Charlie Cook: Dems Will Pick Up 20-35 House Seats
With signs that Iraq and overall displeasure with the Bush Administration will drive a record number of younger voters to the polls Tuesday, Charlie Cook has his final estimate out, and like Stuart Rothenberg from yesterday, Cook thinks that a Democratic pickup of between 20 and 35 seats is likely, with even larger gains possible. Cook notes that their recent polling show that Democrats have large leads amongst likely voters.
When you narrow it down to the most likely voters -- based on who said they voted in 2004 and their interest in this election -- the Democratic margin balloons to 26 points, 61 percent to 35 percent. That's even wider than the 21-point margin, 57 percent to 36 percent, in the three combined weeks of polling. While no one expects Democrats to win the popular vote for the House by 21 or 26 percent, and even after knocking five points off of the Democratic percentage for their natural skew on these numbers, this still shows a very strong Democratic wave.
The fascinating thing in this newest poll, though, is only 32 percent of registered voters called themselves Democratic and 30 percent called themselves Republican. When respondents are pushed to say which party they lean to, the Democratic lead moves to 43 percent to 37 percent. But when you factored in who voted in 2004 and those who said they were most interested in this election, 51 percent said they were Democrats, or at least lean Democratic, and only 34 percent said they were lean Republicans, or leaned that way. This is a sign that Republicans are being interviewed in the polls but are falling out of the screens for likely voters.
In the House, it would take a miracle for the GOP to hold onto their majority. The losses look very likely to exceed 20 seats, and a 20- to 35-seat loss is most likely, but we would not be surprised for it to exceed 35 seats. The vulnerable GOP seats are there, the wave is there, maybe it happens, maybe it doesn't.
The bottom line is that at this stage, Republicans should consider themselves lucky if their net losses stay in the 20-25 range in the House, four or five seats in the Senate, and between five and eight governorships. It would be a tough election, losing their majorities in the House and governorships, but it would fall short of the devastating losses that are possible. But the chances of this thing going bigger -- far bigger -- still exist, and there are quite a few veteran Republican strategists, people who have done tons of races in all kinds of states and districts for many years, who are bracing themselves for that distinct possibility.
So now two of the more respected analysts are predicting a Democratic takeover of the House.