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 YoungHouse passes bill requiring CBP to enact safety, hygiene standards GOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz MORE (Alaska), Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterDuncan Hunter's attorneys look to delay trial by over a month Duncan Hunter gets another GOP challenger Overnight Defense: House votes to block Trump arms sales to Saudis, setting up likely veto | US officially kicks Turkey out of F-35 program | Pentagon sending 2,100 more troops to border MORE (Calif.), Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Steve King says 'left-wing media' and GOP leadership owe him apology after rape, incest comments 11 Essential reads you missed this week MORE (Iowa), Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 House GOP fears retirement wave will lead to tsunami Trump declares Gorka 'wins big' after clash with reporters in Rose Garden MORE (Mont.) and Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsNate McMurray launches second challenge against GOP Rep. Chris Collins Michael Caputo eyes congressional bid House ethics panel renews probes into three GOP lawmakers 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'RourkeSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates ABC unveils moderators for third Democratic debate MORE (D) could defeat incumbent Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzIs this any way for NASA to build a lunar lander? GOP strategist predicts Biden will win nomination, cites fundraising strength 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 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.