In this week’s Political Edge, we look at an updated election model from a political forecaster who is known for correctly predicting presidential election outcomes and break down the announced fundraising totals from incumbent House Democrats.
Forecasting The President’s Reelect Chances
Although the 2020 presidential election is over a year away, and Democrats are months away from choosing their candidate, forecasters are beginning to fine tune their election models to predict President Trump’s chances of reelection. Last week, Alan I. Abramowitz, senior columnist at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, presented his latest prediction model. Abramowitz’s model “time for change” forecasting model has correctly predicted the winner of the national popular vote in every presidential election between 1992 and 2012.
Looking at 2020, Abramowitz notes:
“When an incumbent is running for reelection, the presidential election is largely a referendum on that incumbent’s performance. The challenger’s characteristics and the general election campaign itself matter only at the margins…an examination of the data on all 18 presidential elections since World War II indicates that elections with a running incumbent are different — their outcomes are much more predictable based on the incumbent’s approval rating in the middle of the election year and the growth rate of the economy during the second quarter of the year.”
According to Abramowitz’ model “an increase of one point in the incumbent’s net approval rating is associated with an increase of almost 2.5 electoral votes. Likewise, every one point in real GDP growth is associated with an increase of almost 20 electoral votes.”
Abramowitz examined a range of likely forecasts of the electoral vote in the 2020 presidential election, which are shown below:
Abramowitz offers a few caveats that suggest these preliminary results should be taken with a grain of salt (limited data set, uncertainty that Trump will receive the same first-term boost as his predecessors) but offers the following observations. As a reminder, 270 electoral votes are necessary to win the election:
If the economy stalls out and the president’s approval rating falls far below the neutral point, it will likely mean certain defeat.
Conversely, if the economy grows faster than expected and his approval rating rises to the neutral point, the President has a strong chance of being reelected.
Abramowitz: “The most plausible prediction at this point, however, is for a very close contest. Given a net approval rating of -10, approximately where Trump’s approval rating has been stuck for most of the past year, and real GDP growth of between 1% to 2%, in line with most recent economic forecasts, the model predicts that he would receive between 263 and 283 electoral votes.”
House Democrats Fundraising Totals
During the 2018 election cycle, Democrats collectively raised more than $1 billion, significantly outperforming Republicans. This has been cited by Republican operatives as one of the biggest tactical disadvantages the GOP had in 2018. With the first quarter of 2019 in the books, some House Democrats who were in close 2018 races are announcing their first fundraising hauls. David Drucker at The Washington Examiner compiled some of the high-profile announcements, and several others were compiled by AR/Intel. For added context, we pulled the incumbent’s 2018 pre-election fundraising totals and how they fared in the election.
KS-03: Rep. Sharice Davids raised $450K in Q1. In 2018, Davids won by 9.7 points after raising $3.9M.