As everyone knows, this November's election will be a disaster for Democrats. Or will it be? As Mark Blumenthal tells us, most (not all, but most) of the political scientists who presented their forecasts to the American Political Science Association's annual meeting agreed that, according to their projections, the GOP will take the House, perhaps by a comfortable margin. On the other hand, Gallup, which last week reported the biggest advantage for Republicans in the generic ballot test it had ever recorded, has this week's result snapping right back to a tie (more evidence of why you should never put too much stock in one poll result). Problem is, both polls and these kinds of projections work from national conditions and results to get a bead on what are actually 435 separate races.
To confuse things further, here's something important that I haven't seen discussed much: Democrats have a substantial money advantage. Not just the party committees, but individual candidates. Look at the Politico House Tracker, which gives the cash on hand for 119 races that various people have rated as competitive. As you run down the list, you see that in most of them, the Democrat has not just a money advantage but a huge money advantage.
Let's take, say, Arizona's 5th District. Gabrielle Giffords, the Democratic representative, always has tough races in this swing district. But she's got $1,922,681 in the bank, while her opponent has $78,980. So for the home stretch, she has $24 to spend for every dollar he has. Or take Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania. Again, a perpetual swing district, a tough race no matter what. Murphy has $1,775,410, while his opponent has $664,063 -- a $2.67 to $1 advantage. Giffords and Murphy will both be fighting against a national headwind, and their money advantage won't guarantee anything. But it will make a difference.
There are many races where the two candidates are running even in the money chase, and some where Republicans have the advantage. And of course, there are also a lot of outside groups on both sides that will be pouring money into contested races. But if Democrats do end up hanging on to their House majority -- still not something I'd be willing to bet on -- it may well be because they did a better job raising money.
-- Paul Waldman
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