What to watch for in the sprint to the midterm elections

With just Two months before voters decide which party will control the House and Senate, there is good news for Democrats on several fronts.

Plus, there are new reports from CNN about Republicans in Washington worried about fundraising, infighting over strategy and worried about which candidates won hotly contested primaries.

For now, the bottom line for 2022 is still that the story and the math is very complicated for Democrats. The Republicans could do almost everything wrong and walk away with a majority in the House, and maybe a majority in the Senate to boot.

Here is the proof.

Democrats are optimistic

Ending federally guaranteed abortion rights for American women could mobilize voters.

Democrats can point to some key congressional victories — like a bipartisan infrastructure law that shows they can work across party lines and a climate change package that is a down payment to get the country out of oil.

A targeted student loan forgiveness plan unveiled by President Joe Biden will help many Americans who feel weighed down by college debt.
Democrats still plan to lobby Capitol Hill for votes to codify abortion rights and same-sex marriage rights into law, though neither has the support needed to break a GOP filibuster. Senate.
The FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago and the ensuing legal battle between former President Donald Trump and the Justice Department was a distraction and reminder of the chaos of the Trump years.

More, Republican Party donations are being frustrated by GOP candidates in some key Senate races.

But the bad news for Democrats persists too

Primarily, inflation continues to make American living much more expensive, and there is little that Biden or the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate can do about it.

Gasoline prices, a key barometer, have fallen but are still about $1.50 a gallon higher than they were when Biden took office.
Plus, the Federal Reserve’s inflation remedy – higher interest rates – will likely lead to higher unemployment, which won’t necessarily make ordinary people feel better about the economy. economy, even if it causes economists to heave a sigh of relief.

The cancellation of student debt has caused some frustration about a moral hazard since even some doctors and lawyers will see some of their forgiven debt. It also angered those who have already paid their debts or went to work instead of to university.

And a flood of migrants at the border could motivate Republican voters as criticism of the Biden administration mounts.

History is against the Democrats

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating that it’s extremely rare for the president’s party to gain ground in a midterm election.

Here’s what I wrote in a late August What Matters edition about how the abortion issue energized Democrats:
Since World War II, the presidential party has lost seats, often manyin all but two midterm elections – in 1998 after the impeachment of Bill Clinton and in 2002 as the war in Iraq approached.

If 2022 is added to this list, the extraneous circumstance should be the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the abortion rights guaranteed in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

The math is hard for Democrats

This year, Democrats don’t have to lose much to lose control of the House and Senate.

Republicans must win a net total of five seats in the House of Representatives, which has 435 members.

The Inside Elections website with Nathan L. Gonzales tracks the House and Senate races and currently believes there are 169 strong Democratic seats. in the House against 188 strong Republicans seats.

Of the “at stake” seats, 54 are held by Democrats, 21 are held by Republicans and three seats are up for grabs as they are not currently controlled by either party due to redistricting. That means Democrats are basically on the defense in the House.

A new “commitment to America”. A bit like the “Contract with America?”

Republicans are working late to give voters something to vote for rather than just presenting an alternative to Democrats.

In a riff on “Contract with America” ​​that helped the GOP take control of the House after the 1994 election, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy will unveil a “Pledge to America” ​​in Pittsburgh on September 19, according to Axios.

The platform will focus on cutting public spending, securing the border, protecting freedoms like speech and hold the government accountable. This last point is an obvious push to use a majority in Congress, if successful, to investigate the Biden administration and push for “safe and fair elections.”

Republicans only need one Senate seat

In the Senate, Republicans need a one-seat net gain, but with only a handful of truly competitive seats, that could still be a tall order.

CNN’s Simone Pathe came out with her semi-regular must-read, “The 10 Senate Seats Are Likely To Flip In 2022.”

The competitive field is fairly distributed. Pathé has five seats held by the GOP and five seats held by Democrats on its slate.

At the top of his list of seats that could rock is the increasingly rancorous Senate race in Pennsylvania, where celebrity candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz has criticized the health of the Democratic nominee: the tattooed and wearing a John Fetterman hoodie. In an interview with Politico on Wednesday, Fetterman pledged to debate Oz, though he declined to provide specifics.

Fundraising Disparities

Another major concern for Republicans is the growing Democratic fundraising lead. Money helps candidates (and their allies) get their message across to TV screens and voters’ mailboxes and can be a barometer of how excited a candidate is.

Democrats are crushing Republican candidates who should be doing better at fundraising, as highlighted with an eye-catching graphic on CNN’s “Inside Politics.”

In particular, Ohio is a state that has had a Republican lean in recent years at the state and presidential level, but could end up with two Democratic senators in January, if the Democratic representative’s $22 million Tim Ryan vs Republican rookie candidate JD Vance’s $3.5 million is an indication of that.

In Arizona, Democrat Senator Mark Kelly has raised $54 million over the Republican nominee $5 million from Blake Masters! And in Georgia, Democrat Senator Raphael Warnock brought in $85 million to Republican nominee Herschel Walker’s $20 million.

Note: As CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson pointed out, what binds so many of these Republican candidates together is two things:

  1. They are first-time candidates with an endorsement from Trump.
  2. They compete for the highest offices against experienced politicians.

My question: does this mean that insiders are present this year? I can’t wait to find out in November.

What to do with the very public GOP infighting

CNN’s Manu Raju and Alex Rogers reported on the dust among GOP party bigwigs in Washington, where there is frustration that a hands-off approach by Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senate Committee , has led to a bad “candidate quality” – to use Senator Mitch McConnell’s formulation – and fundraising issues. Read more.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza points out that Scott and McConnell ‘bumped heads’ several times and notes that Scott pushed back in a Washington Examiner op-ed last week.

Scott didn’t exactly call McConnell a traitorous coward, but who else could he be talking about?

“Unfortunately, many of the very people responsible for the loss of the Senate in the last cycle are now trying to prevent us from winning a majority this time by joking our Republican candidates,” Scott wrote. “It’s an act of incredible cowardice, and ultimately, it’s a betrayal of the Conservative cause.” Learn more about Cillizza.

All of that will be forgotten if Republicans can win five House seats and one Senate seat. History is on their side, even if the political winds are not so favorable, at least at the moment.

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