Democratic control of the United States Congress in 2019 is probable. All of the available polling data gives Democrats a lead in “generic Congressional races” that exceeds any realistic margin of error.
Voters preferred Democratic candidates by a margin of 12.8%, FiveThirtyEight’s average of polls from 28 December 2017 showed. An estimated 50.1% of voters preferred a “Democrat” to a “Republican” in a general Congressional race. Only 37.3% of voters indicated they would vote for a Republican.
These numbers are heavily flawed because important factors like news coverage, personality, reputation, and the actual campaigning are not included. Despite that, the available numbers should have Republicans scared to death.
The Polls Should Scare Republicans to Death
Republicans should be scared because nine out of 10 the December 2017 polls surveyed by our friends at FiveThirtyEight gave Democrats a double-digit lead.
Only one poll; McLaughlin & Associates for December 14, gave Democrats a lead of less of less than 10%. Disturbingly, McLaughlin gave Democrats an advantage of six points over Republicans.
To make matters worse, two of the polls; Ipsos for 21 December, and CNN/SSRS for 14 December gave Democrats leads of over 15%. One poll, the December 14 CNN/SSRS tally actually Democrats a 17% advantage.
Things might also be getting a little better for the Grand Old Party (GOP). The Ipsos poll for 20 December gave Democrats a 16% lead; an Ipsos poll for 25 December gave them a 14% lead. Although Republicans did a little worse in the YouGov poll, YouGov gave Democrats a 10 point lead on 25 December and an 11 point lead on 17 December.
Democrats are now favored to Win Control of the House
Democrats are now favorites to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives, FiveThirtyEight writer Harry Enten calculated. Enten estimated that the Democratic polling average for the House is 49.6%, to 37.4% for Republicans.
That equals a 12.2% advantage for Democrats. Enten estimates that Democrats would need a 5.5 point to eight-point advantage to take control of the House, they already exceed.
That means Republicans are in a worse position than Democrats were back in 1994 when control of the house switched to the GOP. In 1994, polls favored Democrats by an average of 43% to 40.5% or 2.5%.
Democrats can capture the Senate too
Polls favor Democrats in the struggle for the Senate too. A 14 December Gravis Marketing poll gave likely Democratic contender Phil Bredesen a 2% lead over probable Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn, in the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee).
Since Republicans have a 51 seat majority in the Senate, a Bredesen victory would give the Democrats control of that body. There are currently 47 Democrats, 51 Republicans, and two “independents” in the U.S. Senate. The numbers favor Democrats; because one of the “independents” is Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) who is to the left of almost every Democrat.
Democrats might get an even greater lead because of the retirement of U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona). There is no probable Republican candidate in Arizona, but a strong Democratic contender Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema. Also likely to flip Democratic is Nevada; where U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R) faces a strong primary challenge and a left-leaning electorate.
A wildcard here is Texas where U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R) is not approved of by most of the state’s voters. Around 44% of Texas voters said they disapproved of Cruz in a June 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Only 38% of Texans approved of Cruz; which means he is vulnerable to both a primary challenge and a strong Democratic contender.
Democratic Victory far from Guaranteed
A Democratic victory is far from guaranteed because of the volatility of today’s political environment.
There are many factors that can throttle such a development including an incompetent Democratic leadership; remember some of the same bozos that nominated Hillary Clinton, and lost the 2016 election are still in charge. A greater problem would be the lack of a Democratic ground game; something noticeably absent in 2016, but very apparent in Alabama where Doug Jones (D) beat Roy Moore (R) in the 12 December U.S. Senate race.
Destructive primary races are another self-sabotaging probability for both parties. A likely development is that leftists will mount challenges against moderate Democrats, and probably take down a few establishment figures. Strong primary challenges are usually the kiss of death for candidates in American politics, ask Hillary Clinton why. Republicans will have their own primary problems with the Tea Party, Steve Bannon’s Alt-right freak show, and possibly moderates or progressives out to sabotage Trump. This means we are likely to see high-profile incumbents go down in both parties.
What happens if Democrats take Congress?
There is one certainty here; a Democratic takeover of Congress would change the political landscape possibly beyond recognition. Some likely side effects of a GOP Congress loss that will add to the political volatility include:
- U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) will quit. My take is Ryan will stay through 2020 if there is a Republican majority and a chance of landmark legislation. Ryan has no desire to be the new Nancy Pelosi, so he will quit and leave somebody else holding the bag – if Republicans lose their majority. Ryan is young for a Congressional leader (47); so he will have plenty of other opportunities, including the presidency and the Senate.
- There will be a brutal battle for Democratic leadership. If Democrats win the House, leftists will challenge leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) whom they loathe. There will be a strong effort to replace Pelosi with somebody like U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota). Also targeted for deletion will be Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York). There is a strong possibility that Pelosi; who is 77, will simply retire or step aside.
- Republicans will turn on each other. Within 24 hours of defeat, the GOP will launch a witch hunt for a scapegoat for the defeat. Probable candidates will be Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the Tea Party, McCain, President Donald J. Trump (R-New York), Steve Bannon, Rush Limbaugh, and all conservative media figures. The resulting bloodbath will make the present Republican civil war look like a lovefest in comparison.
- Trump will turn left. Expect the new-left wing Donald to start tweeting his plans for single-payer healthcare, interest in basic income, desire for a $15 minimum wage, admiration for Bernie Sanders, support of the United Nations, and a strong belief in global warming and climate change; within 24 hours of Democratic victory.
- Trump will not change parties; but he will start sounding and acting like a Democrat and announce his intent to sign any popular piece of Democratic legislation, to the frustration of Republicans. One reason why Trump will do this is to try and defuse Democratic Congressional investigations and impeachment efforts. Democrats will think twice about going after Trump; if he and his pen were waiting for their legislation in the Oval Office.
Therefore the likely outcome of Democratic victory will be political chaos – and a new order in Washington D.C. One more prediction here, most Americans will hate the new order as much as they despise the present status quo inside the Beltway.