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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, November 4, 2013

No Anti-Incumbent Wave

Previous posts have cast doubt on the popular notion of "anti-incumbent" waves. At The Guardian, Harry Enten offers four points:
  • Take a look at this chart from Alan Abramowitz. It maps out House of Representative incumbent losses in a general election by party since 1954. I've added the 2012 election to the chart... The only year in which ten or more incumbents of both parties were defeated in the general election was 2012. Seventeen Republicans and ten Democrats went down. That's what you'd expect when there is a lot of redistricting going on around the country....
  • 29% of respondents to a recent NBC/WSJ poll said they thought their representative deserved to be re-elected. That's not significantly different from 1992. The final poll before the 1992 election had the re-elect percentage at 31%, after it actually cratered to 27% during the summer of 1992. And was there an anti-incumbent wave in 1992? Hardly. In yet another redistricting year, only 24 incumbents lost.
  • A few weeks ago, Gallup reported that a record high 60% of Americans believed a third party is needed. This week, 30% of NBC/WSJ respondents claimed they'd vote for a third-party candidate for Congress over a Democrat and a Republican. Those percentages seem high, until you realize that this polling looks a lot like it has over the past few years.
  • Democracy Corps just surveyed a bunch of swing Democratic and Republican districts. They found that while named Democratic incumbents had a -4 net approval rating, named Republicans had a +5 net approval rating. That would suggest Republicans picking up some Democratic seats, but not too many Democrats snagging Republican seats. Indeed, Republicans are polling better right now than they were in the summer of 2012