A few months ago, the media - and not only the U.S. media - but most global media, with an urge to predict the outcome of the U.S. midterm elections, predicted a huge win for the Republican Party in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. But now, with Republicans scrubbing their websites clean of their former positions on abortion, immigration, and gay, lesbian, and transgender rights, predictions of a Republican wave are quiet. The media and the Republican Party have gone so far as to predict that the Democrats will control the Senate, but the House will be led by Republicans - although with a much smaller majority.
Now, less than 2 months out from the mid-terms, the races in the Senate are becoming clearer - although anything can happen, as the momentum in politics, like sports, can change quickly. Before making any predictions, let's look at the incumbent races first. Republicans were targeting several incumbent Democrats in Arizona, New Hampshire, Georgia, and Nevada. While those races remain close, Republicans pulled their money out of Arizona, and Republican candidates are trailing the incumbents.
There are 3 open seats where Democrats and Republicans are running very close races and in one state, Pennsylvania, the Democrat candidate is doing well against the Republican candidate. The other two seats, Ohio and North Carolina, are too close to call - but Republicans predicted their candidates would be much stronger than they are.
There are three races where Democrats are challenging incumbent Republicans. Those races are in Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The Democratic candidates are outperforming Republican predictions and in Wisconsin, the incumbent's favorability rating is well below 50%.
It is unlikely that Democrats will be successful in all these races - but they are performing far better than Republicans thought they would - all of which have led the Republican leader in the Senate to state publicly that the Democrats would continue with their control of the Senate. The question is - will the Senate remain 50 – 50, or will the Democrats gain more seats? If incumbent Democrats hold their seats and win in Pennsylvania, the balance will shift 51 - 49. Additional election victories in either open seats or seats held by Republicans in Florida, Wisconsin, or Iowa will increase Democrats control in the Senate.
The House of Representatives is more complicated, has more seats in play, and is much harder to predict, but most analysts agree the outcome is going to be far closer than predicted one month earlier. Currently, safe seats for Democrats are holding at 162 and safe seats for Republicans are holding at 188. To control the House of Representatives a party must hold 218 seats. The path for Republicans to achieve 218 includes taking out 5 incumbent Democrats and winning 5 open that were previously held by Democrats. If Republicans overcome that challenge, Republicans will be at 198 and will need 20 more seats. To get 20 additional seats, Republicans must be successful in districts that are rated more favorably for Democrats than Republicans.
The challenge for Democrats is to hold every seat they currently have - and with retiring members, Democrats must also be successful in seats that are open. No small feat. Winning seats that are viewed as likely or leaning Democrat only gets the Democratic Party to 187. Holding every other seat or 24 seats currently held by Democrats would get the Democratic Party to 211. Even without making an error, the Democrats will not get to 218 unless they win 7 seats. The good news for Democrats is that there are 7 seats where incumbent Democrats, Democrats in open seats, or candidates running against Republican incumbents are doing better than expected.
In the end, regardless of what the political pundits and analysts say, these races- in the House and in the Senate - are simply too close to call.