2018 US midterms: what do the polls and betting markets say?

The White House

The Republicans currently control both legislative bodies. Can that change in 2018?

The US is still months away from its 2018 mid-term elections, which historically have lower turnouts compared to presidential years, but what do the polls and the betting markets say about the upcoming contests?

1. The polls

For opposition Democrats, the polls are a positive sign. According to FiveThirtyEight’s polling model, the Democrats have consistently led the Republicans in polls since early 2017, however, the gap has been narrowing slightly. The latest Ipsos poll, conducted 18th – 22nd January, puts the Democrats on 41% and the Republicans on 35%.

However, as turnouts in midterms are usually low, the accuracy of such polls is diminished. Furthermore, the polls do not take into account of different seats and different legislatures, thus further decreasing their accuracy. Nonetheless, with continued low approval ratings of Donald Trump - and the Democrats polling highly - if Democrats put on a united front and target the president’s failings, the party could go some way to winning back one – or even two – of the legislatures.

2. The betting markets

The current favourite outcome for the 2018 House midterms is a Democratic majority, according to Ladbrokes. The firm offers odds of 8/13 for this outcome compared to odds of 13/10 for a Republican majority. Odds of 50/1 are offered for no majority. The Republicans currently hold 238 seats ahead of the Democrats' 193.

The country’s other legislative body has 100 seats, but only 34 are up for election later this year. The Republicans currently hold 51 Senate seats, ahead of the Democrat’s 47. A further two seats are held by independents. According to 270ToWin, just eight seats up for grabs are currently held by the Republicans while 24 are held by the Democrats. This means that the ability for the Democrats to make sweeping gains is somewhat limited although they could deprive the Republicans of their small majority.

However, according to Ladbrokes, the favourite outcome is for the Republicans to hold over 50 seats after the election (4/5). The odds of them holding under 50 seats are 13/8 followed by odds of 6/1 for them to hold exactly 50 seats.

Overall, the Democrats have the edge, and have a great shot or retaking the House of Representatives and thus limiting Donald Trump’s reach. The party's prospects of taking the Senate are less optimistic, but taking back is a distinct possibility.

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