Accuracy of mid-term election predictions

Prior to the mid-term elections, I had made some predictions about how the results of the elections would turn out. Now that the mid-terms have passed, let’s look at how accurate I ended up being.

House: Democrats win 30-50 seats, take control

This is the one forecast where I ended up being entirely, if broadly, correct. The Democrats needed to add 23 seats to their caucus of 195 to take control of the House Of Representatives; on Tuesday, they won 235 seats overall and flipped 40 Republican-held seats, putting them on the path to be the majority in the next Congress.

Senate: Every incumbent Democrat wins except Heitkamp (ND). Democrats pick up two seats; Arizona & Nevada. Senate splits 50-50, Republicans technically maintain control.

In hindsight, perhaps I was simply being too optimistic here; predicting that only one incumbent would lose in a year when the Democrats were defending 10 seats in states won by Trump in 2016 seems, with the hindsight of the actual results in mind, to have been quixotic on my part. Senator Heidi Heitkamp did indeed lose re-election on Tuesday, but so did Joe Donnelly (IN), Claire McCaskill (MO), and Bill Nelson (FL). Still, as I predicted, Ohio’s own Sherrod Brown pulled through, after initially seeming vulnerable when the state went Republican by eight points in 2016, as did a handful of other Democratic Senators from Trump-won states: Tammy Baldwin (WI), Bob Casey (PA), Joe Manchin (WV), Debbie Stabenow (MI), and Jon Tester (MT). As for non-incumbents, Jacky Rosen proved me right and unseated Republican Senator Dean Heller in Nevada, as did Kyrsten Sinema, who narrowly won the vacant Arizona Senate seat and is set to take office as the State’s first Democratic Senator since 1995.

Gubernatorial:

  • Democrats win Governorships in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.
  • Republicans win Governorships in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming.

I was proven largely right with my predictions for both parties maintaining previously held Governors’ mansions; Democrats prevailed in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, while the Republicans won in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming. However, there were some flips on Tuesday night.

Democrats won control of more than a few Republican-held governorships on Tuesday (which I had counted on them doing); Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and, most excitingly, Wisconsin, where the odious Scott Walker was defeated in his bid for a third term as the state’s governor by Democrat Tony Evers, the state’s School Superintendent and a former teacher himself (a deeply karmic fate for Walker, given the attacks on teachers’ unions and deep budget cuts to the state education system that he facilitated during his term as Governor).

However, the Democrats came up short in Alaska (the only Republican governorship flip of the night; incumbent Governor Bill Walker, an Independent, exited the race in an effort to give a boost to Democratic Nominee Mark Begich, but GOP Nominee Mike Dunleavy nonetheless prevailed), Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, and here in Ohio.

However, there was one gubernatorial flip by the Democrats that I had not counted on; in an upset, Democratic State Senator Laura Kelly won Kansas’ governorship, defeating Republican nominee and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who had previously defeated incumbent Governor Jeff Colyer in the GOP primary back in August. Reports have attributed this upset both to several moderate Kansas Republicans (including former Governor Bill Graves) endorsing the similarly centrist Kelly over the far-right Kobach, and the perception that the election was a referendum on recently-departed Governor Sam Brownback (now the US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom), who enacted a massive tax cut during his tenure that left the Kansas state government unable to pay for basic services such as public schools and roads.

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