What will happen on U.S. election day?

Of course, I have been following this.

Nate Silver at the New York Times, Pollster, and a whole host of other prognosticators looking at the polls say that the projected outcome will be something like this:

House: 233 Republicans, 202 Democrats
Senate: 52 Democratic caucus, 48 Republican caucus.

(I throw in the word “caucus” there, because there are some Independents, and the possibility of one or two more after tomorrow.)

What isn’t being emphasized is that there is no easy way to come up with these numbers just based off polling of registered or likely voters. So the tolerance of these odds changes if you move the split of Republican and Democrats either way. For example, a shift of just a couple percentage points towards the Democrats lets them keep the House and a number of the Senate seats. The assumptions about which registered voters will become likely voters and actual voters are not spelled out very well.

I think that Nate Silver’s success with polling the 2008 primaries and especially the presidential election has put a false confidence into the work that is being done right now. In a lower turnout election, which is what mid-terms traditionally are, shifts in turnout matter. This is giving the Democrats some hope that 48%-44% Republican doesn’t really mean 52%-40% Republican. When less than half the people show up, it depends on who is in that half. If on 48% Republican, it was only the Republicans who showed, you’d have 100% landslides.

People have put a lot more effort into the analysis than I have; but it looks to me like some of this becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. The Democrats are told that they are going to be trounced. So they stay home. They get trounced.

I sent my ballot in for the Democrat weeks ago. This, in a district (New Jersey 7th) that the Democrats never win, no matter how hard they try. I am registered Republican, though, (long story) so it looks like I am an “early voter” for the R’s.

Tuesday will be interesting, and seeing how President Obama deals with the new Congress will be, too.