Do Democrats have a shot at the House?

Indeed, there are few signs of a wave breaking, in the generic ballot or elsewhere. Republican candidates for the United States House have raised about $360 million so far, compared with about $250 million for Democrats. It is typical for the incumbent party to have an advantage in fund-raising, but when there is a true wave coming, the challenging party can sometimes overcome it. Republicans, for instance, slightly out-raised Democrats in 2010. And these figures do not include independent expenditures, which are also likely to favor Republicans…

Even the economic upside case, however, would not be an unambiguous good for Democratic Congressional candidates. It would likely help President Obama, and in presidential election years, a large number of people do not pay much attention to House races, enabling the winning presidential candidate to have some coattails down the ballot. Apart from these coattail effects, though, the impact of economic performance is rather ambiguous in races for the Congress when control of government is divided.

There is an entirely credible theory that if voters are happier, they may be more inclined to retain the status quo, which in this case means a Democratic president and a Republican House. It may be noteworthy that at the same time that Barack Obama’s approval ratings were improving somewhat in the first three months of this year, mostly as a result of slightly improved economic confidence, the generic Congressional ballot seemed to be getting more favorable for Republicans rather than Democrats. I would certainly think Democratic candidates for the House would prefer a better economy on balance, but it is not a slam dunk.

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