It’s been almost 24 hours since first polls closed and we still don’t know who will control either house. While not totally surprised senate is unknown, I figured by now house would have already been called for GOP. Fact it has not shows serious problems as I will discuss below. Below will be on house, senate, and governor races and then final thoughts on each party.
Even if GOP does win house and I think at this point they are still favoured to do so; it will be far closer than many of us thought. High inflation, rising crime, and president with mediocre approval rating are all characteristics that should lead to a red wave like in 1994 and 2010. But it did not. And Dems still have an outside chance of holding house, but it is an outside one. More worrisome for GOP is it will be likely Florida and New York that delivered it and had those two states had swings similar to rest of country; good chance we would be talking about a Democrat hold of house. Florida for a variety of reasons has swung rightward and much like Iowa & Ohio, it is now gone for Dems and solidly in GOP fold. New York has an unpopular governor and rising crime lead to a much closer governor’s race than one would normally expect. Not enough to carry state, but Zeldin’s strong showing likely carried some GOP house candidates over the line in Long Island and upstate New York which tend to be more swingy. Fact this swing wasn’t replicated in most states is a huge indictment for GOP. More importantly a common trend seemed to be that MAGA crazies/Trump endorsed candidates were either losing or underperforming while more establishment types were doing alright. With Democrats, similar issue with more progressive ones hurting party while moderates hung on to multiple seats one would have expected to be GOP pickups. This suggests to me Americans are tired of rage politics and ideological driven and instead with tough times want leaders who can offer solutions to the current issues. And it looks like Lauren Boebert will be defeated who was one of the most obnoxious far right crazies. Likewise moderates like Jared Golden, Abigail Spanbanger, and Elissa Slotkin holding on for Democrats in tough districts shows moderation, not more left wing politics is way forward.
At this point, anything from 51-49 for Democrats to 52-48 for GOP is within realm of possibility, but right now I would rather be a Democrat than a Republican. Democrats were able to flip Pennsylvania giving them more breathing room. Also had strong second in North Carolina so that is probably only state Trump won in 2020 that they may have a shot at in 2024. Fell short in Ohio, but I never bought idea Tim Ryan would win there as I believe state is now gone for Democrats. Wisconsin came so close and had they nominated a more moderate as opposed to Bernie Sanders supporter, I think they could have flipped it too. Georgia is going to a run off so we won’t know until December who wins there. Nevada is really tight and no idea who comes out on top there. Arizona looks good for Democrats but still not called yet. Nevertheless GOP must win 2 of 3 outstanding states to carry senate. New Hampshire which was supposed to be a battleground but wasn’t even close. In some ways makes sense as Republicans in New England tend to be quite moderate so until party moderates, is probably going to have a tough time winning there. Had GOP had a good night in senate, it is possible they could have won a filibuster proof majority in 2024 due to favourable map, but now that is probably out of reach or at least extremely unlikely.
Governor and state legislatures
Democrats as expected gained Maryland and Massachusetts. By same token Republicans have fallen short in potential pickups. They lost Wisconsin by a bigger margin than Trump did in 2020. Lost badly in Michigan and Pennsylvania and in both cases had hardcore MAGA candidates who were election deniers from 2020. In fact GOP messed up so badly in Michigan there is a chance for first time since 80s Democrats may gain a trifecta at state level. Nevada and Arizona still remain unknown and I give GOP slight edge in both but possible Dems win each too. New York and Oregon however were a lot closer than should have been for Democrats. Hochul won by only around 6 points in a state Democrats normally win by over 20 points and Oregon still hasn’t been called and may go GOP, although narrow Dem win most likely. Both likely due to crime and in case of Oregon homelessness so suggests Democrats vulnerable there and only didn’t hurt them elsewhere thanks to more extreme GOP candidates. Georgia went solidly for Kemp so no doubt he is a potential for 2024 GOP nominee and also shows not caving into Trump on 2020 results served him well. DeSantis won Florida by 20 points so asides showing Florida is no longer a swing state; I think after last night, he is favourite to be GOP nominee in 2024. He had a very good night in what was a disappointment for Republicans. If Biden doesn’t run, I would keep an eye on Gretchen Whitmer who won by almost 10 points in Michigan which is a key swing state. Much like two houses, it seems being endorsed by Trump was a liability while distancing one’s self from Trump an asset.
Win or lose both or either house, definitely a huge sigh of relief as many feared it would be much worse. But worst thing Dems can do here is get complacent and assume everything is okay. It absolutely is not and only reason there was not a similar wave to 1994 and 2010 was thanks to many extreme GOP candidates. High inflation, rising crime, and problems at border are all issues that could plague Democrats in 2024 if not dealt with. More importantly results showed most Americans are not interested in a strong leftward shift. US is not Canada, it is not Denmark, it is not Europe so pushing policies that sell in those is sure fire way to lose. Past Democrat presidents like Clinton and Obama got this and current party needs to if it wants to win. Relying on GOP to screw up may have worked this time but no guarantee it will in the future. Abortion issue no doubt helped along with many Americans wanting Trump to go away. But as I have always said, relying on your opponents to screw up is always a risky strategy.
Even if GOP does manage to take both houses which is still possible, this was not a good night considering circumstances. Circumstances were every bit as favourable for them as in 1994 and 2010 and unlike those two only needed a very small swing to win both houses. Fact almost 24 hours later we still don’t know if they picked up either says they massively underperformed. GOP needs to realize Trump is a huge anchor on party and sooner they let him go, the better for party long term. I cannot help but think DeSantis is the heavy favourite for 2024, but off course may choose Trump or whomever Trump backs if he doesn’t run as a lot of the base live in an alternative universe. Either way pushing conspiracy theories, denying election outcomes is not way forward for party as well as morally wrong too. GOP has correctly diagnosed issues Americans are upset with, but they have not offered actual solutions and they must do latter before they can count on winning. Likewise on abortion issue, it appeared that hurt them so if GOP was smart, they would not put up a filibuster on this and let federal government codify issue so can get it off the table. White Evangelicals may be determined to see abortion banned, but most women don’t like state controlling their bodies.
On side note Alberta had a by-election and Danielle Smith to no one’s surprise won Brooks-Medicine Hat, but she lost Medicine Hat polls to NDP and massively underperformed what party normally gets. Whether it be GOP underperformance, Truss short lived PM or Smith in trouble in Alberta; one theme is clear that most people aren’t interested in right wing dogmatism even if base wants that. People want pragmatic solutions to deal with their concerns, not rage baiting or ideological dogmatism.
4 thoughts on “Midterms – preliminary results”
I think the key to the House is in California. There are at least 10 competitive seats there, of which 5 are held by the GOP (22, 27, 40, 41 and 45, all mostly suburban areas and all but 41 were Biden districts). If those flip, the Democrats could do it and hold the House. I agree, Florida is likely at least a reach target in 2024, and I’d rate it Likely R right now. As far as those New York seats, they are going to be endangered in 2024, so the newly elected Representatives need to either stay near the center or risk losing after one term.
Seeing Lauren Boebert in serious trouble should be a wakeup call. If you’re in anything less than a rock-solid seat, going to the QAnon wing is asking for trouble. It’s why Marjorie Taylor Greene has no upward mobility as she’d likely lose statewide in Georgia if she ran for a Senate or Governor seat in the future as she would get blown out all across Metro Atlanta (even putting outer-suburban counties like Cherokee, Forsyth and Fayette in play). Likewise, Summer Lee (a AOC acolyte) had a tough race in Pittsburgh’s PA-12, where Biden, Fetterman and Shapiro all got over 60% of the vote. Had they ran a generic Democrat, it would not have been close there.
The Senate looks like it will be a wash. I’d say Warnock will be favoured to hold the Georgia seat given the results last night. Kemp definitely benefitted from not being an election denier, since he did much better than Walker in the suburban counties like Gwinnett and Cobb (they had near identical results in rural Georgia). He might want to consider the Senate seat that Ossoff has which is up in 2026.
The Michigan and Minnesota legislatures are all-Democrat now. I find that Michigan has had an interesting trajectory, since they did it while losing the working class base. Democrats used to get blown out in urban/suburban SW Michigan (Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, etc.) and now they are competitive there. Rural Michigan is all Republican now. Oakland and Macomb Counties have swapped places too – Oakland is more affluent and highly educated (red to blue), Macomb more working class (blue to red).
I agree that, of the Trump states, North Carolina is the only reasonably easy pickup (i.e., would start at Tossup or Leans R). Democrats probably are kicking themselves for not investing enough there – it was only about a 2 point win for Ted Budd, and they flipped a House seat there.
If I rated the 2024 Presidential map now:
Safe R – AL, AR, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MS, MO, MT, NE overall+3, ND, OK, SC, SD, TN, UT, WV, WY
Likely R – AK, FL, IA, ME2, NE1, OH, TX
Leans R – NC
Tossup – AZ, GA, NV, PA, WI
Leans D – MI, MN, NE2, NH, VA
Likely D – CO, ME overall, NM
Safe D – CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, ME1, MD, MA, NJ, NY, OR, RI, VT, WA
If Dems hold house which is very unlikely, it will be due to West Coast, particularly California as California takes a long time to count votes. New York ones agree are very tenuous as in presidential election, I expect Dems to carry state by at least 15 points possibly over 20 points so in presidential year I think some should flip back. I think Dems have very good chance at winning back house in 2024 if they win White House. Problem for them is they are likely to lose senate even if they hold it in 2022 and win White House in 2024. West Virginia, Montana, and Ohio are pretty much certain to go GOP in presidential elections and of pickups, Texas is only possibility and even that is a real long shot not likely. Good news is a GOP filibuster proof majority is probably not in the cards in 2024 so Dems by doing as well as they did closed that door off.
Agree on Marjorie Greene Taylor and she actually despite winning big massively underperformed what GOP normally gets in her seat. GOP usually gets around 75%, she only got 2/3 and Democrat candidate got over 30% which is pretty much unheard of in her seat. She is so extreme Dems would have a chance against her in Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Iowa. I think her, Boebert and others showed being a Trump MAGA type is a real liability. Shapiro winning Pennsylvania by 13 points and Whitmer Michigan by 10 points also proof of that. Democrats don’t generally win those type of margins unless GOP goes batshit crazy. Obama in Michigan did in 2008 but that was only due to collapse of auto industry and Obama’s 08 Midwest results were a one off due to unique circumstances, he after all won Indiana which wasn’t competitive before and neither has been since.
I think unless things go really bad for one party as always possible, Obama in 2008 won states like Indiana and North Carolina which in 2004 most would have laughed at as being ridiculous and almost won Montana, I think there are 7 states to focus on. All five that Biden flipped are in play again with Michigan & Pennsylvania being toughest for GOP to flip while Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin three Democrats most vulnerable in. Of the Clinton 2016 states, Nevada is only one I think Dems likely have to worry about unless GOP smartens up and moderates a lot and Democrat popularity continues to sink. Likewise of states Trump won, North Carolina only realistic pick up and even then much harder than seems on surface. Since 2008, Democrats always come close in North Carolina but each time fall a bit short which suggests to me electorate very inelastic there. Indeed Obama may have only won it in 2008 thanks to record African-American turnout and also fact GOP was only around 5% amongst African-Americans not usual 10-12% which they have returned to since. Texas is a tough one as I don’t think they can win it in 2024 but if don’t bother means they won’t in 2028. By contrast invest in Texas, likely lose it in 2024, but at least build up enough of a base to put it in play in 2028.
My prediction will likely end up being close to the final result in Brooks-Medicine Hat. I predicted smith beating Dirk 55-25 with Morishita getting like 16 percent of the vote. I had a feeling Morishita was being overhyped and polarization will end up deciding who would end up in 2nd in the byelection. It’s a disappointing result for smith but she has time to recover. I still think Smith’s favourability ratings will hurt her next May even if she governs competently until then.
Agreed, I think Smith has done enough damage that she is likely to lose even if she pivots. Really pivoting simply changes odds from 90% chance of losing next May to maybe 60-70% chance of losing but almost no chance she becomes favourite. Also pivoting could save some MLAs too as right now so bad UCP would only win around 30 seats and I think with a pivot could get that up to 40 seats but probably not enough to win unless pull an inside straight.