Sabato's Crystal Ball: Dems will pick up more than 30 House seats, GOP set to keep Senate

Sabato's Crystal Ball: Dems will pick up more than 30 House seats, GOP set to keep Senate
© Greg Nash

Sabato's Crystal Ball is projecting that Democrats will comfortably win control of the House during Tuesday's midterm elections, while Republicans will slightly expand their majority in the Senate.

The election handicapper warned Monday, however, that upsets in both chambers are possible. 

The forecaster also projected Democrats will cruise to a number of victories in gubernatorial races across the country.

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In the House, the final ratings from the University of Virginia's Center for Politics have 229 seats that are at least leaning Democrat and 206 leaning toward Republicans. The forecast projects Democrats will pick up 34 seats, 11 more than they need to regain control of the lower chamber.

Kyle Kondik and Larry J. Sabato, the editors of the forecast, write in their projections that the House isn't a "done deal" for Democrats — but also cautioned that they could be underestimating the party's gains. 

"We don’t think readers should be stunned if things go haywire for Democrats tomorrow night. That said, it may be just as likely — or even more likely — that we’re understating the Democrats in the House," they write, adding that Democrats could actually end up gaining between 35 and 40 seats.

The forecasters note that Republican Reps. Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungGOP approves rule for Don Young Midterm results shake up national map Don Young holds on to House seat in Alaska MORE (Alaska), Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterProposed House GOP rules would force indicted lawmakers to step down from leader roles: report Overnight Defense: What the midterms mean for defense panels | Pompeo cancels North Korea meeting | Trump eyes Kim summit in early 2019 | Pentagon drops name for border mission GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter wins reelection despite criminal charges MORE (Calif.), Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingDems must wield power against the powerful to win back rural America Iowa governor: Steve King needs to decide if he wants to represent ‘the values of the 4th District’ Conservative magazine posts recording of King using derogatory language against immigrants MORE (Iowa), Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteMontana New Members 2019 Gianforte defeats Democrat for Montana's at-large congressional seat Sabato's Crystal Ball: Dems will pick up more than 30 House seats, GOP set to keep Senate MORE (Mont.) and Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsElection Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP Election Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February Proposed House GOP rules would force indicted lawmakers to step down from leader roles: report MORE (N.Y.) all face potentially difficult reelection bids in races that would typically be seen as safe reelections. 

In the Senate, the final ratings have 52 seats at least leaning Republican and 48 at least leaning Democrat, meaning the forecast projects the GOP will expand its current 51-49 majority by a single seat. 

Kondik and Sabato write that an upset in the Senate is still possible, but note that Democrats would likely need to win every seat where they are currently favored in addition to holding onto both Indiana and Missouri and winning one of North Dakota, Tennessee or Texas. 

The forecasters say they have been "flooded with messages from credible contacts in Texas, from both sides of the aisle," warning them not to discount the possibility that Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeEntrepreneur touts big solutions, endorsements in discussing presidential bid Dem pollster: Texas, Georgia diversifying because they are 'centers for opportunity' Cruz brushes off question about campaign claim on O'Rourke paying for caravan MORE (D) could defeat incumbent Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 Reelection campaign starts now, like it or not Rise of big cities push Texas to swing-state territory — maybe by 2020 MORE (R). 

"The energy on O’Rourke’s side, they say, is palpable. This all may be reminiscent of the grassroots energy that helped power Trump himself to victory in 2016. Of course, analysis by anecdote isn’t always the right formula," they write. 

In the gubernatorial races, the forecasters project that Democrats could net 10 governorships, which would result in the party holding a majority of the governor's mansions in the country. Currently, Republicans make up 33 of the nation's governors, Democrats hold 16 and an independent, Gov. Bill Walker, holds Alaska. 

The prediction model rates the closely watched race in Georgia between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp as a "toss-up/leans run-off." The two would face off again on Dec. 4 if neither gets a majority of the votes.