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Forecasting the Midterm Elections in the West

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The 2018 midterm elections will occur on November 6th. Democrats have been predicting a "blue wave," but recently there's been an uptick of support for President Trump and, as a result, Democrats are nervous. Nonetheless, the eleven western states look positive for Dems.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll ( http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/strength-party-strongholds-key-midterm-outcomes-poll/story?) suggests why Democrats look forward to November 6th: "Democrats lead by 14 points among likely voters... But that reflects a vast 38-point Democratic lead in districts already held by Democratic members of Congress. In districts the [GOP] holds, by contrast, it's a tight 45-51 percent Democratic vs. Republican contest." Democrats also lead in enthusiasm: "They lead very widely among those who say it's especially important to vote this year."

A "blue wave" is predicted because experts believe that Democrats are more motivated to vote than are Republicans. Because most Democrats deplore Trump and his Republican Party, Dems are eager to curtail Trump by taking back the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate.

Intensity of feeling should play a critical role in the November 6th elections. In the latest Quinnipiac Poll (http://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail? ) 57 percent of respondents disapproved of the job Trump is doing (38 percent approved). 49 percent of the poll respondents disapproved strongly (29 percent approved strongly).

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Notably, Trump is losing the support of women. The most recent Washington Post poll indicates that 65 percent of women disapprove of the job Trump is doing.

What is clear from the polls is that there is a big difference in how Trump is viewed in Red and Blue congressional districts. Red district voters support Trump: they feel he is doing a good job, ignore his lies, and believe the investigation into possible collusion with Russia is a hoax. Blue district voters have radically different feelings. This suggests that the 2018 outcome is going to be decided by swing districts. The balance of this article examines the swing districts in the west.

California: Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is running for reelection and is likely to win her sixth term in office. The real excitement is in the House races where, according to the Cook Report, at least 10 races are competitive.

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CA 4 McClintock (R) -- Likely Republican.
CA 7 Bera (D) -- Leans Democrat. (The one Democrat seat in jeopardy.)
CA 10 Denham (R) -- Toss up.
CA 21 Valadao (R) -- Likely Republican but Dems outnumber Republicans.
CA 25 Knight (R) -- Toss up.
CA 39 Royce (R) -- Leans Democrat; Royce is retiring.
CA 45 Walters (R) -- Leans Republican.
CA 48 Rohrabacher (R) -- Toss up.
CA 49 Issa (R) -- Leans Democrat; Issa is retiring.
CA 50 Hunter (R) -- Likely Republican.
(There's a lot of interest in Republican Devin Nunes seat (CA 22); the Cook Report rates it as Solid Republican.)

Because of California's "top-two" primary system, it's likely that on November 6th, California voters will chose between two Democratic candidates for Governor and two Democratic candidates for Senator; this should depress the Republican vote.

Nevada: Republican Senator Dean Heller is up for reelection and the Cook Report rates the race as a tossup. (Heller's likely opponent is Democratic Congresswoman Jacky Rosen.) There's an open Governor's slot because the existing Republican governor is term-limited out; Cook rates this Governor's race as a tossup. There are two House races of interest, both currently occupied by Democrats:
NV 3 Rosen (D) -- tossup; Rosen is retiring to run for Senator.
NV 4 Kihuen (D) -- Leans Democrat; Kihuen is retiring.

Arizona: Republican Senator Jeff Flake is retiring and the Cook Report rates this race as a tossup. (The likely Democratic candidate is congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.) The Republican Governor, Doug Ducey, is running for reelection; Cook rates this race as likely Republican. There are three house races of interest:
AZ 1 O'Halleran (D) -- Leans Democrat
AZ 2 O'Salley (R) -- Leans Democrat; O'Salley is retiring to run for Senator
AZ 9 Sinema (D) -- Likely Democrat; Sinema is retiring to run for Senator.

New Mexico: Republican Governor Martinez is term-limited out. Cook Report shows race this as leaning Democrat. There are two open house seats of interest (both incumbents are retiring.)
NM 1 Lujan-Grisham (D) -- Leans Democrat
NM 2 Pearce (R) -- Likely Republican.

Colorado: Democratic Governor Hickenlooper is term-limited out. Cook Report shows this race as leaning Democrat. There is one congressional seat up:
CO 6 Coffman (R) -- Toss up.

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Montana: Democratic Senator John Tester is up for reelection. Cook shows this as likely Democrat. There is one house seat, Gianforte (R), which Cook shows as likely Republican.

Washington: There is one house seat of interest: WA 8 Reichert (R); he is retiring. Cook rates this a toss up.

Oregon: The Democratic incumbent Governor, Kate Brown, is up for re-election; Cook shows this a likely Democrat. OR 5 Schrader (D) rates as likely Democrat.

Thus in the west there's an opportunity for Democrats to pick up 2 Senate seats, at least 8 House seats, and 3 governorships.

 

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

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