November 7, 2022

HARRY OLSEN: My predictions for the 2022 midterm elections.

American politics has been a stalemate between the two parties for nearly 30 years. Every time it looks as though one party gains a lasting upper hand — Democrats after 2008 and 2020, Republicans after 1994 and 2010 — its legislative overreach sends it back to parity.

Tuesday’s midterm elections could be a continuation of that political trench warfare. Inflation, crime, progressive attempts at overreach and a general sense that President Biden is not up to the job will likely deliver a surprisingly large victory to Republicans. I predict the GOP will win the national popular vote by about 5.5 points, likely gaining between 31 and 40 House seats in the process. I also expect it will retake control of the Senate, gaining two to four seats.

But the GOP’s victory could also represent a chance for the United States to finally end its political quagmire. Republicans will gain support in almost every voter demographic, but they will make especially large inroads among Hispanics and middle-income suburbanites. These voters are not yet Republicans, but they increasingly recognize they are not modern Democrats.

My predictions are more optimistic for Republicans than those of most other prognosticators. The Cook Political Report, for example, predicts the GOP will win between 12 and 25 House seats, and FiveThirtyEight’s model forecasts the Senate as a dead heat. Those estimates and others underestimate the effect of a political truism: Midterms are always a referendum on the president.

Two things.

First, don’t get cocky.

Second, Olsen warns the GOP Congress not to indulge in “base-pleasing partisan overreach” or it will lose its majority again.

I’d argue that the GOP keeps losing its majority because it keeps failing to live up to its base-pleasing promises about smaller government.

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