CommunityFDL Main Blog

The Elections Are All About the Letter Next to the Candidate’s Name

The big story of the 2014 election which isn’t getting enough attention is how nationalized our federal elections have become. The value of incumbency and individual candidates has been greatly diminished, while the political party next to the candidate’s name carries much greater value.

What really drives this point home is looking at the results of the 2012 presidential election compared with the 2014 senate races in the chart below. On average the margin of victory was roughly 3.79 percent points more favorable to Republicans. (It was only 2.74 more favorable to Republican if we exclude Kansas, which didn’t have a Democrat on the ballot, and Maine where Sen. Susan Collins is one of the last old school incumbents who seems immune to nationalization of politics.)

What is amazing is that it seems five weeks out the polling arguably did a worse job predicting the final results merely assuming that 2014 Senate results would mirror the 2012 President results except with an across the point board swing to the GOP instead. This assumption would have correctly predicted the close race in Virginia and New Hampshire; the easy wins for Republicans in Kansas, Georgia, Arkansas, and Kentucky. In addition that Republicans would end up taking North Carolina.

We are starting to see our federal elections more closely resemble that of elections in parliamentary democracies, where just national polling support for the parties does a very good job predicting the total seat change.

This trend was very bad for Democrats this year but should make Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Ron Johnson (R-WI) nervous about 2016.

2012 Dem lead 2014 Dem lead Change
Alaska -13.99 -3.7 10.29
Arkansas -23.69 -17 6.69
Colorado 5.37 -2.7 -8.07
Delaware 18.63 13.6 -5.03
Georgia -7.83 -7.9 -0.07
Hawaii 42.71 42.1 -0.61
Idaho -31.91 -30.6 1.31
Illinois 16.87 10 -6.87
Iowa 5.81 -8.5 -14.31
Kansas* -21.72 -10.8 10.92
Kentucky -22.69 -15.5 7.19
Maine 15.29 -36.8 -52.09
Massachusetts 23.14 24 0.86
Michigan 9.5 13.2 3.7
Minnesota 7.69 10.3 2.61
Mississippi -11.5 -23 -11.5
Montana -13.65 -17.9 -4.25
Nebraska -21.78 -33.7 -11.92
New Hampshire 5.58 3.2 -2.38
New Jersey 17.81 13.4 -4.41
New Mexico 10.5 10.8 0.3
North Carolina -2.04 -1.7 0.34
Oklahoma -33.54 -39.5 -5.96
Oklahoma -33.54 -38.9 -5.36
Oregon 12.09 18.5 6.41
Rhode Island 27.46 41.4 13.94
South Carolina -10.47 -15.6 -5.13
South Carolina -10.47 -24.1 -13.63
South Dakota -18.02 -20.9 -2.88
Tennessee -20.4 -30.1 -9.7
Texas -15.78 -27.2 -11.42
Virginia 3.87 0.8 -3.07
West Virginia -26.76 -27.6 -0.84
Wyoming -40.82 -54.7 -13.88
CommunityElections

The Elections Are All About the Letter Next to the Candidate’s Name

The big story of the 2014 election which isn’t getting enough attention is how nationalized our federal elections have become. The value of incumbency and individual candidates has been greatly diminished while the political party next to the candidate’s name carries much greater value.

What really drives this point home is looking at the results of the 2012 presidential election compared with the 2014 senate races in the chart below. On average the margin of victory was roughly 3.79 percent points more favorable to Republicans. (It was only 2.74 more favorable to Republican if we exclude Kansas, which didn’t have a Democrat on the ballot, and Maine where Sen. Susan Collins is one of the last old school incumbents who seems immune to nationalization of politics.)

What is amazing is that it seems five weeks out the polling arguably did a worse job predicting the final results merely assuming that 2014 Senate results would mirror the 2012 President results except with an across the point board swing to the GOP instead. This assumption would have correctly predicted the close race in Virginia and New Hampshire; the easy wins for Republicans in Kansas, Georgia, Arkansas, and Kentucky. In addition that Republicans would end up taking North Carolina.

We are starting to see our federal elections more closely resemble that of elections in parliamentary democracies, where just national polling support for the parties does a very good job predicting the total seat change.

This trend was very bad for Democrats this year but should make Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Ron Johnson (R-WI) nervous about 2016.

2012 Dem lead 2014 Dem lead Change
Alaska -13.99 -3.7 10.29
Arkansas -23.69 -17 6.69
Colorado 5.37 -2.7 -8.07
Delaware 18.63 13.6 -5.03
Georgia -7.83 -7.9 -0.07
Hawaii 42.71 42.1 -0.61
Idaho -31.91 -30.6 1.31
Illinois 16.87 10 -6.87
Iowa 5.81 -8.5 -14.31
Kansas* -21.72 -10.8 10.92
Kentucky -22.69 -15.5 7.19
Maine 15.29 -36.8 -52.09
Massachusetts 23.14 24 0.86
Michigan 9.5 13.2 3.7
Minnesota 7.69 10.3 2.61
Mississippi -11.5 -23 -11.5
Montana -13.65 -17.9 -4.25
Nebraska -21.78 -33.7 -11.92
New Hampshire 5.58 3.2 -2.38
New Jersey 17.81 13.4 -4.41
New Mexico 10.5 10.8 0.3
North Carolina -2.04 -1.7 0.34
Oklahoma -33.54 -39.5 -5.96
Oklahoma -33.54 -38.9 -5.36
Oregon 12.09 18.5 6.41
Rhode Island 27.46 41.4 13.94
South Carolina -10.47 -15.6 -5.13
South Carolina -10.47 -24.1 -13.63
South Dakota -18.02 -20.9 -2.88
Tennessee -20.4 -30.1 -9.7
Texas -15.78 -27.2 -11.42
Virginia 3.87 0.8 -3.07
West Virginia -26.76 -27.6 -0.84
Wyoming -40.82 -54.7 -13.88
Previous post

Obamacare Going Back Before the Supreme Court

Next post

Bush Family and Inner Circle Play Central Role in Lawsuits vs. Denton, Texas Fracking Ban

Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at http://pendinghorizon.com