Midterm Election 2022 Prediction: Will the Red Wave Overtake the Blue Wave?

Midterm Election 2022 Prediction: The latest prediction has the Republican Party ahead of the Democratic Party. House after the election, Prediction Republican Party: 53 seats Democratic Party: 47 seats

Come tomorrow: Tuesday, Nov 8, 2022, Americans will again be flocking to the polling booths for their biannual election exercise: midterm elections (interspersed between 2 presidential election cycles). After Biden’s victory in 2020, the mood of the nation has turned negative for Biden with his approvals sagging at just 40% (similar to former Presidents Trump and Obama who had very bad midterm elections).

As I had written right after the 2020 presidential elections Republicans will have the advantage given the headwinds faced by the incumbent party in the White House which is the Democrats in this case with President Biden.

Currently the Democratic Party has a majority of 5 seats in the House of Representatives (218: majority mark) while in the Senate both the parties are tied at 50 seats each. Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the effective tiebreaker in the Senate.

Founder and CEO of JMC Analytics & Polling, John Couvillon says that higher primary turnout indicates more enthusiasm for one party of another. This is a good indicator of which party will do better the in that year’s election cycle. As per him in 2022, 52 percent of 2022 primary voters cast ballots in Republican/GOP primaries, while 48 percent voted in Democratic primaries which portends into an advantage for Republicans this year.

Midterm Election 2022 Prediction

Image courtesy of washingtonpost.com

Looking at raw vote totals Republican primary turnout was at a historic all-time high.

Image courtesy of washingtonpost.com

Similar to the 2020 cycle there is again a shift of Latinos away from the party which means that the races in many of the Southern Sun Belt states like Nevada and Arizona which are controlled by Democrats will become more competitive in 2022. The constant messaging by some to refer to Latinos as Latinx does not seem to get them any traction.

Journalist Josh Barro wrote ““Messages about redressing past injustices to specific demographic groups have modest appeal to black voters but are downright unappealing to Hispanic and Asian voters, while broader, optimistic messaging about national uplift sells much more strongly”. The so-called everlasting Democratic coalition that many thought is not as fireproof. A portion of the nonwhite vote is shifting to the right just as some of the white college-educated votes shifted to the left in the past few years (especially in the Trump years 2017-2020).

The final NBC News poll before the elections shows that his lowest numbers are among suburban voters (43%) and independents (28%). These are the same set of voters who powered Biden’s win over Trump in 2020. The acerbic nature of Trump was too toxic and off-putting to both college-educated suburbanites and Independents (who were not tribally going to vote for their side’s candidates in spite of flaws/issues) meant that both set of voters broke for Biden in 2020.

The latest Cook Political Report has 159 Safe Democrat seats with another 13 likely & 15 lean seats. Republicans have 188 safe seats with 13 likely & 11 lean seats. Out of the 36 tossup seats, 26 are Democratic party seats while only 10 are Republican seats. This shows that the battleground is in the Democrats’ territory where there are furiously playing defense to hold off a Republican wave. Considering the (15+13) lean seats & 36 tossups, these are 64 “swing” seats where this election is going to be decided.

Midterm Election 2022 Prediction: GERRYMANDERING

There was redistricting across the nation after the decennial census. States that Trump won picked up 3 additional seats based on the new census patterns. GOP gerrymandering post the 2010 census in the Tea Party wave of 2010 had made the House to be out of reach for Democrats all the way up till the 2018 elections when they won in a backlash against then-President Trump. This time around both the GOP and Democrats have gerrymandered their way to ensure fewer seats flip to the other party in a wave election against their party.

The Democrat’s efforts have however been stymied to an extent due to court rulings. Many Democrat states went to using nonpartisan commissions to draw district boundaries to make them fairer but ended up hurting themselves in the process as they lose more seats in a wave election against them. This gerrymandering edge by the GOP coupled with the fact that the GOP states 3 more seats based on the new census makes the Democrats’ job of holding the House in a current political environment almost impossible to pull off.

ELECTION ISSUES: Inflation/Crime/Education/Abortion

Inflation is the defining issue for this cycle with 45% of respondents making it their top issue. Fixing the economic situation is the top priority for voters in 2022. Democratic candidates have struggled with messaging over inflation. During normal times The Build Back Better Act (passed in 2021) and Inflation Reduction Act (2022) would be held up as significant legislation passed by the legislators in power. However, the costs associated with these bills in the Trillions of dollars (at a time of high inflation) make advertising this tricky plus benefits from these bills would take years to realize not helping the politicians right now when they need the help from these bills the most.

On top of the very high inflation problem, there is the issue of higher crime rates Democrats have been painted as being “soft on crime” by their Republican opponents. Democrats’ own internal polling showed that the party went too far on COVID restrictions and is facing a backlash. The longer-than-usual school closures had an impact on the Virginia gubernatorial race in Nov 2021. Glenn Youngkin won by 2% in a state that Biden had just won a year ago by ~10% (i.e., a 12% swing in 12 months!).

The recall of 3 board members of the Board of Education in February 2022 was a sign of unhappy parents. A recall measure that passed with 70% of the majority in a blue liberal town like San Francisco powered by nonwhite voters should have rung alarms bells in the Democratic circles months ago. Parents of school-going age kids have been one of the most vocal/outspoken folks all year long.

If 2010 (Tea Party Wave election) was the “Year of the Angry White Senior,” 2018 is most definitely the “Year of the Fired Up Female College Graduate.” (Trump Backlash Blue Wave) then 2022 is going to be remembered as the “Year of the Angry K-12 Parent Voter”.

One bright spot for the Democrats was the Roe vs Dobbs ruling by the Supreme Court in late June which rescinded the right to an abortion. Many GOP states quickly followed up with near-total bans on abortion after certain weeks of pregnancy. This energized the Democrats against the political headwinds they were facing prior to the ruling. New Democrat voter registrations surged as did fundraising by their candidates, but the effect was short-lived as the impact has waned now overtaken by concerns about inflation and a slowing economy.

Midterm Election 2022 Prediction

The 2022 midterms are going to be the polar opposite of what I wrote preceding the 2018 midterms where I said that a Blue wave of 20-40 seats gain for the Democrats was likely (the actual end result was +38 gain for Democrats). Republicans are a near lock to win back control of the House but the question, in the end, could be the margin of their majority. Their gain could be anywhere between 22 to 32 seats. (i.e. 235 to 245 seats in the House) In the Senate I expect the Republicans to pick up 2 more Senate seats giving them 52 Senate seats and 47 for the Democrats.

One of the Senate races in Georgia race should go to a runoff like 2020). You can find more of my thoughts on the individual Senate/House/Governor races that I discussed in detail with Aadit Kapadia in the 2nd half of the MyIndMakers podcast recorded last week (from 26:51 onwards)

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Midterm Election 2022 Prediction: What to watch for on Election Night?

Virginia is one of the first states to close their polls (7pm Eastern time). 3 districts out there in Virginia should tell a lot on how the night progresses for both parties.
VA-2: This is a district that Biden carried by just ~2 points over Trump in 2020. If Republicans struggle to flip this district this would point to a big disappointment nationally as many other swing districts would be similarly too hard to win. In this case Democrats would be able to hang on in many swing seat races.
VA-7:  This is a district that Biden carried by ~7 points over Trump in 2020. Republicans if they win here will be on the way to having a good night i.e., “Red Wave”
VA-10: This is a district that Biden carried by ~18 points over Trump in 2020. This would be a very safe district for Democrats and most likely out of reach for the Republicans in this cycle. However, if this race ends up being somewhat close (race not called for Democrats quickly) late into the night then it would portend to a possible massive Republican sweep nationwide (“Red Tsunami”)

Interestingly today (Monday Nov 7th) First Lady Jill Biden was stumping for the Democratic House candidate in VA-10. During the last days of the campaign, “star campaigners” are usually sent out to places which are either a possible long shot to win or to defend in places where their candidate is vulnerable. Since VA-10 is a very safe Dem district it is surely an interesting choice in the closing days of the campaign for the Democrats to focus on such a safe seat.

In the Oregon governor’s race if the Republican candidate Christine Drazan is in a close battle (mind you Oregon has not had a Republican governor since 1986) till early hours of Wednesday morning then we are talking about a Republican wave territory. The Governor’s race out there has gotten so close for comfort for Democrats that they brought in: President Biden, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to campaign in a state that Biden had won by 16 points just 2 years ago!  

Dave Wasserman (editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report) in a recent interview mentioned that “A Category 2 or 3 Hurricane Headed Democrats’ Way’. Many including Dave Wasserman have forecasted a Republican wave in 2022, the only question is that what will be the intensity of this wave.

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