A “Wave” Election is Looking Less Likely
Author: Greg Valliere
August 12, 2022
MOST WASHINGTON POLITICAL ANALYSTS (not us) predicted for the past year that a “wave election” — as in tidal wave — was likely, but we now think Democrats can hang on to the Senate, with Republicans narrowly regaining control of the House.
THE LATEST DONALD TRUMP FUROR is a factor, but the bigger development is the likelihood that inflation has peaked, with gasoline prices sharply lower in the past two months.
THE OTHER BIG ECONOMIC STORY is the likelihood that we’re not in a recession; the economy clearly has gone from hot to warm, but it’s difficult to envision a recession with unemployment at 3.5%.
DEMOCRATS HAD HOPED TO BOAST this month about the economy and Joe Biden’s legislative victories, but Donald Trump — as usual — has dominated the spotlight.
TRUMP AND THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT apparently have agreed that the Mar-a-Lago search warrant should be un-sealed, perhaps as early as this afternoon. If, as the Washington Post is reporting, Trump had possession of top secret documents on U.S. nuclear weapons, it would deepen Trump’s biggest political problem.
THAT PROBLEM, OF COURSE, is his dwindling support among moderate swing voters. Trump has passionate support on the GOP right wing, which is furious over the FBI raid; and he has passionate opposition on the left — but centrist voters will decide the November elections.
THERE ARE THREE REASONS WHY MITCH McCONNELL is worried about the elections — first, Trump could drag down GOP candidates, especially in the North. Second, the issue of abortion has Republicans on the defensive. Third, several Republican candidates have stumbled in key Senate races.
THE PARTY’S CANDIDATES in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and — surprisingly — Ohio are either trailing or basically tied, while the Democrats may lose only one or two Senate seats; they’re in fiercely contested races in Arizona and Nevada. The Democrats could keep a tied Senate or may even pick up a net of one seat, giving them a 51-49 majority.
IT’S A STRETCH TO EXPECT THE DEMOCRATS to keep control of the House, although the outlook has tightened. We never accepted predictions of a GOP pickup of 30-plus seats; a modest net gain of about a dozen seats seems more likely. Republicans need a net pick-up of five seats to regain control of the House.
LOTS OF UNKNOWNS: Could the Trump documents turn off increasing numbers of moderate voters? Will food prices join gasoline in the price slide?? Will geopolitics — Taiwan, Ukraine, Iran — produce a November Surprise?
FOR NOW, WE’LL STICK WITH THE THEME that a “wave” election is increasingly unlikely. McConnell thinks he can run out the clock — as long as Trump doesn’t dominate the narrative. If the election becomes a referendum on Trump and a re-litigation of the 2020 presidential election, moderate voters could produce an upside surprise for the Democrats.
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