Don’t trust the polls? Here’s the best way to predict the 2018 elections without looking at a single poll, and it’s grim for the Republicans.


(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

We’ve covered this indicator before, but let me give a quick reminder: Politicians don’t like to give up the power and money that come with elective office. When they ‘retire’ from the Congress, it’s usually to run for higher office. So when members of Congress just give up and quit in large numbers, not to run for higher office but just to go home, it’s a sign that things are about to go badly wrong for their party.

In 1994, 21 more Democrats than Republicans just quit, and the result was a 54 seat swing to the Republicans. In 2008, 20 more Republicans than Democrats gave up, and the Democrats netted 21 seats on top of the 37 seat majority they already had. These are the benchmarks we’re looking at as the 2018 elections come up: +20 net retirements.

When I first warned about this in September, that number was six. Six more Republicans than Democrats were quitting politics. That wasn’t much, but it was early. Well, flash forward to today, and that number is now 14. Republicans keep quitting, with Rodney Frelinghuysen the latest addition to the list. 20 in total, versus just 6 for the Democrats. That’s nearly 10% of the GOP caucus quitting politics rather than face the 2018 election.

It’s not over yet. Even if they hit R+20, it doesn’t mean Nancy Pelosi is guaranteed to be the next House Speaker. But when the politicians scurry like rats, you’d better believe something’s about to go down. Hard.