The Midterm Snapshot: November 2

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Photo: David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Election Day! It's finally here (as decided by farmers in 1845)! Only a few more hours until we know whether the GOP has scored a historic landslide of epic proportions, or merely a nationwide tidal wave of success.

Also, there's a slim chance they miserably fail to live up to expectations. Nate Silver makes the case for how a Democratic surprise could happen, however unlikely a scenario that may be:


The case that Democrats could do better than expected — not well, by any means, merely better than expected — rests a little more in the realm of what artists call negative space: not what there is, but in what there isn’t. There aren’t 50, or even more than about 25, districts in which Republican candidates are unambiguous favorites. There isn’t agreement among pollsters about how the enthusiasm gap is liable to manifest itself. There isn’t any one poll or one forecasting method that is clairvoyant, or that hasn’t made some pretty significant errors in the past.

Nevertheless, the far more likely outcome is that Republicans win major seats today, taking control of the House and leaving the Democrats only a bare majority in the Senate. Here are the final predictions of political prognosticators:

FiveThirtyEight:
House: "Our forecasting model ... now predicts an average Republican gain of 54 seats."
Senate: "[W]e have Republican chances of winning the Senate on Tuesday at just 7 percent, their lowest figure of the year. However, Republicans have roughly even odds of finishing the night with at least 49 Senators."

Cook Political Report:
House: "The Cook Political Report's pre-election House outlook is a Democratic net loss of 50 to 60 seats, with higher losses possible."
Senate: "The Cook Political Report is adjusting its current outlook to reflect a net gain for Republicans of 6 to 8 seats, down from 7 to 9 seats."

Stu Rothenberg:
House: "Likely Republican gain of 55-65 seats, with gains at or above 70 seats possible."
Senate: "Republicans likely to gain 6-8 seats."

Mark Blumenthal:
House: "Our estimates based on polls conducted in 125 individual U.S. House races project Republican gains of 48 seats, more than enough for majority control, although the aggregate of national polling on 'generic' House vote preference suggests an even bigger gain for the GOP."
State races: "Finally, Republicans are poised to gain a net 6 to 9 governors tonight, depending on the outcome of three toss-up races."

Obviously, everything hinges on turnout, which experts predict could exceed the highest ever for a midterm election, in terms of the sheer number of votes cast.

The first polls start closing at 6:30 ET in Indiana and Kentucky, and the last ones close at midnight in Alaska and Hawaii, and with the inevitable recounts that will follow in some tight races, we won't know all the winners for days or maybe even weeks in some cases. But when the dust clears, Congress will look a lot different than it does today. As Chuck Todd and friends write today, "[W]e’re set for the biggest year of political transition in recent memory."