10-Point Expert: 2016’s Battle for the House and Senate


How the 2016 election shifted from the presidential race to the House in Senate seats as we enter the home stretch of this election season.  



If you’re the Hillary Clinton campaign, this is how you have to be feeling after the last couple of weeks.




Donald Trump has done everything to implode his own campaign. Right now – with only two weeks to go before Election Day and with so many having already voted due to early voting – the question has shifted from whether Clinton can win to how much will she win by! As for the Republican Party, they looked to have cut their losses with the presidency and hope to limit their political fallout of 2016 by focusing on keeping majorities in both the House and Senate.


How is that going for the GOP? Let’s take a look with our 10-Point Expert!   



Point 1: Usually in a presidential election year, the race for the White House tends to take precedence above all else. That means down ballot races (ie House and Senate races on the same ticket), tend to be a little more than an afterthought. In these election cycles, Democrats and the Republicans put the majority of their resources on winning the presidency.


Point 2: Yet over the last two weeks of this election cycle, a shift has taken place in where both parties are focusing their resources. Between President Barak Obama making robocalls endorsing House candidates and Republicans worrying about how Donald Trump is affecting the down ballot, there has been a significant shift in focus toward House and Senate races.


Point 3: As you may have guessed, much of this has to do with Donald Trump’s presidential run. If you take into account his message alienating large swaths of the American public (ie minorities and women), his declining poll numbers in recent weeks, and multiple sexual assault allegations, then the GOP’s shift away from the presidential contest makes much more sense. Strategically speaking, they’re looking at their party’s presidential run as a lost cause.


Point 4: At this point, if the GOP assumes that Trump isn’t going to win his presidential contest against Hillary Clinton, then shifting their focus on keeping majority control of the House and Senate would be a smart move. A big part of this strategy stems from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan trying to salvage down ballot GOP incumbents by essentially telling them to “do what’s right for their districts.” In many cases, GOP incumbents in close congressional races are trying to distance themselves from Trump, which is probably why we’ve been seeing tweets like these:



Point 5: Unfortunately for the Republicans, Democrats also look to have the same idea. With Trump looking more-and-more likely to have a McGovern type loss in this year’s presidential contest, Democrats have also started to look towards flipping the Senate and House in this election cycle. Instances like Clinton campaigning in North Carolina have less to do with the presidential race – where she has a slight lead over Trump – and more to do with the tight Senate race between Republican incumbent Richard Burr and Democratic challenger Deborah Ross. Winning these close congressional races look to now be a priority with Democrats.


Point 6: Of the Senate seats that are being challenged by the Democrats, the most contentious have been Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s seat (New Hampshire), Sen. Richard Burr’s seat (North Carolina), Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat (Pennsylvania), and Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat (Missouri). All four senate races are currently being held by Republican Senators and are in tight races with their Democratic challengers.


Point 7: However in states like Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Colorado, polls show Democrats having sizable leads over Republican incumbents. Now add that with the few losses that potentially could happen in those close Senate races held by GOP incumbents and suddenly there’s a real chance of the Democrats gaining Senate majority in 2016!


Point 8: The electoral math for Democrats taking the House however, doesn’t look as promising. For the Democrats to get a majority in the House, they would have to get 215 congressional seats. As of this writing, there are currently 52 seats that look to be competitive in 2016. Of those 52 seats, the Democrats would have to win 38 of them to get the 215 seat majority in the House. Basically the Democrats would have to win just under a third of those 52 congressional races to gain a House majority!



“Hey Mike, does the chances look good for the Democrats capturing the House?”


Point 9: Considering only a handful of those 52 competitive House races are favoring Democrats – around 10-12 races – the chances of the Democrats taking a House majority in 2016 looks increasingly slim. Generally speaking, the GOP has spent multiple election cycles trying to gain a stronghold on the House, even a disastrous presidential campaign like Donald Trump’s is unlikely to undue that.


Point 10: It’s hard to convey how strange it is for both Democrats and Republicans to be focusing on down ballot races in a year when the presidency is up for grabs. But here we are. For the Democrats, it’s looking very likely that they’ll win both the presidency and the Senate in 2016. But with the Republicans having such a big majority in the House, it’s looking very likely that the GOP continues to keep its stronghold.



(Photo Credits: Pixabay.com, Google Images)


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