For months now, pundits and pollsters have been predicting a political bloodbath for Republicans this election. The House, they said, was really a lost cause. The only question was whether the GOP could duck the “blue wave” just enough to hold onto control of the Senate.
Talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh has dismissed the polling this election as no more accurate than it was in 2016. In fact, “El Rushbo” suggested some negative polls were intended to depress conservative turnout.
In the past 48 hours, curiously, several mainstream pollsters and data analysts confessed this week that neither a red advance nor a blue wave would really surprise them. In other words, they agree there could be a systemic polling flaw in the run-up to this year’s election.
Soon, voters will find out whether the prognosticators will once again spend Election Night daubing egg off their faces. Here are nine recent indicators suggesting that they may:
1. Mainstream Pollsters and Analysts Confess They Aren’t Sure About Their Own Polls
As the election draws nearer, long respected analysts confess a lack of confidence in the numbers they formerly considered sacrosanct.
Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com is one of the few voices in the wilderness warning Trump might outperform the polls in 2016. He recently concluded that Republicans could hold the House, and Democrats could take the Senate — but in either case, he said, it would require a fundamental flaw in the polling for that to occur.
Silver wrote “nobody should really be that surprised if Democrats win the Senate next week, or if Republicans keep the House.”
Democratic pollster Peter Hart agreed.
“Turn it one way and the numbers suggest a good Democratic night; turn it again, and it suggests the GOP might squeak through," he told the Wall Street Journal.
2. Voter Satisfaction With the Economy Is Setting Records
Sinking unemployment figures and rising income have been in the headlines for nearly two years. But how the voters personally feel is what’s really sends them to the voting booth. They spoke loud and clear.
A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was released just two days before the election, indicating that nearly three out of every four Americans were satisfied with how the current economy affected their lives.
More importantly, 28 percent of those surveyed said they were “very satisfied” — the highest percentage reported since December 1994 when Harris Research began conducting this poll.
Those people will want to vote with their wallet to keep the economy humming.
3. The Polling Models are Suspect
The model that a president loses, on the average, 30 House seats and four Senate seats, is just that — an average — but events leading up to the election can and have turned that model on its head.
It most recently occurred in 2002 as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Republicans actually gained seats in Congress despite the Republican president because of the solidarity voters expressed with then-President George W. Bush.
There have been other years in which the president lost seats in Congress, but not enough to lose control.
That happened three times within the last half-century: In 1962 with President John F. Kennedy, in 1990 with President George H.W. Bush, and 1998 with President Bill Clinton.
And as far as that goes, conventional polling models during presidential election years are sometimes turned on their head. 2016 is proof of that.
4. The Kavanaugh Effect on GOP Voters
Anger will send voters running to the polls even faster than satisfaction will — and the anger in this case was prompted by the confirmation process of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Republicans saw that process as fundamentally unfair, unseemly and a corruption of due process and presumption of innocence.
“[W]hat the Kavanaugh experience has done is gotten Republicans excited,” Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Fox News.
It also spiked interest in Democratic voters, under the belief that Kavanaugh was rushed through his confirmation despite claims of sexual misconduct. But as one accuser after another recanted her story, Democratic anger waned while GOP rage was reinforced.
5. The Kavanaugh Effect Spills Over to Independents
Even from the outset, independent voters disapproved of the manner in which the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings were conducted by Democratic senators.
Polls taken in early October indicated that only 30 percent of independents approved of Democratic senators’ behavior during the confirmation hearings, while 58 percent disapproved of the process.
6. Pollsters May Have Miscalculated the Turnout
Midterms results vary widely depending on turnout, and how many voters will turn out to cast ballots in midterms is difficult to predict. GOP Strategist Ford O’Connell tells Newsmax: “I agree with the uncertainty expressed by several pollsters and data experts this week, including Peter Hart and Nate Silver, who see the outcome of this election as especially unpredictable. “Polling is not an exact science,” O’Connell cautions. “A lot of it is art.”
O’Connell says there’s one demographic whose turnout will serve as the best indicator of how Republicans will fare Tuesday: Seniors. “I’m not even looking at those [MSM poll] numbers,” he says. “I’m looking at seniors. I’m more concerned about a drop in senior voting than I am about an increase in any other group, because seniors are just so reliably GOP, especially for the midterms.”
7. What of Millennials?
The Atlantic expressed the belief late last month that millennials, those persons who are 22-37 years-old, may actually turn out for the midterms, and in so doing, will likely flip Congress to Democratic control.
John Della Volpe, the director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics told The Atlantic, “If there is a blue wave in America, it will be, I think, started by young people and work all the way up.”
But that relies on two things— millennial participation at the polls and whether they will, in fact, vote as expected.
While the Democratic Party has encouraged young people to vote, with the knowledge that they generally swing to the left, they seldom show up in sufficient numbers to make a real difference.
But as John Adams once said, “If a person is not a liberal when he is 20, he has no heart; if he is not a conservative when he is 40, he has no head.”
And as millennials age, their voting habits will change also, especially given that young people, together with women and minorities, are among those that benefitted most strongly from the Trump economy.
8. The Numbers Game
The most frequent response from pollsters to requests for election predictions is, “It all depends upon the voter turnout.”
We heard that more frequently after the 2016 election prediction debacle when a non-politician businessman snapped a “can’t lose” election from someone in which politics made up her entire life.
Midterm elections typically see a low voter turnout. That’s not the case this year.
Politico reported that 36 million people have turned out to vote early in those states that provide for it. Compare that to 2014, when 27.2 million people early-voted.
University of Florida professor Michael McDonald told Politico that “This is not a normal election,” He added “The best guess is that we’re looking at some sort of hybrid midterm/presidential election” in terms of turnout.
The question is, are Republican voters or Democratic voters making up that huge number shift? Number nine may provide the answer.
9. #WalkAway, Blexit, and #Lexit
The #WalkAway movement, which was started by Brandon Straka, a young, gay former liberal, has gained a foothold in American politics.
"I reject a system which allows an ambitious, misinformed and dogmatic mob to suppress free speech, create false narratives, and apathetically steamroll over the truth," he said when he announced his new movement.
Since then hundreds of thousands have joined his ranks to reject the Democratic Party and declare themselves newly-minted conservatives.
And that gave rise to other, similar movements -- #Blexit, or “Blacks exiting” the Democratic Party, and #Lexit, “Latinos/Latinas exiting” the Democratic Party.
Whether these movements will push the election into the GOP column won’t be discovered until Tuesday night -- or even Wednesday morning.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here.
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