2018 Midterm Update: Early Voting Surge

Not much changed over the past two weeks which is bad news for Republicans. There should be a closing in the polling gap and its not happened yet. On the positive side, they don't need a big gain to wreck Blue Wave hopes. A move of 1 to 2 percentage points could all but kill a Blue Wave. Tee only scenario that has the Dems taking the House is a monster wave election similar to the 2010 GOP Tea Party wave, but with a 7.7 percent generic ballot lead that looks highly unlikely.
538 gets ridiculed a lot, but their forecast is very similar to my simple model. The difference is they think the polling advantage will not only hold this year, but they think the generic ballot lead will expand to 9 percent. I assume if the election was held today, the final generic ballot would close to around 4.5 to 5.5 percent.

538: Forecasting the race for the House

The wildcard, as always, is turnout. That's doubly true in midterm elections because Republicans typically are more reliable voters. Early voting is up 7-fold this year though, from around 1 million in 2014 to more than 7 million.

WaPo: Will a surge in early voting help or hurt Republicans? Nobody knows the answer to that question because until Election Day, we won't know if this is driving turnout up or cannibalizing Election Day turnout. If total turnout rises, Democrats have a better chance of hitting their generic polling advantage.

Finally, an extra wildcard this year is the migrant caravans. Immigration benefits the GOP. Democrats have told their candidates not to discuss the issue at all because it hurts them. Supposedly the GOP will run immigration ads: President Trump and GOP unleash anti-immigrant onslaught, as Democrats keep focus on health care ahead of midterm elections
Candidates and organizations have spent more than $150 million this year on televised immigration attack ads, spending that has skyrocketed fivefold since the 2014 midterm elections, according to Kantar Media/CMAG data confirmed by CNBC.

The GOP has dominated the ad space on immigration. In August, 26 percent of ads from Republicans mentioned immigration, compared with only 5 percent of ads from Democrats, according to the Wesleyan Media Project. In overall 2018 campaign advertising, one-eighth of Republican commercials discussed immigration — more than double the share for Democratic ads.

"Republicans are doubling down on anti-immigration ads in this election. They are tapping into public safety fears, and using fear-mongering as a political strategy," said Ali Noorani, head of the National Immigration Forum, a nonpartisan advocacy group that favors immigration reform.
Immigration should be 25 to 50 percent of GOP ads. The media is giving the GOP free advertising by covering the migrant caravans though.
As I discussed in Immigration Issue Set to Explode in America; Prepare for Political Volatility
UKIP's reason for existence was to get the United Kingdom out of the EU. There are many issues that fall under the control of Brussels, such as economic regulations, but the big issue that voters wanted to hear about was immigration. UKIP realized immigration was the big issue and it focused on that issue, turning it into a shock electoral victory.
The was after the 2014 European Parliament elections. For ideological reasons, most reports of UKIP's victory spun the story as UKIP cooking up the immigration issue, playing on voters fears/bigotry/racism etc. That it was cynically manufactured. The opposite was and still is true. It was after talking with voters and hearing voters bring up the immigration issue that they did what any good businessman would do and gave the people what they wanted.

The ad above was launched during Brexit and given the margin of victory, it's as good an explanation of the win as anything else. The GOP could have gained seats in the House if they ran on hardline immigration policies. They did not. Still, the caravan stories should move the needle on the generic ballot. I expect the Democrat generic ballot lead will shrink in the next week.

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