Democrats take fundraising lead in Senate, polling lead in House

A new study finds that Democrats have a better chance than ever of winning the House of Representatives in 2018

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 24, 2018 5:07PM (EDT)

Paul Ryan (Getty/Win McNamee/AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Paul Ryan (Getty/Win McNamee/AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

If President Donald Trump needs a Republican-controlled Congress to avoid impeachment or other legally inconvenient fates in 2019, two new studies have some very bad news for him.

The Democrats are now favored to retake the House of Representatives after being out of power in that body for eight years, according to Kyle Kondik of Sabato's Crystal Ball. Even though the heavily gerrymandered seats in the House of Representatives have made it notoriously difficult for the Democrats to reclaim power in that body, Kondik posed the argument that other variables have overtaken that obstacle in giving Democrats an edge in the upcoming elections.

"As soon as President Donald Trump was elected, the national political dynamics immediately changed. Democrats, somnolent in off-year elections in the Obama years (and also in 2016, at least in some key places), would re-energize," Kondik argued. "The historical burden of holding the White House transferred to the Republicans, and the president’s party has lost ground in 36 of 39 House midterms since the Civil War with an average loss of 33 seats. In the more recent past, since the end of World War II, the average seat loss is 26 seats, or right on the borderline of the 23 net seats the Democrats need to elect a House majority."

He added, "That average includes years where the presidential party broke the historical trend and netted a few seats (1998 and 2002) or lost only a relative handful (1962 and 1990). But the presidents who presided over those midterms were popular and had other factors working in their favor. This president is not popular, and no one believes there is any chance the Republicans come out of this election with more seats than they hold now. Even just a single-digit GOP seat loss would be shocking, an outcome driven by late developments unforeseeable at this juncture."

At that point, Kondik reviewed the various factors that caused him to hesitate to predict a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives, despite these advantages. These included the strength of the Republican incumbents in specific vulnerable seats, the fact that the House of Representatives' districts are roughly four percentage points to the right of the rest of the country, the perceived strength of the current economy and the fact that America is not presently engaged in a major foreign conflict.

Yet, as Kondik notes, one of the big problems is that many of the variables which Republicans need to see change have simply not done so. Trump's approval ratings remain stuck in the low 40s, Democrats continue to have a six-to-eight point lead on the generic ballot, Republicans have struggled to keep up with Democrats in terms of fundraising and Republicans are defending many more seats than Democrats — 41 Republican seats don't have an incumbent, compared to 22 Democratic seats.

Kondik also elaborated on the indicators that exist from the midterm elections:

Special elections at the state and federal level, sometimes a helpful gauge of what is to come in the midterm, have generally shown Democrats improving on Hillary Clinton’s district-level performance, often drastically. Democrats seem very likely to improve on Clinton’s margin once again in a special election in OH-12 on Aug. 7, the last House special before the midterm, although by how much is a question (an update on OH-12, a race we now call a Toss-up, is included at the bottom of this article).

READ MORE: Exclusive: "Under Trump, the government is worse than it has been before," Jimmy Carter says

Democrats in the upper chamber of Congress also got good news this week.

A CNBC analysis of the latest second-quarter filings for direct campaign contributions shows that Senate Democrats in eight of nine key battleground states have raked in far more cash than their GOP opponents.

How Trump built his base on fear

A conversation about Trump's fascistic tendencies.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2018 Midterm Elections Democratic Party Donald Trump Republican Party