Post mid-term chaos? Or not.

RTrent said:

There is a coattail effect even when the president is not running. Had he a decent approval rating the Democrats would likely have kept the house. 

Historically, a presidential approval rating as high as 65 percent still correlates with a loss of 10 House seats, and Democrats could afford to lose only four to retain control.

https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/analyses/the-2022-midterm-elections-what-the-historical-data-suggest


I saw that same research, which says: 

"Partisan seat swings in midterm elections are consistently correlated with two factors:

  • The level of public approval of the incumbent President. As approval falls the greater the number of seats lost by the President’s party. In this sense the midterm is taken as a referendum on the incumbent president.
  • The number of seats each house of Congress up for election controlled by the President's party. As the number of seats to defend increases, the greater the number of seats lost."

Seems pretty straightforward, logical and non-controversial to me. 

But when I say the presidential approval rating is an important number that holds implications for the midterms among other things, MOL hellfire rains down. (And 15 months later, sporadic fire continues.)


Smedley said:

But when I say the presidential approval rating is an important number that holds implications for the midterms among other things, MOL hellfire rains down. (And 15 months later, sporadic fire continues.)

Hellfire, eh? I bet you can take it.

If I recall correctly, at least some of the hellfire was rained on the idea that presidential approval ratings should be a concern the aforementioned 15 months ahead of the midterms.


Smedley said:

I saw that same research, which says: 

"Partisan seat swings in midterm elections are consistently correlated with two factors:

  • The level of public approval of the incumbent President. As approval falls the greater the number of seats lost by the President’s party. In this sense the midterm is taken as a referendum on the incumbent president.
  • The number of seats each house of Congress up for election controlled by the President's party. As the number of seats to defend increases, the greater the number of seats lost."

Seems pretty straightforward, logical and non-controversial to me. 

But when I say the presidential approval rating is an important number that holds implications for the midterms among other things, MOL hellfire rains down. (And 15 months later, sporadic fire continues.)

but his approval rating apparently was not an important number this year, given the success of the Dems.

so how do you figure that?


According to that chart, rising from a rating of 44 percent to a respectable 55 percent is historically worth, what, 12 seats? So if Republicans end up with 229 or fewer — which does seem likely — maybe it made a difference?


Smedley said:

I did/do believe Biden's approval rating was a concern for Democrats in that it held implications for the midterms among other things. I highly doubt I ever said "it was going to lead to a midterm wipeout for Dems" or any such similar declaration/prediction - show what you got if I did, and I'll own it.

And just because the bad scenario didn't play out in the midterms doesn't mean that Biden's approval rating wasn't a valid concern for the midterms. In fact, I remember a couple months ago someone on this board changing his tune from a presidential approval rating is. not. causative. to well, maybe sometimes it's causative.   

I think my statement was more along the lines of "never say never" not "sometimes it's causative."

But you do you. 


DaveSchmidt said:

Hellfire, eh? I bet you can take it.

If I recall correctly, at least some of the hellfire was rained on the idea that presidential approval ratings should be a concern the aforementioned 15 months ahead of the midterms.

Exactly. For instance would anyone have predicted the effects of one SCOTUS decision that far in advance? Or the rise in concern over the fragility of the democratic process?

Probably not. 


ml1 said:

For instance would anyone have predicted the effects of one SCOTUS decision that far in advance? Or the rise in concern over the fragility of the democratic process?

Or a pandemic’s effect on Biden’s chances in 2020?

Hurrah for predictions.


Okay, enough about predictions which were off for the 2022 election.

Get started on the predictions which will be off for 2024.


jamie said:

I have to give a shoutout to Michael Moore.  I was receiving his daily email where he was highlighting "Midterm Tsunami Truths"  You can see previous ones here:

https://www.michaelmoore.com/

I was really dismissive about them thinking that they were nice hopes, but ultimately wouldn't come to fruition.  I have to say - Mike is a pretty good predictor!

Here's his post for today:

https://www.michaelmoore.com/p/midterm-tsunami-truth-42

Watched him on Bill Maher and thought he was a tad optimistic but here we are.


I don’t believe in polls anymore. Who are the people being called for these polls? Almost everyone has a cell phone, and do not answer a number they don’t recognize. I don’t know what the percentage is, but it’s got to be very high. The polls have been wrong in the last two elections cycle. 
I know so many people who just voted straight line democrat. Period! 
Finito la comedia.


Even the "landline," we only answer if we recognize the caller or number.  Everyone is invited to leave a message, but hardly anyone (that we don't know) does.


DaveSchmidt said:

ml1 said:

For instance would anyone have predicted the effects of one SCOTUS decision that far in advance? Or the rise in concern over the fragility of the democratic process?

Or a pandemic’s effect on Biden’s chances in 2020?

Hurrah for predictions.

that too


Jaytee said:

I don’t believe in polls anymore. Who are the people being called for these polls? Almost everyone has a cell phone, and do not answer a number they don’t recognize. I don’t know what the percentage is, but it’s got to be very high. The polls have been wrong in the last two elections cycle. 
I know so many people who just voted straight line democrat. Period! 
Finito la comedia.

the polls have actually been pretty good. The analysis of the polls by the pundits has tended to be pretty bad. The issue that I see is that very few public polls are done at the congressional district level. And even in presidential elections, there isn't much polling at the statewide level in states that are considered "safe" (see: PA, MI, WI in 2016). 

so what we get are national presidential polls and national generic congressional polls.  I will not be surprised to see the national aggregated vote for each party to be comfortably within the margin of error of the generic congressional ballot average.

having said all that, the polls are just a snapshot, and people shouldn't assume that they reflect exactly what's going to transpire on election day.


something else that needs to be considered is the effect of extreme gerrymandering in the past decade or two. A president's approval rating may not be as much a factor in a midterm when so many of the people who disapprove are packed into Republican districts. The GOP was extremely effective in gaining an advantage through gerrymandering, but it may have also lowered their ceiling for how many districts they can pick up.


Smedley said:

I did/do believe Biden's approval rating was a concern for Democrats in that it held implications for the midterms among other things. I highly doubt I ever said "it was going to lead to a midterm wipeout for Dems" or any such similar declaration/prediction - show what you got if I did, and I'll own it.

And just because the bad scenario didn't play out in the midterms doesn't mean that Biden's approval rating wasn't a valid concern for the midterms. In fact, I remember a couple months ago someone on this board changing his tune from a presidential approval rating is. not. causative. to well, maybe sometimes it's causative.   

Presidential approval isn't causative. It often correlates with things like midterm success because the same factors that affect presidential approval are also generally affecting midterm performance.

If we were to hold to the idea that presidential approval is causative, this recent election would be pretty confusing. But, and I think more importantly, it would cause us to miss asking interesting questions and learning more about voters and the state of the country.

If, instead, we go with the premise that presidential approval is a measure of other factors, rather than the driver of them, then we get the more interesting question of what are those factors, and why have they been weighing Biden's approval down but did not weigh down Democratic success. Or maybe more interestingly, did they weigh it down in some cases but not others, and why?

In some places, Democrats really did end up losing in the way one might expect -- ie Florida and (to a lesser extent) New York. But in most of the country they did not. What's different about Florida and New York that whatever was weighing down Biden also weighed down Democratic candidates? I don't know, but I think that's an interesting question.

I also think that the results strongly suggest that Trumpism is pretty toxic, especially when you look at split ticket results where for instance Republican Trumpist candidates ran far behind Republican non-Trumpist candidates.

Correlation isn't causation, but it often gives us strong hints of interesting places to look. Arguing that low approval rating causes poor midterm performance is less interesting than realizing that they are often correlated.


I'm a bit confused. Causative of what?


drummerboy said:

I'm a bit confused. Causative of what?

election results.

We're dealing with someone who either can't or is refusing to acknowledge that often two variables are correlated because they are both correlated with a third (or more) variable.  Let's consider that the inflation rate is probably correlated with Biden's low approval rating. When people go into the voting booth, what's the likelihood they are considering Biden's ~40% approval rating when the cast their ballot, versus the likelihood that rising prices are on their minds when they vote?

it's kind of a no-brainer isn't it?


PVW said:

Smedley said:

I did/do believe Biden's approval rating was a concern for Democrats in that it held implications for the midterms among other things. I highly doubt I ever said "it was going to lead to a midterm wipeout for Dems" or any such similar declaration/prediction - show what you got if I did, and I'll own it.

And just because the bad scenario didn't play out in the midterms doesn't mean that Biden's approval rating wasn't a valid concern for the midterms. In fact, I remember a couple months ago someone on this board changing his tune from a presidential approval rating is. not. causative. to well, maybe sometimes it's causative.   

Presidential approval isn't causative. It often correlates with things like midterm success because the same factors that affect presidential approval are also generally affecting midterm performance.

If we were to hold to the idea that presidential approval is causative, this recent election would be pretty confusing. But, and I think more importantly, it would cause us to miss asking interesting questions and learning more about voters and the state of the country.

If, instead, we go with the premise that presidential approval is a measure of other factors, rather than the driver of them, then we get the more interesting question of what are those factors, and why have they been weighing Biden's approval down but did not weigh down Democratic success. Or maybe more interestingly, did they weigh it down in some cases but not others, and why?

In some places, Democrats really did end up losing in the way one might expect -- ie Florida and (to a lesser extent) New York. But in most of the country they did not. What's different about Florida and New York that whatever was weighing down Biden also weighed down Democratic candidates? I don't know, but I think that's an interesting question.

I also think that the results strongly suggest that Trumpism is pretty toxic, especially when you look at split ticket results where for instance Republican Trumpist candidates ran far behind Republican non-Trumpist candidates.

Correlation isn't causation, but it often gives us strong hints of interesting places to look. Arguing that low approval rating causes poor midterm performance is less interesting than realizing that they are often correlated.

Florida and NY had redistricted maps that favored Republicans.


Don't understand how it could be causative since I can guarantee that only a very small percentage of Dem voters could tell you what Biden's approval rating was.


drummerboy said:

Don't understand how it could be causative since I can guarantee that only a very small percentage of Dem voters could tell you what Biden's approval rating was.

it's not  


Kari Lake loses.

phew

and good riddance. she is horrible.


PVW said:

Presidential approval isn't causative.

Approval ratings are intended to be synonymous with a president’s popularity. Are you saying a president’s popularity can’t be causative of his party’s midterm results?


drummerboy said:

Kari Lake loses.

phew

and good riddance. she is horrible.


DaveSchmidt said:

Approval ratings are intended to be synonymous with a president’s popularity. Are you saying a president’s popularity can’t be causative of his party’s midterm results?

Is the draft of a vessel causative of the weight of its cargo?

(edited for more clarity of the metaphor)


PVW said:

Is the draft of a vessel causative of how much it weighs?

yes… but will it float…


PVW said:

Is the draft of a vessel causative of the weight of its cargo?

If the cargo is what a voter carries into the voting booth, that metaphor is backwards.

The question, as I see it, is whether voters’ opinions of the president, as reflected in approval ratings, can influence election outcomes for the president’s party. What I’m hearing you and other commenters say is that it can’t.

(Drummerboy asks it as if the idea is that the rating itself is causative, like you’d expect political ads in which the narrator intones: “President Biden’s approval rating is [pause] 44 percent. Too Low Joe has to go.” That’s not the idea.)


DaveSchmidt said:


The question, as I see it, is whether voters’ opinions of the president, as reflected in approval ratings, can influence election outcomes for the president’s party. What I’m hearing you and other commenters say is that it can’t.

I'm sure to some degree. There's something to the idea that people like to be associated with winners, and so I could be convinced there there is a halo or negative halo effect for legislative candidates of the president's party. But I can't see pushing that too far -- that seems a bit like saying a sports team is playing poorly because of their win/loss record, and that if only they had a better record they would play better.


PVW said:

But I can't see pushing that too far -- that seems a bit like saying a sports team is playing poorly because of their win/loss record, and that if only they had a better record they would play better.

Or, it’s like saying that the team’s record is a reflection of the players’ performance, and that their performance affects how fans perceive others associated with the team, like managers and ownership. You look at the record and might get an idea of how easily fans will start booing.

I don’t think anyone is arguing that the rating, per se, is causative. That’d be silly, as has been noted. Regrettably, I’m doing a poor job of conveying an idea that might not be so silly, so will leave it at that.


of course voters' opinions of the president will likely influence their votes for congress. But does the number that Gallup or any other polling organization publishes by itself cause people to vote one way or another?

Doubtful that John and Jane Q. Public are influenced by that number alone. It's actually kind of silly to think they are. Even people like us who follow these things very closely aren't likely to be influenced by an approval number alone. Did any of us walk into a voting booth in 2018 saying -- "I'm voting for the Democrat for Senate because Trump has a 40% approval rating!"

nah.


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