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 YoungEx-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz Congress: Pass legislation that invests in America's water future Bipartisan group introduces legislation to protect federal workers' health benefits during shutdowns MORE (Alaska), Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterDuncan Hunter's wife pleads guilty to misusing campaign funds Duncan Hunter's wife pleads guilty to misusing campaign funds Duncan Hunter's wife will plead guilty in campaign fund misuse case MORE (Calif.), Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingKey endorsements: A who's who in early states Key endorsements: A who's who in early states The Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates MORE (Iowa), Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteRepublican who lost Montana Senate bid to run for House next year Republican who lost Montana Senate bid to run for House next year Gianforte files to run for Montana governor MORE (Mont.) and Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsMichael Caputo eyes congressional bid House ethics panel renews probes into three GOP lawmakers The Hill's Morning Report - Barr stiff-arms House following Senate grilling 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'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke pens Juneteenth op-ed on ongoing 'march for justice' O'Rourke pens Juneteenth op-ed on ongoing 'march for justice' 'We fight on': 2020 Democrats mark Juneteenth MORE (D) could defeat incumbent Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias 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.