Michael Barone notes that some signs point to a bad year for incumbents – but mostly Democrat ones.
The theory is that vastly more Democrat incumbents have gotten under 70 in opposed primaries than Republicans; the gap gets wider when you leave out a few obvious cases (people running in hyper-safe districts, people running against ethics or moral issues.
These results suggest that the anti-Democratic wind is stronger than the anti-incumbent wind. Nearly half of Democratic incumbents with opposition ran under 70 percent, while only about one-third of Republican incumbents with opposition ran under 70 percent. More than half of Democratic incumbents had no primary opposition—there’s no telling how many would have run under the 70 percent mark if they had, but it’s possible quite a few of them would have. If all incumbents had had primary opposition, and the number running under 70 percent had been the same proportion as among those who did have primary opponents, some 38 Democrats would have run under 70 percent as compared to 19 Republicans.
The media is telling you it’s an “anti-incumbent year”. They’re right – but if this theory starts to bear fruit in the coming months, they’ll strenuously leave out Barone’s half of the thesis.