Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

September 9, 2016 11:58 AM

2016 Election

Only 10% of Americans approve of the way in which Congress is handling its job. [Econ/YouGov, 8/29]

If ever there was evidence of the dysfunction and irresponsibility of the Congress, it is the way it dealt/didn't deal with the potential spread of the Zika virus before leaving for summer recess.[WW]

The following are excerpts from an article by Doug Usher of Purple Strategies.

“The conventions are over, and the politically obsessed across the spectrum are turning to the polls to find out who won this round, who’s ahead, and who is best positioned to win in November. With dozens of polls slated to be released in the coming weeks …here are five things you need to know to understand what they mean, and to be the smartest pollster in the room.

1. Watch national polling over the next couple of weeks: it’s likely to predict the outcome.

….. Pay close attention to the polls in the next couple of weeks (especially our "Purple Slice" polling with Bloomberg Politics) to see exactly how much things change…. in the last three election cycles, the eventual winner had the polling lead in the weeks after the conventions, and never relinquished it.

2. Purple States will determine the election, but it’s buyer beware on state polling.

Campaigns are focused on the Purple States, as they are (and should be) every year. These swing states (including anywhere from 8 to 14 states, depending who you ask) will determine the election. But that doesn’t mean you should focus too heavily on polling in individual states. Polling there has higher margins of error and a wider range of polling quality…. Until the last few weeks of the cycle, these polls are fool’s gold. Use the national polling as a baseline before buying into the latest outlier poll that has Clinton winning in Texas or Trump tied in New York.

3. If you see dramatic poll swings in August and September before the debates, take a breath.

There will be round-the-clock political coverage in August and September. And there will be polls — lots of them! But the likelihood of a major change in the campaign’s dynamics before the debate is very low. Since the conventions happened early this year, voters will likely enter “election hibernation” mode and enjoy their summer. But they’ll tune in for the debates — the next truly attention-grabbing campaign events.

4. Treat polling like your stock portfolio: daily attention does not yield insight.

…. Try to think of each poll as an individual “stock” in your election portfolio. Sure — look at the blaring headlines and Drudge sirens as new polls come in — and then try to look away. No individual poll will make or break this election…. Take the long view!

5. The biggest surprise in 2016? Polling makes a comeback!

A nearly indicted Democratic frontrunner? Check. Potential Russian interference on behalf of the Republican nominee? Check. An ousted Democratic chair the day before the convention? Check. A candidate sharing white supremacist tweets and insulting Gold Star families? Check.

But perhaps one thing has been most surprising: the polls did a very good job predicting the primaries. Trump’s rise may have surprised some in the GOP, but the polls saw it coming months in advance. Sanders' rise was swift, but also clear from polling — as was his eventual ceiling. While conventional wisdom has been successfully challenged this cycle, it may be a year of vindication for the oft-maligned — and surprisingly adaptable — polling industry.

Republican and Democratic Convention TV Audiences

[Nielsen ratings]

The Republican convention had the single largest one night audience on the fourth night of their convention. The Democrats led the ratings on nights 1, 2 and 3.

Day 1 — 28.4 million
Day 2 — 28 million
Day 3 — 27 million
Day 4 — 33.3 million
Average: 29.175 million

Day 1 — 23 million
Day 2 — 23 million
Day 3 — 19.8 million
Day 4 — 34.9 million
Average: 25.175 million

Impact of the Presidential on Down Ballot Races

[The Winston Group – David Winston and Myra Miller]

Year Presidential Margin (based on total vote) Net Party Gains in House Net Party Gains in Senate
1980 9.7%R 34R 12R
1984 18.2%R 14R 2D
1988 7.8%R 2D 0
1992 5.6%D 10R 0
1996 8.5%D 3D 2R
2000 0.5%D 2D 4D
2004 2.4%R 3R 4R
2008 7.2%D 21D 8D
2012 3.9%D 8D 2D

The House

Currently, the Democrats are likely to increase their numbers in the House. However, that increase will not be enough to approach retaking control of that body.

[The WW relies on the Cook Political Report for the House data below.]

  • Democrats 186
  • Republicans 247
  • Vacancies 2

  Democrats Republicans
Safe in 2016 177 202
Likely 6 13
Lean 7 11
Toss-ups Democrats Republicans
  3 16

The Senate

The prospects for the Democrats to take over the Senate are not as obvious as some would suggest. The data below is based on combining the current projections of Cook, Rothenberg/Gonzales and Sabato with a little bit of liberty on the part of WW.

  • Republicans 54
  • Democrats 44
  • Independents 2

  Democrats Republicans
Seats not up in 2016 36 30
Safe in 2016 9 11
Leaning in 2016 3
Total 48 49
Toss-ups Democrats Republicans
  Nevada Ayotte

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