Chamber members had the opportunity earlier today to hear from two guys in the election trenches during our monthly Policy Issue Conference Call. I can’t share all they had to say, but did want to recap some of the numbers and insights they offered.
Jeff Brantley is director of political affairs for the Chamber’s Indiana Business for Responsive Government, focused on electing pro-economy, pro-jobs candidates to the Indiana General Assembly. Michael Davis previously was in that position before moving to Washington earlier this year for a role with BIPAC, focused on congressional elections and working with states on their political programs.
Among the offerings:
- Michael cited "enthusiasm gap" polling that reflects the mood of the electorate. Typically a strong advantage for Democrats, it’s currently in the +2 to +10 range for Republicans. In 1994, when a major GOP swing took place in the mid-term election, the "gap" was +4 for Democrats.
- There are between 120 and 125 competitive U.S. House races (at least twice the norm). The striking difference is in which party currently controls those competitive seats — 105 for Democrats and 18 for Republicans.
- At a minimum, there will be 15 new U.S. senators, 43 new reps and a continuing trend in governors who were not in power as recently as two years ago.
- At the state level, Jeff notes there are "very competitive races in places we’ve not seen competitive races before." He also points out the absence of the traditional human services and education issues; the attention is focused on the economy and jobs, jobs, jobs.
- The "change" mantra in Indiana is strongest in the southern portion of the state. There are very competitive Statehouse races along the Ohio River and in other southern areas. Change, of course, can mean a backlash against incumbents — no matter the party.
- Turnout, as always, will be crucial. But turnout takes on a whole new meaning with the growing number of voters who cast their ballots well ahead of Election Day.
The bottom line: November 2 and its results will be most interesting and important.