Mid-Term (2022) Election Preview

As I am a computer nerd and math geek, I enjoy watching the horse races along with breaking down and analyzing the election numbers. The election is soon enough now to make a few safe projections and speculate on the possible outcomes.

We can definitively say most races are not competitive. Even still, I would not assume too much in your locale because voter turnout (or lack of turnout) can lead to unexpected results (and there are always at least a few of these). In the 2020 election, a few House seats were determined by fewer than 100 votes; one in Iowa was determined by just a half dozen votes https://www.thegazette.com/government-politics/state-certifies-miller-meeks-wins-iowa-u-s-house-race-by-6-votes-a-legal-challenge-is-likely/

Below, I analyze the RealClearPolitics (RCP) numbers. RCP tracks a dozen or more polls across the political spectrum.

US House

The Democrats currently have a 220-212 edge in the US House. Given the weakness of the economy coupled with the relatively low popularity of the Biden Administration, it’s a safe bet the Republicans will take back the US House in the mid-terms.

There have been shifts of 60 or more seats from one party to the other, including the recent past, but even still so many races are sure bets. In 2020, just 18 seats moved from one party to the other (15 flipped to Republican and 3 to Democrat). People vote for who they have always voted for or for the person they know (name recognition, not necessarily qualifications, is perhaps the most important factor).

Seats are also drawn to achieve a certain result (aka gerrymandering; both parties do it while pretending only the other does), and incumbents also rig the game. Government service should be for a limited time and the common person, who knows something of the real world, needs a chance.. Too many politicians stay for life (and way past their time). Our current president joined Congress at the age of 29, and fifty years later is still trying to do the job. A nation run by octogenarians who have lost the common touch, seems like a nation in decline. Term limits are needed.

This year, RCP categorizes only 38 of the 435 seats up for grabs as “toss-ups”. Of the remaining seats, they project 221 for Republicans and 176 for Democrats. In addition to “toss ups”, RCP rates another 36 seats as “leaning” towards one party or the other. There could be surprises among these 36, but their projections will hit the mark for the vast majority of the 361 non-competitive seats. For instance, we already know most of California will remain Democrat and North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho will remain Republican. In the map below, there is no color for safe districts (a large portion of the country).

Fewer than 20% of House seats are competitive or sort of competitive. House members can (and often do) act with virtual impunity because of this reality. They retain their seats as long as they are able to run. Solid candidates who might have forced out the most venal and awful representatives, have no chance in this system.

It is a certainty Republicans will pickup six seats and reach the 218 goal needed to gain the majority. The real question is how many seats will they pickup? Since August, RCP has consistently projected the number between 23 and 27 seats; this would land the GOP somewhere between 235 and 239 seats.

This is a good benchmark. Both parties know what to expect and are doing their best to manage expectations. The goal now is: do better than expected. If Republicans reach 240 seats or more, they will declare a significant victory. If Republicans are limited to 230 seats or fewer, the Democrats will have something to crow about. Both parties also want momentum for the 2024 election.

House Speaker Pelosi, of course, still says the Democrats will win in November, but everyone expects her to lie about such things (unfortunately).

“Well, I’m so glad you asked that question because I believe that we will win the — hold the House.”

Perhaps, this octogenarian will retire after this election, especially as she will have to turn over the gavel once again? She will eventually be replaced by another sure Democrat vote, but we can still hope she fades into the sunset soon.

U.S. Senate

Just 35 Senate seats are being contested. Of the uncontested seats, 36 are Democrats and 29 Republicans, giving the Democrats a 7-seat edge before voting even begins. Control of the Senate is still in doubt this year. We will end up with either a 50/50 split or one party with a slight margin. RCP projects Republicans will pickup seats in Nevada and Georgia, all others staying with the incumbent party. This result would give Republicans a 52-48 advantage.

There are very tight Senate races in Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Ohio, all within three points. RCP projects Republicans winning all five, but one or more could easily move into the Democrat column. I am not making any predictions myself. Let’s hope voters are well-informed and the best candidates elected.

Three other Senate races may be tightening: Arizona, New Hampshire, and Florida. Republicans are trying to flip Arizona and New Hampshire while Democrats are trying to flip Florida. A change in the party for any of these three seats would be huge and very telling about the direction the country is now heading.

Right now, Republicans have the edge. The governor races in Virginia and New Jersey in 2021, hinted at a definite pushback to Leftist policies (I would call them extreme). Biden won Virginia by seven points in 2020 and one year later a Republican governor was elected. Biden won New Jersey by 16 points in 2020, yet a Republican, a political unknown, came within a point of winning the governorship in 2021. Has that Republican momentum been stopped or will it continue in 2022?

Democrats can still win the key races. Republicans, Herschel Walker (Georgia), former NFL star, and Dr. Mehmet Oz (Pennsylvania), former TV personality, have been running behind. Dr. Oz, moved from New Jersey and is considered a carpet bagger. In addition, his not-so-conservative past, is coming back to haunt him (Barnett would have been a far better candidate, but she was not as well known). Walker has never run for political office and has had several serious allegations leveled against him, including one that he paid for a girl friend’s abortion (a charge he denies). Still, the debate last week showed he is indeed a credible candidate.

The Democrat candidates in these two states are far more problematic. I would say awful. John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania candidate, suffered a stroke earlier this year. He has clearly struggled to maintain focus on the campaign trail:

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2022/08/23/john-fetterman-struggles-in-speech-lasting-less-than-5-minutes-in-second-public-appearance-after-stroke/

Fetterman won’t release health records. It was a big deal when Trump wouldn’t release tax records, so why shouldn’t Fetterman get the same treatment? A friendly media reporter from MSNBC says he had trouble just maintaining small talk before she interviewed him:

msnbc-goes-on-record-that-john-fetterman-is-an-absolute-disaster-cant-understand-process-or-speak

Fetterman is clearly not at all capable of doing the job, yet is running a very close race. I wonder why. How can voters choose someone in his condition, someone who repeatedly shows he is not fully in control of his own faculties? Who is really going to be doing the job when he is in office? Is anyone going to do it?

Vox thinks we should have sympathy for Fetterman, make him a poster child for disabled Americans. We need mentally challenged candidates added to the host of octogenarians running the country? I am sorry he is disabled and I am fine with accommodating folks with disabilities, but shouldn’t a very recent stroke disqualify him? There are plenty of other jobs he could do.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2022/10/15/23403699/john-fetterman-pennsylvania-senate-interview-captions-disability-dasha-burns-mehmet-oz

Senator Raphael Warnock is running against Herschel Walker; Warnock was first elected in 2020 and is a pastor from Martin Luther King’s former church. He is a also pastor who supports unlimited abortions. I can’t imagine any Christian, much less a church leader, taking such a position. His former wife also does not speak well of him, but what does she know?

It is also interesting that polls favor the Democrat in both Georgia and Pennsylvania, but RCP still projects Republican wins. They are factoring in a perceived political bias since prior polls dramatically under-predicted the true Republican results; RCP gives Republicans a few points because of the perceived bias. As a statistician, I will say this is not sound mathematics (more on the unreliability of polls in the section below). I can’t validate this methodology but it might still prove true in the end.

This year, maybe we can finally shed the phony Republican Lisa Murkowski? She has been in the Senate since her father, former Alaska Governor, Frank Murkowski, appointed her in 2002. She is opposed by another Republican Kelly Tshibika. Alaska’s voting scheme is unique, so they actually have three candidates for the general election: two Republicans and a Democrat. A Republican will surely win, but which one? Murkowski seems indistinguishable from a Democrat and Tshibaka seems far more reasonable. We will see if Alaska can elect someone better this time.

Utah is another interesting race: incumbent Mike Lee is running against Evan McMullin. No Democrats are going to win here either, but McMullin, a former CIA agent, is an independent who will draw most of the Democrat vote. Senator Lee is one of the few very solid Republicans in the Senate. This is much closer than expected. Lee is holding to just a 5 point edge in a poll from two weeks ago. As a side note, fellow Utah Senator Mitt Romney has refused to endorse Lee. Maybe next election Romney, another phony Republican Romney, will finally exit as well.

Governor Races

Two of the best the Republicans today are Ron DeSantis and Kari Lake. Lake doesn’t have a record to run on, but she is such a straight shooter and handles questions and confrontation superbly. I hope (and pray) she is truly in the mold of Governor DeSantis. The Republicans need scores more like these two; the GOP has far too many phonies who have disappointed for as long as I can remember. Even if a red wave is coming this year, will there be enough stout-hearted Republicans to make a difference next year?

I will predict DeSantis will win big. His bold policies draw the ire of Democrats and liberal media, but he is quite popular in Florida, and Florida is decidedly a red state under his strong and effective leadership.

Lake, a former Phoenix news anchor, on the other hand is locked in a tight race with Democrat Katie Hobbs. At the moment, it appears this race could go either way. Axios describes Lake as a “more polished version of MAGA”. 

https://www.axios.com/2022/10/15/kari-lake-arizona-trump-midterm-elections-maga

Lake is indeed very polished, but more importantly she is no nonsense and straightforward. She doesn’t give safe answers; she gives answers that make sense. She speaks to unfriendly media and still is effective at getting her message out. Roll the tape:

The CNN reporter Dana Bash says to Ms. Lake: “I couldn’t agree with you more”. How about that?

Ms Lake’s opponent Katie Hobbs is an unpolished version who is somehow hanging in this race. Hobbs says things like: “I don’t want to talk politics to anyone I don’t know”. She avoids an interview with Project Veritas (see below), and she is avoiding a debate with Kari Lake. Her own campaign people understand the problem and speak candidly in this video. The contrast between the two is so clear to me:

The other interesting question is will Stacy Abrams finally concede in Georgia? It appears likely Governor Brian Kemp will defeat Abrams again in a rematch of the 2018 campaign. Kari Lake tells CNN Stacy Abrams is an election denier by the Democrats own definition, but Ms. Abrams said she “never challenged the outcome of the election”. Not only has she been an election denier, but so have so many other Democrats of note stood behind her. Roll the tape and see the lie as plain as any:

Stacey Abrams gets caught in a BLATANT LIE | #shorts – YouTube

By the way, Mark Levin in the opening segment from Wednesday, October 19, highlights the election denying past of Democrats like Benny Thompson (J6 chairman) and James Clyburn (in house leadership). It was the Democrats who perfected this art long ago.

Finally, there is a surprising result that could emerge Oregon as the Republican is currently leading in this traditionally blue state. Is the Democrat is too extreme for blue state Oregonians?

Voter Turnout

I should note briefly that Atlanta so far in 2022 has seen its highest early voter turnout ever. This is on top of record turnout for the 2022 primaries–for both Republicans and Democrats. The 2021 baseball All Star game moved from Atlanta because Georgia passed supposedly racist legislation which would limit black voter turnout. Atlanta has a very large black population, and the city appears undeterred by supposed voter suppression laws. What do you make of that?

Democrat Headwinds

Typically, the incumbent party loses seats in the mid-terms. Bill Clinton and George W Bush picked up seats in one of their mid-terms, but they were dealing with exceptional circumstances (9/11 for Bush and unpopular impeachment for Clinton). Given the poor economy and Biden’s relative unpopularity Democrats today have a headwind. Close races will be tougher for Democrats because of the need to overcome these headwinds.

In just 18 months, Biden’s approval rating fell from 56% to 37%. This past September, it was lower than Trump’s ever was, despite a media hostile to Trump and fawning to Biden. Biden number has stabilized at around 43%, but in November 2018, Trump’s rating was similar (44%) and Republicans lost nearly 40 house seats. It looks very probable Republicans will pickup the 25 House seats that RCP projects and maybe more.

Is this election a referendum on Biden or is it about Trump and January 6 all over again? The January 6 hearings which resumed again last week, student loan bailout, and the raid on Trump’s home during the summer were attempts to shift the focus away from the lousy economy and the disastrous Biden administration. So far, it appears the ploy is not working.

Meanwhile President Biden says there is no recession and the economy is doing great.

Time is running short for Democrats. The September inflation number wasn’t good. They say inflation is 8%, but my wife tells me so many prices have doubled at the grocery store; we all see how gas prices have increased since Biden took over. Third quarter GDP numbers will be released next week. Early voting has started. It is going to be hard to change the trajectory by November 8.

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/10/17/democrats-worry-they-peaked-too-soon-00062189

Reliability of Polls

I add one disclaimer regarding polls: I quote them, but I don’t trust them. Many polls today appear to be politically biased, so we look at an average of polls to erase some of that bias. Even still, there is a statistical bias that infects all these polls.

A basic premise in statistics is that polls must be random samples with every voter having an equal chance of being selected. Many voters simply exclude themselves by refusing to participate. The manner polls are conducted introduces bias as well. For example, if a poll is conducted during the evening hours, those who work late are excluded. These people might be more likely to vote for one candidate or another, so the sample is skewed. People have their own communication preferences: email, phone, or text. Selecting one particular method will exclude a significant demographic; that demographic could be predominately of a certain age group or gender and so they are over-represented. There is no good way to avoid these statistical biases.

I suspect pollsters return to the same group of individuals repeatedly, individuals who have responded before. This is a huge no-no as large segments are never included in polls.

These pollsters may know politics, but I am not sure how well they understand the mathematical theories they apply. When you incorrectly apply the math, you blur the true margin of error. Of course, that doesn’t stop pollsters from making projections. RCP, at least, attempts to account for the political bias; however, nobody accounts for the statistical bias. Results are still interesting, but they are all biased, either politically or mathematically. Just don’t take them as gospel.

2024 Race

The 2024 presidential race begins as soon as mid-terms end. The first event which may play significantly into the presidential election happened last week with Tulsi Gabbard’s announcement she has left the Democrat party. You should ask yourself this question about any political news: why now?

Ms. Gabbard appears to be positioning herself as a potential Republican VP candidate, especially if Trump is the nominee. The politics are such today that the VP candidate will likely be female: Gabbard, Kim Reynolds (Iowa governor), Kristi Noem (SD governor), Niki Haley (former UN ambassador and SC governor), or possibly Kari Lake if elected governor in Arizona.

The 2024 Republican presidential candidate will almost certainly be either Trump or DeSantis. Republicans will no longer tolerate half-hearted Republicans like Romney and McCain. Personally, I rather Trump not run again. He would be yet another octogenarian in charge. I am uncertain he can even win in 2024 . His time has passed and DeSantis is the better candidate. We must free ourselves from the Biden disaster, which will soon turn into a Harris administration. We need the best candidate.

Trump started a political movement and DeSantis furthered it. Perhaps, Lake will further it as well. I no longer am excited about red waves, especially with the dreadful bunch in charge these days, but these two new comers have something we haven’t been in many years. Perhaps better prospects are on the horizon?

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