The Forecast: Republican Gov. Scott Walker is an underdog

House forecast: Democrats will win 226 seats (and t...

Posted: Oct 23, 2018 6:51 AM
Updated: Oct 23, 2018 6:51 AM

House forecast: Democrats will win 226 seats (and the House majority) while Republicans will win just 209 seats. A Democratic win of 202 seats and 260 seats is within the margin of error.

Senate forecast: Republicans will hold 51 seats (and maintain control of the Senate) next Congress while Democrats will hold just 49. Anything between Republicans holding 47 seats and 56 seats is within the margin of error.

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Four years ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was on his way to winning his second full-term as the state's governor. He had beaten back a recall attempt two years earlier and seemed destined to be a top tier candidate in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. Then Donald Trump came. Walker was one of the first to bow out of the presidential race in 2015.

Today, Walker is an underdog for re-election.

I re-ran my Senate model, but substituted in the recent polling from the Wisconsin governor's race. The forecast was for Walker to lose by 4 percentage points to Democrat Tony Evers.

Now, the margin of error (+/- 12 percentage points) in this forecast is certainly wide enough to give Walker a chance. Walker held a 1 point advantage in a poll conducted by the best pollster in the state (the Marquette University Law School poll) earlier this month.

Evers though has clearly led in the polling throughout the campaign. Of the nine non-partisan polls taken, Walker has only led in two of them (22%). Evers has led in six (67%). One of them was a tie (11%).

This is vastly different than any of Walker's previous campaigns. According to RealClearPolitics, Walker led in every single nonpartisan poll during his successful 2010 bid. Walker led in all but two nonpartisan polls in his 2012 recall campaign, and he led in every single poll within three months of the recall. Even in his 2014 re-election campaign, when Walker was polling his weakest, he still only trailed in five of 25 (25%) of polls taken.

Walker's weak position can be attributed to a number of forces.

First and foremost, he's running in a bad political environment for the first time in his political career. Republican President Donald Trump's net approval rating stands at -5 percentage points in the latest Marquette University Law School poll of Wisconsin likely voters. If you knew nothing else, you'd think a Republican in a purple state would be in trouble given where Trump stands.

Walker was either running in a pro-Republican or neutral political environment in his three previous campaigns. In 2010, Democratic President Barack Obama's net approval rating was at -7 percentage points. During the 2012 recall, Obama's net approval was even. Finally, in 2014, Obama's net approval rating was at -12 percentage points.

Second, Walker's opponent doesn't seem to have alienated voters like past opponents have. Evers had a slightly positive (+3) net favorable rating in the Marquette poll. It was highly positive (+11) percentage points in a Marist College poll. That's very different from when Democrat Tom Barrett had a negative net favorable rating at the end of both the 2010 gubernatorial campaign as well as the 2012 recall. The same goes for Mary Burke at the end of the 2014 campaign.

Third, Walker may have simply worn out his welcome. We know from presidential politics that when a party runs for a third term it's usually a much more difficult campaign than the election for a full second term. There's a reason why only one party has won a third presidential term since the 1950s.

Today, Walker's net approval favorable is negative for the first time in any of his campaigns. If you believe Marquette, it's at -1 percentage points. If you believe Marist, it's at -12 percentage points. Either way, it's worse than in any of his previous bids.

Indeed, Walker's poor position is emblematic of the GOP in the Upper Midwest overall. Republicans are underdogs in the Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota gubernatorial races as well. That's quite a change from two years ago, when Trump rode the region to the White House. Now, it may end Walker's political career.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 667262

Reported Deaths: 12737
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion913541660
Lake48729891
Allen36175646
Hamilton32489398
St. Joseph30361514
Elkhart25536420
Vanderburgh21343382
Tippecanoe20240205
Johnson16485363
Porter16077281
Hendricks15955302
Clark12079182
Madison11810323
Vigo11699234
Monroe10440164
Delaware9899179
LaPorte9838201
Howard9127203
Kosciusko8600111
Bartholomew7531147
Hancock7471134
Warrick7456153
Floyd7269173
Wayne6661192
Grant6465158
Boone618691
Morgan6135129
Dubois5942112
Dearborn551570
Cass5489100
Marshall5456105
Henry544395
Noble513878
Jackson465967
Shelby463591
Lawrence4197113
Gibson405585
Harrison404065
Clinton397653
Montgomery391984
DeKalb388278
Miami358463
Knox357886
Whitley352438
Huntington350877
Steuben340455
Putnam334660
Wabash333976
Ripley328062
Adams326349
Jasper319343
White298553
Jefferson296574
Daviess286196
Fayette272756
Decatur271688
Greene262680
Posey261732
Wells259175
Scott252150
LaGrange242670
Clay241644
Randolph226577
Spencer219630
Jennings216944
Washington213327
Sullivan203839
Fountain202842
Starke190051
Owen184254
Fulton179937
Jay178828
Carroll176919
Perry174136
Orange171451
Rush165722
Vermillion161543
Franklin160135
Tipton150041
Parke140216
Pike128633
Blackford120727
Pulaski107844
Newton96832
Brown95340
Crawford92613
Benton92513
Martin80314
Warren76014
Switzerland7568
Union67510
Ohio54211
Unassigned0427

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 978471

Reported Deaths: 17501
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1130371251
Cuyahoga969331881
Hamilton739231067
Montgomery47536923
Summit40720831
Butler35859531
Lucas35802720
Stark29602826
Warren22593275
Lorain22218424
Mahoning19586551
Lake18564332
Clermont18541205
Delaware16614121
Licking15096194
Fairfield14653188
Trumbull14437424
Greene13664221
Medina13531237
Clark12394256
Wood11670170
Portage11140172
Allen10822216
Richland10376188
Miami10065194
Muskingum8244117
Columbiana8174210
Pickaway8096111
Tuscarawas8083232
Marion8021127
Wayne7939199
Erie6972146
Ross6178132
Geauga6118142
Hancock6032121
Scioto600988
Ashtabula6002154
Lawrence527886
Union516741
Darke5052116
Belmont5000137
Huron4862108
Jefferson4843137
Sandusky4800112
Washington475596
Seneca4738111
Athens466449
Mercer459781
Auglaize456682
Shelby442679
Knox4056105
Putnam400593
Madison395755
Fulton383461
Ashland383083
Brown375252
Defiance374088
Crawford360198
Logan357673
Preble354187
Clinton342755
Highland328551
Ottawa325471
Williams303568
Jackson292046
Champaign291149
Guernsey288945
Perry271348
Fayette270143
Morrow261637
Henry247961
Hardin247359
Holmes244497
Coshocton241156
Van Wert230357
Gallia223938
Adams218339
Pike217328
Wyandot212450
Hocking195154
Carroll182143
Paulding161134
Meigs136031
Noble129233
Monroe117637
Morgan102220
Harrison100731
Vinton76713
Unassigned00
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