning Ohio. But the absentee numbers suggest, in a nutshell, that both governor candidate Mike DeWine and Senate hopeful Jim Renacci may do far better than their polling suggests.

Florida Republicans continue to show strong performance, ahead of their 2016 numbers of absentee requests and returns, and maintaining a 40,000 lead over the Democrats in returned ballots. A word of caution: this is the Florida pattern, that Republicans win the absentee fight and Democrats take “walk-in early voting,” but this year there is a twist. Some 100,000 more ballots were mailed out in 2018 than in 2016, making the absentee proportion higher than even two years ago.

The polls seem to be catching up, with Ron DeSantis now in a dead heat for the governor’s race and Rick Scott moving out to a 3-point lead.

Still early, but in these four states, each representing a key component of the Trump victory in 2016, the Republicans probably couldn’t do better than they are right now, while in some cases the Democrat “turnout” has been rather anemic.

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