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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Why the 2022 Midterms Are a Toss-Up

At The Cook Political Report Charlie Cook explains why “The Midterm Elections Are a Jump Ball“:

With the Senate 50-50 and the current House split 218 to 212, with five vacant seats we’re headed toward another compelling cycle.

Republicans have more exposure in the Senate, as they’re defending 20 seats, against just 14 for Democrats. Republicans are also trying to hold onto five open seats, versus Democrats’ none.

Yet history is on Republicans’ side. In the House, the party holding the presidency has had a net loss of seats in 37 (95 percent) out of 39 midterm elections. The two exceptions were 1934, Franklin Roosevelt’s first midterm election when voters were not yet finished punishing Herbert Hoover’s party, and 2002, when George W. Bush still had an unusually high 63 percent Gallup job-approval rating 14 months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In the 26 midterms since the direct election of senators began in 1914, the president’s party has lost seats in 19 (73 percent), remained even in one (Bill Clinton’s second midterm), and gained in six midterms, most recently 2018, when President Trump’s GOP picked up seats.


How President Biden is faring on Election Day in 565 days is the great unknown. But at this stage, he’s at 53 percent approval in both the RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight polling averages, and 54 percent in Gallup. Biden is doing better than Trump was at this point in his presidency, roughly on par with Clinton, and slightly below Bush 43, and Obama.

In addition,

While most voters cast ballots straight down party lines, the economic picture will be important. Right now, the forecasts are for very strong growth through next year but if some of the warnings about Biden’s spending initiatives overheating the economy come to pass and result in a round of inflation, it is pretty safe to assume that this would tank Democratic hopes to retain their majorities….While there are some struggles between the progressive and establishment wings of the Democratic Party, the potential for strife between the Trump acolytes and legacy Republicans looks potentially graver. Most critically, will the GOP nominate “exotic” nominees in critical races, which hurt its chances of winning.

Cook concludes:

Given that the current Democratic Senate majority was basically determined by their narrowest win in the last election—Sen. Raphael Warnock’s 55,354-vote victory in the Jan. 5 special runoff election in Georgia—and the House by a total of 31,751 votes in a handful of districts around the country, just about any factor could be determinative. Anyone who professes certainty at this stage is just blowing (or inhaling) smoke.

As usual, hold your bets to the closing weeks of the midterm elections.

3 comments on “Why the 2022 Midterms Are a Toss-Up

  1. Victor on

    The borrowing in capital markets for US debt could tame the exuberant irrationality of this boom period.

    Most Americans don’t have any idea what inflation is.

    If home prices go up they will mostly cheer.

    Most of the spending of these Biden plans would take place so far in the future that what people are actually talking about is not inflation but inflation speculation.

    Inflation in wages is very unlikely. In goods like energy is also rather unlikely. Food prices are also very unlikely to change because demand for them is not that elastic/flexible.

    So what is this “inflation” people talk about?

  2. Martin Lawford on

    If Charlie Cook is correct that a burst of inflation next year would put a crimp in Democratic electoral hopes, what can the Democrats do about it in the meantime? Their ambitious spending plans are based on monetizing a trillion-dollar federal deficit. It would take a heavy tax increase to pay for that, much too heavy to be borne by the over-$400K taxpayers; there aren’t enough of those to pay the freight. Yet, a big tax increase in an election year is usually political poison, so the most likely course of action for the Democrats would be to borrow and spend as planned, and hope that it does not cause the inflation Cook warns against.


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