Happy Midterm Day

First off, the good news- it’ll all be over in a few hours. The ads, the mail, the calls, the door knocks- all done. Never mind that the 2024 Presidential race is all but underway, enjoy the week of quiet while it lasts. It’s all you’re getting.

Sometime tonight we will find out the results of a weird midterm that has seen Cheney family members backing Democrats, Republicans on offense in New York, and super competitive races for Governor in Kansas and Oklahoma. Will inflation carry the day, or abortion rights? Maybe something else? We’ll know soon.

Last week I predicted a GOP House by a 229-206 margin, and a 50-50 Senate. Most of the “election Twitter” crowd has moved it a bit worse. They could be right. The fundamentals of this election suggest a bad night for Democrats. The President is unpopular. Inflation and crime are both bad and real concerns for Democrats. If you told me to pick between a Democratic surprise wave from Dobbs and a Democratic wipeout being more likely tonight, I’d say the wipeout. I’m not fully predicting either, but of the choices it’s clear to me what’s more likely.

In the Senate, the tipping point is Pennsylvania/Nevada. If the Democrats take one of them, I’d say they’re likely to end up holding Arizona and Georgia, and hence the Senate. If Republicans win both, they very well could take more and move on to a red wave. We can sit here and talk about races like Wisconsin or Washington, and I think both will be competitive, but either flipping would just be icing on the winning party’s cake. So, with that, here’s my predictions/spreads for the major Senate races tonight:

  • Nevada- Cortez Masto by .8%
  • Pennsylvania- Oz by .5%
  • Arizona- Kelly by 1.5%
  • Ohio- Vance by 2%
  • Georgia- Neither hits 50% and it goes to a runoff, Warnock by .5%
  • North Carolina- Budd by 4.5%
  • New Hampshire- Hassan by 3%
  • Wisconsin- Johnson by 5%
  • Colorado- Bennet by 5%
  • Iowa- Grassley by 4%
  • Washington- Murray by 3%
  • Florida- Rubio by 7%
  • Utah- Lee by 7%
  • Alaska- Murkowski by 6%

The net result of that spread is a 50-49 GOP spread, with the Georgia race going to a runoff for the majority. Folks, that’s tight. In reality I’m saying the first four are basically jump balls and could go either way, and Georgia literally won’t have a result tonight. I would be very surprised if Democrats ran the table in those five, less so if the GOP did. I’m not really picking either to do it though.

It’s important to start any look at the U.S. House from the standpoint that the GOP starts the night structurally with a majority. The current partisan divide (including the last electoral results in vacant seats) is 222-213 for the Democrats. Thanks to redistricting though, Republicans are conservatively at +7 to begin the night, so it’s 220-215 them at the opening bell. Looking at it that way, and taking into account history, the real barometer here is how high the GOP gets beyond that. If Democrats can hold them under 235 seats, they begin next cycle with a real chance to re-take the chamber. If they go much lower, it starts getting harder. History says we should give the GOP +12 to start the night, as the challengers. That’s 225. So what’s flipping where?

  • Dem seats going red- WI-3, TX-15, TN-5, OR-5, OR-6, AZ-2, AZ-6, MI-10, FL-13
  • Dem seats leaning red- VA-2, TX-28, RI-2, PA-17, NV-3, ME-2, IN-1, CT-5, NJ-7, IA-3
  • Dem jump balls– CA-47, IL-17, PA-7, CA-13, NY-19, OH-13, NY-3, NY-4, NH-1, MI-7, CA-49, NV-1, WA-8, AK-AL
  • Dem narrow holds- PA-8, NV-4, VA-7, NY-17, NY-18, MN-2 IL-14, MI-8, OH-9, CA-9, CA-26, IL-6, PA-12, KS-03, PA-6
  • GOP narrow holds- CO-8, NE-2, NM-2, TX-34
  • GOP jump balls- AZ-1, CA-22, CA-27, NC-13, OH-1, NY-22,
  • GOP seats leaning blue- NONE
  • GOP seats going blue- IL-13, MI-3

Just based on the eye test, that’s… lopsided. Democrats lose 19 to start, gain back 2, and then have to defend 29 more tough seats to 10 GOP seats. Based on that, I have the GOP gaining 27 seats, putting them at 240-195. Obviously Democrats are hoping my 229 number last week is more accurate. There’s just a lot of seats on the board for the Democrats at this point, and a number of them are in states that the top of the ticket is competitive or worse. That’s not ideal.

Of course there are a lot of Governor races on the board today, and they will be pretty important moving forward. This is the one area Democrats shouldn’t feel as bad. Open seats in Maryland and Massachusetts provide fertile territory for them to gain. An open seat in Arizona, as well as competitive races in Oklahoma, Georgia, and possibly Texas or Florida give them opportunities. The defense of Pennsylvania seems safer than maybe expected before, although you could say the same for them in Florida and Texas. The tougher parts of the night for Democrats come in an interesting variety of purple, red, and even blue states- New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, and Oregon. My gut instinct right now is Dems winning Maryland and Massachusetts, while the GOP grabs Wisconsin and Nevada, so the night breaks even.

Local to me, the only seat in my native Lehigh Valley I see flipping at the state legislative level is State Senate District 14 (GOP Open). I think PA-137 is close, but the GOP hangs on by a slim margin. Hopefully the night goes a bit better for Democrats than I’m seeing.

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