There is a “red wave” coming, and, in my mind, it is long overdue. To be clear, by “red wave” I’m not referring to a Russian invasion. I’m referring to the GOP winning on Election Day big-time.
Predicting election results has always been unreliable. In politics, it is axiomatic that the only “poll” that matters is on election day. Polls can be misleading for a variety of reasons even with modern models and polling techniques. (See Truman over Dewey in 1948 and Trump over Clinton in 2016.) I have discussed the reasons for this in previous blogs, and time and space preclude me from repeating them now.
That said, in handicapping off-year election results there are certain historical factors that have proven to be reliable indicators. According to John Woolley, professor of political science at UC Santa Barbara and Co-Director of The American Presidency Project website, one historical fact is that in the 22 most recent midterm elections from 1934-2018 the President’s party has lost, on average, 28 House seats and four Senate seats. In 2022 the Dems have a nine-seat majority in the House, and the Senate is dead even at 50-50. So, if the historical averages hold, the GOP is likely to gain majorities in both chambers.
More bad news for the Dems. Historically, the two most reliable correlations have been (1) the personal popularity of the president and (2) the number of incumbent seats the party in power has to defend. In essence, the midterms have normally amounted to a referendum on the president’s performance.
As we all know, all the polls have been reporting that Biden’s approval rating has been historically low (in the low 40s%). Furthermore, according to a conglomeration of the latest polls, including RCP, Reuters and Emerson, among others, some 2/3 of voters are of the opinion that under Biden’s leadership the country is “headed in the wrong direction.” In the last six occasions where the president’s approval ratings were as poor as Biden’s the average loss of seats was four in the Senate and 36 in the House. There were no instances in which the president’s party gained seats in the House. In addition, the latest generic ballot poll gives the GOP a 50-45% edge.
In 2022 the Dems are defending 222 seats in the House and 14 of the 34 being contested in the Senate. Although the GOP is defending more Senate seats, as you will see below, the Dems are defending more vulnerable seats.
According to most polls in 2022 the most significant issues are the economy, energy, inflation, the southern border and crime. To be sure, there are others, such as abortion and healthcare, but those are the most important to most people. Bad news for the Dems – their performance on all of those has been dismal. Inflation is at a 40 year high; gas at the pump is more than twice what it was when Biden took office; energy costs are historically high and we are relying on other countries that don’t like us to provide it; we are facing a home heating shortage this winter; the southern border is virtually non-existent; and crime is running rampant. Moreover, we are reminded of these issues every day in the news and on tv. The mainstream media has no longer been able to suppress these stories.
Back to the Senate. There are several seats that are up for grabs notably AZ, GA, NV, OH, PA, and WIS. Earlier in the year the Dems had the lead in virtually all of them. As I write this, the situation has flip-flopped. Now the GOP has closed the gap in all of these races and is leading in some of them. As I write this, RealClearPolitics’ latest survey predicts the GOP will “flip” seats in AZ, G, and NV. In AZ Dem Mark Kelley’s once comfortable lead over GOP Blake Masters has shrunken to a mere 2 1/2 points, a virtual toss-up. Moreover, Masters has the momentum. In GA, and PA Walker and OZ have closed the gaps on Warnock and Fetterman, respectively, and those races are each now in a virtual dead heat. In the GA contest there is a strong possibility that neither Walker nor Warnock will garner 50% of the vote. That would require a run-off, which would give a decisive edge to Walker. In NV GOP Adam Laxalt has a narrow lead over Catherine Masto. In WIS GOP incumbent Ron Johnson has opened up a sizeable six point lead over Dem Mandela Barnes. In OH Dem Tim Ryan holds a small lead over GOP J. D. Vance. It should be noted that in each of the above races the GOP candidate has the momentum, so on ED the GOP could win them all.
The GOP is even making inroads in solidly-blue NY where 46% of the registered voters are Dem compared to 24% GOP. Newsday predicts that the GOP will win “several” House, State Senate and State Assembly seats. According to House Republican chair, Elise Stefanik, the GOP “could have [as many as] 15 Republicans in Congress from NY.” Even better, in the governor’s race Kathy Hochul’s once-sizeable lead over GOP Lee Zeldin has disappeared. According to Newsday the race is now in a dead-heat with Zeldin having all the momentum. He is riding the anti-crime wave and has broad support among whites and Hispanics, GOP and independents, men and women, upstate and downstate. He even has 36% support in NYC where generally GOP candidates only need about 30% to win a statewide election. If Zeldin were to win he would be the first NY GOP governor since 2000.
I believe that the so-called “red wave” is primarily attributable to the fact that the overwhelming majority of voters are worse off today than they were when Biden took office, and despite the Dems’ efforts to “spin” they know what they see and feel. They see it whenever they buy food or gas or clothes or pay for healthcare or pay the rent or mortgage. They see it when they get their financial statements with a diminished 401K or IRA balance. They feel unsafe due to rampant and random crime and an insecure border. They feel uneasy by the aggressiveness of our enemies, such as Russia, China and Iran, who are taking advantage of Biden’s weakness.
Worst of all, the Dems seem to be tone-deaf. They seem out of touch with reality. They are focused on climate change, abortion and Donald Trump rather than the those issues that are most critical to most voters. They claim the border is “secure.” They claim inflation is “transitory” or non-existent. They blame high gas prices on Putin, or Trump, or the GOP. They deny the existence of soaring crime. They appear more sympathetic to the needs of illegal aliens rather than their own citizens. In summary, how can they solve the above problems when they won’t even acknowledge they exist?
To sum up, Americans are afraid. They don’t feel safe physically, economically, or socially. They perceive that the “American Dream” is slipping away, and their country is deteriorating before their very eyes. They worry what America their children and grandchildren will inherit. They want a change. They want to return to the America they knew. Luckily, in America we have the means to effect change. It’s called an election. On November 8 I expect voters will take the first step toward change. I expect a “red wave.”