Nate Silver on 2018: ‘There Are a Lot Of Republicans Who Will Not Be Sleeping Well Tonight and Tomorrow Night’

‘What our forecast accounts for is the chance that polls will be wrong’

STEPHANOPOULOS: Lot of seats to watch. Want to bring in Nate Silver, also from FiveThirtyEight. And Nate, your forecast looking ahead to Tuesday pretty much mirror what we’re seeing on those maps. Let’s start with the House.

NATE SILVER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Yeah, for sure. So look at who is playing defense and how much defense they’re playing. So in the House we have Democrats with about a four in five chance of winning the House. The national polls are pretty good for Democrats. The district polls are — are very good for Democrats. They’re pretty deep into red territory. In the Senate, it’s the reverse where we have the GOP with a six in seven chance of holding on. Democrats are playing a lot of defense in states that they currently hold.

The terrain there is extremely red. So again, polls aren’t always right. If polls are right, you would have a split outcome.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Polls aren’t right and polls — polls have a wide margin of error. Rick Klein is going to — our political director. In part because this race is very hard to model the turnout for a midterm election.

RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That’s exactly right. And 52-44, eight points is exactly where Democrats need to be — right on the cusp of where they need to be to be able to say that they have a good shot of taking the majority. If you narrow it down to the battleground districts, you’ve got only a five point edge. So that’s where the majority is either going to be won or lost. And Democrats are depending on groups that don’t typically turn out in midterm elections. Bottom line, George, they need them to vote.

We’re talking about younger voters, we’re talking about non-white voters. Right now they’re telling pollsters that they’re likely to vote in unprecedented numbers. But that just hasn’t been the history. They need those folks to show up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Nate, let’s educate voters a little bit on probability because we’re all trying to learn the lessons of 2016, I think. Going into the 2016 election your forecast was actually lower than many others on predicting whether Hillary Clinton would win, about 71 percent. We learned that that wasn’t a sure thing. Here you’re up about 85 percent for the Democrats taking the House, so just explain — break down statistically what that means.

SILVER: So what our forecast accounts for is the chance that polls will be wrong. And you see how big of a lead a party has and how much uncertainty there is the forecast. The range of outcomes in the House is really wide. Our range, which covers 80 percent of outcomes, goes from — on the low end — about 15 Democratic pickups all the way up to the — to low to mid 50s, 52 or 53. Most of those are above 23, which is how many seats they would need to take the House. But like — but no one should be surprised if they only win 19 seats.

And no one should be surprised if they — if they win 51 seats. Those are both extremely possible based on how accurate polls are in the real world

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