As I pointed out last week, there are a range of estimates out there about how House Democrats will perform in the midterms. The low side expectation right now is that Republicans will pick up 15 seats but the high side estimate is over 40. Either way, Democrats lose control of the House for the rest of Biden’s term.
Today, Matt Yglesias’ Substack site, Slow Boring, has a piece arguing that things are looking just as bad for Democrats in the Senate. Author Simon Bazelon starts by looking at the generic ballot average at Five Thirty Eight. By setting aside undecided voters, he finds Democrats are actually polling slightly above their historic average during the midterms right now. But there’s a catch.
Traditionally, the President’s party averages roughly 47.5% of the two-party vote1 in midterms. Right now, in FiveThirtyEight’s average of public polls, Democrats are polling at 48.7%. However, the President’s party also tends to decline in standing as the midterms approach, as the graph below shows (you can read more about the historical evidence for this decline here)…
Additionally, polls have been biased towards Democrats in two of the last three cycles, and there is reason to think this bias will persist. The current 48.7% polling average may well be an overestimation.