Terence Burlij of CNN:
The generic ballot advantage, enthusiasm edge and President Trump’s underwater approval rating are facts that all work in the Democrats’ favor. Mix in the staggering fundraising numbers seen this cycle and it adds up to an environment ripe for strong Democratic gains.
Strong gains, perhaps. But why no “blue wave”? Most pollsters define a “wave” election as a one-side winning of 35-50+ seats. Here’s a very generous analysis by Burlij of the state of the race:
Heading into Election Day — now just three days away — 15 seats held or vacated by Republicans are leaning, likely or solid for Democrats. Winning all of those races would put Democrats eight seats shy of the 23 the party needs to gain to win control of the House.
Of the 31 races CNN now rates as Tossups, only one is currently held by Democrats. If Democrats win a third of those, then they’ll find themselves in the majority with a couple seats to spare. Republicans are favored to pick up two Democratic-held seats, which would add to the challenge for Democrats on Election Night.
Democrats will likely win more than a third of the toss-up races. But say they win half. That would be a net gain of 30 seats, short of a “wave” election and giving them a 7-seat majority — hardly a ringing endorsement of Democratic issues or candidates.
Democrats have other advantages as well. There are nearly 50 seats being vacated by Republicans due to retirements, primary defeats, and members running for higher office. That only 15 of those seats are competitive at this point is a sure sign that voters are not buying what Democrats are trying to sell them.
All of this is moot if — and it’s a big “if” — Democrats’ core constituencies of minorities, single women, and the young all turn out in hoped-for numbers. That the Democrats’ “hope” isn’t based on the historical record is significant. And that’s where their effort to nationalize the election by making Trump the issue simply isn’t working.
The hysteria with which Democrats have attacked the president was thought to frighten — even terrify — their voters. Trump will bring back Jim Crow (or slavery). Trump wants to take away your birth control or your right to an abortion. Trump doesn’t like gays or transgender people. Their targeted messages have been designed to elicit the maximum emotional response from their base voters.
But while turnout in early voting has seen a modest rise in some constituencies, it has been nearly offset by greater than expected Republican enthusiasm. It may be that on Election Day, the polls will be swamped with blacks and Hispanics and a couple of dozen House and Senate races will be flipped, but it would be unprecedented.
The polls just aren’t showing a massive GOP blowout. The Democrats may, indeed, take control of the House. But if it’s by more than a handful of seats, it will be an upset.