Predictions for the midterm elections

After what seemed like an eternity of anticipation, Election Day is finally here – the equivalent of Christmas for psephologists, people who study elections like me, albeit amateurishly. With both houses of Congress having slim Democratic majorities, every race in these midterm elections will matter. This is my best attempt to predict the outcome of both the House and Senate elections – an amateurish educated guess, so get out your saltshakers and take a grain.

The House of Representatives is far easier to predict – it’s a Republican lock to gain the majority. Only in two out of 19 midterms since 1946 has the party in power gained House seats in the midterm elections, and one of those was due to 9/11. The party in power lost an average of 26 seats during this time frame, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Here’s the problem for Republicans. While polls and projections show a red wave in the House, Republicans are limited on just how many seats they can pick up.

Redistricting – and definitely not gerrymandering from both parties – has removed many competitive House races. The Brennan Center for Justice said this midterm will have fewer competitive districts than any in the last 52 years due to Republicans and Democrats drawing House districts to be less competitive. Because of this, there is a smaller pool with which the red wave can make a splash.

Another reason for the small number of available pickups is because Republicans already have a strong minority in the House being behind by only nine seats. In 2010, the “shellacking” Republicans gave Democrats by gaining 63 House seats occurred because prior to that midterm, Democrats had a 257-178 seat majority. The GOP gained so many seats because the pool of available pickups was bigger, there were more competitive districts up for grabs and there were more Democratic seats to flip.

In 2022, there is less land for Republicans to conquer, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a relatively strong majority. I see Republicans picking up around 20 seats, giving them a majority of 233-202 as a roadblock to the
Biden administration.

The Senate is far more difficult to predict. Races in Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and maybe more will come down to the wire and be decided by around 1% of the vote, if that.

Before I get to those, let me clear out the lean seats, which are not safe but where one party still has the advantage. Democrats will hold onto their incumbents in Washington, Colorado and New Hampshire. Republicans will keep Florida, North Carolina and Ohio red. That puts the tally at 48-47 for the GOP in the Senate.

There are really five seats in play: Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

In Wisconsin, the least competitive of these five tight races, Republican incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson will win reelection for his third term in the Senate. Arizona’s Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly, who is as much a moderate as Andre the Giant is 4 feet tall, will convince Arizonans to let him squeak past his opponent Blake Masters. That makes 49-48 for Republicans – the big three are left.

Nevada is the ace in the hole for Republicans, yet I genuinely don’t understand why nobody is talking about this state’s election. Currently held by Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada has been hit hard by coronavirus lockdowns and inflation, and Latinos have moved toward the Republican Party. Adam Laxalt, former attorney general for the state, looks like he will be able to narrowly flip Nevada’s Senate seat back to the GOP. That gives Republicans 50 seats with two races to tally.

Unlike Nevada’s race which has flown under the radar, Pennsylvania has seen much of the limelight in these midterms. Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who was sailing to a guaranteed victory just a few months ago, has seen Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz surge and close the gap just in time for Election Day.

In what is the most difficult prediction for me to make, I see Dr. Oz squeaking out the narrowest of victories against Fetterman, only because Fetterman doomed his chances of victory because of his debate performance and questions about his health. Oz’s victory holds Pennsylvania’s seat for Republicans, giving them the 51st seat to retake the Senate majority.

Georgia features Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock on the ropes against Herschel Walker. Despite a chaotic campaign by Walker, this race is looking more and more like a realistic flip for Republicans.

Because Warnock and Walker are closely competing against each other with a Libertarian candidate on the ballot, neither Warnock nor Walker can receive more than 50% of the vote in the initial general election, meaning the election will go to a runoff in January between the top two candidates. In either scenario, I see Walker winning in a close election that gives Republicans a 52nd seat to solidify their 52-48 majority in the Senate.

Republicans, despite a roller-coaster past few months, will retake both houses of Congress and put Biden’s administration in limbo.

Browder is the opinion editor for the Liberty Champion

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