- - Monday, August 27, 2018


Washington is a one-horse town, and that horse, a swayback nag, is politics. Politics is a year-round business and with the congressional midterms less than 2-1/2 months away it’s high season for pundits.

They’re gazing deep into the shallows — their favorite destination — looking for clues to what’s happening elsewhere. They’ve concluded that Democrats could pick up as many as 72 seats in the House. That’s if all the stars align correctly. Or the Republicans could lose as few as 10 seats, depending on those stars.

One pundit for The Hill predicts that if the conventional cogitating holds, “the worst-case scenario for the GOP is a truly historic wipeout of as many as 72 House seats.” That would be a shellacking worse than the 63 seats Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats lost in the 2010 midterms after two years of romancing Barack Obama.

RealClearPolitics’ latest polling average of the generic congressional ballot gives Democrats a 6.6 percentage point edge over Republicans, but that, too, might be misleading. Generic ballots should not be confused with the real thing.

Evan Smith, a political analyst for the Texas Tribune, reminded Texas Democrats, who dream of turning Texas purple, that the primaries of March did not produce any hint that a blue wave was brewing. “They say, ‘If we keep this to single digits, we celebrate,’” he told Vox.com.

CBS News pollster Anthony Salvanto reminds that it’s important in handicapping midterm elections to ignore the national numbers and watch every congressional district for the right clues. “Right now, I think this election looks like a tossup,” Mr. Salvanto told the New York Post. “We see a Democrat pickup in the House of Representatives in the 20-odd seat range, but Republicans could certainly hold onto the House.”

Politico’s Morning Consult poll shows President Trump trailing both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders by a dozen points in the 2020 election (nothing yet in for 2024), and Elizabeth Warren by four. That’s exciting, but it only excites Democrats.

Navel-gazing punditry is little more than a parlor game for the amusement of inside-the-Beltway folks and the cable-news channels, who have to satisfy the 24/7 news cycle, which is why CNN is still in hot pursuit of that missing Malaysian airliner. The voters will do what they want to do, regardless of what the Nostradamuses of November say they will.

Still, we all want to know what’s going to happen next. Nobody knows. What we can say is that if the election were held today, we would be very surprised.

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