CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY KENYON
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Sept. 12, 2002
UI professor predicts Democrats will take control of Congress
Democrats will regain control of the House of Representatives and expand
their majority in the Senate following the November mid-term elections, said
Michael Lewis-Beck, a University of Iowa political scientist and election
Lewis-Beck and his collaborator, Charles Tien of Hunter College, predict
the House will gain eight Democratic seats and the Senate will gain three
Democratic seats. The news is not all bad for the Republicans, Lewis-Beck
said, since these predicted seat losses are clearly a smaller number than
are traditionally lost by the party of the sitting president.
The forecast models, which are based on data gathered on elections across
the post-World War II period, take into account two important substantive
factors: the popularity of the president and the increase in disposable income.
Lewis-Beck said summer estimates of both are somewhat favorable for the
party in the White House--in June, President Bush's popularity in the Gallup
poll equaled 70 percent, which is the second highest June midterm election
rating since 1950, and disposable income growth over the first two quarters
of 2002 was 2.21 percent, which is the largest midterm growth in disposable
income since 1986.
"However," he said, "these positive numbers will be overwhelmed
by the historic pattern of mid-term loss for the president's party. The party
controlling the White House has lost an average of 24 House seats and 4 Senate
seats during midterm elections since 1950."
With respect to the Senate, these relatively positive popularity and economy
numbers will help the Republicans, but not enough to overcome the losses they
will sustain from having an unusually large number (20) of Republican seats
being contested, Lewis-Beck said.
Lewis-Beck and Tien caution that these election forecasts, like any others,
are not expected to be exactly right. However, since they are based on historically
accurate models, they provide an advanced look at a very probable outcome.