The Crosstab Weekly Newsletter 📊 October 21, 2018

Unexpected "blue wave" seats and 💰💰Democratic cash💰💰💰. + Swing voters and disenfranchisement

Welcome! I’m G. Elliott Morris, data journalist at The Economistand blogger of polls, elections, and political science. Happy Sunday! Here’s my weekly newsletter with links to what I’ve been reading and writing that puts the news in context with public opinion polls, political science, other data (some “big,” some small) and looks briefly at the week ahead. Let’s jump right in! Feedback? Drop me a line or just respond to this email. 

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This Week's Big Question

What does a wide playing field portend for the House midterms?

Democrats have slim chances to win a large number of Republican-held seats. Just look at the number of Likely or Lean Republican seats in my forecasts: According to my number-crunching, there are 95 Republican-held seats that are forecast to be won by less than 10 points by either party, but just 9 Democratic-held seats in the same category.

This wide, 100-seat playing field creates the chance that Democrats win a few fluke upsets in their path to a House majority. For fun, here are what some of those fluke wins would look like  (PS: You can simulate your own wacky maps using my data which has been put to great use at

In this map, Democrats win Montana’s at-large district (they have a 31% chance today) Michigan’s 1st (a 17% chance) and 7th (25%), North Carolina’s 8th (21%), etc. The point being: all of these districts are projected to be Republican holds, but due to the nature of probability Democrats could easily win them. 

Odds are that Democrats will win some unexpected seats. Keep in mind the this doesn’t guarantee a Democratic victory; they have just a 76% chance of doing so, per my forecast, and an 85% chance in the 538 model (which was tracking similarly unless the recent about of tsunami Dem wave fundraising reports). With 15 days left until the midterms, in which of these seats do you think the Democrats or Republicans will win unexpected victories?

Politics and Election Data

Democrats are winning voters’ wallets—and perhaps their hearts as well - Daily chart

WITH just 20 days left until the mid-term elections that will determine the fate of Donald Trump’s legislative agenda and possibly his presidency, national polls give the Democrats a robust lead of around eight percentage points.  •  Share

Who’s Winning the Social Media Midterms?

After President Trump’s popularity on social media helped propel him to an upset victory in 2016, Democrats vowed to catch up. Two years later, their efforts appear to be paying off.  •  Share

For a Change, Democrats Seem Set to Equal or Exceed Republicans in Turnout - The New York Times

Polls show enthusiasm surging in many mostly white suburban districts, but less so among young and nonwhite voters.  •  Share

Democratic Whac-a-Mole and Senate Math Paradoxes

Solving a paradox in the forecast.  •  Share

Grant Gregory


A thread on @WholeFoods and elections: @Redistrict recently wrote that Dems will perform the best in areas that are geographically close to Whole Foods (WF). I decided to map/calculate the # of Whole Foods by congressional district to test his theory on WF and elections (1/9)

12:19 PM - 21 Oct 2018

It’s not just the young: Middle-age voters aren’t showing up at the polls like they used to - The Washington Post

Everybody knows that young Americans don’t tend to go to the polls. But data shows steep midterm turnout declines among 30-, 40- and 50-somethings, too.  •  Share

Jason Pipkin


Hey folks - updated The Spreadsheet this weekend! Now featuring forecasts from @538, @0ptimusPredicts, @gelliottmorris, @databyler and newly added models from @rudnicknoah and @ForecasterEnten. (In addition to expert ratings and the @PredicIt markets)

4:09 PM - 21 Oct 2018

Polls can be wrong - Vox

Neither party should feel too confident in what polls show right now.  •  Share

Other Data and Cool Work

Temporary economic downturns have long-lasting consequences - Daily chart

PROFESSIONAL success, we are often told, is won through natural talent, hard work, and determination. But luck also plays a part. Sometimes this is manifested in the booms and busts of the business cycle.  •  Share

Massive Twitter data release sheds light on Russia’s Trump strategy - POLITICO

The tweets include Russia’s consistent efforts to disparage Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.  •  Share

Political Science & Survey Research

The Kavanaugh saga reminded Republicans of a big reason to vote in November: Stopping Democrats - The Washington Post

More Republicans are citing Democrats as a reason for their congressional vote.  •  Share

Opinion | How to Win Swing Voters (and How to Lose Them) - The New York Times

A candidate’s conundrum: Many independent voters are repelled by the partisan appeals that spur the party faithful to the polls.  •  Share

“Is Your Representative a Grandstander? Measuring Message Politics in Committee Hearings” by Ju Yeon (Julia) Park: 

“This paper measures a “grandstanding score” for each statement that committee members make based on its intensity of opinion-giving and identifies which types of members of Congress and committees tend to use hearings to make their points. I argue that committee members grandstand in hearings to offset their limited legislative power. My findings suggest that such grandstanding behavior is more common among minority members under a unified government, and non-chair members of powerful committees, and in committees with jurisdiction over policies that the president wields primary power, such as foreign affairs and national security.”

What I'm Reading and Working On

You’ll see…


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back again next week! In the meantime, follow me online or reach out via email. I’d love to hear from you!

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