The Outlook for November

We are now about five months away from the mid-term elections that will decide who controls the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years.

For the House, we think the Republicans are overwhelming favorites, with odds of at least 95% to reach a majority. Why are we so confident? First, the GOP finished the last election cycle with 212 of the House's 435 seats, so doing even slightly better should get them a majority. Second, the party not in control of the White House – this time, the Republicans – usually does very well in mid-term election cycles, like the GOP in 2010 and the Democrats in 2018.

Third, President Biden is languishing in the polls, with an average approval rating of 40 - 41%. Fourth, the GOP is winning the average "generic ballot" poll (the poll that asks for which party people intend to vote) by two points over the Democrats. A two-point margin is where the Republicans were on Memorial Day weekend in 2010 when they went on to win by seven points, an election that took them to 242 House seats.

We also think the Republicans are the favorites to win the Senate, but not by as much. For the Senate, we think the odds of the GOP taking control are more like 85%. Why the difference? Two key factors: math and candidate quality.

There are 435 House seats, and all of them require a vote. By contrast, with its six-year terms, there are only 34 Senate races this Fall that will go to the ballot box. And among those 34, Republicans must defend 20 of those seats; the Democrats only have to defend 14, which gives Republicans fewer opportunities to make gains. (The script gets flipped in 2024, when the Democrats will need to defend the most seats.)