The long-brewing 2022 national mid-term elections are
now only a few weeks away, and expectations are high for
Democratic and Republican partisans with control of both
houses of Congress at stake.
Depending on who is read or listened to in the punditocracy,
there are grounds for optimism on both sides, but the
long season of widely differing and controversial polling
now enters a period of relative sober results as pollsters
and pundits who themselves are not partisan seek to
foresee what voters will do when they actually cast votes.
There was at the outset of the cycle a commonplace
anticipation, in light of President Biden’s chronic
disapproval, of a red (Republican) wave in U.S. house
and senate races, accompanied by gains of the already
dominate GOP control of most state governments.
Over the summer, however, President Biden’s numbers,
still in negative territory, rose; the U.S. superme court
overturned Roe vs. Wade, returning the abortion issue to
the individual states; and a U.S. senate stalemate was
broken, enabling the passage of a trillion dollar plus
spending legislaion — all perceived by Democrats as
game changers in voter mood, as was the strategy of
making former President Donald Trump a campaign
Until Labor Day, there were some polls which indicated
that some vulnerable Democratic candidates, especially in
U,S, senate races, had significantly improved their 2022
prospects, reinforcing the new Democratic optimism.
Since Labor Day the news has become mixed. State
races for governor and legislative candidates remained
positive for Republicans who are still expected to pick up
a few governorships, state constitutional officers and state
legislators. Red wave results in U.S. house races seem
also likely — although the forecasts for GOP gains still
vary widely. Control of the U.S. senate, now split 50 to 50,
with Democratic Vice President Harris giving her party
control, remains, however, uncertain — with new polling
indicating up to 11 seats, six with Democratic incumbents,
five with Republican incumbents, as toss-ups.
Each mid-term cycle has its own set of issues and
political circumstances. When an incumbent president
and his policies are net unfavorable, as they, are now,
the results are almost always good for the opposition
party. On the other hand, when the leader of the
opposition is a lightning rod for disapproval, the impact
on voters can be mixed. The abortion issue brings out
partisans of both sides, and perhaps helps Democrats
more, but the economy, battered by inflation, gives
Republicans an important advantage.
All polls are inexact, some are indeed erroneous, but the
polls close to the election usually are more accurate than
earlier in the cycle, and from mid-October on could signal
2022 voter mood and direction. Voters are now paying
much more attention to the election, candidate and party
advertising is filling airwaves and mailboxes, and political
strategies have been decided.
It now depends, as it always does, on which party’s voters
are most motivated, and which party wins the most
Copyright (c) 2022 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.