How a Complete Fake Person Got Elected to Congress

Who the f**k is George Santos? To be fair, I do this every time a new Congress comes to town. I don’t have the bandwidth to know or care who all 435 members of the U.S. Congress are, especially the ones I don’t care for much. Santos was going to be an irrelevant nobody that helped elect the worst Speaker in U.S. history this coming January, but now he’s getting lots of recognition, for all the wrong reasons.

Basically, George Santos life looks to be fraudulent. His business life, education, and past behavior is all in question, because you can’t substantiate that he did any of it. I will spare you the details, the guy is a weirdo and appears to be a fraud. When he surprisingly won his race in November, that wasn’t a good thing. Now we’re finding out the details and wondering what Long Island was drinking before they voted. You get your mea culpa in 2024.

The real question is how did this happen? The media wanted to dunk on the Democrats for ineptitude, Democrats wanted to dunk on the media for not investigating him. Welcome to the weird world of opposition research, one of the only areas of campaigning I never did before, so I asked some actual experts. A Congressional manager from a DCCC targeted race this cycle, an opposition research professional, and a former DCCC staffer made it make sense for me.

First off, you can criticize Robert Zimmerman for losing this race, but literally all three of them agreed that his campaign isn’t really at fault for this. Targeted DCCC and NRCC campaigns generally get their research book on the opponent from the campaign committee, usually. For instance, the bombshells that destroyed the Republican opponents of Rep. Craig and Rep. Kaptur were likely done by DCCC staff. The way it sets up is that the committee has a national director leading the department and a series of regional “desks” overseeing several states underneath them. Under them they will either hire junior level staffers or an outside firm to go do the research on both the opposition candidates and their own nominees, in the most competitive districts. They can’t do every candidate in every district, so they have a basic template they send staffers out with to start with in each district, based on what issues polling suggests are on voters minds, and the obvious things like looking to see if your opponent killed someone, or something else nuts. So, for instance in 2022, DCCC researchers likely were starting out by looking for documented evidence of extremism on abortion or guns, ties to January 6th, and ties to bad foreign governments, like say, Russia. In this case, they found some very real hits from this bunch, and some of the stuff now alleged in the New York Times piece. Santos managed to avoid most of the scrutiny, and won this district by a massive margin, considering how blue it was. With that said, I think you could fairly question what the DCCC sent their staff looking for (Long Island voters were clearly fine with this guy hanging out with domestic terrorists on Jan. 6th), but not the process as a whole- they found a lot of what they looked for, they couldn’t imagine all of this nonsense, or go looking for everything.

So then the obvious question is, if they had a good chunk of this stuff, and we’re fairly certain Democratic press staff was pitching it to reporters, why did the article come out a week before Christmas? How did Santos essentially make up his life, and get away with it? I give the media a little more charitable read than Democratic activists here- it’s not their job to print whatever smut the parties tell them to. Maybe the reporter didn’t find the pitch credible. Maybe Democrats couldn’t quite substantiate everything. To be fair, egregious hatchet jobs are unfair. If Democrats had all of this, and reporters wouldn’t print it, they always had the option of putting it out through paid comms (TV, digital, mail). They didn’t.

Santos is a national disgrace, and he should leave Congress before it starts, but he won’t. A lowlife who fabricated the majority of his story to get here isn’t going to feel shame now. The moral of this story is there ain’t such things as halfway crooks. If you’re going to be terrible and still run for office, I guess you do better by going to a level so far bad that no one even believes the story. It worked for Santos.

The Midterms

The dust has mostly settled. In just about two weeks this election will come to it’s end, with the Georgia runoff. We already know enough to write it’s obituary.

Bill Clinton lost over 40 seats in his first midterm, Barack Obama lost over 60. Joe Biden will gain a Senate seat with a win in Georgia, and lose less than 10 House seats, all told. He will do this despite spending the better part of 15 months with an approval between 35% and the low-40’s. He will do so while having a historically good legislative term, and while making history with the selection of his running mate and first Supreme Court pick. Joe Biden’s two years in office have been a rousing political success, in spite of the economy, crime, a few moderate Senators, Covid, and the ghost of Donald Trump hovering over Washington.

It’s important to be clear though, the midterm was not a victory for Democrats. Republicans won the House popular vote (a better indicator than the Senate, because it is nationwide). Republicans also took the House, giving the Speaker’s gavel, committee chairmanships, and subpoena power to them. Given how utterly unstable they are normally, it’s easy to worry that they’ll spend all their time on Quixotic investigations and fail to do things like appropriate funds and raise the debt ceiling. Not everything went well. Even in the Senate, the Democrats really could have used another win or two, both to deal with the filibuster and to survive the 2024 cycle where there are few to no pick up opportunities. Worse yet, the midterm confirmed the fall of Florida, Ohio, and Iowa as swing states, and again showed Texas isn’t that close to being on the board.

Even so, Democrats should probably take all of the bad news I just packed into that last paragraph and smile- it wasn’t that bad. Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota all look damn close to unwinnable for the GOP. Democrats won basically all the competitive Arizona statewide races, while they swept the competitive Congressional races and the Senate race in Nevada, all in a bad cycle. I suppose right now you could believe a Republican (non-Trump) could flip back Georgia in 2024, but it’s not clear they can get there. The swing state map narrowed significantly for the GOP, and the successes they achieved in some of them (Wisconsin and North Carolina) are undercut by other results in the state. Setting aside Senate and Presidential politics for a moment, even their House majority is puny and pathetic. It may be smaller than the one the Democrats had going into this election, and more of their seats are in seats President Biden won easily. In other words, Kevin McCarthy better enjoy his two year rental.

To listen to a lot of folks on the interwebs, this was about young voters and the Dobbs decision. There’s some major problems with that narrative though. First, while young voters did vote solidly blue, they made up just 12% of the electorate, and was still only at 27% turnout. Those are improved numbers, but most of the people crowing about “Gen Z saving us” are people for whom that narrative is central to their political existence. These were good numbers, but not the game changers some would say.

What about the Dobbs decision and the role of women in saving Democrats? If you had asked me last Spring how this election would go, I would have told you it was a Democratic disaster. Then Dobbs happened, and well, here we are. The act of ripping rights away from women by unelected judges cost the GOP their landslide, full stop. Did it win the election for Democrats though? My answer is no. First off, Democrats didn’t win. Worse yet, they underperformed and lost seats in some of the most blue states in the country. If Dobbs were driving the bus alone in this midterm, it certainly would have in the most base Democratic states, like New York and California. It also would not have caused a small jump in the final results for Democrats that wasn’t visible in the (good) polls, six months after the decision. So what happened?

Notice that the few Republican moderates on the ballot didn’t really suffer. Extremists like Dr. Oz, Doug Mastriano, Tudor Dixon, Kari Lake, Lauren Boebert, and other Q Nuts/MAGA GOP candidates lost and underperformed. Did Dobbs hurt them? Yes. But it didn’t cost the Brian Kemp, Tom Kean, or Joe Lombardo type of Republicans- elected office holders who had a reputation as at least semi-normal people. Dobbs was a key ingredient in a narrative that killed GOP candidates perceived as extreme. Voters were done with crazy. Talk of abortion bans, criminalizing women, and banning contraception fit rather nicely with election denial, extreme gun positions, and ending Social Security and Medicare. Too nuts was in fact too nuts. Sarah Palin won’t be a member of the U.S. House next year, but her state will end up sending Lisa Murkowski back to the Senate. Very specific Republicans paid a price- the type that howl at the moon.

In short, the Trump GOP finally jumped the shark this year, and it cost them dearly. Some are hypothesizing that it’s Trump’s fault and he’s dead in the GOP. I think they’ll end up being wrong, in part because it wasn’t core Republicans that jumped ship on him. More importantly it’s worth noting some of these lunatics pre-date him. In short, he’s a symptom, not their disease. I’m betting they still won’t treat the disease.

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.

Crime and Inflation in 2022

Republicans decided months ago to run their midterm campaigns around crime and inflation messaging months ago. Polls suggest it probably is going to work out. We obviously won’t know for a few more days. If the Republicans win at least one house of Congress, we can say it did.

Democrats, particularly activists, are annoyed. How can voters prioritize crime and inflation over saving democracy and Roe? How can they give power back to a seditious political party? How can they reward this party for this message when they have no plan? How?

We’re learning a couple of old truths over, in this case. Some things are just self evident.

1. Voters don’t really like “us” more than “them.” This should be clear by now, but it’s not. Donald Trump is deeply under water in every internal poll I’ve seen this year. Joe Biden is unpopular too. Hillary Clinton is unpopular. So are Ted Cruz and most other national Republicans. Voters don’t see a “good guy” vs. “bad guy” narrative in politics. They know Republicans are bad. They just have a really low view of Democrats too.

2. Voters care more about things directly impacting them than changing the world. If milk, or gas, or heating oil, or chicken, or whatever you buy weekly costs a lot more now than it did before, you care about that. To you, the economy is entering a recession. To you, that is what matters. If people are getting killed in your neighborhood, crime is what matters. Meeting basic needs, like safety, is more important to voters than “systemic change.” We can lecture everyone why that’s wrong, but the public is looking for the government to fix their lives, not change the world.

One more thing to add to this- if there is a “red wave” on Tuesday, we will see some erosion among non-white voters for Democrats, because of the two points I made above. Everyone wants their basic needs met.

A Week Out, a Realistic Look at the 2022 Election

Throughout this election cycle, I have maintained in private conversations that Democrats are in trouble. The simple reality, to hear me tell it, is this is a tough environment, and they have a brand that isn’t very lovable to a lot of the country right now. What I guess was entirely foreseeable, but perhaps seemed insane to me, was that the GOP would sell their lot in with some of their worst possible faces. Election denial, embracing extremists, and ending Roe v. Wade were all messages that made little sense, and yet they pursued them anyway. So where does that leave us a week out?

Let’s start in the United States Senate, because it’s probably the most clear playing field out there. The Republicans started the cycle with four serious Democratic targets (GA, AZ, NV, and NH) and two “wish list” states (CO and WA). Democrats started with serious aspirations in three states (PA, WI, and NC) and hopes to put three other states (OH, FL, and IA) on the board. Both parties had roughly equal opportunity, and roughly equal success shaping the playing field. Democrats have certainly put Ohio onto the playing field, at least equal with Wisconsin and North Carolina at this point, and if you believe the gold standard in Iowa polling (The Iowa Poll/Des Moines Register Poll), may have stumbled into competing there. Add in the weird quirks of the Utah race and Democrats may be able to not only hold their majority, but expand it. On the other side, Republicans have had quite an interesting cycle. Their candidates defending Ohio and Pennsylvania have been costly to defend. Their nominees to flip Georgia and Arizona have been pretty embarrassing at times too. Their New Hampshire nominee hasn’t really made much progress. With all of that said, they definitely have Nevada at no worse than even money, and polls suggest Washington is in play. They got the guy they wanted in Colorado, and he may just be competitive too. In other words, if they can just pull a couple of hard defense races across the line, they have enough offensive seats that they can pull off a majority with the crew they have.

Then there is the House of Representatives, which has basically been assumed to go to the GOP by most professionals for a while. As one would expect in a midterm after a Presidential loss, the GOP is playing more offense, and that seems to be augmented by redistricting, a President with mediocre to low approvals, and economic anxiety. If we apportion the three vacancies to the party that last held them, the current House is 222-213 for the Democrats, meaning 5 seats flipping would flip the chamber. Redistricting alone is expected to hand the GOP about a dozen seats, while Democrats will receive an easy pair. Depending on which ratings you use (Cook and Sabato’s Crystal Ball being two popular ones), you can find forecasts that basically put the GOP up anywhere from +7 to +11 at the outset. Then you see somewhere between 35-42 Democratic seats in play, and about 18 GOP seats. In other words, the Republicans are structurally playing more offense to start this year.

History, redistricting, President Biden’s poll numbers, inflation, and crime suggest that Republicans should end up winning both chambers. The question marks are pretty simple- have we ever had a party like the GOP of 2022? Their allegiance to the defeated former President is certainly a questionable strategy. Their unorthodox Senate candidates are questionable choices. Their Supreme Court nominees overruling Roe v. Wade definitely breathed new life into the Democrats. January 6th is not a memory the GOP wants most of the electorate to be thinking about as they vote. This is all a lot to process for what will happen.

The real question is whether any of these GOP blunders is on par with the boost the incumbent President’s party received from an unpopular impeachment (1998) or the 9/11 terrorist attacks (2002). The answer is complicated. I think the Dobbs decision did wonders for breathing life into the Democratic Party this year, but Joe Biden is not as popular right now as Bill Clinton or George W. Bush were at those times. The other factor here is that Dobbs was an event that particularly motivated voters who were already likely to be voting for Democratic candidates. Perhaps even more rudimentary here is the simple math- the Senate is even right now and both parties have a fairly similar number of opportunities to pick up more seats, while the House is extremely narrowly divided coming in and the GOP seems to have already put enough seats in their back pocket to probably flip the chamber as is.

Right now the real question on the Senate is whether Democrats feel better about Nevada, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Arizona, or Republicans feel better about Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Perhaps the less polite way of putting this is, do you believe Trafalgar, Rasmussen, and Insider Advantage are real polls, or Republican noise? It’s a 2-3 point difference in most states, and sometimes more. My general sense in Nevada is that the race is a jump ball tie right now, and perhaps that’s an advantage to the Democratic machine in Clark County, but maybe it’s not. I expect Georgia to go to a runoff, but I think Warnock has the slimmest of advantages in reality. New Hampshire seems like a hold for Democrats. Arizona is probably heading the same way, though it’s still Arizona. I think North Carolina and Wisconsin are trending out of the Democrats reach right now, but might stay close all the way through. Every non-partisan pollster has Ohio dead close, and I think it remains there, but Ryan will need one more major push that I don’t think happens. Pennsylvania is frankly too weird this year, but I’d give Fetterman a slim, slim edge over Oz. Right now I’d put Nevada and Pennsylvania as the most likely seats to flip. Hence, I’m thinking right now the Senate stays 50-50, under Democratic control. The high-water mark for the Democrats in my mind is 52, my low-water mark is 48.

Then there’s the House. Again, I’m saying the Democrats are swimming uphill. They’re probably starting out behind 220-215. I see another 53 seats in play at the moment, and I see them splitting pretty even. I’d predict the GOP to win about 229 seats in the House at the moment, with the Democrats suffering losses of 16 seats and falling to 206. Given where Democrats felt as late as the Spring, I’d actually call this a decent outcome. It means they need 12 seats next cycle to win back the chamber, and in a Presidential re-election year that’s more likely. I realistically thought they would lose 40 seats in May. For those of you who think the Dobbs Ruling is bringing in a “blue wave,” I tell you that you got your wave in this election not being a lot worse.

I’ll close with a brief look at the Governor races around the country. Democrats are primed for pick-ups in Massachusetts and Maryland, and have an honest chance in Arizona as well. I think they’re slight underdogs in Georgia, and slightly bigger underdogs in Florida and Texas. Meanwhile the GOP has themselves serious shots in Kansas, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Nevada. Their odds are a little lower in New Mexico, a bit lower yet in Michigan, and not looking great without weirdness in Maine. They seem to have blown any shot in Pennsylvania, don’t have so much buzz in Minnesota, and I don’t believe the hype in New York. I’m saying Democrats actually pick up one Governor’s mansion in the end.

The Three Big Questions of the 2022 Midterm Elections

As a fairly general rule, midterm elections go poorly for the President’s Party. 1994, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018 all went badly. There’s still a strong possibility that 2022 will too. There’s at least some “counter-wisdom” now saying it won’t though. I’m asking three basic questions that should tell us the score in the end.

  • 1. Has the GOP simply disqualified themselves with a Majority of voters? Doug Mastriano, Herschel Walker, Kari Lake, J.D. Vance- these are just some of the names the GOP put up in major swing states for big statewide races. With the exception of Colorado, virtually every competitive swing state GOP primary electorate (and some non-swing) chose the most “ultra MAGA” Republican option, or his endorsed choice in the race. Even with inflation and crime being at or near the top of almost every internal poll I’ve seen this year, did the Republicans simply pick people time and again who are unacceptable to *most* of the electorate? Did they let Democrats off the hook against a real headwind by picking people who quite frankly just sound angry?
  • 2. Is Dobbs as big to 2022 as Impeachment was to 1998 or 9/11 was to 2002? Midterms are bad for the President’s party unless there is an event that simply shakes the ground we walk on. In 1998, Republican overreach lead to the Democrats picking up House seats in Bill Clinton’s second midterm. It turns out the public didn’t want him impeached for an affair, or whatever other reasoning the GOP gave. In 2002, the 9/11 attacks and subsequent drumbeat to war in Iraq broke down history for Democrats and gave Bush’s GOP big wins. So the question for 2022 is, does the Dobbs ruling overturning Roe v. Wade meet that threshold? Does Dobbs plus some combination of January 6th and lingering Trump investigations meet it? Internal polling I’ve read is not as conclusive as one might think. Simply being pro-choice does not move an electorate your way. The opponent being a certified extremist has to be a part of it. Can Democrats broad brush the whole GOP with this? They had some success this Summer. It’s not clear yet if it will work on a mass scale.
  • 3. Is the Democratic brand toxic? Joe Biden won the 2020 Election. His party lost seats in the House though. Going back as far as 2014 there have been questions as to whether the Democratic brand is simply too weak when not running an individually compelling candidate. Sure, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden can win, but the party as a whole has largely been a minority party at every level of governance since 1994. The 2020 election saw deterioration of Democratic numbers with Latinos, Asians, and Black men. Republicans have been chipping away at Jewish voters as well. Democrats built their house on a mountain of demographic hopes, and there are signs that destiny will be a dark one for them. If 2022 continues those 2020 trends, the GOP is going to make nice gains. Another midterm beating for a Democratic President may suggest that actually governing the first two years of each Presidency ends up making us quite unpopular.

Once we know the answers to these questions, we should know who will wake up happy on November 9th.

2022 Election Overview- the Senate

The 2022 midterm is supposed to be bad for Democrats. History tells us that. Inflation tells us that. The President’s approval tells us that. Of course, unlike the House, the entire Senate isn’t up together. Only a third of it is, and that third can have a clearly partisan tilt. In other words, things aren’t clear.

When the House defies historical trends, there is usually a reason, a cross-current even that cancels out the “fundamentals” of the race, like 9/11 or Bill Clinton’s impeachment. In the Senate there are other reasons for surprising results. Sometimes, like 2018, it’s just the map- Trump’s party defied what was happening in House and Governor races because Senate Democrats had to defend Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana. Other times, like 2010, the party out of power nominates crackpot candidates and blows it. And yes, there are also times when events change the direction of the race, like 2002.

Is this year a red wave, or a year of surprise? Let’s start by just looking at the 2022 playing field:

Democratic Difficult Defenses:

In order of difficulty: Georgia (Warnock), Arizona (Kelly), Nevada (Cortez-Masto), New Hampshire (Hassan), Colorado (Bennet), and Washington (Murray).

GOP Difficult Defenses:

Also in order of difficulty: Pennsylvania (Toomey, retirement), Wisconsin (Johnson), Ohio (Portman, retirement), North Carolina (Burr, retirement), Florida (Rubio), and Iowa (Grassley).

Weird Wild Cards:

Both GOP Seats- Utah (Lee) and Alaska (Murkowski).

Ok, so the most notable thing here to me is the playing field. NONE of the Democrats tough defenses are in states Donald Trump won in 2020. The GOP has two difficult defenses in Biden states at the top of this list. With that said, this isn’t quite a 2018 situation for the GOP. Trump won a few of the Democratic seats in 2016, and those two difficult defense seats at the top in 2016. Nearly every state above (except Washington and the wild card races) is historically a swing state. The map may lean Democratic, but not to an extreme.

So then let’s consider candidate quality, and if the GOP is repeating 2010. Dr. Oz? Herschel Walker? Is this a joke? Blake Masters? Ron Johnson? Crazier than a shit house rat. It’s something that I’m sitting here looking at these races and haven’t remarked on what a terrible candidate J.D. Vance is yet. The GOP may have four recruits in the races in play that qualify as something between “good enough” and almost normal. This is a terrible group, maybe the worst I’ve seen. The question is, are the Democrats candidates that much better? My though right now is that most of them rate out as decent, but really only a couple would rate out as great. The incumbents are particularly strong, and probably accentuate the candidate advantage. I mean honestly, who can wait to watch Warnock debate a man who says this? In the challenge races though, I’m not as sure. I think Tim Ryan rates out as a great candidate in Ohio, but it’s still uphill there. Dr. Oz will say stupid things, but Fetterman has some issues on both policy and his health. Demings and Beasley are very good candidates, but in tough states. Same could be said for Franken (no, not who you think). Mandela Barnes doesn’t look bad, but is he that much stronger than Feingold was? I feel like the Dems advantage is clear here, but not by the 2010 margin when accounting for the states in play.

So I guess that leaves us with did anything happen to change the races? Yeah, that Dobbs thing. Is it 9/11? I’m not sure we have evidence of that. However it feels big. Also with a good number of Democratic candidates in these races being women, it feels like it has a chance to really stick. But more than inflation? We’ll find out.

All in all, I think the Senate Democrats have a slightly better playing field than the GOP, which is saying a lot in this cycle. My feeling right now is the most likely outcome is a 50-50 Democratic Senate, with their range being 49-52 seats at the end of the cycle. We may be sweating out the results for a while though.

Forecasting the Doom in 2022

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 House

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

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.