Over the last six weeks or so, the prospects for Democrats in both the House and Senate in these forthcoming midterm elections have declined.
Now, it is still true that Democrats are favored to keep control of the Senate. And it has not changed that Democrats are likely to lose control of the House. The most likely outcome is still that. But the odds have changed. Not dramatically so, but noticeably.
So when you look at the 538 Senate forecast, you find that there was this sort of inflection point in mid to late September, where democratic odds peaked and started to decline. Similarly, if you look at the 538 House forecast, you see a similar inflection point slightly later in September at which democratic odds peaked, still likely to lose control of the House, and have declined since then.
Now there’s a couple of different things that we should explore, to think about what the cause of this might be. First and foremost, there’s the question, is this an effect of Joe Biden’s approval declining? And the answer is no. And the reason that we can say that with certainty is that we also track Joe Biden’s approval [rating], and we find that it has essentially unchanged since the first few days of September. So even though democratic odds in the Senate and House have declined, Joe Biden’s approval rating has remained exactly the same throughout this time. So it is not “Joe Biden drag.”
What else could be going on? One of the big factors, I believe, and I warned about this months ago, is that one of the real big, inspiring factors for the surge in democratic odds, over the summer, was the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. And prior to that, we started thinking, you know, Republican inaction on gun safety regulations might also be something that drags down Republicans. And my concern was, is the timing of it going to peter out too soon to impact the November elections? It’s possible that that’s what’s happening. It is possible that we had this period over the summer, during which enthusiasm, interest, likelihood of voting for Democratic voters increased due to understandable and correct anger about what the Supreme Court did getting rid of Roe v. Wade. And that helped democratic odds. And that people are just sort of forgetting about it.
One of the, you know, very few things are true in politics for a really, really long time. But one of the things that has held true, particularly in midterms in American politics, is that perception of how the economy is doing is a massive influencing factor in terms of how things go in midterms.
The economy is quite strong right now. We’re essentially at full employment. We have gas prices that have declined dramatically. Wages are up, stock market is shaky, but more or less flat over the last period of time.
And the impression of how the economy is doing differs from that. And what matters is belief. That is what matters. It doesn’t matter how well the economy is doing if people believe it is not doing well, or that it is about to not be doing well. That will hurt whichever party is in the White House. And in this case, it’s the same party that’s in the White House controlling the Senate and controlling the House. That combined with time during which people sort of forget or cared less about what happened with Roe v. Wade, not that it should be that way, are all likely factors in what we are seeing now.
Does this mean that Democrats should give up on any particular race? Of course not. We have national elections every two years. And we’re given an opportunity to have our voices heard.
And whether you’re in the reddest red district like Marjorie Taylor Greene, if you want to see her defeated by Marcus Flowers, who’s a great, great candidate by the way, you don’t stay home because the polling has shifted a little bit. And similarly when we look at the critical races, and by those I’m talking about, you know, Pennsylvania, we’ve got senate and gubernatorial, Arizona, we have senate and gubernatorial Georgia, we have senate and gubernatorial and so many others.
I couldn’t possibly list every race, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, endless important races. That’s your opportunity to have your voice heard. And so I hope that everyone will indeed vote but if I had to guess, the House seems almost done for Democrats. I don’t see how they could pull it off. And Democrats had better come out and vote in order to make sure nothing weird happens in the Senate. That’s my view as of today, based on the polling we have. And we’ll know the results sooner than later.