By Matt Johnson
The way I see it, there is only one way the Democrats can win and there are three ways the Republicans can win. Let me explain.
The only way the Democrats win is by simply winning. That seems a bit circular, so let me qualify the statement. The original prediction made by the media and political pundits in general is that this mid-term would be a “Blue wave.”
Of course, a blue wave would ensure a victory in both houses, which would shift a good amount of power back to the Democrats. Thus, winning for the Democrats means winning both the House and Senate. But this outcome is dependent on a number of probabilistic factors.
For example, can the Democrats get the youth vote out to vote? Did the Kavanaugh trial work to motivate the base? Or did it motivate Republicans? Does the weather favor the Democrats or does it favor the Republicans?
And finally, are people honest about who they will vote for and who they voted for when surveyed by pollsters? There are of course other factors to consider as well, but the bottom line is that these issues have an aggregating affect one way or the other, which is difficult to quantify for a number of reasons.
And yes, it is true that the Republicans do have more ground to defend, as Nate Silver has pointed out, but the Democrats still need a lot of balls to bounce there way.
in contrast, the Republicans can win by maintaining what they have or some variation of it, which would act as a tie. Thus, there would be no change of power. The second way the Republicans can win is by increasing the number of seats in both the House and Senate. This would obviously change things quite a bit. For example, the Democrats would not be able to challenge the next vacated seat in the Supreme Court.
The Republicans would be able to push their judicial candidate through with next to no effort. And of course, there are a number of other policies the Republicans could push with moderate effort.
The final way the Republicans can win is by winning the Senate but losing the House. This doesn’t seem like a win at first, but it would prevent the Democrats from attempting to impeach the President. In addition, it would force the Democrats into a precarious situation.
Would they become pure obstructionists? Or would they compromise with the Senate and the President? The direction of either would have profound persuasion consequences for 2020.
Here is one final thought. As recent political history has suggested, the traditional political science tool-kit of the average political pundit does not seem to work in the era of Trump. As Thomas Kuhn, philosopher of Science hypothesized in his book ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,’ most traditionalists will stick to their tool-kit – political science and previous data, pre-Trump era, in this case; thus, they will not even consider the new tool-kit (psychology and persuasion), even if it does a better job of predicting outcomes, as the 2016 election demonstrated.
Hence, elections are difficult to predict. But a betting person would be smart to put their money on one of the three ways the Republicans can win.
For more on how I go about considering and thinking about these issues, I would suggest the following books:
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – Thomas Kuhn
Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter – Scott Adams
The Righteous Mind – Jonathan Haidt
Mathematical Statistics with Applications – Dennis Wackerly
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