With the outcome of the US Election likely to be known within 48 hours, the time has come to put aside commentary and present final predictions.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have consumed most of the political oxygen this electoral cycle, but there’s a lot more at stake on Election Day than just the presidency.
Here are my final predictions for the Presidency, as well as elections for Governors, the US Senate and the US House of Representatives.
Hillary Clinton to win.
Regardless of what the polls say, the Democratic Party has long had a clear advantage in the Electoral College. For Trump to win, he would need to win every state that John McCain and Mitt Romney won in 2008 and 2012, as well as more that they did not. There is no plausible path to an Electoral College majority for Trump.
I’m not confident about the outcome in Indiana, Iowa, and North Carolina – where the contest is very close – but have made a prediction nonetheless.
12 states will be electing their new Governors.
It is bad news for the Democrats, as I predict that the record low number of Governorships that the Party controls will further decrease, with the Republican Party to win the now Democratic held seats of Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont.
On the flip side, the embattled Republican Governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, looks set to lose to his Democratic opponent.
This would result in an overall net gain of two seats to the Republicans. There are currently 31 Republican, 18 Democrats, and 1 independent governors, but after this week, it will be 33–16–1.
Approximately one third (34) of the 100 seats in the US Senate are up for election.
The Republican Party currently controls the Senate, 54–46 (including two independents who caucus with the Democrats).
At the outset of the electoral cycle, it looked likely that the Democrats would regain control. But in many states, Republican candidates have successfully distanced themselves from Trump and appear on track to win in states that Trump will lose.
Notable races to watch
There are several states that are genuine “toss ups”, with either party having a chance at winning. These are Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. It is highly possible that the Democratic Party could win all four of these contests, but the races in these states are simply too close to call – making a prediction here akin to flipping a coin.
The Democrats do have a great chance in Indiana, but Trump will not be as big a drag on the ballot here as in other states, as many residents will be voting for current Indiana Governor Mike Pence to become vice president.
Missouri’s Jason Kander is undoubtedly the breakout star of this electoral cycle, with a viral ad advocating his support for gun control. Some polls have him in the lead against incumbent Roy Blunt, a very seasoned and canny Washington insider, and a member of the Republican Senate leadership. Kander does have an excellent chance at winning, but it would be considered something of an upset.
Nevada is anyone’s guess. Republican congressman Joe Heck has run a near flawless campaign against former State Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Mastro. Like Kander, it is highly possible that Cortez Mastro could win, but that will depend upon Hispanic voter turnout, and the impact of Trump.
Pennsylvania’s incumbent Republican Pat Toomey, one of the most conservative members of the Senate, was long considered vulnerable. But like Joe Heck in Nevada, Toomey has run a near perfect campaign, while Democrat Katy McGinty has been somewhat lacklustre as a first time candidate. Again, McGinty does have an excellent chance of winning here, but this contest will be won by a vote margin of less than 2%.
Should the Democrats win just one of these states, then they will win control of the Senate (with the tie breaking vote of the presumed Democratic vice president). But rather than sit on the fence with my feet pressed against the coals, I am predicting the Republicans will retain the narrowest possible majority: 51-49.
It is highly likely, though, that the results of quite a few of these states will not be known until some days after the election.
US House of Representatives
The Republican Party currently controls the US House of Representatives with their largest majority in almost a century, 247 seats to the Democrats’ 188.
218 seats are needed for control of the House, which means the Democratic Party needs to hold all of their seats, and win another 32. While possible, this is improbable. In the Democratic “wave” years of 2006 and 2008, the Party won 21 and 31 seats respectively – still short of what is needed this year.
The Democrats will certainly gain seats this week, and I am predicting a net gain of 18–19 seats, which would see a new House chamber of 229/230 Republican seats and 206/205 Democrat seats.
Keep an eye on Virginia’s 10th congressional district, held by Republican Barbara Comstock. Virginia will be one of the first states to declare their results, and if Comstock is defeated, then it will be a very good night for Democrats across the country. If Comstock is reelected, then expect national Democratic House gains to be around 10-12.
The most unusual and divisive presidential election in recent memory will result in many uncertainties on Election Day. This is the reason why pundits – me included – are not confident this cycle in down-ticket predictions.
Unlike past election years, there are two big variables at play: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and their full impact is yet to be seen.
Authors: Bryan Cranston, Online Lecturer in Politics, and PhD Candidate in Politics and History, Swinburne University of Technology