Kamala Harris told us before this week’s election that, “What happens in Virginia will in large part determine what happens in 2022, 2024 and on.”
OK, let’s run with that. Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points in 2020. This week, his surrogate in the governor’s race for whom he, Harris and other Dem poobahs personally campaigned lost by two. That’s a 12-point swing.
I applied that 12-point swing to the 2020 midterm elections for the House of Representatives to get a feel for the 2022 elections. In other words, to graft this week’s result onto the 2022 midterms, I subtracted six points from the vote share of each Democrat in 2020 and added those six points to each Republican. The result was a 46-seat swing to the GOP.
That’s a bunch of seats but it’s not unprecedented. In the first midterms of Bill Clinton’s presidency, the Dems lost 54 seats. In the first midterms of Barack Obama’s presidency, the Dems lost 63 seats. The Dems are very good at losing midterm elections because they don’t bother to vote when their dear leader is not on the ballot.
This prognostication is of course an oversimplification, for several reasons. Newcomer Republican Glenn Youngkin was an exceptionally good candidate in Virginia, and it’s unlikely that the Republicans will find equally good candidates throughout the country. Moreover, the circumstances a year from now may be better for the Dems than this week’s circumstances.
On the other hand, they may be even worse. If inflation does not abate, or if Joe Biden doesn’t get younger and smarter, then things could be even worse for the Dems. In addition, this approach does not account for congressional redistricting which many observers think will, alone, get the Republicans five or ten seats.
And, finally, this model is conservative in a sense because it uses the 12-point swing that the GOP engineered in Virginia rather than the even bigger 15-point swing they engineered in nearly winning the governorship of New Jersey.
The bottom line is that the Republicans will probably pick up a few dozen seats in the House and maybe as many as 50. It is almost inconceivable that the Republicans won’t pick up at least the few seats needed to regain control.
Expect the newly-empowered Republicans to remember the courtesies extended to them by Nancy Pelosi and the Dems over the past few years. In particular, expect them to conduct hearings on such things as Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice, the chaos at the border, and the Biden family business.
Let’s move on to the Senate. There it’s more complicated because Senators serve staggered six-year terms, not the two-year terms used in the House. Consequently, the Senators up for re-election next year were not elected in 2020, but back in 2016. Applying the simple 12-point swing math to them over a six-year time period is risky at best.
One exception is Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who was elected just last year to fill a vacant seat that expires in 2022, and is therefore up for re-election then. He won in a squeaker in 2020. Expect him to lose in 2022, assuming his likely GOP opponent, Herschel Walker, doesn’t fumble. And Herschel has never been a fumbler.
Another complicating factor in the Senate is that the Republicans are defending more Senate seats next year than the Dems are, and so the Republicans have more to lose and less to win.
All that said, my prediction is that the Republicans will pick up at least one Senate seat and probably two or three. Because the Senate is currently split 50/50, just one pickup will flip the Senate to the Republicans.
More hearings and more gridlock. Good.
With a Republican Congress, the last two years of the Biden presidency (assuming for a moment we are not already well into those last two years) will be a bleak time for the Democrats. Judicial appointments will be blocked by Mitch McConnell, embarrassing hearings in both the House and Senate will drag on and, probably, Biden will quit or be forced out by Dems who become cringingly embarrassed by his decline and by what those hearings uncover.
And so we come full circle. Didn’t I mention Kamala at the outset?
Yes, Kamala will become president. But her backdoor presidency will not give her the usual advantages of the incumbent. She will not be a strong candidate in 2024, and will be challenged in a bloody primary battle.
The Republicans will thus win back the presidency in 2024 – unless they suffer their own bloody primary battles.
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