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 YoungLive coverage: House elects new Speaker as Dems take charge Inside the Trump-Congress Christmas meltdown House GOP and Puerto Rico governor agree on statehood vote MORE (Alaska), Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterWhat a year it’s been: A month-by-month look back at 2018's biggest stories Bipartisan lawmakers unveil bill to tighten some campaign rules California dreamin’ in the 2020 presidential race MORE (Calif.), Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingKing rips GOP leadership after criticism over 'white supremacist' remarks House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King Des Moines Register calls on Steve King to resign MORE (Iowa), Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteHere are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown GOP lawmakers push Trump to take ‘any appropriate action’ to save Keystone XL 'Murphy Brown' episode focuses on assault of reporter at Trump rally MORE (Mont.) and Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsWhat a year it’s been: A month-by-month look back at 2018's biggest stories Trump vents frustration over wall funding, fueling uncertainty over shutdown GOP scrambles to prevent shutdown after right-wing insurrection 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'RourkeNew Hampshire is ‘must-win’ state for Warren, says veteran political reporter Democratic dark horses could ride high in 2020 Julián Castro announces 2020 White House bid, swipes at Trump MORE (D) could defeat incumbent Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz5 takeaways from Barr’s testimony Republicans seek to temper fallout from latest Russia bombshells Cruz says Americans outside Beltway unconcerned with Mueller investigation 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.