Good Friday Morning! And happy midterm elections week! I’ll keep the intro section short because it’s all about the 2022 midterms this week. My predictions are below—links to follow.
- Put a pin in two things that got published this week. First, the New York Times published this piece on Biden: “Biden Verbally Fumbles, Twice, During Campaign Trip in Florida: The president confused the American war in Iraq with the Russian war in Ukraine and then misstated how his son Beau died.” And then, the Washington Post published this George Will column: “For the good of the country, Biden and Harris should bow out of the 2024 election: It is frightening that Biden does not know, or remember, what he recently did regarding an immensely important policy: the executive order on student loan debt.” Biden’s mental acuity is suddenly newsworthy, to the NYT no less. If Democrats get wiped out in the midterms and face 2024 with a feeble Biden, what do they do? We could be looking at shades of Edith Wilson. After I noted Kamala Harris was the focus of White House ire, she practically disappeared from public view. Biden is drawing Democratic fire now. We’ll return to this storyline after the elections.
Where you can find me this week
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[10/31/2022] The Fed Whisperer says more rate hikes on the way – Conservative Institute
[11/4/2022] White House lies while Bank of England speaks hard truths – Conservative Institute
The 2022 Midterms Predictions Week.
We’ve arrived! Next Tuesday is Election Day across the United States. In many places, early voting has been taking place for weeks. I took advantage of that and voted here in Tennessee on the last day of early voting. Hopefully, you’re able to take part in the process.
This newsletter is my prediction edition for the 2022 Midterms. I’ve written about various aspects of the midterms leading up until now. Today, I’ll give you my best estimates of where things land today. Spoiler alert: I think it will be a great night for Republicans.
The generic ballot, job approval, and how to read polls.
The polls will shift over the weekend as pollsters release their final estimates. When making an estimate, it’s not about where things stand now but where you expect the hockey puck to end up. My baseline for this election is 2014, which was an excellent year for Republicans. I’m not anticipating a monster year like 2010 (a variety of factors behind that). Years like 2010 and 1994 require more seats to attack than are available this cycle.
Let’s start with some critical data points:
- Joe Biden’s Job Approval:
- Generic Ballot:
These two questions have had the most polling. As I mentioned last week, we’ve had less polling than a decade ago. Still, POTUS job approval and generic ballot have rebuffed that trend.
RV polls have returned in the final stretch. Suppose you remove the RV polls and focus only on LV polls. In that case, the Republican advantage increases to 3.5 points in the RealClearPolitics average. That 3.5-point advantage puts us within rounding distance of the four-to-five-point edge predicted for Republicans based on primary turnout.
Think of the generic ballot like flood water levels. The higher the generic ballot, the more rising water lifts other boats. Joe Biden’s approval number limits a generic Democrat’s capacity to go above that general ballot number. Biden’s job approval at 42% and a generic ballot for Democrats of 45% means it’s going to be very difficult for the average Democrat to go north of 45%. In fact, it’s likely the average Democrat performs about as well as Biden’s job approval number.
One of the primary data points I’d give for comparing 2022 to 2014 is this: the generic ballot. Check out the RCP averages for 2014 versus the 2022 averages above. There’s a striking similarity between the late surge of Republicans and the plateauing for Democrats. In 2014, Republicans finished with a +2.4 point advantage over Democrats in the polls. However, after all the votes got tallied that year, that advantage was +5.7 points. The GOP was underestimated by 3.3 points in the polling.
I’m expecting a polling error this year, too — we get one every election cycle. It wouldn’t shock me to see Republicans hit something near the +5.7-point advantage they had in 2014. NOTE: It would take less of a polling error in 2022 to get there than it did in 2014.
Suppose the generic ballot this year is off around two points, which is well within a standard margin of error. In that case, we’re sitting at a five-point advantage for Republicans. But even without a polling error, a three-point advantage will lead to a good night for Republicans.
Early voting and electoral outcomes.
That’s the headline data to focus on for now. We do have some early vote data to consider. In general, you should ignore all early vote stories. The lone exception is early voting data out of Nevada from Jon Ralston at The Nevada Independent. His early voting analysis has stood up against multiple elections. In every other state, please ignore it.
Twelve days of early voting in the books, and I think it’s safe to say now after years of watching these numbers/trends: The Dems are in trouble in Nevada.
The reason is simple: Mail is way down in Clark County from 2020, and the numbers are just not big enough to boost the Clark firewall after the GOP wins in-person early voting every day. …
This is not looking much like 2018 anymore, unless it is 2018 in reverse: The Dems have a small statewide ballot lead after Friday, but the winds are blowing against the party of the president, so the Election Day trends go the other way four years later.
Nevada is a state where Republicans could achieve a clean sweep on the federal level, flipping a Senate seat and snagging all the House races. Ralston is pointing to bad news for Democrats right now. Nevada has often been fools gold for Republicans, but polling and Ralston suggest a good night is in store.
One notable data point to watch on election night: Miami-Dade county. Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Republicans appear to be on the verge of flipping Miami-Dade county red:
- CBS News: “This is not what we expected,” said Christine Alexandria Olivio, the Democratic House candidate in Florida’s 26th Congressional District in South Florida. “We’re getting our butts kicked right now.” She was running against Republican Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, the longest-serving member of Congress in Florida. Registered Democrats still outnumbered Republicans in Miami-Dade, but the latest figures indicated Democrats – at least so far – were voting less than their GOP counterparts.
- Politico: “I think Ron DeSantis will win Miami-Dade County,” said Evan Ross, a longtime South Florida-based Democratic consultant. “Democratic voters are not at all excited or motivated by Charlie’s campaign. Right now, I think it will be close, but I think DeSantis beats Crist here.” … It’s not the only bad sign for Democrats in Miami-Dade County, where nearly 60 percent of voters are Hispanic. An internal poll released earlier this month by Democrat Annette Taddeo had her beating her Republican opponent, Rep. María Elvira Salazar, by just 1 point in Miami-Dade County’s 27th Congressional District — but with DeSantis up on Crist by 6 points in that district. DeSantis lost the district in 2018 by nearly 8 points.
- USA Today: Some traditionally Democratic areas of more battleground states – like Miami-Dade County in Florida – are also seeing a shift. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading against his Democratic challenger Charlie Crist with Hispanic voters in southeastern Florida by 51% to 44%, according to a Telemundo/LX News poll published last week. Southeastern Florida includes Miami-Dade, the most populous majority-Latino county in the U.S. as of 2020.
Florida is poised to be an outright bloodbath for the Democratic Party. Once a competitive, purple state, Florida is turning red hard under DeSantis’s popularity. The pandemic likely increased the number of conservative voters in the state, too, as Republicans in blue states fled.
The last anecdotal evidence I’ll bring up is spending: Republicans are pushing into deep-blue Biden territory. Axios has this report:
Driving the news: The National Republican Congressional Committee is making three six-figure investments in districts that went for Biden by 20 points in 2020, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.
- California’s 26th: Rep. Julia Brownley (D) is sounding the alarm to colleagues about her surprisingly competitive race against Republican Matt Jacobs as Republicans make inroads in other West Coast blue states.
- New York’s 25th: Rep. Joe Morelle (D) faces former Rochester police chief La’Ron Singletary — who garnered headlines in 2020 when he was fired after the death of a man in police custody — as crime has emerged as a top issue up and down the ballot in New York.
- Pennsylvania’s 12th: Progressive Democrat Summer Lee is running in this Pittsburgh-based district to replace Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) — against a Republican local legislator also named Mike Doyle.
The other side: Democrats have been investing in these races as well amid signs of their competitiveness.
Along with other stories coming out of the pacific northwest and New York, it underscores how much defense Democrats are playing now. The map is tilting hard against Democrats everywhere.
Let’s get into my predictions.
The current RCP projection for governor’s races is 31 for Republicans and 19 for Democrats. It’s hard to disagree with that projection.
RCP is projecting the following GOP pickup states: Wisconsin, Oregon, Nevada, Michigan, and Kansas. Of those states, the most notable ones would be Oregon and Michigan. Nevada is more of a clean-sweep state; whatever Republicans are doing in one race, they’re doing in the other. Oregon and Michigan, however, point to deep resentment in blue states.
Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan was the face of COVID shutdown policies. Her school and education choices have caused massive unrest. One of the more interesting under-the-radar stories is how the deeply Muslim community of Dearborn, MI, has seen massive protests against progressive/LGBTQ policies. Muslims are usually deep-Democratic voters, and Whitmer’s policies are driving them crazy.
The path for Whitmer losing would be nearly identical to Glenn Younkin in Virginia. In neighboring Minnesota, AG Keith Ellison is polling behind his Republican challenger. Ellison previously served in the House and rose to Deputy Whip in the DNC as part of Pelosi’s leadership team. If he loses, that’s a significant figure in Minnesota politics.
All that to say, watch the gubernatorial races. Those races likely signal how state-level legislatures will trend. Republicans already hold a commanding advantage in state legislatures — they are likely to expand on that with Republican governors in charge. Democrats could experience their bench getting wiped out — again.
Republicans are going to retake the House. That’s a lock. The only question is the margin that Republicans hold. My House number is something between 30-40 seats. Republicans should have a safe majority.
A party needs 218 to have a majority.
- RealClearPolitics: Republicans have a solid 228 seats already, with 33 toss-ups.
- FiveThirtyEight: GOP has an 85% chance of holding a majority. They run simulations, but most of those fall between 225-235 seats for Republicans.
- Betting markets: PredictIt is sitting at 91% of bets saying Republicans win the House.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy should have smooth sailing toward becoming the next House Speaker.
Republican optimism is swelling in the Senate. The Senate is currently split 50-50, so Republicans only need to flip one seat to have a majority. Here are the forecasts:
- RealClearPolitics: Republicans 54, Democrats 46. Note: RCP has GA going to a run-off and Walker winning that.
- FiveThirtyEight: Republicans have a 55% of winning a majority. The bulk of those forecasts has Republicans at 51-52 seats.
- Betting markets: PredictIt lists 76% of the bets going towards Republican control.
RCP is growing more and more optimistic. FiveThirtyEight is seriously lagging RCP, and they’re including junk polls.
At this point, you have to assume Republicans walk away with control of the Senate. The question, like the House, is what will the margin be?
My view lines up with RealClearPolitics. I think the GOP will take 54 Senate seats. Here’s how they get there.
First, the easy seats. The GOP effortlessly holds Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Democrats have in Washington state. None of these states changes the margin of power in the Senate, but it builds a map.
Second, the battleground states. In Pennsylvania, Oz has taken a slim 0.3-point lead in the averages. Oz has all the momentum, and I expect him to ride that past Fetterman. The disastrous debate from Fetterman is likely to soften his support and get fewer Democrats to cast a ballot for him.
Next up: Nevada. Republican Adam Laxalt has a 1.9-point lead in the averages. Laxalt took the lead in September and hasn’t looked back. I’m expecting a closer race than this, but Ralston points the way here: Democrats are lagging. Also, Republicans should sweep all the federal races. They may come up short in a single House race, but they should come close to running the table in Nevada.
Arizona: Republican Blake Masters is still running behind Democrat Mark Kelly. The key for Masters is for Republican Kari Lake to hold her lead in the governor’s race. Lake has a 1.8-point lead in the averages. Democrat Katie Hobbs is an abysmal candidate. She’s avoided a debate with Lake, and that’s hurt her. If Lake has coattails, and the Arizona ticket runs together, they could pull each other across the finish line.
Kelly has run as a generic Democrat. That strategy has helped him, but it could also hurt if momentum sweeps up Masters. There’s nothing to protect Kelly against Democratic backlash. Arizona is one of the more challenging races for Republicans to win.
Finally, watch Kari Lake. I could easily foresee her becoming a western Ron DeSantis if she wins and governs well. Her background in media serves her well because she’s electric on television and in press appearances.
Georgia: Hershel Walker has taken a slim lead in the averages. Like Arizona, the key for Georgia is the governor’s race. In Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp is running up a massive margin against Stacey Abrams and should avoid a run-off. If Kemp expands that margin in vote totals, he could help pull Walker across the line. The question is whether or not Walker avoids the run-off. That’s unlikely for now; however, if Kemp can get up to the 53-54% range, he could pull Walker across without a run-off.
Finally, the surprise state: New Hampshire. I’ve written multiple times that if Republicans have a good night, they’ll likely pull off a surprise. In NH, Republican Don Bolduc has pulled out a narrow lead of 0.3 points, and all the momentum has headed towards Republicans in this state since September.
I’ve written several times that for Republicans to hit 53-54 seats in the Senate, they need to win one of the four states: New Hampshire, Colorado, Oregon, or Washington. Polling supports them winning New Hampshire. If Republicans succeed in one of the other states, they’ve got a weighty polling error in their favor. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but New Hampshire is the more manageable state to see a swing toward the GOP.
We’ll have a good idea about how Republicans are doing early in the night. Pennsylvania and New Hampshire are some of the earliest reporting states, followed by Georgia. If I’m right and Pennsylvania and New Hampshire go the GOP’s way early on, that should signal what will happen out west.
Last point: I fully expect Pennsylvania, New York, and California to have issues counting votes. They have antiquated laws and systems that pale in comparison to up-to-date states like Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, and Texas. And by problems, I mean it’ll take them forever to tabulate things like early and mail-in ballots. New York and California have some of the worst election tabulation laws in the country.
I’ve run long this week, but I wanted to clarify everything necessary for Election Day. I’ll do some post-elections analysis this time next week. If you have questions in the interim, shoot them over via email or give me a follow on Twitter: @dvaughanCI. Feel free to forward this to friends and family to spur debate.
Links of the week
To beat inflation, the Fed might have to trigger a recession: A recession would be unwelcome. But high inflation is a greater threat. – Washington Post Editorial Board
If Republicans Win, They Will Burn Your Home, Steal Your Possessions, Take Your Lives, And Laugh When They Enslave Your Children – David Harsanyi, The Federalist
How the Media Trains Journalists to Lie: By ‘ratioing’ NBC’s Dasha Burns for questioning John Fetterman’s health, her fellow journalists hid the truth from the public but exposed how they manufacture consent – Tablet Mag
Rural Democrats confront a potential new low: The party has struggled more and more in rural areas in recent years. “I think it’s possible we find yet another floor in 2022,” a pollster said. – Politico
Democrats Keep Falling for ‘Superstar Losers’ – The Atlantic
‘De facto frontrunner’: DeSantis’ $200 million haul positions him for 2024 run: The Florida governor has more than $90 million remaining in the bank after spending about $100 million total this election cycle on his reelection bid via his aligned committee and campaign. – Politico
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Biden Asks For COVID Amnesty, Afghanistan Pullout Amnesty, Gas Prices Amnesty, Inflation Amnesty, Student Loan Amnesty, War With Russia Amnesty, Nuclear Armageddon Amnesty, And Weaponizing The FBI Against Political Enemies Amnesty – Babylon Bee
Putin warns Russia to stop giving weapons to Ukraine – Duffel Blog
Thanks for reading!