Republicans Believe Their Own Paid For Hype-- We Don't Need To Buy In
These Are The 14 House Races That Are Too Close To Call
What won’t know all the outcomes of all the races on Tuesday night. Too many will be too close and too many votes will have to be counted for the rest of the week. But what we will know Tuesday night is if the 2022 polling has been bullshit, which I think it has been. The mainstream media has been painting a picture of a triumphant GOP. I don’t see it when I look at the hotly contested swing district House races. Democrats are holding their own despite a tsunami— not a tsunami of right-wing sentiment but a tsunami of corporate cash-- and despite some egregiously terrible candidates like Rudy Salas, Hillary Scholten, Vicente Gonzalez, Cindy Axne and Christy Smith.
As for the polling averages, they’ve been perverted— especially Real Clear Politics (but FiveThirtyEight to some extent too)— by fake GOP pay-for-play polls. Nate Cohn ever so gently exposed the scam at the NY Times this morning. He noted that “Many stalwarts of political polling over the last decade— Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, ABC/Washington Post, CNN/SSRS, Fox News, New York Times/Siena College, Marist College— have conducted far fewer surveys, especially in the battleground states, than they have in recent years. In some cases, these pollsters have conducted no recent polls at all. And on the flip side, there has been a wave of polls by firms like that Trafalgar Group, Rasmussen Reports, Insider Advantage and others that have tended to produce much more Republican-friendly results than the traditional pollsters. None adhere to industry standards for transparency or data collection. In some states, nearly all of the recent polls were conducted by Republican-leaning firms.”
Cohn is being kind to these fraudulent polling/propaganda firms but does report that “This creates a big challenge for a simple polling average… From state to state, Democrats or Republicans might seem to be doing much better or much worse, simply depending on which kind of pollster has conducted a survey most recently. The race may seem to swing back and forth, from week to week.”
Pennsylvania is a fine example. Last week, four Republican-leaning firms— Patriot Polling, co/efficient, Wick and Insider Advantage— showed Dr. Mehmet Oz with a lead. This week, four conventional pollsters have shown John Fetterman tied or ahead— Suffolk University/USA Today, New York Times/Siena College, Fox News and Muhlenberg College.
Pit it all together, and our average in Pennsylvania is just about tied. Maybe that’s what the final result will be. Or maybe the result will more squarely conform with one group’s estimates.
For now, this much is clear: Which pollsters have surveyed a state most recently is a big factor in determining whether the numbers look better for Republicans or Democrats. And this year, the polls that are driving the average are quite different.
If you’ve been listening to me on David Feldman’s or Nicole Sandler’s radio shows over the last month, you’ve heard me saying that I’m not buying the heavily GOP pollster-influenced predictions. For me even the House is too close to call. But you know who is buying it— figuratively and literally— the GOP consulting class… and they’re screaming it from the rooftops. On Friday, the New Yorker ran a piece by Benjamin Wallace-Wells all about the big red wave they’re telling everyone— including themselves— that will sweep the far right into power.
Wallace-Wells spent his time speaking with Republican pollsters and consultants. Thet told him that “in the Senate races that are thought to be competitive, Republican candidates are heading for a clean sweep: Mehmet Oz will beat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, and not just by a point or two; Adam Laxalt looks pretty certain to defeat the incumbent Democratic senator Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada; even less regarded candidates such as Blake Masters in Arizona will be carried into office by a predicted wave. “He won’t deserve it, but I think at this point he falls into a Senate seat,” one Republican strategist told me. To these Republican insiders, certain high-profile races in which G.O.P. candidates were already favored now look like potential blowouts— Kari Lake’s campaign for governor in Arizona, J.D. Vance’s for Senate in Ohio. And some races that seemed out of reach, such as the Senate campaign, in New Hampshire, of the election denier Don Bolduc, now look like possible wins. The word that kept coming up in these conversations was “bloodbath.”
Democrats looked good in the polling over the summer— largely because of the Supreme Court’s abortion decision. “Republicans, he wrote, “didn’t find a way through the political fact that many of the voters they wanted to win were against them on abortion so much as wait it out. As a Democratic strategist pointed out to me, a flood of funding after the Supreme Court decision allowed Democratic campaigns to put ads on television “much, much earlier” in swing states. This created a unique situation, he went on, in which Democrats were disproportionately tuned in to politics, the Democratic base was overrepresented in polls, and swing voters were overwhelmingly seeing Democratic ads. ‘I think that’s what creates that blue mirage during the summer,’ he said. At the same time, the polls were likely underrepresenting certain segments of the electorate. In recent years, more educated voters, especially white women, have moved to the Democrats, and less educated ones, of all races and especially men, toward the Republicans. When it comes to polling, these shifts have created an imbalance, in which one of the most visible groups in politics, and one especially energized by the Dobbs decision, had shifted toward Democrats, and one of the least visible had shifted toward Republicans. ‘The fastest-moving portion of the electorate is Hispanic men, and the second-fastest-moving portion of the electorate is Black men,’ the Republican consultant told me. You want to get them on the phone? ‘Good fucking luck.’ If Republicans couldn’t wait to get away from the major social issues, the Democrats continued to focus on them. Speaking about the defection of Hispanics to the GOP in Nevada, the Republican strategist told me, ‘The reason that Democrats have fucked this up is that they won’t stop talking about abortion. And the reason that they screwed it up with Blacks is they won’t stop talking about abortion. . . . It’s like they’re a two-issue party. It’s this and Trump. They can’t stop. I don’t think they have anything else.’”
[M]any of the Republicans I spoke with saw this year as distinct. The pollster in Pennsylvania said that in 2010, “Obama got punished for overreach. That’s not this. This is incompetence.” When I asked the Republican consultant what the voters coming home to the GOP in October wanted, he said, “Stop Biden. That’s it.”
Some elections are not complicated at all. As these Republican strategists saw it, their candidates did not get past unpopular positions on abortion with a tactical masterstroke, they simply absorbed the electoral hit and moved on. The economy is not good, and the President is both a Democrat and unpopular. If you looked only at those factors you might expect a result not unlike the Republican wave that these G.O.P. insiders have predicted. Maybe the race was simple enough that it could be sketched on a napkin.
“I can show you the trajectory of all our races,” the Republican pollster told me. “We took a benchmark in July— O.K., this is going to be harder than we thought. And it looks like a ‘V.’ We went straight down. And then once we finally got to October, we have enough money, the electorate becomes more fully engaged, and then the other side of the ‘V’ is straight back up. I can show you the same story in probably twenty-five races.”
The closest House races according to FiveThirtyEight's forecasts, along with the new PVIs
VA-02 (R+2)- Elaine Luria (New Dem)- 50.0%, Jen Kiggans (R)- 50.0%
TX-34 (D+9)- Vicente Gonzalez (Blue Dog)- 48.8%, Mayra Flores (R)- 48.7%
NV-01 (D+3)- Dina Titus (D)- 48.8%, Mark Robertson (R)- 48.6%
PA-07 (R+2)- Lisa Scheller (R)- 50.2% Susan Wild (New Dem)- 49.8%
TX-15 (R+1)- Michelle Vallejo (D)- 48.7%, Monica De La Cruz (R)- 48.2%
OR-05 (D+2)- Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R)- 50.8%, Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D) 49.2%
CA-22 (D+5)- David Valadao (R)- 50.8%, Rudy Salas (Blue Dog)- 49.2%
MI-03 (D+1)- Hillary Scholten (Blue Dog)- 48.5, John Gibbs (R)- 47.5%
RI-02 (D+4)- Seth Magaziner (D)- 48.7%, Alan Fung (R)- 47.7%
PA-17 (even)- Chris Deluzio (D)- 50.5%. Jeremy Shaffer (R)- 49.5%
CA-27 (D+4)- Mike Garcia (R)- 51.2%, Christy Smith (D)- 48.8%
IA-03 (R+3)- Zach Nunn (R)- 50.7%, Cindy Axne (New Dem)- 49.3%)
NY-19 (even)- Josh Riley (D)- 50.8%, Marcus Molinaro (R)- 49.2%
PA-08 (R+4)- Matt Cartwright (D)- 50.9%, Jim Bognet (R)- 49.1%