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11.01.2022 0

Republicans surge ahead with a week to go before historic 2022 midterms, expand generic ballot lead to 47.9 percent to 45 percent

By Robert Romano

With just a week to go before the 2022 U.S. Congressional midterm elections, and Republicans have expanded their lead in the generic ballot, leading the national average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.com (RCP) by 2.8 percentage points, 47.9 percent to 45 percent, as voters continue registering inflation and the economy in the top issues in the race for Congress.

Historically, this is usually what happens in midterm elections, where the opposition party turns out in greater numbers than the White House incumbent party who just won presidential election, in this case the Democrats. And it shows up in the polls.

In the 2018 midterms, with Donald Trump in the White House, when Democrats picked up 41 seats, they led the RCP average of polls by 7.3 percentage points, and won the popular vote by 8.4 points, 53.4 percent to 44.8 percent.

In the 2014 midterms, with Barack Obama in power, when Republicans picked up 13 seats, they led polls by 2.4 points and won by 5.7 points, 51.2 percent to 45.5 percent.

In the 2010 midterms, again with Obama, when Republicans picked up 63 seats, they led polls 9.4 points and won by 6.8 points, 51.7 percent to 44.9 percent.

And in the 2006 midterms, with George W. Bush in power, when Democrats picked up 31 seats, they led polls by 11.5 points and won by 7.9 points, 52.3 percent to 44.3 percent.

In midterm elections dating back to 1906 through 2018, the party that occupied the White House lost seats in the House 27 out of 30 times, or 90 percent of the time, with losses averaging 31 seats. In the Senate, comparatively, the incumbent party lost seats 21 out of 30 times, or 70 percent of the time, with losses averaging three seats in the Senate. 

The exceptions on the House side were 2002, 1998 and 1934, when the incumbent party actually picked up seats, owing to historical circumstances that favored the White House: the war on terror, the Bill Clinton impeachment and the Great Depression.

In the case of the 2002 midterms, the public opinion polls were correct, too. Even with Bush in power, after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and an imminent war looming in Iraq, Republicans picked up 8 seats after leading polls by 1.7 points, and won by 4.6 points, 50 percent to 45.2 percent.

Meaning, if Democrats were likely to actually buck the historical trend of losing seats in midterms, it would almost certainly be turning up in most of the national polls. But they’re not, dimming Democratic hopes of a midterm upset as backlash against the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and raising the odds that Democrats will ultimately lose seats, as polls also show voters are still upset about all of the inflation and remain worried about the looming recession as soaring energy costs soak up household budgets.

In other words, public attitudes have pretty much set in for this election cycle and barring a sudden change in mood, it still looks like the Red Wave is rapidly approaching for the GOP on Nov. 8.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

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