By Katherine Huggins
That line came on Monday from New York Times chief political analyst Nate Cohn, as he offered what he described as “a kernel of good news” for anyone hoping Democrats maintain control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Republican control of the House is not a foregone conclusion,” he said.
Writing for his newsletter “The Tilt,” Cohn added that the likeliest outcome of the Nov. 8 midterm elections is that Republicans gain the majority in the House — a view widely held among analysts.
Democrats currently hold the majority in the House with 220 seats, compared to Republicans’ 212 .
According to ratings from the Cook Political Report , Republicans have 26 more races than Democrats that are rated as not competitive — 201 vs. 175. So if Republicans were victorious in all of those contests, to get a majority they would only need to win 17 of the 59 seats rated by Cook as “lean Democratic,” “lean Republican” or “toss-up.”
And if the GOP wins all 11 seats that are rated as “lean Republican,” then the party would need to win just six of the 30 toss-ups to win the majority.
Cohn writes that one key difference between the House and the Senate, where Democrats currently have nearly 60% odds of maintaining their majority, is that competitive Senate races have seen robust nonpartisan polling that has shown several Democratic candidates with an edge .
“But if Democrats can do what they appear to be doing in the Senate, there’s no reason to assume they couldn’t already be doing something similar in the House,” the analyst said. “If we had as many House polls as we do in the Senate, perhaps Democrats would appear to be ahead in the race for the House as well.”
Democrats are slightly favored on the generic congressional ballot, according to FiveThirtyEight data, while RealClearPolitics gives the edge to the GOP for that indicator. The generic ballot refers to a poll question that asks voters which party they would support in a congressional election without naming individual candidates.
There is a major reason why Democrats may be better poised to maintain control of the Senate rather than the House, according to FiveThirtyEight’s founder, Nate Silver.
Silver explained in June that “big-picture factors tend to prevail” in competitive House races where candidates are typically somewhat anonymous, while key Senate races have a more national profile where “individual factors” like candidate quality can matter more.
FiveThirtyEight’s models currently gives Democrats 68 in 100 odds of keeping the Senate majority, while Republicans get 68 in 100 odds for flipping the House.
Betting market PredictIt puts Democrats’ chances for holding the Senate at 58%, and it gives the GOP a 78% chance of taking the House, as shown below.