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November 06, 2006

Jay Cost: Rumors Of A Tidal Wave Have Been Greatly Overstated

Charlie Cook and Stu Rotherberg are considered good analysts of elections. Partisan, yes. But still good, and their opinions are worth considering.

Jay Cost notices something strange about their predictions, though. Even accepting their own premises as correct -- that is, even dividing the races as they do into "safe," "toss-up/but lean towards one party" and pure toss-ups, he still can't find the evidence of a "tidal wave" of 30-40 (or more) Democrats pick-ups.

Their own numbers belie this prediction.

Cost finds you can get to their estimates, but only by shifting most of the races as far as category in favor of the Democrats. Like, all "safe Republican" seats should be considered "toss-up/Lean Republican," all "toss-up/Lean Republican" should be considered "pure toss ups," all "Toss-ups/Lean Democrat" seats should be considered "Safe Democrat."

Shifting all races one full step towards Democrats' advantage gets you in the ballpark of their estimates.

There's not necessarily anything wrong with this -- they're "analysts," not pollsters, and thus can inject their own gut and guesswork into their predictions in a way that, for example, John Zogby would never, ever do -- but it is interesting to see that these vaunted analysts are not basing their predictions on the numbers, but upon their assumption that that the numbers significantly understate support for Democrats and must be adjusted accordingly.

Because, going by just the numbers, it looks like a far more moderate victory for the Democrats (25-26 seats or so).

And even that, of course, presumes that the numbers are actually accurate, and do not understate Republican support -- which of course almost every poll in the history of the universe has.

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posted by Ace at 05:18 PM

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