The Forecast: Republican Gov. Scott Walker is an underdog

House forecast: Democrats will win 226 seats (and t...

Posted: Oct 23, 2018 5:51 AM
Updated: Oct 23, 2018 5:51 AM

House forecast: Democrats will win 226 seats (and the House majority) while Republicans will win just 209 seats. A Democratic win of 202 seats and 260 seats is within the margin of error.

Senate forecast: Republicans will hold 51 seats (and maintain control of the Senate) next Congress while Democrats will hold just 49. Anything between Republicans holding 47 seats and 56 seats is within the margin of error.

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Four years ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was on his way to winning his second full-term as the state's governor. He had beaten back a recall attempt two years earlier and seemed destined to be a top tier candidate in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. Then Donald Trump came. Walker was one of the first to bow out of the presidential race in 2015.

Today, Walker is an underdog for re-election.

I re-ran my Senate model, but substituted in the recent polling from the Wisconsin governor's race. The forecast was for Walker to lose by 4 percentage points to Democrat Tony Evers.

Now, the margin of error (+/- 12 percentage points) in this forecast is certainly wide enough to give Walker a chance. Walker held a 1 point advantage in a poll conducted by the best pollster in the state (the Marquette University Law School poll) earlier this month.

Evers though has clearly led in the polling throughout the campaign. Of the nine non-partisan polls taken, Walker has only led in two of them (22%). Evers has led in six (67%). One of them was a tie (11%).

This is vastly different than any of Walker's previous campaigns. According to RealClearPolitics, Walker led in every single nonpartisan poll during his successful 2010 bid. Walker led in all but two nonpartisan polls in his 2012 recall campaign, and he led in every single poll within three months of the recall. Even in his 2014 re-election campaign, when Walker was polling his weakest, he still only trailed in five of 25 (25%) of polls taken.

Walker's weak position can be attributed to a number of forces.

First and foremost, he's running in a bad political environment for the first time in his political career. Republican President Donald Trump's net approval rating stands at -5 percentage points in the latest Marquette University Law School poll of Wisconsin likely voters. If you knew nothing else, you'd think a Republican in a purple state would be in trouble given where Trump stands.

Walker was either running in a pro-Republican or neutral political environment in his three previous campaigns. In 2010, Democratic President Barack Obama's net approval rating was at -7 percentage points. During the 2012 recall, Obama's net approval was even. Finally, in 2014, Obama's net approval rating was at -12 percentage points.

Second, Walker's opponent doesn't seem to have alienated voters like past opponents have. Evers had a slightly positive (+3) net favorable rating in the Marquette poll. It was highly positive (+11) percentage points in a Marist College poll. That's very different from when Democrat Tom Barrett had a negative net favorable rating at the end of both the 2010 gubernatorial campaign as well as the 2012 recall. The same goes for Mary Burke at the end of the 2014 campaign.

Third, Walker may have simply worn out his welcome. We know from presidential politics that when a party runs for a third term it's usually a much more difficult campaign than the election for a full second term. There's a reason why only one party has won a third presidential term since the 1950s.

Today, Walker's net approval favorable is negative for the first time in any of his campaigns. If you believe Marquette, it's at -1 percentage points. If you believe Marist, it's at -12 percentage points. Either way, it's worse than in any of his previous bids.

Indeed, Walker's poor position is emblematic of the GOP in the Upper Midwest overall. Republicans are underdogs in the Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota gubernatorial races as well. That's quite a change from two years ago, when Trump rode the region to the White House. Now, it may end Walker's political career.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34622

Reported Deaths: 1215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds282449
DeSoto186519
Madison141936
Jones118549
Harrison109615
Rankin106315
Neshoba103976
Forrest97243
Lauderdale95481
Scott80915
Jackson74418
Washington70010
Copiah64215
Leake62120
Lee60022
Oktibbeha58928
Holmes57941
Warren57720
Grenada5698
Wayne56018
Yazoo5486
Lowndes53613
Leflore52856
Lamar5227
Lincoln51935
Pike48820
Sunflower4708
Lafayette4644
Monroe43935
Panola4326
Covington4295
Bolivar39418
Simpson3843
Attala38324
Newton36710
Adams34719
Pontotoc3396
Tate33313
Marion32412
Claiborne30011
Winston29611
Chickasaw29319
Pearl River28132
Noxubee2778
Marshall2763
Jasper2716
Clay25611
Walthall2497
Union24611
Smith23712
Coahoma2196
Clarke21725
Lawrence2022
Yalobusha2028
Kemper18314
Tallahatchie1784
Carroll17411
Humphreys16110
Calhoun1605
Montgomery1513
Itawamba1458
Tippah14411
Hancock14113
Webster13411
Jefferson1223
Tunica1213
Jefferson Davis1184
Prentiss1173
George1123
Greene11210
Amite1083
Quitman971
Tishomingo971
Wilkinson969
Alcorn942
Perry794
Choctaw754
Stone732
Franklin542
Sharkey470
Benton440
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6219167
Mobile4625138
Montgomery4397111
Tuscaloosa258652
Madison19839
Marshall190411
Shelby155724
Lee153537
Morgan12415
Baldwin117011
Walker105631
Elmore100721
Dallas9789
Franklin92816
Etowah91914
DeKalb8647
Russell6650
Chambers66427
Autauga66214
Butler64529
Tallapoosa62569
Unassigned61627
Limestone5963
Houston5616
Lauderdale5556
Cullman5546
St. Clair4842
Colbert4816
Lowndes48022
Escambia4688
Pike4675
Calhoun4565
Coffee4164
Covington40312
Jackson4022
Barbour3772
Bullock37610
Dale3721
Talladega3677
Hale34323
Marengo34211
Clarke3036
Wilcox2998
Chilton2952
Winston2925
Sumter28713
Blount2811
Marion26714
Pickens2626
Monroe2553
Randolph2489
Conecuh2278
Perry2242
Bibb2151
Macon2129
Choctaw20912
Greene1929
Henry1463
Washington1367
Crenshaw1263
Lawrence1210
Cherokee1157
Geneva950
Lamar871
Clay822
Fayette811
Coosa631
Cleburne421
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