If you forced America to write an op-ed about the upcoming midterms, first of all, you would be an awful person. Secondly, you would find that they are more likely to think Republicans will win the Senate.
According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 46 percent of Americans think change is coming to the Senate, while 33 percent think Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will keep his job. Another 20 percent of Americans have no opinion, and would probably like to write an op-ed about Taylor Swift's new album instead.
Unsurprisingly, these predictions are somewhat motivated by partisanship. Seventy-four percent of Republicans are feeling optimistic about their party's chance to take the Senate. Democrats aren't quite as ready to vouch for the defensive capabilities of their party; only 55 percent think their party will not lose the Senate. Their resolve was perhaps worn away by e-mails from Democratic party committees, which could only have been sadder if accompanied by Sarah McLachlan and Ebola puppies.
When it comes to trusting that their party has what it takes to win big in Senate races, Republicans are clearly ahead.
So what do these percentages of polling punditry say about the election, now only a week away? A study by David Rothschild and Justin Wolfers from last year showed that polls that track voters' expectations of who will win are often more accurate than assessments of intention. In 2004, President George W. Bush and John Kerry were in a tight race, taking turns in the lead, Wolfers and Rothschild point out. Voters reliably assumed that Bush would win, though, regardless of how they intended to cast their ballot. In 2008, voters consistently said Barack Obama would win. In 2012, Mitt Romney was declared the winner of the GOP nomination months before he had clearly secured enough delegates.
When you ask voters about who they think will win elections, you not only get to poll this one person -- you get to add their friends, co-workers and family to the sample size too, basically testing the political leanings of an entire universe of Americans with (likely) similar political beliefs and frameworks. (And there are probably a few folks who read The Fix in there.)
Right now, it looks like Republicans are hearing lots of optimism from their friends and family about the chances of a GOP Senate majority, where Democrats aren't hearing the same or just can't believe it.
These predictions probably won't compel anyone to go to the polls -- demographics are destiny far more than fear of losing. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaners who think Republicans will win are "certain" to vote or have already voted, while 63 percent who don't think that or have no opinion plan to vote.
More Republicans and Republican-learners are planning to vote anyway -- part of the reason why everyone is predicting a GOP takeover. Seventy-three percent who think Republicans will be victorious say they are certain to vote, while 66 percent say they will vote but are unsure their party will win, or have no opinion.