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Capitol Insiders Make Their Predictions on the Midterms

Half of Republican aides say they'll keep control of the House, 9 in 10 Democrats predict they’ll take control

A voter arrives at the Philomont fire station in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, Rep. Barbara Comstock's district, on primary election day on June 12. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
A voter arrives at the Philomont fire station in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, Rep. Barbara Comstock's district, on primary election day on June 12. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The midterm elections are just days away and both Republican and Democratic aides are hoping for the best.

In their responses to CQ’s Capitol Insiders Survey, half of Republican aides said their party would retain the House majority. That’s optimistic. Political prognosticators give the GOP little hope of that, given the large number of House GOP retirements and the antipathy toward President Donald Trump in suburban districts. The website FiveThirtyEight puts chances of a GOP House majority at 17 percent.

Meanwhile, a majority of the Democratic aides are thinking positively about winning GOP-held Senate seats in Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee. The first two seem plausible, the last unlikely. The RealClearPolitics polling average has Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn up by more than 6 percentage points over her Democratic opponent, former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

CQ emailed congressional staffers the Capitol Insiders Survey on Oct. 22. The poll closed on Oct. 25 and 174 aides filled it out: 94 Democrats, 76 Republicans and four independents.

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Staffers do have areas of agreement. A majority in both parties expect the GOP to retain a Senate majority, and of the most competitive races, majorities on both sides think GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer will defeat Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota.

In other competitive races, majorities also expect incumbent Democrats Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Joe Manchin III in West Virginia, Jon Tester in Montana and Robert Menendez in New Jersey to hang on.

Majorities of both Democratic and Republican aides also believe incumbent Republican Ted Cruz will defeat his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, in Texas.

Republican aides, on average, expect to pick up two Senate seats. But when asked about specific races, Republicans were even more optimistic.

A majority said they’d retain all the seats they currently hold and win the race in North Dakota, as well as Florida, where the GOP governor, Rick Scott, is facing Democrat Bill Nelson, and in Missouri, where the Republican attorney general, Josh Hawley, is battling Democrat Claire McCaskill.

Democratic aides, on average, said the Republicans would retain their 51-49 margin in the Senate. But when asked about specific races, a majority thought Bredesen would win in Tennessee and that Democrats would pick up a seat in Nevada, where Republican Dean Heller is up against Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, and in Arizona, where two representatives, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally, are vying for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.

In the battle for the House, Democrats are more confident than their GOP colleagues, with 9 in 10 aides saying they would take the majority.

Watch: 12 Ratings Changes for House, Senate and Gubernatorial Races

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