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Stuart Rothenberg v. Michael Barone on The Wave Theory of Election ’06

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The transcript of my interview with Stuart Rothenberg will be up here later, and the audio will be here.  I think Rothenberg is a very good analyst, but like all analysts, can get captured by his own spin.  Rothenberg is predicting a big wave for the Democrats in the House, and specified the races.  I have been hunting for polling stats on each of the six races in which Rothenberg saw the worst news for the GOP.  They are listed in the order of vulnerability for the GOP that Rothenberg asserted, from most vulnerable to least vulnerable: 

  • CD-7: SurveyUSA: O’Donnell 45%, Perlmutter 45% – 8/22/06
  • IO-1: No polling for the Mike Whalen (R) Bruce Braley (D) race.
  • AZ-8: No polling available because the primary is September 12.
  • IN-2: In the most recent media poll, GOP incumbent Chris Chocola is down by five points toDemocrat Joe Donnelly. The margin of error is 5 points, and the undecideds ar 13%.
  • IN-8: GOP incumbent John Hostettler is up for a 7th term 2006. He is opposed by Brad Elllsworth.
  • IN-9: GOP incumbent Mike Sodrel faces a challenge from former Dem Congressman Baron Hill. No media polling available.
  • This is simply not the stuff of which “waves” are made, and Michael Barone confirmed as much in the second hour of my program.  (The transcript of that interview will be here; the audio here.)  Barone is not full of happy talk for the GOP, only a much more cautious approach to what is a very, very fluid political environemnt. Barone notes the general scarcity of polling in many of these six races and other “toss ups” cited by Rothenberg, and Barone certainly doesn’t see any evidence on which to base a prediction that eight out of 10 “toss-ups” will break Democratic.

    ElectionProejection may have the most comprehensive data assemblage and analysis around.  (Certainly if he’s good enough for Michael Barone’s respect, he should be good enough for you.)  You can cross check the rest of Rothenberg’s races with EP’s massive data set.  When you are done reviewing the data, ask yourself who has the better turn-out machine, the better message machine, and the most money on-hand overall.

    Teh aggressiveness of the punditry may have in fact helped the GOP turnout effort, so I am not complaining.  But the pundits should keep in mind that reputations can be lost in a single cycle.  “Zogby” is a punch line, now, not a brand.  Preidcting “waves” that never materialize can have the same effect on even the best brands.


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