After a year of Democrats promising the demise of Republican prospects, the media’s attempt to make Ukraine and then abortion The Current Thing, and GOP voters nominating a slate of electorally untested neophytes, the election has come down to three fundamentals.
First, the party in power always suffers in the midterm elections. Second, it’s the economy, stupid. And third, however awful Republican politicians are, Democrats are, as usual, somehow worse.
Let’s go back to the basics: It goes without saying that, independent of Biden’s specific performance or the Democratic agenda, the fundamentals always favor the party out of power. In the past century, only two elections, 1998 and 2002, have brought the president’s party pickups in the House.
Under far better circumstances, the party in power has fared worse than some polling projects for Democrats today. Consider that the unemployment rate may have been around 9% in 2010, but inflation was well below the Federal Reserve’s 2% benchmark. Even so, Democrats lost 63 House seats. In 2018, the unemployment rate fell below 4% as real wages grew, and Republicans lost 40 seats.
The economy, by many metrics, is the worst in generations, with inflation at a 40-year high, the debt-to-GDP ratio the highest since World War II, and real wages and productivity plummeting. The low nominal unemployment rate conceals a disturbing exodus of prime-age adults from the workplace, whether it be mothers unable to secure child care, men succumbing to addictions and disabilities, or the elderly retiring early, exacerbating Social Security’s impending insolvency.
Other signs that the Democrats are in for a bruising: the media finally admit that Biden, who turns 80 years old this month, might be too old to run again; markets are pricing in a Republican landslide, and the media lowering Democratic expectations below sea level.
The map makes the case for a Republican victory obvious. The GOP only needs a single net Senate pickup to win back control from Kamala Harris, as the vice president currently serves as the swing vote. Luckily, Democrats threw Pennsylvania by nominating a stroke-ridden white man who once aimed a shotgun at an unarmed black man. Ohio remains a red state. Realistically, between Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia, Republicans need to win just one.
Nevada is the easy pick, not just because Adam Laxalt (R) has run a focused campaign, but also because of the great LatinXodus from the Democratic Party. And ultimately, I predict that the GOP winds up with an additional seat, giving them 52 seats in total. Although the conventional wisdom says it’s Herschel Walker, my gut tells me it’s Blake Masters.
Look, every statistical aggregation, from FiveThirtyEight’s polling model to the betting markets, favors Walker winning and Masters losing. On paper, it makes sense. Walker gets to ride the enormous coattails of Brian Kemp, who will beat Stacey Abrams by close to the double digits, whereas Masters is reliant on Kari Lake, a newcomer with a rabid fan base but limited crossover appeal. Furthermore, Masters is running against a much more mild and likable incumbent, Mark Kelly, than Raphael Warnock, the scandal-ridden sitting senator in Georgia.
So perhaps both Masters and Walker win, but Walker fails to make the 50% threshold. The runoff will allow Democrats to pivot away from defending absolutely abhorrent candidates like Fetterman and Katie Hobbs, and instead turn the entire nation’s spotlight on Walker and his personal woes.
So my prediction is 52-48, Republican control. Again, it’s not impossible, however, that Republicans could pick up both Georgia and New Hampshire, putting the GOP in easy distance from securing a filibuster-proof majority come 2024. But if I were a betting woman, this is the prediction upon which I’d publicly put my money, or at least my internet hubris.