Contribute Now

538 – House Update: Here’s Why We Need Polls In Red Districts — They Might Not Be So Red

Welcome to our Election Update for Tuesday, Oct. 30! Somehow, some way, there is just one week left until Election Day, and Democrats continue to hold the upper hand in the lower chamber. As of 12:45 p.m., our forecast gave the party a 7 in 9 chance of taking control of the House in the Lite version, a 6 in 7 chance in the Classic version and a 5 in 6 chance in the Deluxe version.

It became a cause célèbre here at FiveThirtyEight to lobby for someone to poll the Colorado 3rd District after we identified it as the most underpolled toss-up district. That article also highlighted that many “lean Republican” and “likely Republican” districts have little polling data. Typically, these districts get little attention, but they could be competitive in 2018’s political climate. If so, that could leave us blind to some major upsets in the event of a true blue wave.

Well, online pollster Change Research heeded our call, and late Monday night, it tweeted out poll results from 12 moderately red districts. In seven of those districts, it was the first poll we’ve seen all cycle long. Some of the polls, like those in the Illinois 16th and Ohio 2nd, lined up pretty well with other indicators in our forecast, so they didn’t move the needle too much. But other polls opened up the possibility that certain districts might be more competitive than we realized.

Bear in mind that this is only one pollster’s read on these races. Founded after the 2016 election, Change Research is still pretty new as far as pollsters go, and it currently has a C+ pollster rating. So it’s hardly the gold standard. But its online methodology has an upside — namely, that it’s cheap, so it’s easy for Change Research to poll marginal districts. And some data is better than nothing. Here’s where our forecast changed the most as a result of these polls:

Based on the number of retweets, the most shocking topline came in the Iowa 4th. Controversial GOP Rep. Steve King led Democrat J.D. Scholten just 45 percent to 44 percent. That margin was way worse for King than in previous polls, and his chances of winning plunged 19 percentage points in the Lite version of our model, which just looks at polls.

Full article: