SCIENCE: Democrats Have One Percent Chance to Take House in 2014 Elections


Democrats are pushing hard to take back the House in 2014 but prediction models by the Washington Post put the chances of that happening at a mere 1 percent.

Such a takeover remains unlikely, however. Our House forecasting model currently gives the Democrats about a one percent chance of winning a House majority in 2014. To understand why, it is worth exploring the nature of the “midterm penalty” for the president’s party — what it is, why it exists, and what it means in 2014. Ironically, one of the biggest obstacles to a Democratic takeover is their success at holding the White House in 2012. […]

A final theory is that some voters react so negatively to the president’s policy agenda that they turn against him in the midterm. In essence, these voters help elect members of the opposite party to “balance” the president’s influence. If this theory is true, then the conservative turn in public opinion during the Obama presidency may underlie the “shellacking” the Democrats received in 2010.

The midterm penalty is one key reason why our forecasting model suggests the Democrats are in such a tough spot this year. In the model, the president’s party receives just over two percent less of the House vote in midterm elections than in presidential elections, even after accounting for some of the other reasons why the president’s party might be unpopular.