Now that the kids are back to school, the campaign season for the 2022 midterm elections is in full swing. Primary elections have been held in all 50 U.S. states and territories and the general election is officially underway. Over the last six months, Democrats, who were once heavily underwater due to Biden’s then-stalled legislative agenda, historic 9% inflation, record-high gas prices, and a national baby formula shortage, have now been buoyed by their legislative wins on Capitol Hill, as well as a voter enthusiasm boost following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade and the end of federal abortion protections. Headlines for Republicans over the same time have also been a mixed bag, only in reverse. The GOP was riding high earlier this year, and they have mostly held the generic congressional ballot, where voters pick which party they are voting for in Congress instead of named candidates, sometimes posting double digit leads. With nearly only a month left to go, what do the latest polls tell us about the midterm elections? Let’s take a look.
As of this writing, the generic congressional ballot is essentially tied, with Democrats holding a 0.2 advantage according to the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average. One would expect Republicans to hold a comfortable advantage given that President Joe Biden’s favorability rating is -10.8%, which is surprisingly better than Kamala Harris’s -15%, and Nancy Pelosi’s -19.3% but larger overall trends favor Republicans.
While the generic ballot gives Democrats some hope of retaining the Senate and losing the House by a lower than currently expected margin, Democratic nominees for U.S. Senate in marquee swing state races in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are supposedly tightening things up with their Republican counterparts, while the campaigns for Governor in those same states show Republicans leading their Democratic counterparts less Pennsylvania. Look for momentum on the Republican side in the next few weeks, as more voters hold their thumbs to the wind and start thinking seriously about their vote in November.
As we head to the finish line, there is one metric above all others I believe gives Republicans the clear edge – and some hints that we will indeed see strong messaging on the campaign trail in the closing weeks. According to the RCP average of recent polls, 69% of voters think that America is on the wrong track, with only 44% saying America is headed in the right direction. That should be even more concerning to Democrats than President Biden’s approval rating, and it’s a big warning sign to Democrats, who are starting to take notice and are now campaigning on improving the economy over all other issues.
Of course, much can and will happen between now and November 8th. The infamous October surprise is a well-known phenomenon in politics. But come what may, a month from now, Republicans that repeatedly remind voters of how this President and Congress have accelerated inflation, made every day life more expensive, and strangled the economy will be in a better position to win on Election Day. The tightening polls show how important message discipline will be in the final weeks of campaigning. The stakes are too high to not lock in and push through the finish. Indeed, it’s past time to take the gavels back from Pelosi and Schumer.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action
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