Congress and the White House

One week to go. The midterm elections are Tuesday, November 8th, although early voting has already begun. With so little time left and the stakes so high it is difficult to provide analysis without contradicting one or both parties' closing argument/strategy. But it seems clear two dynamics are at work:

  1. Republicans have momentum in both the House and Senate races.
  2. There are a significant number of races that are very tight and too close to call.

Virtually every major polling and news outlet has picked up the Republican momentum the past several weeks. FiveThirtyEight now gives Republicans a 49 in 100 chance of gaining the majority in the Senate. It is really close – but less than 4 weeks ago, FiveThirtyEight gave Republicans a 31 in 100 chance. That is a significant move. The chances, according to FiveThirtyEight, of Republicans taking back the House of Representatives has gone from 69 in 100 to 82 in 100 over a similar time period. The Real Clear Politics (RCP) site projects Republicans winning a net three seats in the Senate and a pick-up of 31 seats in the House.

What has happened to change the momentum from the Democrat's very good summer to the gaining Republican Fall momentum? There are several ways to look at it – but a few observations.

Midterms tend to be “referendum elections” on the party in power. This election is simply drifting towards the historic norm where the party in power suffers losses in both the House and Senate.

The economic news took a turn in September. Inflation stayed high, interest rates skyrocketed, markets tanked, and Europe looked increasingly shaky. The economy and inflation have been the number 1 issue for voters for over a year – and right after Labor Day when voters traditionally begin to really focus on the election – the economic news was steadily bad.

Independents are moving towards Republicans. The President solidified his base over the Summer, and it has held. Republicans have been motivated for quite some time. The movement in the polls has come from independents. A new CBS News Battleground Tracker shows some of this. When asked, generally speaking, do you feel things in America today are going... Independents responded:

  • Very well/somewhat well 18%
  • Somewhat badly/very badly 82%

Democrats are winning on some issues with voters, but Republicans appear to be winning on the issues voters say concern them the most. ABC/IPSOS Poll: Which party do you trust to handle...


  • Republicans 36% (R+15)
  • Democrats 21%

Gas Prices

  • Republicans 36% (R+14)
  • Democrats 22%

The Economy

  • Republicans 36% (R+12)
  • Democrats 24%


  • Republicans 35% (R+13)
  • Democrats 22%


  • Republicans 25%
  • Democrats 48% (D+23)

Climate Change

  • Republicans 16%
  • Democrats 46% (D+30)


A new CBS News battleground poll shows those voters who have concerns about the future of Democracy prefer the Democrats. “The nation is closely split … But those more concerned about democracy are backing Democrats, and Republicans draw most of those more concerned about a strong economy, echoing the messages of the parties' campaigns.”

One critical dynamic that continues – Democratic candidates are running ahead of President Biden in the polls. The gap has narrowed, but it remains. It would be a huge surprise for Democrats to maintain control of the House. Republicans need to flip a net five seats to take the majority – not a tall task for the minority party in a mid-term election of a president’s first term. But estimates of the number of seats the Republicans will pick up are all over the map – and control of the Senate is too close to call.

Tomorrow we will examine some key races in the battle for control of the U.S. Congress.


Biden Avoids Some Battleground States in Midterms’ Final Stretch.

President Biden is steering clear of some presidential battleground states with pivotal Senate and gubernatorial races, as his low approval ratings and voter frustration over the economy weigh on his party ahead of the November midterm elections. With more than half of Americans disapproving of Mr. Biden’s job approval, according to a recent Wall Street Journal poll, his campaign strategy reflects the challenge facing an unpopular president in a midterm cycle, Democrats said. As some Democratic candidates keep their distance, he is focusing on official events to promote his agenda, policy speeches at the White House and fundraisers. The approach differs from that of former presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama, who both campaigned more during the first midterm election after they took the White House, but their parties still faced heavy losses.


GOP Prospects Rise Amid Economic Pessimism, WSJ Poll Finds.

Survey shows Republicans with an edge in voting enthusiasm; inflation overshadows abortion as a key issue. Voters are giving Republicans a late boost in support just ahead of the midterm elections, as pessimism about the economy and the direction of the country jump to their highest levels of the year, a new Wall Street Journal poll finds … The shift in preference for the GOP comes as views of the economy have turned more dour than at any point in the past year. Only 19% say the economy is headed in the right direction, down 11 percentage points from August, while 71% say the economy is on the wrong track.


Early voters lament high prices and disunity yet vote for opposite sides.

As millions of Americans vote early in the midterm elections, two competitive House districts in Virginia illustrate the divide as voters share similar concerns but cast ballots for different candidates. As millions of Americans vote early in midterm elections that are likely to underscore the nation’s deep divisions, there’s little evidence of either the unity that President Biden promised to rekindle in his 2020 campaign or of the permanently ruined nation that former president Donald Trump has warned against. Rather, many Americans say they feel called to the polls because — despite being exhausted by the cavalcade of bad news and ping-ponging election results, and despite polls showing the widespread unpopularity of Biden, Trump and other leaders of both parties — they still harbor hope that the country can be put back together again.


Democrats to boost Hochul in tight New York governor’s race.

Democrats have created a super PAC in New York to boost incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, a sign of the party’s growing fears that a late-stage surge by her Republican opponent Lee Zeldin could result in an upset in the blue state. The notion that the governor’s office would be winnable for Republicans in New York, where there are twice as many Democrats as Republicans and a GOP governor has not been elected in 20 years, is the latest warning for Democrats that they could face deep losses in this year’s midterm elections.


In Close, Crucial Governor’s Races, Poll Finds Sharp Split on Elections.

In Arizona, voters are narrowly divided on whether to elect a prominent Trump-backed election denier. In Pennsylvania, they appear likely to reject a similarly minded Republican. Republicans are running dead even or slightly ahead in races for governor that could change the future of elections in Arizona and end Democrats’ hold on Nevada, according to new polling of four key battleground states from The New York Times and Siena College. In Nevada, Joe Lombardo, a Republican sheriff who has walked a line between his party’s moderate and Trump wings, holds a slim lead over Gov. Steve Sisolak in a contest that could push the state firmly to the right, if Republicans win control of the Legislature.

Pennsylvania voters, however, appear likely to reject Doug Mastriano, a struggling far-right Republican who has vowed to transform the state’s election system, preferring by a wide margin Josh Shapiro, the state’s Democratic attorney general.