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Professor Predicts House will go to Repubs

Posted by on Aug. 31, 2010 at 1:39 AM
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UB professor predicts House will go to Republicans

Updated: August 29, 2010, 0:26 PM

A University at Buffalo political scientist with a sterling record of prognosticating presidential elections is predicting that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will turn over her gavel to the GOP come January.

The presiding Democrats stand to lose about 51 seats in November, says James E. Campbell, professor of political science at UB. His prediction stems from a crystal ball filled with scientific equations based on polling and current events, all pointing to a stunning reversal of fortune for Democrats, who took over the House in 2006.

"After two election setbacks, they are poised for a comeback," Campbell says of Republicans. "Partisanship, ideology, the midterm decline from the prior presidential surge, the partisanship of districts being defended, and even President Obama's approval ratings have set the stage for significant seat gains by Republicans in the House."

In a paper he will deliver this week to the American Political Science Association meeting in Washington, Campbell analyzes a variety of political elements that he plugs into his final equation. They include:

• Polls pointing to a more conservative mood throughout the country.

• The suggestion that Democrats are "overexposed" and hold more seats than usual, thus leaving more seats in trouble.

• Cooperation with the Cook Political Report compiled by veteran Washington analyst Charlie Cook, which handicaps congressional elections across the country. Campbell calls Cook's past analyses "impressive."

• Presidential approval and its influence in previous midterm elections.

Campbell has used much of the same methodology to predict presidential elections with significant success. Now he uses variables specific to the House to bolster his contention that voters will pull more Republican levers.

"In June 2010, 42 percent of respondents told Gallup that they were conservatives, while 20 percent claimed to be liberals, and 35 percent said they were moderates," he said. "The nearly even division in partisanship and the conservative tilt in ideology suggest that the current equilibrium in the electorate is far more Republican than the status quo in the House."

Campbell does not dismiss what he sees in "tea party" rallies.

"Polls, primary turnouts, the emergence of the tea party movement, and Republican victories in 2009 [including Scott Brown's 2010 Senate win in Massachusetts] are unmistakable stirrings of a revitalized right," he concluded.

He also says Democrats may be a victim of their own success. While they scored significant gains in 2006 and 2008, they must now defend 47 seats in districts carried by George W. Bush in 2004 and John McCain in 2008.

And Campbell also notes that Obama's slide in the polls stands in contrast to the coattails he provided congressional candidates in 2008.

"Although President Obama is not unpopular at this point [his approval ratings stand in the mid- 40s], neither does he have the strong approval ratings that would provide much help to his party in staving off significant midterm losses," Campbell said.

"There is still an outside chance the Democrats could hold on," he said Saturday.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, called such "formulaic modeling more academic than practical."

"The events that will influence the midterm election have not yet occurred," he said. "Anybody who believes the status quo was sustainable is kidding themselves."

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, declined to comment.

Appeasers believe that
if you keep on throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will become a

by on Aug. 31, 2010 at 1:39 AM
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