The environment throughout this month so far has remained pretty stable. Democrats still look like moderate to heavy favorites in their battles for the presidency, the Senate, the House, and state legislative chambers. After our massive update last week, we found that a few changes in our ratings outside of state legislatures would be appropriate.
Wisconsin was largely expected to be the tipping point in the 2020 election throughout most of the year. Despite this unique status the state had in 2016, Joe Biden has shown favorable polling numbers this cycle; the FiveThirtyEight average shows him leading in the state by 6-7 points since June. At the moment, in the same average, Biden leads by 7.1%.
The Trump campaign likely knows that they are at a nearly-insurmountable disadvantage at this stage of the election, as evident by the cancellation of their remaining ad buys in the state. The RNC, however, is continuing to buy ads in the state.
Nationally, polling has improved for President Trump with some slight narrowing. However, the numbers show that the President is still lagging in the national polling by a wide margin, with Biden up 9.2 points in the FiveThirtyEight average right now, down 1.1% from his lead two weeks ago.
A week ago, two shock polls came out in Justin Amash’s district in Michigan, MI-03. Both Republican and Democratic internals have their respective candidates leading each poll by single-digits— but the more interesting part of these polls is that both of them show President Trump losing this district, which he won by 10 points in 2016. As a result, we are moving the seat from Lean R to Toss-Up.
We have only one other change in our US House ratings, here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Earlier this year, in a drive-through nomination convention, Bob Good beat incumbent Republican Denver Riggleman. Good, who is a markedly more conservative candidate than Riggleman, has had a consistently weak campaign throughout the year, and as a result the NRCC has recently thrown him a lifeline in negative advertising against Democratic nominee Cameron Webb, a Doctor/Lawyer who worked in both the Obama and Trump administrations.
Webb, conversely, has run a pretty strong campaign. He’s not only raised almost 4 times the amount as Good in the Q3 FEC filings, but he has also focused on turning out African-American voters in the district since he was running in the primary. African-American turnout is critical for a Democrat to win this district, as the demographic accounts for about 20% of the voting age population.
Here in the Commonwealth, most Republican and Democratic operatives I’ve spoken with believe that Webb will win. District-level Democratic internal polling has shown Webb leading in the district this month. It’s quite likely that incumbent Senator Mark Warner (D) will also carry this district in his bid for a 3rd term against Daniel Gade (R), who is struggling from a lack of name recognition. Given Warner’s expected landslide victory (though he will certainly not be able to replicate his massive 2008 win), the poor campaign run by Good and the formidable campaign run by Webb, we think that Webb is very slightly favored to win the 5th, despite its Republican lean.
As aforementioned, we did not find many rating changes that needed to be made in our federal forecast. However, since our last update, we have seen many rating changes in state legislatures as we comb through the final campaign finance reports. To keep up with these district changes, you can follow our Twitter account, and for some commentary and analysis on these changes you can follow my Twitter.
In the past two days we have made a lot of changes in our state legislative ratings in the states of Arizona, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Alaska, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wyoming as we eliminated Toss-Ups after analyzing the final campaign finance reports in these states.
Because of the district changes we made in these states, we have made two state legislative chamber rating changes: the Texas House went from Tilt R to Toss-Up, and the Michigan House went from Toss-Up to Tilt D.
The Texas House is the Holy Grail for Democrats this year in their fight for state legislatures. If they flip the chamber, they have a seat at the redistricting table for its US House map, which is expected to gain 3 or 4 seats in the next round of redistricting. This can prevent a very effective Republican gerrymander, which would be a massive boon to Democrats in the fight they’ll find themselves in for their majority in the House 2 years from now.
Final Forecast Dates
As a reminder to our readers, here are our dates for when we will release our final forecasts as we continue to eliminate Toss-Up ratings and endeavor to deliver an overall picture of what our forecasts show.
Saturday, October 31st – Gubernatorial & State Row Officers
Sunday, November 1st – The Presidency, US Senate & US House
Monday, November 2nd – State Legislatures
We appreciate our readers for joining us on the ride this year. As an upstart forecasting organization, we are proud to be providing analysis of the elections this year that thousands of people read every month. We’ll be working hard this week as we finalize our ratings and crank out our forecast summary pieces. If you would like to support our work, please consider making a donation to our LLC.