It should be pretty simple. Inflation is up on everything from gas to milk, everyone is feeling. Interest rates are creeping up. The President isn’t very popular. The Democrats won control of the whole Congress and the White House two years ago. trend lines on Democratic performance among non-white voters aren’t great. Republicans should take back both narrowly divided houses of Congress in the 2022 midterm, as well as win back governors mansions and everything else. This should not be very close.
For all the bad things one could write here about the Democratic Party, it’s worth noting the obvious- the GOP is an incompetent, dangerous political party right now. They nominated Mehmet Oz and Herschel Walker for Senate seats, celebrities with very little clue what they are talking about or where they are at. They nominated Doug Mastriano and Kari Lake for Governor of their states, people pledging to overturn elections if they don’t like the results. House members like Liz Cheney have been excommunicated from the party for saying attempting a coup is bad. Ron DeSantis is either fighting Disney World or removing elected office holders, depending on the week. Their former President was removing nuclear secrets from his office on the way out the door, as he tried to overturn his own defeat. Ron Johnson and Rick Scott want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. And yes, their five judges are overturning freedoms women have had for 50 years. It would be no wonder that people are having second thoughts about giving the weak and feckless Kevin McCarthy the Speakership.
To be clear, I still believe the Republican Party is more likely to have a good midterm than the Democrats. I just don’t think it will go as well as it could have if they had shut up. Just how much have they hurt themselves? They need just 4 House seats and 1 Senate seats. Should they succeed?
The answer here is yes, but probably not as well as they would have. Without deaths and resignations, the House was 221-214, with one seat potentially switching hands tomorrow night. According to the Cook Political Report, Democrats have 58 seats currently in danger or that could be and Republicans have 27. Digging deeper, they have ten Democratic seats as “likely” or “lean” Republican. There are just three seats from the GOP “leaning” Democratic. 26 Democratic seats are considered toss-ups, while just 8 GOP seats are in the same category. In other words the Republicans are +25 if all the endangered members lose. They need 4 seats.
Democrats have had a relatively decent recent run in the press and are still in a tough spot here. If the goal here is just to mitigate the losses and keep the House competitive, Democrats need to keep within 20 seats of the majority for next term. In other words they need to keep the GOP to gains of 24 or less. Considering that midterms usually turn against the President’s party in the Fall, they’re probably in trouble there. With that said, they have a shot. If we assume both sides lose the seats leaning and likely going the other way right now, and lose half of their toss-up seats in play, Democrats would lose 23 and pick up 7, for a -16 seats. Right now, I’ll buy a 230-205 GOP House. However I still think it more likely gets worse than that, not better.
The Senate is evenly divided right now, but Democrats win the tiebreaker. Right now they have tough defenses in Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada, with people watching New Hampshire, Colorado, and Washington. Right now, Democrats lead the average of the polls in every one of these races that has polling. If anything, Nevada and New Hampshire are polling the scariest. On the other side, the GOP has a different story. The hold a slim lead in the averages of North Carolina, while they’re trailing in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio (depending who you ask). There are even signs Florida *could* be competitive and grumbling about Iowa. In short, the fundamentals still lean Republican, but the map doesn’t. If we just stick to the RealClearPolitics numbers I linked to above, the Democrats pick up two seats and go up 52-48. That leaves Ohio in limbo a bit and doesn’t address the weird race in Utah.
Of course I’m going to cite again that things change in the Fall. Republicans will spend serious money, especially in their tough defenses. Even so, I don’t see Democrats losing the doomsday four seats they could have earlier this year. I’d put their current floor at losing two, their ceiling at winning three. in other words, right now they win two and go up 52-48, but I’m thinking it stays 50-50.
In general I don’t like forecasting governor races nationally. People don’t vote that way. With that said, you can generally see how the playing field is shaping up. Republicans have a very weak chance of holding open seats in Maryland and Massachusetts. Holding the open seat in Arizona is going to be tough now too. On the other hand, races in Iowa, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Vermont that looked like they could be tough all lean their way to some degree. Democratic defenses in Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Kansas look to be very competitive races. On the other hand, great opportunities in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Illinois appear injured by crazy nominees. California and New York now look safe.
The real question here is what matters- inflation and Democrat fatigue or Republican insanity and Dobbs? Reality tells us it may not neatly be either. Local matters can be important in these races. If I had to gamble right now I’d say there’s no change in the partisan composition of the nation’s governors- and that’s good for Democrats.
In other words, I’m calling a very competitive Fall.